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Knife sharpening classes in Los Angeles?

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finalera Jun 25, 2010 01:00 PM

Does anybody know where I can learn how to sharpen my kitchen knives in the LA area?

I thought of just dropping them off somewhere, from time to time, but I also noticed everybody warning against dropping off Shun knives. From what I've read, if you have Shun knives, you just gotta learn to sharpen it yourself.

So does anybody know of such a place? Or anybody who offers private lessons at an affordable cost?

  1. Chemicalkinetics Jun 25, 2010 01:36 PM

    I am glad that you want to learn knife sharpening. I think you will find great enjoyment in that, just try to control youself from bringing up your knife sharpening desire to strangers.

    :)

    I can suggest a few places for your knife sharpening journey, but before I send you too far, I do want to point out that KAI (manufacturer) offers free knife sharpening service for all their Shun knives for life. In fact, that is the biggest selling for Shun. KAI will sharpen your knives and send them back to you for free as long as you pay for shipping fee from your house to the factory.

    Don't get me wrong, you can put on an even better edge on your Shun knives than KAI, so I am not discouraging you from sharpening thems yourself. I am just say that Shun knives come with free knife sharpening service and you know KAI is not going to mess the knives, much better than sending your Shun knives to some random dudes.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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      finalera Jun 25, 2010 03:03 PM

      That's really cool. I guess I'll consider that option.

      Could you expand on the part, where you said I can put an even better edge, than KAI (the company itself)? How or why is that the case? I would assume the company has state of the art sharpeners/sharpening tools.

      That said, if I were to learn how to sharpen knives myself, where can I go?

      1. re: finalera
        Chemicalkinetics Jun 25, 2010 03:49 PM

        Hi Finalera,

        Just want to elaborate a bit more on the free service:

        "Do I include money for return shipping costs?
        No, we do not charge for the return shipping costs. (You will have to pay for the initial shipping costs to us, however.) Please note that in order to keep our costs down so that we can continue providing warranty service free of charge, we will return your knife to you via the US postal service only. We cannot accommodate overnight or other special shipping requests.

        Can I send my knife back to you for routine sharpening?
        Yes, we will happily sharpen any Kershaw knife for you. There is no cost for this service, aside from that of initially shipping the knife to our facility."

        http://www.kershawknives.com/warranty.php

        I suppose putting a "more personal and more suitable" edge than KAI is the accurate description. Many cutlery companies put an edge which works for most people. It has the effect of "lowest common denominator". Let's say, 20% of the population desire a high performance 10o edge angle Chef's knife, 60% of the population wants a 17o edge, and the rest 20% of the population is rough with their knives and needs the thicker 25o edge. Many knife companies will make the 25o knife even only 20% of the population needs it. This is because they rather have 80% of the population think their knives are a bit dull,, then having 20% of the population complain about cracked and broken knives. This is less of a problem with the Shun knives compared to the German knives, but this "lowest common denominator" factor still exists.

        I don't live in LA, so I really don't know who to learn knife sharpening classes from. Keep in mind, there are some differences between sharpening a Japanese knife and a European knife. I would say getting a knife sharpening book or sharpening DVDs are good options for home cooks.

        Here are a few online introduction sharpening videos:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYnFL3zCYUY
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7l418aybyAs&feature=channel

        More in depth:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MezIEKGk9T0
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSyK67mqXEI&feature=related

        A book:
        http://www.amazon.com/Edge-Kitchen-Ultimate-Guide-Knives/dp/0061188484/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277505165&sr=8-1

        Links to two DVD you can buy:
        http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningstore.com/product-p/dvd1.htm
        http://www.chefknivestogo.com/knshdv....

        Most important, you need 1-2 cheap knives for practice.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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          finalera Jun 25, 2010 05:23 PM

          Thanks for the prompt and informative replies. Those are some great resources, no doubt, but it seems the more I learn about it, the more technical knife sharpening is.

          Hence, the reason why I was looking for more of an interactive lesson in knife sharpening. I guess if I was really dedicated to learning knife sharpening, I can learn it through tons of trial and error. I was thinking of something more efficient.

          Question: Do you sharpen your own knives? And how did you learn?

          1. re: finalera
            Chemicalkinetics Jun 25, 2010 06:21 PM

            finalera,

            I know Dave Martel (arguably the best known Japanese knife sharpener in USA) offers Japanese knife sharpening classes, but he is in Pennsylvania and his classes maybe a bit of an overkill for many.

            http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningstore.com/product-p/class1.htm

            I am sure there are knife sharpening classes in your area, but I just don't know. Sorry.

            There is knife sharpening and there is KNIFE SHARPENING. There is no end to it. Just look at Dave's blog on perfecting the knife edge by going from a 1000 grit stone to a 10 000 grit stone:

            http://japaneseknifesharpening.blogspot.com/2010/02/microscopic-edge-pictures.html

            Yet, most people may not need such a perfectly finished knife. Many professional knife sharpeners will not put your knives above 1000 grit. Guess what, even the highly respected Shun knives are mostly finished on 1000 grit:

            "Regular shun pro is finished on a sharpening machine using 1000 grit, just like the rest of the Shun line."

            http://www.kershawknives.com/aboutus....

            My point is that many things you read about knife sharpening on the internet come from knife enthusiasts who push the very limit of their knives and that can get very technical very fast.

            In answering your question, I do sharpen my knives. I learn my knife sharpening from online articles, books, videos, and practice. I will say that Section 4 from the following article is very useful if you have not read it. Other sections are good too, but Section 4 is particularly useful for understanding the basics. From there, we just need to practice on an inexpensive but decent knife.

            It is really important to practice on a cheap knife because we all make mistakes in the beginning.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              Chemicalkinetics Jun 25, 2010 10:11 PM

              Opps.

              Here is the article. Section 4 is not bad.

              http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/...

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                finalera Jun 26, 2010 11:06 AM

                Thank you so much for all your help. I know you're just trying to be as informative as possible, and I truly appreciate your efforts, but all of this has just overwhelmed me, and I think I'll be better off sending my knives off to KAI LOL.

                Don't get me wrong. I'm still interested in learning how to sharpen my own knives, but the amount of knowledge and craftsmanship required, seems endless, due to blade types, angles, and the various grits used to sharpen knives. Just purchasing the tools alone, will probably ring up a $500 tab, if not more. And usually when I get into something, I commit to it 100%. I know you're saying that unless we're obsessed about it like knife enthusiasts, we just need to stick to basics, but by that logic, why not just send my knives off to KAI for a basic treatment?

                Perhaps in the future, when an opportunity to learn knife sharpening through an interactive lesson, comes up, I'll be on board. For now, I guess I'll just do what everyone else is doing and ship my knives to KAI.

                My only question is, "Do I need to call them or something first?" It just says to send it to the adress, but what if I do, and they tell me they never received it? I guess I'll have to insure it...

                1. re: finalera
                  Chemicalkinetics Jun 26, 2010 01:34 PM

                  Finalera,

                  :)

                  I know, which I why I raised the free sharpening service in my first post. Heh heh heh. I am so wise.

                  :P (Just kidding)

                  There is still one reason to do basic sharpening on your own versus sending to KAI. Turn around time. Here from the Shun manufacturer:

                  "What is your turn around time for sharpening?
                  We process sharpening requests as soon as possible. Please allow up to four weeks from the day you ship the knife before contacting us."

                  http://www.kershawknives.com/sharpening.php?brand=shun

                  Basic knife sharpening at home takes about 1 to 10 min. If you do it at home, then you can maintain the knife at tip-top shape all year long.

                  I have a Shun knife, but I have not sent mine in. I would definitely call them for the first time, just to make sure all necessary steps are correct. To answer your question more specifically. Shun website:

                  "I shipped my knife to you for sharpening or repair. Have you received it yet?
                  We encourage you to ship via UPS or Fed-Ex as these companies automatically provide a tracking number. The tracking number allows you to easily verify your knife’s arrival at our facility. If you prefer mailing the knife to us via the post office, we suggest insuring the package and using the Delivery Confirmation service. Again, this will provide a tracking number for verification of the arrival of the knife.

                  Please remember that shipping and mailing times vary greatly. Check with your shipping service for the approximate shipping time from their facility to ours."

                  http://www.kershawknives.com/faq.php?brand=shun

                  P.S.:
                  I would say basic knife sharpening tools should not cost you more than $60. I think a water stone and a DMT diamond stone will carry most people very far.

                  But if you are committed to send $500 for sharpening, then you must get one of these:

                  http://www.kk.org/streetuse/Sharpener.jpg
                  or
                  http://www.processedworld.com/carlsso...

                  P.P.S: it is a joke.

    2. bgazindad Jun 26, 2010 08:42 AM

      This is FYI

      Anzen hardware in Little Tokyo sharpens Japanese Knives. Its about $10 per knife. the price changes if there are nicks in the blade or its very dull. You can also purchase Japanese knives and sharpening stones there too, if you are interested. I have use them. They use stones and not machines.

      309 E 1st Street
      Los Angeles, CA 90012
      (213) 628-7600

      2 Replies
      1. re: bgazindad
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        finalera Jun 26, 2010 11:06 AM

        Thanks, it's definitely an option.

        1. re: bgazindad
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          deeznuts Jun 28, 2010 02:34 PM

          Yes, please use japanese knife sharpeners for j knives. Great find. I think with great care, and touch ups with a proper honing device, sharpening is only required 6 months to a year. At least that's what I've heard.

        2. scubadoo97 Jun 27, 2010 10:31 AM

          Not according to a Shun rep I met at a WS store. According to her your Shun only needs to be sharpened every 3 years. Anymore is ruining your knife. She also advocates touch ups on the Shun grooved steel.

          Okay well we know she knows nothing about J-knives eccept what she has been told by her company.

          I know there are a lot of knife nuts in the LA area so you should be able to find a class of some sort. The videos Chem posted are good and there are numerous good vids as well as bad ones on youtube. You may want to drop over at foodieforums.com or kniveforums.com and post the same question. It's not rocket science to sharpen your knife. It does take some time to learn hand sharpening. If you want a easy consistent way to sharpen but have afraid of hand sharpening, look at the EdgePro Apex

          9 Replies
          1. re: scubadoo97
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            epop Jan 2, 2011 05:08 PM

            I'd also love to have some professional help with sharpening Japanese knives, rather than sending them out. Somehow I can't learn certain things from youtube.

            1. re: epop
              scubadoo97 Jan 2, 2011 06:39 PM

              Really consider an EdgePro sharpener. As long as you don't have to sharpen traditional single beveled Japanese knives then the EdgePro would be a great easy tool to allow you to sharpen your knives at will. It's so easy you can learn to use it from their DVD.

              1. re: scubadoo97
                e
                epop Jan 4, 2011 04:00 PM

                curious option. Thank you.

                I do have Japanese knives so I will have to see whether are are single or not.
                I know, I should know. But I've never sharpened my own.

                1. re: epop
                  Chemicalkinetics Jan 4, 2011 04:22 PM

                  If you don't notice, then they are most likely to be double bevel. It is very difficult to not notice a single bevel knife:

                  http://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/Det...

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    e
                    epop Jan 5, 2011 07:09 AM

                    Thanks.

                    This is why I'd love to learn more about the craft. Sometimes, or oftentimes, I regret not having become a chef.

                    1. re: epop
                      Chemicalkinetics Jan 5, 2011 08:23 AM

                      :) The general knife sharpening is not very difficult, but practice is required. Yes, mistakes will be made, but that is part of learning process.

                      The important aspect for sharpening on a flat stone is to have patience and have a cheap knife -- you don't want to practice on an expensive knife. Not only because mistakes will be made on an expensive knife, but also because you will be too careful on an expensive knife to experiment things. Have a good but inexpensive knife, and have a go with it.

                      Youtube videos are guides, much like a book on Indian cooking or an instruction manual on video game. They are of great assistance, but they are only a part of the learning process. We cannot really get good at Indian cooking or get good at playing a video game by reading about them. (I like video games).

                      You said that you have some difficulty learning knife sharpening from youtube. Can you tell us which step you have difficulty? Do you have problem forming a burr on the edge? Do you have trouble holding the knife in a consistent angle? Take one step at a time.

                      Now all said and done, EdgePro Apex (recommended by scuabdoo97) is considered to be an excellent tool. It is a bit expensive, but it is a good investment if you have a good set of high quality knives.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        e
                        epop Jan 5, 2011 09:22 AM

                        Thank you for the thorough note. I haven't even gotten to the point of having difficulty learning it from the videos, as I know I will. I greatly prefer learning a craft from a craftsman who can quickly correct something I'm doing wrong, in person.

                        There are different bits of advice on how to use the stones. So it helps to know what to look for.

                        1. re: epop
                          Chemicalkinetics Jan 5, 2011 09:31 AM

                          You made an excellent point. I am sure there are some basic knife sharpening classes where you live, and taking a basic class will give you a good starting points and many skills. From there you can take it to a higher level if you desire. Good places to look for basic knife sharpening classes are extended learning programs from local community colleges and upscale kitchen cookware stores like Sur la Table and Williams Sonoma. Here are some examples:

                          http://cookingclasses.surlatable.com/browse/classDetailPage1.jsp?classId=3600604

                          http://www.meetin.org/city/MEETinPITT...

                          Yes, there are different methods of knife sharpening on a stone. It is much of an art, so there will be more than a few ways to do it. In other words, there is no one single way to do it. Knife sharpening can be a very rewarding and fun skill to learn. I wish you the best.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                            epop Jan 5, 2011 01:14 PM

                            I took the Sur La Table knife skills class but learned little. No sharpening lesson, only a lot of talk about what to do with a knife.

                            Thank you again.

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