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Sharpen your knives, scissors and garden tools

You don’t need to throw away kitchen knives and scissors that are no longer sharp. If you sharpen them, they will again last a long time. Not all Repair Cafés have a knife sharpener, but our repairers are eager to learn. Who knows, they may want to learn more about sharpening knives and scissors when a visitor brings them in.

For many people, it’s an eye-opener that you can sharpen blunt knives, scissors and garden tools quite easily. Once they know there’s a knife sharpener in a Repair Café, it often spreads like wildfire.

And rightly so! Knife and scissor repairs are almost always a success at the Repair Café. The repair rate for these types of repairs is 98 per cent, according to our RepairMonitor. In this online system, Repair Café repairers keep track of their repairs and whether they are successful. This has always been the case with knives and scissors.

Buying grindstones for sharpening knives and scissors

Albert Haan from Repair Café Zwolle-Assendorp (the Netherlands) always brings his own sharpening equipment. Sharpening knives and scissors is a hobby that got out of hand for him, and in the meantime, he has started his own business. “The Repair Café in Assendorp is located in a community centre, which also has a small restaurant”, says Albert. “At one point, the cook was complaining about his blunt knives. Then I thought: you know what, next time I’ll bring my sharpening stones. Of course, the visitors saw that, and so I started sharpening more knives and scissors.”

Albert is not a fan of using knife sharpeners where you must run the knife through. According to him, they often cause a knife to be sharpened unevenly. “You often sharpen the first part the most because there you unintentionally press the hardest. That means your knife is sharpest at the handle and the least sharp at the tip.”

Knife sharpening tips

Albert recommends Japanese whetstones instead. These are rectangular blocks grinding stone. “Many people know them. They are grey and light grey. You can buy them at the hardware store and you can get your knives pretty sharp with them.” With these sharpening stones, it’s vital to always sharpen the knife at the same angle. “You have to keep the angle constant and go over the stone with it. If you start twisting your knife, you’ll never get it sharp.”

There are all kinds of tutorials and instructional videos available on the internet about sharpening knives.

Even century-old knives can be sharpened. Albert: “One day, a man came to our Repair Café with a very old butcher’s knife. It was perhaps a hundred years old and had always been in the family. He had never dared taking it to the sharpener because he was worried they’d mess it up. But, in the Repair Café, he had seen me working several times. It gave him the confidence to bring his knife. So, I sharpened that knife, which before hadn’t cut for years. He was thrilled. Not necessarily because of the knife, but mainly because of its family history.”

Sharpen your knives and scissors yourself or drop by the Repair Café!

Do you need help sharpening blunt knives and scissors? Then come to a Repair Café in your area. Want to do the repair yourself? Then find a repair guide at iFixit! You can also use these step-by-step manuals to prepare your visit to the Repair Café. This way you can read what to expect.

This post has 7 comments

  1. While content is true, Japanese whetstones are v expensive. Cheaper equipment works. The important thing is to show people how to do it. It is a skill that has to be learned. You need to be taught how to feel the stone working on the blade

  2. I have a two-sided stone for sharpening chisels. Every so often I bring it indoors to whet the kitchen knives. Getting the angle on each face is tricky, especially nearer the end as the blade curves up to the tip. I think you are supposed to use light oil on the stone.

  3. I have a small sander with a 1″ belt sander and a 5″ disk sander. When I go to the Unley Repair Cafe each month in Adelaide SA Australia, I put a 400grit belt on the belt sander. A quick run over the blades on this, followed by a few strokes with my diamond “steel”, and the knife/ secateurs/tree loppers/scissors is/are as sharp as a razor. People are just so appreciative and love their sharp knives.

  4. Bravo Peter!

    You’ve made it sound that simple I think we’ll try giving it a go too.

    Whilst we do have a suitable belt sander, pls can you advise what is a Diamond Steel and where might we get one?


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