Hi folks, I've just returned from Mexico and I can't believe how much I missed sharpening knives. Fortunately I have a bunch of dull knives waiting for me to fix up.
One of things I wanted to blog about was a question I got recently from a chef, he asked me
"What the most important thing about learning to sharpen knives is, what is the one thing that is critical to success"?
The question was easier for me to answer than I thought it would be, so here it is"
Basically, I told him that there are two answers, one deals with the mental side of the process and the other deals with the physical act.
Without any doubt in my mind, PASSION is the number one thing on the emotional side of things. This may sound a little corny but I honestly believe this as I think about my own sharpening journey. Passion is an attribute that drives people to be successful in whatever it is that interests them, from knife sharpening to collecting stamps. It is the engine that drives us. Being passionate about something is like having the combination to a number of locks, as the interest grow, you unlock more doors and you discover more. You get better at it and this keeps you going.
If I wasn't passionate about knife sharpening, you would never have heard of me, I would not be a successful sharpener. You just need a little passion too, that's all. You already have that, if not, you wouldn't be reading this.
Also, we are drawn in by passionate people, we respect them for what they do regardless of what is is. I am always amazed by folks who can create beautiful things out of wood for example because I just don't have much skill in that at all.
I also believe that you can get started on something without being too passionate about it, I have always wanted to play guitar, went and got a nice one, took lessons too but I just don't seem to be improving at all. It is because I a
So in my experience, I know that I am a better sharpener because it isn't just a job, it isn't just taking money from people. I would be miserable if that was the case and I wouldn't have too many customers either.
Now for the physical piece, the skill part I have given this much much thought:
When I am teaching folks to sharpen, ( I only do one on one classes), the people who are able to hold the knife steady achieve success more quickly. So being consistent with your angles (whatever the angle is that you are holding the knife at) creates very sharp edges, and it is something you can see in the bevels and something you can feel when you touch the edge. Consistency is a skill you can develop, you must develop it, you must work at it and as your muscle memory improves your consistency will as well.
In this picture you see Corey from the Phoenix Knife House sharpening with impossibly consistent angles and achieving edges that are truly wonderful. We don't out sharpening with the ability to create consistent bevels and hold inhumanely precise angles. We develop this skill by repeating the process over and over and for some, this will take a long time because for some, sharpening knives doesn't consume their lives like it does me and no doubt Corey as well. There are other important skills to have when it comes to sharpening knives of course but in my opinion, consistency outweighs the others. Now someone may say, having an understanding of what it is you are trying to achieve when sharpening is the most crucial component. I tend to agree with this, however, once you have that understanding, that is a box you can check off. Consistency doesn't come from someone telling you to be consistent. It comes from practising and being persistent and of course being passionate about sharpening will lead to more practice and more persistence.
Remember my four pillars, my sharpening philosophy:
I'll be back soon, just wanted to touch base after being away for two weeks. Thank you for waiting.