Friday, 24 March 2017

The Sharpening Journey, what does that mean?

We often hear the term "Sharpening Journey" when we refer to someones hobby/past time/profession in regards to knife sharpening but what does it actually mean?  First of all, it probably means something different to everybody.

   This is what it means to me:

    At some point, all men have the urge, The Calling, to sharpen a knife and this is something I have written about for Knifeplanet. I believe this because over the years, I cannot count how many men have told me that they used to sharpen or they saw their father or Grandfather sharpen. ( I know women sharpen as well of course but let's face it, not as much as men. I never had one person tell me they saw their Grandmother out in the shed sharpening her chisels")

    My Sharpening Journey is an evolutionary odyssey, a continuous series of sessions of learning, facing challenges, experiencing rewards, feeling pride, anxiety, pressure and absolute bliss.  

     I do not see and end to my journey, because I can't imagine, I can't see a point in my future where I stop learning. So my journey is not really about sharpening knives as much as it is becoming a better knife sharpener than I am today.

    It is series of stepping stones, I know that there will be more stones to step on but I don't always know what I will learn on that particular stone.  In other words, I see each stepping stone as a lesson and although there are my stones in my wake, there are more that lie ahead even though I may not know what I will learn.

    For example, the latest thing I learned was all about thinning knives.  When my journey started, decades ago, thinning was something I had not heard of so until I got to the stage where I had to learn about it, it wasn't something I was too concerned about.

    The continuance of my journey depends on a few things.

1.      My desire to learn and my ability to drop my ego and accept the fact that someone who started sharpening a year ago who works for Mr. Kent at Knifewear for example, may be able to teach me something. This is very very easy for me, I've been like this for as long as I can remember,  able to absorb information from anyone willing to give it.

2.     My ability to find a teacher skilled in the lessons that each stepping stone has to offer.  Again, I have been very lucky, I eagerly seek out who I see as gifted sharpeners and willingly accept what they have to offer, Jon Broida and Kevin Kent stand out as do others.

Beautiful hand made Saya (let me know if you would like one made for you)

     So when does the journey begin: 

 I think that this depends on how you react to the process, how you feel about it. If I pick up a knife and a water stone and try it out for 15 minutes and put it away, that is not a sharpening journey. However, If after 15 minutes I know that it is something I want to do again and at some point, I do this, then the Sharpening Journey begins the moment I pick up that stone again.

When does it end:

    Sadly, for some people, ego places a barrier that prevents them  travelling forward. Some people think that they can't learn more so in my mind, their journey has ended. It doesn't mean that they are not skilled sharpeners or anything. Now, there are people in the sharpening world, Masters who probably don't have much to learn but I just don't see those people as thinking that way, this is how they get to be Masters.

    For me, I can see it ending when I am too old to sharpen anymore but even then, I can pass along what I have learned to whoever wants to take over my business. 

     My journey is also a series of goals, things I want to do before it is too late. This is simply meeting some of the folks that have helped me along the way, and also to meet people that I greatly admire in Japan, Master Sharpeners.

(A Master Sharpener, as far as I am concerned is a person who followed a program, at some point he/she was an apprentice who learned from a Master).

To summarize.

A sharpening journey is for me a cascade of learning points, a place where I can do what I love to do at my own pace and a place where I know that I will continue to improve because there will always be someone who can teach me something. I have a mindset that allows that.

Well if you have read this far......I am grateful and surprised:)

All the best


  1. Nice post, your journey continues!

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