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Can You Save Money by Sharpening Commercial Knives Yourself?

In many aspects of our lives, we enlist the help of professionals to tackle tasks we are not capable of doing, have no interest in doing, or can be completed more effectively by someone else. From duct cleaning to car detailing, we don’t hesitate to call on a professional.

Unfortunately, this does not always apply, including in professional environments such as commercial kitchens. Rather than calling knife sharpening service to sharpen restaurant kitchen knives, many food service operations simply neglect their knives, impacting their food quality, kitchen safety and the efficiency of their business.

Can You Afford to Have Dull Knives?

The reasons for not hiring a knife sharpening company vary. It may be that the owner does not know these services exist, or how to locate the right one. Perhaps the thought of an inexperienced service damaging your high-quality knives has crossed your mind. In most cases, however, the issue is about time and money. Some kitchen managers are unsure about what a knife sharpening service costs, or don’t want their knives to be out of service while being sharpened. Others are simply uncertain of the value offered by various vendors offering knife sharpening solutions.

No restaurant kitchen can afford to have dull knives. Dull knives make food prep slower and more dangerous while affecting the quality of the food and its presentation. While honing knife blades with a honing steel will extend the duration between sharpenings, this is only a short-term solution. Knives need to be properly sharpened, regularly.

The Value of Knife Sharpening Services

There are a variety of knife sharpening businesses in most cities, each focused on sharpening restaurant knives. These are not the same companies who expect you to mail in your knives and be without them for days or even weeks. These are professional services geared to professional clients. These high-quality restaurant knife sharpening services understand that time is money. You can’t afford to be low on knives, not for days, weeks or even hours. Some of these service providers will visit on-site and sharpen your knives in their vehicle.

Some restaurant owners may opt to do it themselves, with a portable grinder. In the right hands, you might achieve positive results, but most people find that these inexpensive machines simply eat up the metal on their knives, damaging them permanently. A professional can ensure that no more metal than necessary is removed from a blade, preventing your chef’s knife from evolving into a boning knife.

Knife sharpening isn’t for amateurs and should be reserved for those who specialize in it. It has been said that knives should be sharpened every 300 meals, which would require a dedicated knife sharpener on staff in a busy kitchen.

The best knife sharpening services act as a knife exchange. Simply exchange your dull knives for sharp ones, on a regular schedule. No downtime is involved, nor time wasted on ineffective efforts to do it yourself. All that time spent honing and trying to extend the life of your blades is time and money you won’t get back; time that could be better spent on other tasks.

The Cost of Knife Sharpening Services

Some might ask how much does knife sharpening cost? Well, the mail-order version costs you in downtime and shipping, plus approximately $1 per inch, which could add up quickly in a well-equipped kitchen. Mobile services charge about the same, with less downtime. Both options typically require you to own or buy your own knives and pay to replace them.

DIY sharpening comes with a variety of issues. The first, safety, should be your biggest concern. Improperly sharpened knife blades are even more dangerous than dull blades. Second, consistency will always be an issue when knife sharpening is not your specialty. Third, no busy kitchen has the time required to sharpen their own knives. Finally, there is an expense related to equipment and inevitable mistakes. With no upfront investment in either knives or sharpening equipment and no replacement expenses, a knife exchange or sharpening program can save you time and money.

In the end, the most efficient, economical, and effective form of knife sharpening is a professional knife sharpening service. High quality, professionally sharpened knives are provided and swapped out on a consistent scheduled basis, and you only pay per blade. This allows for almost no downtime in your kitchen, keeps your overhead low, and keeps a sharp knife in the hands of every cook. A sharp knife is a safe knife and will help to provide the best and most consistent food presentation and guest experience.

At first glance, sharpening commercial knives yourself may seem to be a cost-effective solution to dull knives, but over the long run, it will cost you more in time, money and headaches. Leave your commercial knife sharpening needs to the professionals so that you can focus on what you do best.

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