Knives Need to Be Sharpened, Period
As knives are used, the blade becomes dull and will start to curl in on itself. Sharpening steels are a great fix to smooth out the curl and realign the blade but they will not actually sharpen your knife. Honing from a sharpening steel will extend the life of your blade and lengthen the time between sharpening, but it won’t change the fact that knives need to be properly sharpened, regularly.
How often you use your knives and how intensely determines the frequency of sharpenings. For commercial kitchens using a variety of knives every day for a majority of the day, sharpenings will need to occur with more regularity than knives used by a home chef. With that in mind, you have two options for sharpening knives: do it yourself or use a professional sharpening service.
Is There Value in Sharpening Knives Yourself?
In many areas of life when something needs fixing, there’s the common belief that doing it ourselves will save time and money. It can feel like it’s more efficient and you maintain control over quality and timing. And while it may seem like this is another area where that applies, there are many caveats where knives are concerned.
A professional set of cutlery is a big investment. Depending on how many knives you need, this can run in the multiple thousands of dollars, especially for a commercial kitchen. While it may seem like you can save money by doing the sharpening yourself, it’s a risky endeavor for a few reasons.
First, self-sharpened knives decrease preparation efficiency and kitchen safety. Knife sharpening should be left to those who have trained in the specialty and have experience. Different blades need different sharpening techniques and it’s unreasonable to think that your kitchen staff will know how to do this properly and safely.
Second, sharpening on-site presents a higher risk for injuries and workers’ compensation claims. Not only does that equate to higher costs, but also more time with a short-staffed kitchen. Third, taking on the commitment of on-site sharpening incorporates many elements of unpredictability into your restaurant.
Maintaining knife-sharpening equipment incurs a known cost, but many don’t consider the additional repeat cleaning costs related to removing sharpening dust and debris. Machines can break or need hours of troubleshooting to get them functional again, and last minute knife and sharpener replacement costs can seriously impair budgets and kitchen efficiency.
Also, when staff sharpen knives, they tend to only want to use the knives they’ve personally sharpened. This breaks down the flow of the kitchen and decreases asset versatility. It’s a different situation from a chef bringing their own knives to use in a restaurant kitchen. In this case, they’re either sharpening them at home or hiring a service as well.
The Cost of Knife Sharpening Services
For most people, the value of using a knife sharpening service comes down to cost and convenience. So envision first doing it yourself as a business owner. It may seem more cost effective to invest in a one-time purchase of a professional sharpening machine. In reality, it takes up space in your kitchen, takes staff off of prep and cleaning, and will likely lead to knife damage. Unless you know exactly how to use these machines, you’re risking them simply eating away the metal of the blade.
At the rate and frequency that knives are used in professional kitchens, delis and grocery stores, it would quickly become a requirement to have a dedicated knife sharpener on staff with their own equipment and space, and downtime needed for every set of knives that should be sharpened on a regular basis. Not to mention the additional cleaning requirements of the space to remove sharpening dust and debris.
Now look at a professional knife sharpening service. Most of these services are modeled as a knife exchange. You set a regular schedule that works for your kitchen and level of usage, then simply exchange your dull knives for sharp ones. There’s no downtime for the knives or kitchen staff and no time or money wasted on ineffective and risky efforts to do it yourself.
The FoodPrep Solutions knife sharpening service alleviates all the issues that come with doing it yourself: it’s safe and done to the highest quality, blades will always be consistent, no downtime and conveniently set to your personal schedule, and no unexpected expenses from inevitable mistakes.
At the cost of $2-4 per knife, you can keep your overhead low, maintain only sharp knives in your kitchen, maximize the safety and efficiency of staff, and address every blade in your kitchen with a single phone call. If you imagine $2.50/knife x 10 knives in a kitchen with the frequency of 40 visits per year, you’re looking at an outsourced cost of $1,000.
That’s on par for the cost of an annual 10-knife set purchase, an electric sharpener replaced annually, and annual labor costs for sharpening. But it doesn’t begin to address the safety risks, additional cleaning requirements, or the unexpected interruptions to your kitchen and your business.
In the end, the most economical, efficient, and effective solution for knife sharpening is a professional knife sharpening service. Leave your knife sharpening needs to the professionals at FoodPrep Solutions and keep your focus on what matters most – your food.