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Knife Sharpening Q&A
Keith Nix Knives
Knife Sharpening Questions Answered
How Do I Get My Knives Sharpened?

There's no need to be in the dark about Knife Sharpening Services. Why do knives get dull? What does Professional Knife Sharpening cost? How long does it take? Find out when to have your knives sharpened, how to make your edges last longer through care and maintenance, and safety tips, all right here.

Sometimes we're a little resistant to do something we've never done before. We don't know what to expect, or how the whole Professional Knife Sharpening procedure plays out. You have knife sharpening questions and we have answers! 
So dive in to the Knife Sharpening Q&A

Precision Sharpening_edited.jpg
A Well Sharpened Knife Edge From Keith N
Chef Knife Set with Cleaver, Curupau Han
Guacamole in the making, courtesy Sarah

I trusted Keith with some of my custom kitchen knives, and he did an outstanding job. He took great care and is a true professional. I would highly recommend him. -Seth


I contacted Mr. Nix about sharpening a set of German knives that I have. He was super friendly and easy to work with - even letting me mail my knives to him! He turned them around in 1 day and stayed in communication with me. Just a great overall experience, a great price, and a great job! I can’t recommend him any more highly!- Chris


Q: Is it worth it to get my knives professionally sharpened?

A: The short answer is yes, at least occasionally. A dull knife is a minor misery to work with. Dull knives are potential accidents waiting to happen. Dull knives are time wasted.

My tools and setup allow me to do things in minutes that would take a typical home sharpener many hours to do. And there's accuracy. Do you know the angle you're sharpening, honing, or steeling your knives? Have you taken the time to thin out the thickness behind the edge of your knives? Quality Assurance at Keith Nix Knives takes care of that. We know the angle. We thin the edges at the right angle. We hand sharpen the apex of your knives. If you're reasonably good at steeling or stropping, you shouldn't need my services more than once a year unless you're a professional chef or butcher. But your edges do need a reset now and then. That's where Professional Knife Sharpening comes in, and the answer is YES, it is worth the cost!

Q: What does it cost to have my knives Professionally Sharpened?
: This is the most asked sharpening question here at Keith Nix Knives, so let's address it early and get it out of the way. We charge $1 per blade plus $1 per inch of blade. Serrated knives are $2 per inch of blade. That is, a knife with an 8" blade costs $9, a 6" blade is $7, and so on. The handle length doesn't count! For that cost, you get the following:

Every knife receives this attention:
1) A full inspection of your knife to check for cracks in the steel and other safety issues.
2) Measurement of "thickness behind the edge," the key metric in keenness.
3) Edge thinning, if necessary, most often at 10-12 degrees per side for kitchen knives, higher for heavy-use blades.
4) Final HAND sharpening, on a fixed angle sharpener (Hapstone), at a final angle appropriate for the knife, its use, and the quality of the steel it is made from, I use a progression of diamond stones from 80 to 2000 grit and polish/deburr the apex with a 3000 grit ceramic stone.
5) Final Stropping on leather loaded with 1-micron diamond paste to further polish the apex of your knife and remove the burrs created in the sharpening process.

6) Measurement of the sharpness with the Edge on Up Sharpness tester. It gets resharpened if your edge doesn't cut the test media with less than 170 grams (6 ounces) of force. We no longer say, "it's shaving sharp"; we measure sharpness for quality assurance!
7) Final clean up and wipe down with isopropyl alcohol to remove residues.
8) 100% satisfaction guarantee!

Q: How do I know when my knives need sharpening?

A: If you have difficulty slicing a ripe tomato, your knife must be sharpened. If you're slicing carrots and they pop off the cutting board, your blade is too thick behind the edge. If you have to saw back and forth on the roast or onion you're slicing, your knives need help. If your knife won't cleanly cut paper, that's a great indicator that it needs sharpening. If the edge of your knife has visible nicks or chips, please bring it to me as soon as possible.

Q: How can I get my knives sharpened?

A: At Keith Nix Knives, it's as simple as a call, text, or email to make an appointment. I'll typically need no more than 24 hours to fine-tune your knives' edges so you ENJOY using them! See our contact info RIGHT HERE!   Give us a call, text, or email. Just get in touch!

Q: How Do You Sharpen Knives?

A: After edge thinning to make your knife a better slicer, I hand finish your edge with a small 'microbevel', at a slightly higher angle. This hand sharpening step eliminates the possibility of a "heat affected zone" at the edge of your knife. The microbevel adds strength to the edge. All knives I sharpen are finished to 2000 grit, and deburred with a 3000 grit ceramic stone and 1 micron diamond pasted strop. Your knives will be tested on the "Edge On Up" sharpness tester, and must fall between 140 and 170 on the BESS scale of sharpness. Read through the "Quantifying Sharpness" articles to learn more about this. 


Q: How Long Do Kitchen Knives Last?

A: There is no reason for a quality kitchen knife to wear out in a single lifetime unless you are a professional using your knives for your living. With proper care and sharpening, your custom knife should be something your kids and grandkids will treasure long after you're gone! Refer to the links right after the next question for some tips to make your knives last longer.

Q: Why Do My Knives Get Dull So Fast?

A: There are several possible reasons your knives are dulling quickly. If you own factory-made knives, it could be the quality of the steel or the factory heat treatment of the steel. It could be that you're scraping things off your cutting board with THE EDGE of your knife, a big no-no. Are you storing knives loose in a drawer, where they can slide around and roll, chip, or ding the edges as they bang together. Dishwashers are notorious for ruining fine edges and handles through corrosion and microabrasion, and should be avoided at all costs! Be aware of the type of material your cutting board is made from! That too. There are two pages right here at Keith Nix Knives for you to read:

Caring For Custom Knives

Choosing The Right Cutting Board


Q: What is "Quantifying Sharpness"?

A: Where I work as a machinist, we make parts with exceedingly close tolerances on a daily basis. Bearing journal Inside and outside diameter tolerances are .0003" TOTAL. We often hold plus or minus .0005". We have to have the means to MEASURE, or quantify, those dimensions and guarantee their accuracy. And from the time I started this little business, not being able to actually measure sharpness bothered me. 

I could slice paper, shave the hair on your arm test, slice the tomato test, all the anecdotal, subjective "Papaw taught me" tests. But I lacked a way to put a solid number on sharpness until the "Edge on Up" Sharpness tester. I've written about it so if you're interested, click on "Quantifying Sharpness"and read all three related posts.

Q: Can you sharpen Japanese knives?

A: Yes I can. In fact, I love sharpening high-end Japanese blades, or any other knife with a properly hardened blade. The quality of the steel and the heat treatment in high-quality Japanese cutlery is superb, making my job easier! Most mass-produced blades, whether western or Japanese, are made from good-quality steel with inferior heat treatment. They are softer than a knife should be, and during sharpening that softer steel is harder to give a really keen edge, it's harder to deburr and strop, and harder to polish well. Properly hardened and tempered knives are a dream!


Q: How long will my knives stay sharp after you work on them?

A: That depends more on how you use and care for your knives than how I sharpen them. The steel they're made from and heat treatment applied at the factory matter too. No knife sharpener has a magic machine that will make your knives stay sharper for longer. I know some sharpeners tell you that, but it just isn't true. Proper care, use, and storage improve edge life dramatically! And proper edge thinning makes a knife "feel" sharper longer.


This article will give you some tips on caring for your knives. 

And this post will help you choose an appropriate cutting board.

Here are some knife safety tips.

Q: Should I buy an electric knife sharpener?  

ANo, please don't. Any one of those "drag through" electric sharpeners is a death sentence to your quality knives. If you want something to touch up your knives at home, look into a pair of ceramic honing rods, held in the shape of an "X" by the base they're mounted to. They won't remove too much material, and they will help you realign the edge of your knife between sharpenings.

Q: Can You Sharpen my knives while I wait?
A: I'm going to say no to that. Knife sharpening requires concentration, patience, and time. My shop is tiny. My procedure and protocols are not secret in any way, I've written about them at length. I can do same-day sharpening with an appointment beforehand,  SOMETIMES. I typically don't do "walk up" same-day sharpening, and sometimes I won't be able to do same-day on your schedule. Make an appointment, please, let's talk about it. I will try my best to accommodate your needs. Besides, I know I don't do my best work with someone standing over me or waiting on me. Go have lunch, and see the sights in Black Mountain. I'll be done in a little while!


Q: Can you sharpen serrated blades? 

A: Yes, we sharpen serrated blades. They require round sharpening stones of the right diameter, and I have a selection of those. Serrated blades take longer to sharpen and so I do charge more. The good news is serrated blades stay sharp longer, so you won't have to bring them as often!

Q: Do you offer pick-up and delivery?

A: Yes, within a reasonable distance of say 10-15 miles, Beyond that there will be a mileage-based fee. Or the US Mail is available.

Q: May I mail you my knives and have you mail them back?

A: Yes, provided you pay postage both ways and understand that I am not responsible for the safety of your blades in either direction.

More Knife Sharpening Info:

Knife Sharpening At Keith Nix Knives

Quantifying Sharpness

Quantifying Sharpness II

Quantifying Sharpness III


If you have any questions about knife sharpening, knife making, how to book a custom knife, or have a special blade designed, please get in touch with Keith as described below:


Call or Text: 828.337.7836



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