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While I’m away on my imaginary vacation, I’m leaving the pantry stocked with posts from Exit 51 that would have been part of the Flashback Friday series. The following originally appeared on 7/29/09 at Exit 51.


We have accumulated an odd assortment of knives here in our kitchen.  Some were wedding gifts.  Others were random purchases.  We’ve even inherited a couple that are probably almost as old as I am.  My grandfather was a meat cutter and every so often some of his A&P work knives would find their way home with him.    After he passed away, two of those work horses found their way to our house.  Funny how that happens.


I wouldn’t say that I have any one favorite knife.  They are all good for different things.  The 10 inch chef’s knife is the only thing I’ll use to cut up sweet potatoes.  But the paring knife is the best tool I have for finely dicing shallots.   Knowing how important it is to take care of your tools, I decided that it was time to have them properly sharpened.  Sure, we have a home sharpener but it’s just not the same.  Somehow, I even managed to knock a chip or two into (or out of) the blade of the 10 incher.  My home sharpener isn’t going to fix that.  No, a professional was definitely in order.

Do you know how hard it is to find someone who sharpens knives?  Even more, do you know how hard it is to find someone who sharpens knives while you wait?  I scoured the internet and there were plenty of service providers but they all involved me sending my knives to them.  I don’t know about you but I tend to use my knives almost daily so shipping them off to Arizona to be sharpened wasn’t really an option.

The topic of knife sharpening comes up fairly regularly on the Washington Post’s Home Chat.  They often recommend Stronsider’s Hardware, which is a lot closer than Arizona.  But when I called to ask about sharpening services, I was told that it takes two to three days to get the knives back.  So in addition to being without a knife, I’d have to make two round trips from Baltimore to Silver Spring.  There had to be a better solution.

And there was – Frank’s Cutlery Service.  Located in a small shop in Baltimore,  Frank does his thing for many restaurants in the area.  He’s got boxes for his commercial customers stacked by his grinding wheel.  Of the dozens of boxes, the one that caught my eye was labeled Andy Nelson.  Yeah, that Andy Nelson.  So I figured that if the folks I trust for my pulled pork bbq trust their knives to Mr. Frank, then I was in pretty good hands.

Depending on where you are, he might be a little out of the way over in Hamilton.  And his shop hours are only Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and it’s advisable to call before you head over just to make sure he’s there.  But seeing him transform my beaten up knives back into precision cutting tools was worth it.  His grinding wheel alone was impressive.  I didn’t ask but it must have been at least two feet in diameter and two inches thick.  Of solid stone.

Best of all, I got to see a skilled craftsman in action.  It was the best $14 dollars I could have spent.

Frank’s Cutlery Service


4 thoughts on “Sharp

  1. How cool! I remember my grammy telliing me about the scissors grinder as she called him who came round the neighborhood before I was born….he sharpened scissors and knives on the spot. My grandfather was a butcher and had his own shop back home. I used to watch the knife grinder Mr Vidi come with his big truck and then poppy would take his knives out to be sharpened. Mr Vidi ( which is believe is Latin for I SAW) had his SHARP SHOP around the corner and we took our push lawn mower there also. All that is gone now only the memories of summer afternoons watching a lost art being plied remain!

    BTW there were things from poppy’s shop tha tmade their way here after he passed……I haave a cleaver that Morimoto would envy!

    1. Emily, what part of town was this with the Sharp Shop? Because I swear that there was something like that on Belair Road back when I was much younger.

  2. the shop was in the Little Italy section of chicago. If I think long enough I will remember the street and maybe even the phone number. I used to have a head for such trivia. it wasn’t far from my grandfather’s house. I used to go with him when he took the push mower down the cement to be sharpened. they didnt’ have much more than a postage stamp yard no need for a power cutter. We got more than a few funny looks. poppy ignored them and I just hid behind him.

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