Interview With Peter Nowlan, Owner of New Edge Sharpening
Here we are with another interview for our series “Know Your Knife Sharpener” – Today we have the pleasure to ask some questions to Peter Nowlan, owner of New Edge Sharpening.
1. Hello Peter, can you tell us more about you?
[box size=”large”]My name is Peter Nowlan, a retired Naval Officer. I became interested in Knife Sharpening 35 years ago starting on oilstones after watching my father sharpen a chisel. It was a trial and error thing at that time as there was no internet back then and nobody I knew had the same interest. Six years ago I discovered Japanese Water Stones and I also purchased the Edge Pro Professional. I started my business to make extra money just to feed my obsession with water stones but the business took off and I am truly enjoying an abundance of dull knives to sharpen. I created the new Edge Sharpening site and My Blog which I contribute to at least once a week. Last year I was in the major newspaper here, a full page article which took my business to different level. You can read the article here.[/box]
2. Can you tell us what’s the first knife that you sharpened?
[box size=”large”]Yes, it was in 1977, I had recently joined the Navy and sharpened my sailors knife after watching my father sharpen his tools on a whetstone in the garage.[/box]
3. How did you make it a business, and how long have you been doing it for?
[box size=”large”]I started sharpening 35 years ago but I made it a business (New Edge Sharpening) five years ago after speaking with the Managers of two high end kitchen stores in my area.[/box]
4. What’s your sharpening technique?
[box size=”large”]My process and technique involves the use of at least 3 stones, coarse (220-600), medium (1,000-2,000) and fine (5,000 -16,000), I spend about 15 minutes on a knife (unless it is damaged) 10 minutes of that is on the first stone, I make my knives sharp on the coarse stone and subsequent stones are for refinement. I usually finish the knife at 2,000 – 3,000 grit. Better quality knives are more refined, from 5,000-10,000 grit. I sharpen using a freehand method with pressure on my trailing strokes. For smaller knives with curved blades with areas that are hard to reach such as a boning knife, I use the Edge Pro. However, 90% of my sharpening is done by hand on full sized water stones. My favourite water stones are Naniwa Chosera, Shapton Pro, Shapton Glass and Kityama. I have about 40 stones. [/box]
5. How long did it take you to master it?
[box size=”large”]I do not consider myself a Master sharpener, I believe even master knife sharpeners become better master knife sharpeners. I don’t know if this is a skill that peaks, I hope it doesn’t.[/box]
6. What was the main challenge when you first started?
[box size=”large”]Understanding the concept of sharpening, raising a burr, removing a burr. When I started, 35 years ago, certain important elements of the process were unknown to me, there was no Twitter remember :)[/box]
7. Do you recommend starting with cheap knives?
[box size=”large”]Definitely not, a cheap knife is composed of cheap steel, it is difficult to sharpen and could hinder the progress of a new sharpener by shaking confidence, learn on a good knife, have courage, it’s important.[/box]
8. What do you think is the most common mistake beginner knife sharpeners make?
[box size=”large”]They are impatient, this leads to not understanding the process, what you are trying to achieve: the removal of fatigued metal, raising a burr, bringing the two sides of the blade together perfectly at the Apex of the knife. Learn the theory, then practice it.[/box]
9. Are you improving your sharpening technique today?
[box size=”large”]Knife sharpening is a journey, it is an exciting and satisfying process that rewards those who challenge themselves, yes I am still perfecting my skills and technique.[/box]
10. What’s the most expensive blade you’ve ever sharpened?
[box size=”large”]It was a $2,000 Carter dream knife. I also sharpened a similar priced Bob Kramer.[/box]
11. Which knives you don’t like to sharpen?
[box size=”large”]Inexpensive, thick and steel abused boning knives.[/box]