Ten Reasons why Knife Sharpening is a Good Hustle

As I write this, I am still in the process of establishing my knife sharpening business, but it appears to be working.

My goal is to sharpen 10 knives a week, and for the past two months, I’ve been hitting my mark. With recent exposure at the local Farmer’s Market, and a new Facebook Page, I’m optimistic that in the coming months I’ll be able to continue meeting my goal.

If you, too, are interested in starting a business, either for cash money or for experience, I’d like to make a 10 point case for why knife sharpening might worthy of exploration.

  1. Scratch your own itch.

As an engineer, I hate absolutes, but chances are, you have knives. Even if you go through all the effort to learn how to sharpen knives, market it, and turn it into a business that fails, you’ll still know how to sharpen your own knives.

  1. Low capital investment.

In my humble opinion, the Edge Pro is the way to go, and you’re talking a few hundred bucks to get an adequate setup, so this is all relative, but in the big scheme of things…well, how about this…I paid mine off in less than a year.

  1. The skills are easily learned.

It will help having some hand’s on skills to start, but the required information is on YouTube and with a little practice on your own knives you’ll be able to get the hang of it. After that, you can sharpen knives for friends and family to practice and spread the word. And by then, you’ll know what a sharp knife is.

  1. Near limitless opportunity.

Again, I hate absolutes, but every house where food is served has a set of knives. That doesn’t even cover the tools in all the sheds around you, or the knives in pockets. There are knives everywhere, and they are probably dull, or otherwise poorly maintained.

  1. Subscription opportunity.

Even a meticulously maintained knife will get dull. It’s not inconceivable to suggest that once a good relationship is established, the clientele will return for years.

  1. Existing service sucks.

I am never in the game of bashing someone behind their back, but, many existing knife sharpeners use fast tools that provide mediocre results. In Fact! One of my biggest challenges is convincing people I am not one of them. I use the term precision sharpening to try to convey that.

  1. Set your own hours.

The thing about the side hustle is that it has to be done outside of your normal work hours. Once you establish a good drop off and pick up method, the physical act of sharpening can occur any time of day.

  1. Use it to build an email list.

Maybe you, like me, do not aspire to sharpen knives for 40 hours a week, every week. Well, in addition to building savvy business skills, you can keep in touch with your customers offering deals and information to one day transition them into customers in any other venture. Many of the people I listen to and follow who are successful have stressed the importance of an email list.

  1. Scale as much or as little as you want.

If your market really demands it, this is a service you could turn into one with employees, travel vans, and dedicated brick and mortar infrastructure. Or, it can stay in the basement and after hours.

  1. Competition is valuable.

Miles may vary with this, but in my opinion, more knife sharpeners the better. Because, the biggest issue we face is that people don’t even know that their knives should be sharpened. So, since educating the customer is a big hurdle, the more people out there getting after it, the more people will come to respect sharp knives.

There are more reasons, but I think that is enough to make a case. I welcome your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.

Noah Kagan meets Financial Samurai – Lots of nuggets.

I was in a slump.

I’m a podcast junky. And none of them were talking to me.

Then, kinda out of the blue, Noah Kagan (who I listen to frequently) interviewed the Financial Samurai.

Dang did that interview hit the nail on the head for me. I listened to it three times, back to back to back. Then a few more times after. SO many nuggets.

There are many, but here are a few highlights that stuck out to me:

  • 40 hours a week is arbitrary.

Spend the 40 hours a week on the job, and then spend another 40 on the side hustle. Do that for 2 or 3 years and then suddenly you’re making enough to have choices.

  • Forecast your misery.

It’s great to be excited about the job you’re in, but keep an open mind to the concept that 10 to 20 years down the road you might just hate it. Be prepared for that by starting now.

  • Financial jealousy is the wrong lens.

Compete for liberty. Someone whose worth is 5 times more than mine is poorer than me if they’re tied to meetings, deadlines, investors, lawyers and any other bureaucratic BS.

  • Brand yourself online.

The samurai would be SHOCKED if we could not reach a modest income of $3500 per month after three years of disciplined web posting. Meaning, 2 to 4 times a week. I’m not that disciplined at the moment, but this has renewed my motivation for providing content.

  • Never fail due to a lack of effort.

It’s easy for us to say we’re not smart enough, or we’re unlucky but there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that prevents us from trying hard.

There’s a lot more in their conversation, like:

  • Investing in real estate.
  • The Shock Doctrine. (mine was Djibouti)
  • Optimizing for happiness.

I took notes on all of it and have since added the Financial Samurai to my feed.

I currently use Stitcher for my podcast listening – and use the ‘Listen Later’ feature to reduce data usage.

I’m using WordPress and Bluehost for my website, with which I am working on my branding.

My side hustle is The American Edge, a growing knife sharpening service.

This is stupid…

Burning diesel to cut grass.

Someday I’m going to turn this grass into meat, with the help of some sheep.

Before I can do that I need some capital to invest in fencing and sheep, and time to set it up.

The plan is to buy three sheep in the spring, paddock shift them in the pasture over the summer, and harvest them in the fall.

By raising three, I can keep two, and offset the cost by selling the other. At the moment, I’m leaning toward hair sheep vice wool sheep.

Using permanent fencing to establish my paddocks will be more work up front, but will make it easy to move the sheep. I can also follow the sheep with chickens, or use the paddocks to isolate a flock to control genetics for reproducing.

The sheep have the potential to improve the quality of the pasture by mowing it while fertilizing it, but I can also seed it after I move them out of a paddock to promote specific grasses or variety.

On an aside, while I was mowing I saw some vetch in the field. I’m fairly certain it came from the fall manure mix I planted in my garden last fall, which I’m a super fan of.

Much of the material I’ve learned about paddock shift pasture management has been experimentally researched and published by Greg Judy.

There is something inside a lot of us to want more land. I have it inside me, so I’m confronting it with the reality that the parcel that I do have is far from producing its potential. I have several ambitions with the acre of pasture that is currently in a stall pattern of getting mowed a few times a year.

Cutworm, you devil

It’s kinda hard to see in this picture:

A cutworm chopped down my pepper seedling.

But the stem is cut just above the soil.

What happens, is, you come out in the morning, and those pretty little seedlings you just put in are cut down.

Nice healthy plant. Laying next to, but removed from, it’s roots.

The culprit: Cutworm.

It’s a little worm hanging out in the soil. It crawls up your little seedlings and takes a bite, and when the plants are this small, it’s enough to chop them down.

The solution?

Build a fortress around your seedlings.

I used newspaper.

A newspaper fortress around my tomato plant, impenetrable by the cutworm devil.

Other good options are: toilet paper rolls, soup cans (bottom removed), small yogurt containers (bottom removed).

After protecting each of my seedlings with newspaper I didn’t lose any more transplants. Before then, it was like 1 or 2 every morning. Enough to decimate a small scale gardener.

Log this as organic pest management.

Applied Permaparenting

Applied Permaparenting – or – How to stop driving your kids away from projects.

First thing, let them participate.

Hold on. Better yet. First thing, communicate openly with them, listen, and then, let them participate.

I drove my 4-year-old daughter away from beekeeping after our first hive inspection. She said, “I’m bored” and walked away.

How come no one wants to play with me?

Between inspections we spoke about it, and in doing so, I learned that I need to let her in on it, even if it means doing some things her way.

So, for the second hive inspection, we both geared up together and I asked her to collect and carry all the tools out. We planned ahead the portions of the inspection that she would do, such as, opening the hive, and we also spoke about the portions that I would do, like handling the frames.

The inspection went well. I helped her get the cover off, the hive top feeder, and the inner cover. Then I directed, and let her set up the frame rests and tools. We shared our observations of the frames, and when she got bored, I decided that we’ve seen enough, so she helped me put a new super on the hive, and close it all up.

Here’s the big question…what’s my why?

Why am I getting up at 5am to get an hour in the garden before the family gets rolling?

Why am I compelled to document the things I’m working on, and post them on the world wide web?

The genesis is in my desire to be an awesome father and husband. By growing and raising the best food on earth: we eat better, we save money, we grow together as a family, we value food and the conversation that should be had while enjoying the harvest.

What good is all that if I’m so anal about the details that I drive everyone else away.

Don’t step there!

Put that down!

Those of you in the game know exactly where I’m coming from. It’s hard.

Somewhere there’s the balance of patience, yet not having everything trampled, dropped, thrown or otherwise destroyed.

I’m learning. Learning to find the parts that everyone is interested in and letting go of some control of them. I think harvesting will be a big one that my daughter will find joy in.

Two events have reinforced that this approach (homesteading) carries value.

First, after our hive inspection, when my daughter was on her way back to the house, she was confronted by our bantam rooster. He gave her quite a fright. She ran to me crying, I got down with her, eye to eye, and asked her to do a self-assessment. What hurts? Nothing. Just scared the bejesus out of her. Together we walked past that rooster. We still have a ways to go before she’ll stand up to that rooster, but that path is a great opportunity for a little girl to learn about courage.

Secondly, death came up at her school. Her teacher shared with my wife and I that death can be a tough topic in the classroom. My daughter took the opportunity to share her story about death with her whole class. The death of our dearest little silkie, Soufflé. Death sucks no matter how you shake it, but learning about it on chickens is a nice precursor to coping with it on people.

Reflections on the homestead.

Do more, be wonderful.

How to care for kitchen knives

I have been itching to cut this video for some time now.

A tutorial of my recommendations on daily and routine knife maintenance.

Links to products I recommend:

Knife Oil: For you high-carbon-knife operators.

Ceramic Hone: In the vid you’ll see the way I recommend you use a hone in the kitchen. Once you nail that, you should treat yourself to a better hone than that cheesy steel that came in your set.

Without further ado:


The Greatest Gift?

Time, is probably the greatest gift we can give one another.

A fruit bearing tree, however, is a solid contender for second place.

Mindfulness and meditation teaches us to recognize the wonderful things in our life every day, and to be grateful for them. I am aware of being particularly fortunate as the recipient of generosity lately.

Oh, and the gift of planting a tree with a child! Both literally and figuratively, there are probably fewer things more noble for us adults to do.

Someone I look up to in many ways thought of me when the cherry tree he and his wife purchased proved to be a poor fit for the location they had in mind. The string attached was that he had to help plant it.

What a guy.

This sort of thing has me, quite literally, seeking ways to be kind and generous to other people.

It works. It’s contagious.

Catch that bug.

The American Edge on a Chainsaw

Here’s one I’d prefer you to do on you own.

The chainsaw.

To be safe, you should touch up your chain every time you go out. To do it that often, you need to be good at doing it yourself.

I use the Granberg G-106B, it used to be $30, looks like it climbed a little bit, still worth it.

I think any bad reviews are by people who aren’t using it correctly. It’s not rocket science, but the included directions are rather sparse.

Here you go:

Redefining a sharp hatchet

This hatchet sharpened on the Edge Pro Apex.

The edge was restored using a 120 grit stone, and finished with a 2k grit polish.

The handle was treated with boiled linseed oil.

I charge $15 dollars, which is comparable to a new hatchet, but a new hatchet won’t come out of the box this sharp, or with an edge this durable.

Camping this summer?

Do yourself a favor: americanedgesharpening@gmail.com