The knife sharpening profession is an endearing and noble profession that is facing extinction. Due to the disposable culture and the devices that are comfortably sharpened at home, today it is rare to see this character on the streets who usually provides his services to the community.
The sharpeners or grinders are typical characters that walk the streets, either in a town or in the city; They are noted for their whistle or flute and offer the services of sharpening razors, scissors, knives and any other cutting tool. This trade, like many other traditional trades, is usually considered by all those who practice it, as an art; where great dexterity and precision are required when handling the emery. For this reason, it is a skill that is performed with pride and pleasure.
A tradition through time
By the end of the 17th century, there were already sharpeners who roamed Galicia with a stone wheel loaded on their backs, and by the 20th century this trade achieved a good deal of evolution, as these characters began to travel by bicycle, others by motorcycle and even some by car. Likewise, at the time of the conquest this tradition came from Spain to Mexico, lending great utility to all kitchens; so it became a task that soon spread to many peoples of Latin America.
Today this profession is being forgotten, especially due to the disposable culture implanted in many countries, where objects are used and thrown away; which has been a hard blow for these workers. In addition, we must add to this the presence on the market of devices specially designed to sharpen the blade of these culinary tools; These are efficient sharpeners that have been very useful for both homes and large kitchens.
However, despite the fact that it is a tradition that is facing decline, the services of a sharpener turn out to be more precious in developing countries, since the majority of the population does not have the economic resources to replace their tools. cutting or to buy a knife sharpener.
Discover how the sharpening technique is
The process of sharpening a knife is something that can take from a few minutes to hours and even months, just as it happens in Eastern countries when it comes to sharpening katanas. For traditional sharpening, the sharpener uses emery, a very hard mineral capable of sharpening the blade of a knife, razor or scissors. To do this, the expert takes the knife by the handle and skillfully moves it from the tip to the back and vice versa.
The idea is that the emery only touches the sharp part of the blade, for which an angle that could vary between 12 and 20 degrees must be maintained. This angle of inclination must be taken into consideration according to the use that will be given to the tool, whether it is a chef, butcher or ham knife. Both the profile and the curvature of the blade should also be evaluated, since an optimal cutting result will depend on all of this. Also, when using an electric motor, it is essential to moisten the ore with water to improve the process.
Likewise, it should be taken into account that most knives must be sharpened with a flat and fine-grained emery stone, since coarse-grained ones tend to quickly deteriorate the edge of the blade; with the consequent loss of useful life of the tool.
Know the story of Gregorio González
Gregorio González is a sharpener by profession, he lives in Salta (Argentina) and for 35 years he has traveled the streets of Valle de Lerma with his old bicycle dating back 50 years. With his two-wheeled means of transport, this character has spent a lifetime offering his services as a grinder and sharpener for scissors, knives and other cutting tools in the different neighborhoods of this region. During this time, he has worked in Buenos Aires and in Bolivia.
This expert craftsman continues with the tradition of calling the neighbors using a plastic harmonica or flute, with which he makes his presence known to all those interested in wanting to sharpen their cutting tools. Gregorio has also specialized in the bricklayer profession, in order to support his family; as a knife sharpener, he has seen in recent years a notable decline in his income and in demand for him.
The cause of this situation is very clear. The market now has household appliances that perform the task of the street sharpener, some models are considered the best knife sharpeners (if you click here, you have several purchase options). In addition, there are many manufacturers of low-cost knives that encourage people to throw away their old models and buy a new one without breaking their budget.
This character comments that people no longer sharpen their knives as they used to. However, despite his age, he continues to walk the streets a few days a week, offering his services in El Carril, Cerrillos and Rosario de Lerma, but without good results. Although he admits that he is not trained to take long walks, he continues to do this work more than anything for pleasure.
He assures that in the same way that the mattress trade was lost, that of the sharpener carries the same fate; since practically nobody hires his services. In the same situation as Gregorio, there are five workers better known to him and who are dedicated to the task of sharpening. He also comments that this trade is only known by older adults, since young people do not know what it is about.
On the other hand, this street craftsman recognizes that currently many cheap knives do not have good quality materials capable of withstanding the sharpening of his emery, so passing them through the mineral runs the risk of leaving them unused, since the blade it is very flimsy.