- Priced right
- Able to request grinds/angles
- Certain knife types not allowed
- Not suitable for higher priced knives
- Not sure exactly who is handling the knives
- The knives come back sharp
- Good value
Mail-In Knife Sharpening Services: Is There Anything New Under the Sun?
In absence of innovation, execution is everything.
Knife Aid, as seen on ABC’s Shark Tank TV show, caught the attention of the wider viewing audience as a new way to sharpen knives. The pitch centered on consumers mailing knives to Knife Aid for sharpening. The knives returned later in the mail.
This excited the “sharks” of Shark Tank (including the surprisingly blade-savvy Mr. Wonderful), and a deal hatched to bring Knife Aid to the masses.
Billionaire investors aside, those in the world of knives likely yawned at this novelty. Mailing in knives for sharpening is Pony Express territory.
In Search Of The Better Mousetrap
Still, I wanted to try Knife Aid for myself for two reasons.
First, Knife Aid‘s execution seemed interesting. This operation looked as polished as a fresh blade, incorporating email updates about order status, slick packaging and the ability to scale. That last part is tough.
I’m a sucker for better mousetraps. I’m interested in how people stay on the cutting edge of what they do, especially in knives. (I’m also obligated by BLADE to use one knife pun per day. Hope you’re reading this, Steve.)
Second, I’m crunched for time like never before. I used to treat knife sharpening as a sort of meditation to unwind. Those days are gone, and my knives in regular rotation show it.
How Knife Aid Works
I contacted Knife Aid directly to try its service, but the process works the same for anyone.
After placing your order, Knife Aid mails you an envelope with everything you need to send knives or scissors in for sharpening.
And I do mean everything: a sturdy envelope, pre-paid postage, adhesive blade guards, you name it. All you need to do is pack your knives according to the instructions. That’s it. You could be all set in three minutes.
Knife Aid takes almost any blade you can throw (figuratively) at them, but there are some restrictions to keep in mind. Daggers, autos, single bevels, straight razors and anything longer than 16 inches are out of bounds.
I selected a couple pocketknives, some go-to scissors that border on shears and a bushcraft fixed. However, the real test would be a chef’s knife. That poor thing endured a lot of kitchen abuse. It would be my benchmark.
I liked that Knife Aid left room for custom instructions for the sharpener. This is great if you have a specific angle or grind in mind. You could also draw attention to a repair.
I dropped the stuffed envelope off at the Post Office. Again, the pre-paid postage kept everything simple. I didn’t need to worry about weights or sizes. All I had to do is wait.
Waiting didn’t feel like waiting, because Knife Aid kept me updated throughout the whole process with emails. At no point did it seem as though my knives fell into an abyss.
Testing The Sharpened Knives
I received the sharpened knives back about a week after I mailed them in. The 24-hour turnaround Knife Aid talks about on its website refers to the time from the start of the sharpening.
The scissors cut better than new. No joke. I use those scissors a dozen times a day around the house, especially the kitchen. Any resistance to the cut collapsed. I can’t quantify how much sharper they became, but I can say the fun factor went to 11. Yes, sharp scissors can be fun.
The pocketknives, more for tooling around outdoors, cut paper strips like champs, slicing with the weight of the blade and a feather grip. Had COVID-19 not welded the doors shut, a proper in-field exercise would be in order, but the paper told the story well enough.
However, that’s not what pushed me over the line on Knife Aid.
The Chef’s Knife: From Dull to Lightsaber Sharp
The chef’s knife. Oh, the chef’s knife.
Let me put this into context.
This degraded J. A. Henckels went into service in 2009 as the kitchen beater blade. It’s fought food and fixtures alike, pausing only to take a bath in the dishwasher.
Yes, I know what a sin that is, but you’ve got to understand something. Those clothes you wear while painting? Those shoes you mow the grass in? That truck you never buy tabs for? This is the knife equivalent of those. It doesn’t cut like butter. It cuts like butter. Hence the beating of the blade through the latest victim of food prep.
Things turned around big time after the sharpening. This chef’s knife zoomed past scary sharp to full-blown lightsaber. We’re talking near-zero resistance along the cut, greased only with gravity. Food prep for meals went from count-my-fingers-when-I’m-done bad to I-wonder-would-happen-if-I-tried-to-cut-XYZ great.
Knives to Avoid Sending to Knife Aid
Any time you stick knives through the mail, you risk losing them. Just ask any knifemaker at BLADE Show. Everyone has a story. You can’t count on postal insurance, either. Make that two stories.
For that reason, I’d only send knives to Knife Aid that you can afford to lose. As far as values, I’d peg a well-worn Sebenza as the top class of blade to trust.
Collectibles? High-buck customs? Anything with sentimental value? No way. Get a stone and figure out how to sharpen for yourself.
The same goes for chef’s knives, which I imagine make up the bulk of Knife Aid’s business. Losing a $200 knife stings, but a $2,000 knife stings 10 times more.
In a perfect world, I’d like to know more about who did the sharpening. Maybe I’d even request the same person again and throw in a tip. Good work should be rewarded.
I also wish they offered to disassemble and clean pocketknives. Why stop at sharpening? Give that gummy knife a spa day.
Worth The Money: A Sharp Knife is Like Getting a New Knife
Here’s the deal. Most of the time, a sharp knife is as good as a new knife. As of this writing, Knife Aid charges as low as $10.64 a knife for its service (check the prices here). Would I re-buy each of my knives for about 10 bucks? You bet.
Raising that chef’s knife from the dead sealed the deal. Knife Aid is a winner. I’d recommend it to anyone.
Knife Aid is going to bring knife sharpening to a lot of people who don’t think about knives as much as the staff at BLADE does. That’s a big positive, because with it comes the appreciation of the craft inside each knife, and that’s pretty sharp.
(That’s two puns, Steve.)
Try Knife Aid For Yourself
If you’d like to try Knife Aid, click here and get started. It’s easy.
Full disclosure: BLADE receives a commission on orders it refers to Knife Aid, because we have to keep the lights on. That shouldn’t stain the service Knife Aid provides. Give it a shot. You’ll like it.
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