Five Great Orange County Knife-Sharpening Shops

It's all about that edge


Turkey carving time is right around the corner, and now is the time to get your dull carving knives sharpened. A dull knife is a dangerous knife because you have to apply more downward pressure to get it to slice, rather than the effortless glide you'll get from a sharp edge. And wouldn't you rather carve with precision and ease rather than hacking up the holiday bird in front of the family?

This week: five shops to get your tired old knives touched up professionally.

1. Chef's Toys, Fountain Valley

Chef's Toys started as a mobile knife sharpening service that serviced restaurant kitchens. Over the years, they grew into a large restaurant supply store, and sold the sharpening business to former employees who pick up knives to sharpen off-site every weekday. The cost is a bargain $3 each, no matter how big the knife. Bread knives and serrated edges are welcome.

Their process starts with a large grinding stone 36″ in diameter, followed by two increasingly finer grits of belt sanding, a buffing process and a final polishing stage that yields a mirror finish.

They also sell a large selection of sharpening devices like stones, home use electric sharpeners, and will demonstrate their use if you'd rather learn how to sharpen knives yourself.

18430 Pacific St., Fountain Valley. (714) 435-9222.

2. Plaza Cutlery, South Coast Plaza

On the second level of the mall, near Sears, is one of Orange County's venerable cutlery shops. Knife sharpening is performed in-store, and costs $1 per inch on kitchen cutlery. Though they will buff and polish an edge if you ask for it, they believe that a microscopically rougher edge will cut longer than a polished edge, which they say dulls faster. Typical turnaround time is one or two days. If you need faster service, it's best to call ahead.

3333 Bristol St. # 2060, Costa Mesa. (714) 549-3932.

3. Diamond Sharp, Brea

This industrial service will sharpen and service nearly anything with a blade, from cutlery to blenders, food processor blades to those giant deli meat slicers. They specialize in sharpening while-you-wait, for $5 a knife, and will take care of your serrated knives and single-bevel Japanese knives too. Their main customers are restaurants and meat cutters, but they gladly sharpen for home cooks. They are currently looking to expand their reach outside North OC with business partners who'd act as drop locations where home cooks can leave their knives and pick them up several days later. South County entrepreneurs take note!

512 Mercury Ln., Brea (714) 990-9402;

4. Knife Gallery, Orange

This cutlery shop in The Village Mall generally provides overnight service, but in some cases, can sharpen while you're shopping in the mall (don't count on this during the busy holiday season, though). Their process uses slow speed emery cloth grinding, which doesn't heat the blade excessively, and each knife is hand-finished on 1000-grit ceramic stones. Regular blades cost 50 cents an inch with a $2.50 minimum charge. Serrated and flat-ground blades cost $1 an inch.

They will gladly give instruction on home sharpening tools. For ease of use, they recommend crock sticks, which are two aluminum oxide rods held in a V shape that makes sharpening simple for those who don't feel confident using a traditional sharpening stone.

1500 E. Village Way, Suite 2249 Orange. (714) 974-2232.

5. Sur La Table

This home cook's kitchen store will sharpen knives for $1 an inch using the commercial version of the Chef's Choice electric sharpeners they sell. This machine won't work on serrated edges or bread knives, however. Expect a 24 hour turnaround, but they might be able to sharpen it while you shop if they're not too busy.

832 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 640-0200; also at 97 Fortune Drive, Irvine, (949) 585-0031 and 3333 Bear St., Ste. 110, Costa Mesa. (714) 241-0118.

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