Home / News / Do you know when your knife needs to be sharpened? This Naperville expert does this:

Do you know when your knife needs to be sharpened? This Naperville expert does this:


Business: Sharpening Services

Address: 5 S. Mill St., Naperville

Phone/website: 630-605-4897, www.sharpeningservicesdupage.com

Owner: Bill Storm, 70, of Naperville

Years spent in the profession: Five

What does your business do? “Sharpening Services takes knives, garden tools and shears and gives them the edge they had to begin with. “They’ve been upgraded to full-service capabilities,” Storm said.

How did you start? “I started because of our son Will. He was around 15 years old. He had a friend at the Wheaton Farmers Market who knew knives. … (His friend) was at the point where he could move on. He put the word out. My wife and I thought this would be a good opportunity for Will. … It was 2013, 2014. We had set up a table in the driveway. By the end of the summer, all the equipment was paid for. … Then he goes to college and I’m ready for retirement. ‘Why don’t you teach me how to do this?’ I said. He teaches me what he does.”

How are things? “Last year was probably my best year. Part of that was exposure to these ‘fixer cafes’ that seem to be gaining some traction in the area.”

How do you find customers? “I have a signature in front of me and verbally. … I have a lot of regular customers. Most of my customers are in Naperville, and a lot of them are local people.”

If Bill Storm, owner of Sharpening Services in Naperville, sees a reflection on the edge of the knife, he knows it needs sharpening. (Steve Metsch/Naperville Sun)

How do you know when a knife needs sharpening? “I’m doing the reflection test. … You take the knife and look at its sharp edge from above. What you’re looking for is any reflection coming from the edge. If there is – guess what? — is flat enough to reflect light. … Every time you pick up scissors or garden tools, there is adjustment for both the edge and (the blades).”

What did you do before this? I worked in the steel industry for 43 years. I worked for Inland Steel in East Chicago, Indiana for 20 years. I then transferred to Ryerson for the next 23 years. I was in information technology, computers. “My last job was Ryerson’s director of security and compliance.”

How much do you charge? “Basically, kitchen knives, which are the most popular thing I sharpen, will cost between $4 and $6 each, depending on the length of the blade. … Garden tools are in the $5 to $7 range. … Two edges would be $10. … Not only will I sharpen the knife, but I’ll also get some steel “I will clean it with its wool.”

Do you enjoy your job? “I’m like ‘Mr. Handyman’ around the house. … I enjoy doing this. … This is a nice, flexible, part-time job. The work usually comes to you. Then you engage in social interaction with customers. That’s half the fun. You meet new people. “This is the plus of everything.”

What about competition? “The farmer’s market or your neighborhood street vendor. Some hardware stores sharpen knives. …There’s a guy in Westmont who sharpens.”

What makes you different? “I have a delivery box on the porch. Write your name and phone number and put it in the (package) box. I tell people to text me if they are.

What else is at stake? “After sharpening the blade, you encounter burrs on the edge of the steel. You should remove these. … Small burrs need to be removed or corrected.”

How often do you cut yourself? “I wear gloves often enough. “When I use the high-speed grinder, your hands are much closer to the (sharpening) stone, so I usually wear gloves when I do it.”

Is there anything you don’t like? “NO. I enjoy what I do, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.”

Do you have any favorite stories? “A woman brought a pocket knife for her son. A few months later, he called and said he had given his family a knife sharpener as a Christmas present. … So, after that one contact, I had over $100 worth of knives to sharpen.”

What is your advice to someone starting a business? “Read the biography of Sam Walton. … He has 10 rules that he follows in his business life.”

If you know of a business you would like to see profiled on Down to Business, contact Steve Metsch at metschmsfl@yahoo.com.

Steve Metsch is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.


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