Updated: Aug 19, 2022
For Alan Gwinner, owner and operator of Precision Sharpening of Bremerton, it all started with a simple question posted on the local social networking site NextDoor: Do neighbors need their knives, scissors and tools sharpened?
The answer was overwhelmingly “yes!” Over 50 of his NextDoor neighbors replied in the affirmative, some asking, “When can you start?” Alan says, “It was a free focus group, which was a great jumping-off point. I received so many positive responses, I knew I was onto something.”
A woodworker and craftsman who has long enjoyed working with his hands–even building a wooden boat a few years ago–Alan started assembling his workshop. He purchased state-of-the-art Tormek equipment and learned all he could about sharpening knives and scissors on a professional level.
He began by sharpening his own knives, then asking friends and neighbors to lend him their dull knives, scissors and garden tools to sharpen. After hearing them say their knives and tools have never been sharper, Alan knew he had the experience and skills to be a professional sharpener.
Then came the next step: how to set up his business. He looked no further than his own driveway, where his red Winnebago Travato camper van was parked. With a few simple modifications and the OK from his wife, Alan set up his workshop on wheels. “Our big red van is pretty eye-catching. Then folks can see I’m sharpening inside with state-of-the-art equipment, and many say they wished they’d brought their knives with them. They usually come back the next week with at least one knife, some with a boxful.”
Alan asks his customers how their knives and scissors are used, to get a better feel for how they’ll be sharpened. For example, he’ll ask if your knife is used primarily for cutting tomatoes, bread or meat. Will your scissors be used for cutting fabric, wire or paper? How they’re used is really important, as this affects how he’ll bring them back to optimal sharpness.
If he has too many customers (always a good problem) and is unable to sharpen while you wait, he’ll sharpen your knives, scissors or tools in his workshop and bring them to next week’s farmers market.
One thing Alan particularly enjoys about his business is the sustainability factor. “When people bring me their knives, scissors and tools for sharpening, I’m returning them to active service. It’s wrong to just throw things away when they can be easily fixed, and in most cases made sharper than when they were first purchased.”
Alan’s professional clientele now includes the chefs at Maynard’s Restaurant in Silverdale and Evergreen Pizza next to Evergreen Park. “It’s been great getting to know professional chefs in the area and bringing the tools of their trade back to better-than-factory sharpness. I feel part of the food community here, which is really gratifying and fun too!”
For more information, please visit www.PrecisionSharpeningBremerton.com.
Alan can be reached at PrecisionSharpeningBremerton@gmail.com or by calling (512) 851-7830.