the cutting edge: Knife sharpening tips from Steve Colony

by Jen Ruple

Requests for sharpening knives and tools led Steve Colony to launch his business Great Lakes Custom Sharpening about eight years ago. The local Air Force veteran and retired civil engineer had been sharpening his own woodworking tools for over 35 years. “Every once in a while, I’d get questions from people asking if I can sharpen things for them,” he said.
Colony made his business official after receiving training from a person in the Cleveland area who sharpens tools at farmers markets. “The original course was four or five days, and then I took a specialty class for salon shears. I practiced with a big box of salon shears,” he reminisced.
In 2014, Colony, with help from his wife Christy, began offering onsite sharpening services at the Sylvania Farmers Market where their business remains a staple vendor.
Most of Colony’s sharpening requests are for kitchen and garden tools; however, he sharpens just about anything that can be sharpened including chefs’ knives, axes and pruners, scissors, pocket knives, dart tips, hunting knives, groomer’s shears, sewing and quilting scissors, salon shears and clipper blades. “Although I do get asked a lot, I don’t do chain saws, power tools or mower blades,” said Colony.
“It takes about three to five minutes to sharpen each item, so stop by our booth, drop them off, and finish your shopping while you wait,” suggested Colony. When dropping off knives or tools, Colony recommended bringing them in their sleeves, otherwise, “wrap them in a towel and put them in a box.” If you can’t get to the market, the couple also offers pick up and drop off in the metro Toledo area.
Once tools have been professionally sharpened, Colony offers the following guidelines to keep them in tip top shape.

Kitchen Tools
Never put knives in the dishwasher. “Dishwasher soaps are abrasive, and they dull the edges of knives. Eventually the heat and humidity will destroy even a synthetic handle,” Colony explained.
Keep your knives sharp. “A sharp knife is safer to use because you use a lot less force than with dull knives,” said Colony. “Sometimes a knife can go astray, and you don’t know where it’s going.
Have your knives professionally sharpened at least twice a year especially if they are used often. “When you can’t see the edge and bevel anymore, it’s time to bring them back.”
After professional sharpening, maintain the edge at home using a draw through type sharpener with white ceramic rods or an electric sharpener.
Use cutting boards made from soft materials such as wood or plastic. “Glass, stone, Corian or tile will destroy knife edges fast,” Colony warned.
Protect yourself and the knives’ edges. “Do not store knives loose in a drawer. Use a wooden knife block that holds them flat to prevent wearing down their edges,” urged Colony.
Garden tools
Sharp garden tools are more efficient. “Dull blades actually tear branches instead of cutting them,” said Colony.
Before storing garden tools, Colony suggested it is best to clean them off and then spray or wipe on some oil to prevent other forms of corrosion. “Tree sap can be quite corrosive,” he added.
Final words of wisdom from Colony, “If you drop a knife, NEVER try to catch it.”

For more sharpening tips, visit Colony at the Sylvania Farmers Market on Tuesdays from 3 to 7 pm, or visit his website at

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