Should I Sharpen My Own Moulder Knives?

The advantages may be worth the set-up cost and the learning curve. December 2, 2006

How many shops sharpen their own molding knives? How do you it? I've got quite a few knives that need sharpening, but am having a difficult time swallowing the $25/per set re-sharpening fee. Just curious!

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor R:
Most resharpening services charge by the lineal inch. I would say the going rate is between $6-$8 per inch. I charge $7.00 per inch and have no complaints whatsoever. If you're paying $25.00 per set, you might just be getting a real bargain. A new profile grinder will cost you between $14,000 and $45,000 depending what you want on it and who makes it. Used ones will go for much less, of course. Then you have to consider your time and the learning curve it takes to master the machine. If you do the math, I am sure you will come up with the right solution for your situation.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I knew that entry barriers would include price. I'm looking more at the opportunity cost involved. I run a lot of molding and if I have to send a set of knives out for shopping, I'm finding the turnaround time to be in the neighborhood of 2 weeks. Add to that the cost of $25 per set, which based on your formula would be about right, and I find myself wondering if there might be a better way. Thought about duplicating my knives, but some of these babies are pretty expensive in their own right.

From contributor R:
Turnaround time for me at Mirror Reflections is within a few days. If I made my customers wait two weeks, I'd be out of business.

From contributor J:
I started making and sharpening my own knives after I had about 10 sets of knives. I bought a Nielson grinder in 93 and I am still using it. You can get used grinders for low dollars now. We have about 450 sets now and still growing. The grinder makes us money. I can't imagine having to wait on a set to get back from a grinder service.

From contributor L:
What do you do when you are in the middle of a run and hit a piece of trash wedged in a crack? I can't see running a molder without a grinder. We've got a Weinig 950 that I bought used. It's been good. We run complex templates on the CNC, but simple ones can be made manually about as quick. You will need a balance and measuring stand, too.

From contributor R:
I agree with everything contributors L and J have said, but in reality, there are a lot of one and two man shops out there that don't have the volume of mouldings, time, manpower or money to justify a grinder. That's why businesses like mine survive. I am so busy I am not currently taking on any new clients. All of you make very good points - I am just trying to show the other side of the coin.

From contributor P:
This may seem a little outdated, but we still grind our knife sets on a bench freehand. We're running a 70's Tri-state, a Vonnegut from the late 20's and an XL, all with smooth steel. It took about 3-4 years before I really got the major parts of it down, but it makes it easier to do custom profiles for restoration work, and to put a different rake on the knife for different species if necessary.