‘Always Have Sharp Knives,’ that’s our motto because that’s what we do. The idea of having sharp knives all the time may on a sound like a gimmick, something you heard chirping from the TV while rolling over on the couch at 3am. Well, we cracked the code; and by “we” I do refer to myself, but also the three generations before me of professional knife grinders that devoted their lives to sharpening knives. In an effort to turn knife sharpening into more than bare subsistence work, my grandfather, great uncle and other relatives thought the knife business could work a lot better for their customers and themselves if the knife sharpening companies provided all of the knives that they were sharpening; they decided to simply rent knives to their customers, and kept them sharp in what they coined ‘knife service’. The knife rental and sharpening services were designed to serve high volume chefs, cooks and butchers. In providing the knives, the knife sharpening company could simply deliver the sharp knife set, pick-up the used knife set, and move on to the next customer. All the time that had been spent sharpening knives on the street outside of an establishment, could be much more efficiently directed in this new model. The business model of both renting and sharpening the knives was first introduced by knife grinders and knife sharpening businesses on the East Coast and Midwest of the United States. The benefits were quickly recognized and the model was replicated by knife sharpening businesses around the world.
The Evolution of The Knife Service Industry
This knife sharpening and rental service that my grandfather and great uncle were part of introducing is fundamentally the same process we use at PostKnife today. PostKnife provides all of the knives used in the knife sharpening subscription, and on a routine basis our subscribers receive a freshly sharpened knife set; when the sharp knife set arrives by mail, subscribers return the used knives for re-sharpening. “Want to do something new, then do something old,” my father (also a knife grinder) would say. As noted, knife exchange services originally only served commercial operations, but at PostKnife we have expanded our offerings to include sharp knife subscriptions for the At-Home chef as well. We recognize that no matter what size kitchen you’re in, having great cooking knives is very important.
Sharp Knives When You Need Them
In restaurants and other commercial kitchens, the most common schedule for knife sharpening service among our subscribers is every two weeks. Some commercial subscribers require a knife exchange more often and some less, but the vast majority find that a biweekly knife exchange (with periodic stroking on a regular round honing steel) is a sure and economical way to keep a commercial kitchen supplied with very sharp knives. The primary factor in determining the best frequency of knife sharpening service for a particular kitchen is volume of food prepped by that kitchen. How chefs and meat cutters care for the knives is certainly a factor as well, but the bottom line is that the edge of a knife only has so many cuts, slices and chops until it’s worn out, so the higher the volume, the more often you’ll need a sharp knife exchange.
Knife Service For The Home Chef and The Chef Chef
At-Home subscriptions are on a less frequent schedule, (every two, three, or four months) because in general the knives get used substantially less in a home kitchen. For example, in a restaurant kitchen, the prep staff might be tasked with prepping 100 pounds of onions in a day; where that might exceed what someone prepares in their home kitchen all year. In the end, knives get dull whether you’re working in a busy restaurant, or prepping meals with family in your home, and with PostKnife you can pick the subscription schedule and quantity of knives that is the right fit for the amount of cooking that you do.
Choosing A Knife Subscription
Picking the right size knife set for your kitchen, is also very important for ensuring that the knife sharpening service works as well as it can. Let’s say for example that you operate a commercial kitchen, where you have six cooks that might need a knife in their hand at any given time. That information alone provides a good place to start for choosing a knife subscription service that fits the needs of your kitchen. For six cooks always needing a knife, I’d suggest starting with 12 knife subscription, delivered every two weeks. The variety of knives is such that if all six kitchen staff need a chef’s knife at any given time, they can, and over the course of two weeks, you have backups in case some knives get used more and require sharpening sooner. Taking these suggestions to heart, let’s imagine you decide to try out the 12-piece knife set, and place your first order!
Quality Kitchen Knives Delivered to Your Door
PostKnife receives your order and the first set of knives is prepared and shipped to your door. When you receive the first shipment, all you need to keep are the knives; all of the packaging from that first delivery can be repurposed or disposed of.
If your subscription is for a two-week knife exchange, then after two weeks the subscription renews and a freshly sharpened set of knives is loaded into one of our beautiful red PostKnife boxes, and shipped directly to your restaurant or place of business. Depending on each subscribers’ location, either UPS or USPS delivers the package, and that’s when it’s time to do the knife exchange.
The Knife Exchange Process
Here’s how a typical knife exchange works with our knife sharpening company: the PostKnife box is delivered to your door, you have the box in your hands and now it’s really real, ‘Knife Day’ has arrived. The package is carried into the kitchen, and as other kitchen staff members notice, they will likely get excited, and vey well might exclaim, “It’s Knife Day!” (that’s only half joking, kitchen staff of all stripes get seriously excited about sharp knives, and if you’re the one bringing the box into the kitchen, you’ll get all the credit). With anticipation rising, the seal is broken and the box is opened. First, there will be a red envelope sitting on top inside the box; set it aside in a safe spot because you’re going to need it. The envelope contains tape strips that will be needed for resealing the box, and a prepaid return shipping label. Each knife can then be carefully removed from the box, and further removed from the protective sleeve. As each chef knife, serrated, and boning knife is drawn from its sleeve, exercise caution, as every knife edge has been handcrafted to razor sharp perfection, and can be quite unforgiving upon even the lightest graze. This is a good time to look at your staff members and remind them unequivocally to ‘be careful, these knives are extremely sharp’. After the freshly sharpened knives are unboxed, the used PostKnife knives are collected and prepared for return (we recommend having a designated space or spaces for storing knives, because among other benefits they make the knife exchange process much easier). Referencing the knife set inventory that is printed on the inside of each box, the used knives are each inserted into the same protective sleeves that the fresh knives arrived in, and then placed inside the same red PostKnife box. Sidenote: in an effort to make the knife exchange process as easy as possible, we also alternate between black and red handle colors for commercial kitchen knife subscriptions; that way when red handled knives arrive, you know it’s time to send back the black handled knives for sharpening.
Simplicity at The Core of Knife Service
While executing the knife exchange, ideally you find all of the used PostKnife knives, but in the event that there’s an elusive blade hiding about somewhere in your kitchen, simply proceed with the process of shipping back all of the knives you can find. We really don’t want you to spend an inordinate amount of time searching for the missing knife service knife. We appreciate that you’re willing to pull out every cooler, and look under every range, but really we want the knife exchange to be a quick and easy process, so finding that last knife can wait for the evening cleanup. What tends to happen anyhow is that the missing knife turns up in the following days, and is simply shipped back in the next knife exchange.
Now, let’s get back to preparing the shipment of used rental knives for return. Once the used knives are gathered, sleeved, and loaded in the box, it’s time to seal it up. Using the pad of tape strips that is included in the red envelope (pad is labeled “tape strips for return shipping”) go ahead and tape the box shut. Take the prepaid return shipping label (also included in the red envelope) and adhere it to the top of the box. It’s best to adhere the return label directly on top of the existing label on the box. If you adhere it somewhere else the package may end up bouncing around from one post office to another until a postal worker finally notices that there are two labels on the box, and therefore the destination has been unclear. Finally, all there is to do now is toss the box into your mailbox and put up the flag; return shipments ship via USPS, so your regular mail carrier can pickup the return package. For those without a mailbox you can find out if your mail carrier picks up packages somewhere in your building, or if you need to drop off the return at the Post Office.
Always Have Sharp Knives
That’s really it; the fresh knives are in the kitchen, the used knives are sent back in the mail, and you’re back to having ridiculously sharp knives. On your chosen schedule, the process repeats; receive sharp knives, return used knives, receive sharp knives, return used knives. If you have any questions about how the knife exchange works, or need more information about the logistics of the how the knife delivery and used knife return works, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Simplicity is at the core of how the PostKnife subscriptions function. However, it can take performing the knife exchange a time or two before the routine is established and all of your questions are answered. A PostKnife representative is always a quick message or phone call away, ready to talk knife service, and answer any questions you might have.