Blast From the Past: The Knife Sharpener

Originally posted on March 26, 2015 at 7:27 am


Editor’s note: This story by Jason Hyatt first appeared in Dirt Rag Issue #108, published in July 2004.

This photo shows one of two brothers who run a pedal-powered blade sharpening business in Rome, Italy. According to my mother-in-law, they visit a certain part of the city each week and have done so for many years.

I watched as the gentleman pedaled by, then stopped and propped the bike onto the numerous built-in stands. Then he flipped the heavy sharpening stone up into position and switched the drivetrain from the rear wheel to the stone. The local butchers and chefs brought out all of their knives for sharpening. Then the man pedaled and moved the blades across the spinning stone. The top bottle provides water for lubricating the sharpening wheel and the front rack holds a variety of supplies and snacks.

Once done, he collected his fee, reverted his machine to bicycle mode and pedaled on while calling out the advertisement for his services.

He noticed me taking a picture and smiled. I think he likes his job. My mother-in-law uses their services to sharpen her kitchen knives weekly, but was unsure how much longer they would be around due to their age and the increased vehicle congestion in the city.

If any readers are interested in a pedal-powered career and learning Italian, go to Rome, find these men and learn the trade! Perhaps this would work in your hometown.

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