Critical Edge Knife Sharpening

Tory Putnam

Market Days





Bob Kattenburg does all the sharpening; his wife, Jill McFadden, keeps books for the business on a very part-time basis.


Bob worked in the insurance business for 25 years before becoming a knife sharpener. He always loved sharpening knives at home, and was eventually asked to sharpen knives for the chefs at the natural foods store where his wife Jill worked. From there, his business steadily grew, and knife sharpening eventually became a full-time profession.


Though many of Bob’s tools are electric, he hand-holds each knife throughout the sharpening process. The first step is to create a new edge using a belt sander and, if necessary, reshape the knife’s contour. Then, Bob hones the new edge (which is very rough) on a honing wheel and buffs it using a buffing wheel that has been rubbed with a waxy buffing compound. Finally, Bob tests each knife on his fingernail to make sure it’s sharp!

Fun Fact

Bob sharpens more than 15,000 knives every year.


Pleasant Hill, California


CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and its educational programs. Learn More »