Inside Chris Wohlers’ Breezy Point shop are more than 30 different grinders used for sharpening just about any kind of blade- from saw blades for cabinet shops, to household scissors, to restaurant chefs’ cooking knives.
“It’s easier to count the things I don’t sharpen,” Wohlers said. He’s the owner of Chris’s Ideal Sharpening. He jokes that about the only thing he won’t sharpen is a disposable razor. Ever heard of a sickle bar mower? Ideal Sharpening has a device for sharpening their blades. The business sharpens router bits, chainsaw chains, drill bits, scissors, lawnmower blades, ice auger blades, and, more than anything else, carbide saw blades.
He estimates that in the last 8.5 years that he’s been full-time in the sharpening business, Ideal Sharpening has sharpened more than 10,000 carbide saw blades. While diamond is the hardest natural substance on Earth, carbide comes in a close second. It’s what does the cutting on carbide saw blades. Over time, though, the carbide tips become dull, or sometimes chip or break. Rather than buying a whole new blade, which can cost well over $100, commercial companies of all kinds turn to Ideal Sharpening.
Ideal Sharpening uses its machinery to replace broken tips and sharpen each one so the blade is back to its maximum potential. The company welds new tips onto the blade, and then uses machinery to ensure that the blade is as close to perfectly round as possible. In fact, Wohlers grinds each tip to within two to three thousandths of an inch of each other. To put that into perspective, a sheet of paper is four thousandths of an inch thick. A special gauge helps him ensure accuracy. He then sharpens each carbide tip with a grinding disk, which uses tiny industrial diamonds to achieve a razor edge.
Every Tuesday, Ideal Sharpening hits the road on a 200-mile route around the area, making more than 40 stops at clients. Ideal Sharpening drops off sharpened blades, which are dipped in plastic to protect the edges, and picks up blades to be sharpened, which are fastened to wood carrying boards for safe handling. Wohlers and Ideal Sharpening are the go-to sharpener in a radius of at least 30 miles of Breezy Point.
Before he bought his sharpening business, Wohlers was a certified contractor for 20 years. Back in high school, Wohlers, his brother and their friends added four advanced placement shop classes to the curriculum, just so they could get more time in the school’s shop.
He attended votech on machine trades and has been building and fixing ever since. After years as a contractor, Wholers changed directions in his career as the economy took a downturn, and he’s found it’s been a good fit. He enjoys working in his wood-heated Breezy Point shop, and enjoys the diversity of the work he does. Each job requires different tools and a different set of skills and experience. Wohlers never knows what he’ll pick up week to week, or who will come to his door.
While restaurant chefs are often picky about their knives, Wohlers has found that if a chef will let Ideal Sharpening sharpen one knife, he’s soon being asked to sharpen the entire set. He prides himself on his ability to put a factory edge blade back on a knife.
Some of the equipment in the Ideal Sharpening shop is so unique that the parts aren’t made anymore. But, because those tools have served him so well, Wohlers has been able to make or find parts in the Ideal Sharpening shop to keep his equipment running its best. He’s had special tools and parts made at local manufacturers so that he can achieve better sharpening results on a wider variety of items.
In addition to sharpening blades, Ideal Sharpening also sells chainsaw chains and repairs small engines, such as chainsaws, lawn mowers, or other small household machines.
Whether it’s drill bits, router bits, hand held saws, mower blades, axes, knives, paper cutters, scissors, saw blades, rotary mowers, joiner blades, planer blades, Forstner bits, or, well, you get the idea, Ideal Sharpening is the go-to. Many of Ideal Sharpening’s customers are cabinetmakers or woodworkers, so some might say that customers come out of the woodwork. Others might say that Ideal Sharpening splits hairs to get the sharpest cutting edge possible- so that if they want to, customers can split hairs.
Chris’s Ideal Sharpening can be reached at 218-562-4107.