Dennis Westendorf of A Razor Edge Sharpening is one of Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market’s most anticipated new vendors.
Westendorf, a knives and tools sharpener, works out of his mobile sharpening unit every Saturday at the market. His love for his work centers around the people he services and the stories they share.
“I love to hear about people’s knives — how the end has broken off, how long they’ve had them,” Westendorf said. “I’ve met people with Wusthof knives they bought in Germany in the 1970s.”
Westendorf’s job allows him to discover sweet stories of delicate heirloom sewing scissors or treasured knife sets, discovered during a family’s travels in Japan. He said he’s developed an appreciation for the richness a well-maintained tool can lend to daily life.
As a young man, Westendorf apprenticed under a master machinist for several years, learning the machining and sharpening of tools. It was through this apprenticeship that he discovered a passion for working and creating with his hands.
After 20 years of working for Boeing in teaching and internal governance, Westendorf’s retirement yielded an opportunity to return to the passion he discovered to be so fulfilling in his early years.
After a thorough research period, Westendorf opened his mobile sharpening unit in 2017.
Skills in action
Westendorf begins his sharpening process by measuring each tool by length, carefully inspecting it for bent or broken pieces. He then skillfully sharpens and polishes each piece.
He points to the polishing as a rare detail that is key to the quality of his service.
“When people get a knife back and they look at the thin edge, it shines like a mirror,” Westendorf said.
He reveals the technique to be a 4,000-year-old tradition: “Ancient Assyrian archers were known to not only sharpen but polish their blades, too.”
After guests bring their knives and tools to the mobile sharpening unit, they are able to browse the market or run errands around town. Westendorf notifies customers of their completed orders by text message or phone call. Guests will then return to pick up their freshly sharpened knives, which they will find to be freshly oiled and individually wrapped.
“I want customers to unwrap their knives and feel like they got a top rate, Cadillac job,” Westendorf said.
Amidst the current health crisis, Westendorf has witnessed just how invigorating it is for customers to watch their dull knives come back to life.
“Throughout this lockdown, people have been heaving a sigh of relief when they get their sharpened tools back,” he said. “It’s kind of the same feeling as getting a fresh haircut!
“It’s rewarding because it’s something that people are just thirsty for. They’ve gone without reliable knives or tools for so long. They’re down to their last steak knife when they come to me.”
Westendorf said he most frequently sharpens knives, scissors, and lawn and garden tools. However, he feels confident taking on a wide range of projects.
“Just about everything gets dull, if it has an edge, I can probably sharpen it,” he said
Guests at the market also have the opportunity to visit Melissa Westendorf, a highly-skilled seamstress of 40 years, who also happens to be Westendorf’s wife.
Melissa offers her clothing alteration and repair services from A Razor Edge’s mobile unit.
The Westendorfs said they’re excited to join the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market this season.
“The feel of everything coming back to life is so great,” Dennis said. “It feels like springtime. Everything is blossoming again. It’s great to see so many happy folks at the market.”
Find A Razor Edge Sharpening every Saturday, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (note extra hour added, from 1-2 p.m.), at the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market located at Sequim Civic Center plaza. Visit arazoredge.com for more information on sharpening services.
Emma Jane Garcia is Marketing Manager for the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market. See www.sequimmarket.com.