Don’t call Dave Scarpetti, who launched Blades of Glory traveling knife-sharpening service in 2016, a professional. Call him an eager, dedicated student of all things knives.
Story by Kristen Schmidt
Dave Scarpetti has no veneer. He’s a chemist by training. An Italian-American by birth. And a lover of all things food and cooking. He likes to work with his hands (though Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential long ago disabused him of any thought of working in a restaurant kitchen). Learn those things, and it seems completely logical that Scarpetti has a side gig as Blades of Glory, a traveling knife-sharpening service catering to Columbus chefs, butchers and, thank heaven, the rest of us.
Blades of Glory, like his baking habit and fascination with distilling, sprung from years of curiosity and experimentation. He promised himself that, when he mastered the skill, he’d buy a high-end knife as a reward. He tried all kinds of ways to sharpen his knives at home, from stones to fancy mechanical methods. He finally settled on belt sanders designed for knives and blades and bearing the name of Ken Onion, a rock star in the knifemaking world.
“The belt sander frightens a lot of people. They think you’re going to grind away their knives,” he says. “When you do a stone, it’s the same abrasive. You’re just going at a little more controlled pace. But what I enjoyed about this was, I could do a killer edge really fast. I don’t want to go down after dinner and spend three hours like a Shaolin priest trying to get my knives sharpened.”
After lots of practice on his and friends’ knives and making himself something of a pest on knife and blade discussion forums online, he decided to make a go at a small business.
“When people call me a professional, it gives me a ripple of anxiety. I haven’t gone through an apprenticeship or anything. But I think I deliver a really nice edge, and I practice a lot,” he says. “So I was willing to take the plunge.”
Scarpetti has sharpened knives for, among other clients, Katalina’s and The Butcher & Grocer. He’s set up shop at the Clintonville Farmers’ Market. Best of all, he’ll pull his sedan right into your driveway, pop the trunk, set up his kit and sharpen your knives on-site. (In addition to paying him $3 to $5 per blade, you can show appreciation by offering a wee dram of whiskey, another one of his pursuits.)
No surprise: Sharpening knives is not a get-rich-quick scheme. But Scarpetti’s business is in the black and, maybe just as important to him, he’s learning more all the time. He’s gained a fresh appreciation for cheap knives and those cast aside at second-hand shops by people who gave up on them. He’ll take those knives—and the ones you’ve been hiding in your knife drawer—and give them a new lease on life. In fact, the crappier your knife, the happier Scarpetti is.
He pulls out an intimidating dual-handle pizza cutter during our interview. It looks like a chef’s knife on steroids. This pizza cutter is a rescue, and it’s his pride and joy. (He’s holding it in the cover photo on Blades of Glory’s Facebook page.) He has a resurrected Chicago Cutlery knife with him, too.
“The handle was all contoured. I stripped it down and put a little linseed oil on it,” he says. He reshaped the handle into a straight, Japanese style. He points out the distal taper on the blade and says with glee he’ll be able to sharpen this one for years to come. It’s not an exaggeration—this guy loves cheap knives.
“Remember I said I wanted to buy an expensive one?” he says. “I probably never will, because I’m a bottom-shelf whiskey guy. A scrapper. Frugal to the end.”
Call Him Young Gun
Just “Dave” will do, too. How to keep up with him, whether you’re interested in knife sharpening services or watching someone bake some gorgeous bread.
Blades of Glory