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Blade runner: Custom Sharpening offers pick-up, special services to customers
[September 20, 2009]

Blade runner: Custom Sharpening offers pick-up, special services to customers

Sep 20, 2009 (The Register-Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- When Steve Bjork was doing woodworking and building kitchens 20 years ago, his tools were a vital part of his job.

For the woodworker, blades must be level. The face of a shaper-cutter or a router bit face must be completely ground in order to guarantee precision.

"I'd get people to sharpen blades for me, and I wasn't real satisfied with the work that I got," he said.

After he acquired a piece of blade-sharpening equipment from his brother-in-law, Bjork began sharpening his own tools.

"If a neighbor or friend found out I had it, I'd do something for them," said Bjork.

What began as a service Bjork provided for himself and friends grew into a business as more contractors, cabinet makers and others heard about his services.

A factory-certified saw and tool technician with 20 years of experience, Bjork now operates Custom Sharpening on Moye Lilly Road in Flat Top from a full-service workshop.

His experience as a kitchen builder has helped him know the needs of those who work with blades.

Many woodworkers spend extra money to send trickily shaped pieces like shaper-cutters/router bits to the factory to have them sharpened, or else they settle for blades that are not completely ground.

Most blade sharpeners don't even service shaper cutters since traditional equipment can't completely grind the face of the cutter, said Bjork.

Bjork has developed special tools that allow him to grind the complete face of the cutter.

"I grind them all the way back," he said. "All my work is guaranteed." A major part of the job is keeping equipment in top-notch shape, he said.

Bjork just purchased new equipment and has it periodically checked.

"You have to level your equipment," he explained. "You have to dial-indicate it to make sure it's running true." "True" means the blade is virtually perfect.

Even new blades are not always "true," he said.

"I've had people actually to buy a new blade and bring it to me to be sharpened," he said. "A new blade is not true, it's not round.

"They're not cutting at 100 percent capability." Bjork said he guarantees that saw blades are the same height, within three-thousandths of an inch or closer.

Custom Sharpening services portable band mill blades.

Before Custom Sharpening opened, most local portable sawmills were sending their portable blades to the factory to have them sharpened -- spending more money in postage, said Bjork.

Bjork has automatic band mill grinders in his workshop.

He services blades from 2 to 40 inches, he said, and offers special services that can potentially save companies thousands of dollars.

For example, Bjork sharpens and re-inserts inserted carbide tips and also has developed special jigs to meet the needs of mills that operate with less common blades.

"I replace the teeth in carbide blades," he said. "If they've got a tooth broken, I can replace the tip in them.

"A lot of times, they think it's useless if they break a tip, but I can put that tooth back in there." He said he strives to treat customers the way he would want to be treated.

"The hardest part of this business is gaining people's trust," he said. "To trust me with their expensive tools.

"You have to earn it." A plant maintenance foreman for a local coal company, Bjork no longer builds kitchens for a living.

His "part-time" blade-sharpening business, however, has grown from a little room in his woodworking shop to covering the entire shop, and he may possibly be adding another room in the future to accommodate the many businesses and individuals who are in need of his service.

His wife and partner, Sandra Bjork, manages the book-keeping, he said.

Bjork also sharpens carbide tip circular and steel circular, hand, hole, and pruning saws, split-edger, rotary mower, carcass, meat grinder, wobble dado and stacked dado blades, offers carbide tip replacement, sharpens hss or carbide planer, moulding , corn chopper, hay baler, chipper and jointer knives, kitchen, hunting and pocket knives, scissors, wood chisels, twist drills, plumbers paddle, forstener, jack hammer, stump grinder, auger, and pocket hole bits; saw and hydro-saw chains, power and hand-held hedge trimmers, grass clippers, and pruners.

Bjork accepts mail orders through the U.S. Postal Service and UPS, he said.

He also has pick-up stations in Beckley where businesses and individuals can leave their blades for pick-up service, located at Means Lumber Co., Appalachian Mill Work and Beaver Hardware.

"They can take them there, and I'll pick them up and take them back," he said. "Anybody who wants to (do it) can leave them there.

"Leave me a name and a telephone number." Custom Sharpening also provides door-step pick-up service for many businesses.

He said he tries to keep his rates as low as possible.

"I'm not trying to get rich," he said, adding that his full-time job aids him in maintaining lower prices.

Quotes are available over the phone or in person.

Custom Sharpening may be reached at 304-787-3579 or 304-228-0773.

-- E-mail: To see more of The Register-Herald or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2009, The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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