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Where I work: Peter Nowlan 

Meet Halifax’s “knife man”. He sharpens the tools of the cities finest chefs and everyday home-cooks using Japanese water stones.

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Who he is
If anyone knows about turning a passion into a business, it's Peter Nowlan.

Four years ago, the newly retired naval officer with a love for sharpening knives started New Edge Sharpening.

"The purpose of opening the business was for me to make some money so that I could purchase Japanese water stones," Nowlan says. He traces it all back to seeing his dad sharpen a chisel on an old oilstone in their garage: "Something about that really piqued my interest and I knew I was hooked. "

What he does
Most days, Nowlan sharpens around 10 or 15 knives by hand for his clients, who range from executive chefs to everyday people. Giving knives a facelift means removing fatigued metal and using an abrasive—Japanese water stones—to expose fresh metal underneath. Nowlan adds, "Not everyone is interested in the process of knife sharpening, but everybody loves a sharp knife."

Where he does it
All of the magic happens downstairs in Nowlan's home in Middle Sackville. On top of his regular clients, he receives customer referrals from stores like Ikebana Shop, Paderno and Cucina Moderna. Nowlan also teaches private classes on the art of sharpening knives with Japanese water stones and the Edge Pro Professional at his home and through the Ikebana Shop on Quinpool Road.

What's next
"If the business continues, I'll be a happy man," says Nowlan, the self-proclaimed "knife guy" of Halifax. He's still excited every time he gets to sharpen a knife and, like any other successful craftsperson, he seeks self-improvement. In 2016, he'll re-visit New York City, where he had a life-changing encounter with a Japanese sharpening master, who guided his craft with Japanese water stones.

New Edge Sharpening

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Vol 24, No 43
March 23, 2017

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