26 February 2010

Bicycle Knife Sharpeners

Knife sharpeners
A historical photo of two classic figures in bicycle history. Two knife sharpeners. They rode about both the countryside and the city, offering their blade sharpening services to anyone who would pay the price.

The usual setup was like the bicycle on the left. The back bicycle wheel was rigged with an external cog onto which a strap was attached so that they could sit stationary and pedal whilst sharpening knives, scissors and all manner of blades. The chap on the left as a similar but seemingly more complex system.

The last time I saw one was in the city centre about ten years ago. Parked in a courtyard behind a trendy café, he was handed knives from the chefs through the window and he would mount his bicycle and sharpen them to perfection.


Here's a more recent version from the streets of Africa. Wonderful. Thanks for the link in the comments.

9 comments:

Whordan said...

Here is a similar one in Africa.

http://www.afrigadget.com/2007/06/21/the-knife-sharpening-bicycle/

m e l i g r o s a said...

you might come across a few one in the DF, now you just keep practicing on your badasse skills and ull be good - eh?! ;-)

Adam said...

Have a look at the Maya Pedal website ( http://www.mayapedal.org/ )for all sorts of pedal powered machines being made in Guatemala.

Jeremy said...

I saw a guy using one of these in Barcelona about three years ago. Still common to see them on motorbikes but I only once saw the cycle version in two years there.

bruteforcecollaborative said...

we saw one in freiburg several years ago. i miss being able to bike as much as we did then. and no helmets!

BuenosAires Commutercyclist said...

Hi, there are still bike knife sharpeners in my city, in Buenos Aires. They usually pass in front of my house, and to tell people they're there they have a characteristic whistle.

Gustar Mono said...

We still have some of them here in Bandung, Indonesia.

Jonathan C. Halperen said...

As a sharpener I would like to learn how to make a device such as that shown in the video. The machine's owner evidently lives in a town where the electric grinders I use would be of little avail. Also, human-powered grinders pose less danger of damaging a knife's temper.
But the video contains an evident optical illusion. The small wheel appears to be inside the large one. But if it were, then the drive-belt would stop the large wheel's spokes. M.C. Escher would have loved this film. Can anybody see just how in the name of Asherah this contraption works?

Jonathan C. Halperen said...

Oh, I see. The small wheel is actually attached to the left side of the large one. That explains everything.