#12 Sharpening Story. Mitchell Ritter
Social Media: Instagram
Hello edge enthusiasts! My name is Mitchell Ritter and I’ve spent most of my life in the small city of Fort Bragg, California. I currently work at a canoe and bicycle rental shop in Mendocino near salt water, which does effect the knife choices I make. Knives and sharpening are just a hobby for me, but the only hobby which has held my interest continuously since I was about 14.
My uncle was the one who introduced me to the knife community and knives as a handy tool, and would take me to warehouses that would resell knives by the bucket and bin that had been confiscated by TSA. As I handled more knives, I began to notice the difference between what felt good to me and what felt poorly-made. I began to keep a few of the knives that felt nice and appealed to me. I would use them for basic cutting tasks, but didn’t start to pay attention to details about how much longer one would cut than another before it lost it’s edge, and I would basically use a knife until its edge was gone to the point of being non-functional.
Later, I was introduced to metal honing rods for kitchen knives, ceramic rods and the Spyderco Sharpmaker. It was very satisfying to take basic steels and put a working and occasionally hair-popping edge on them, but I still didn’t know about different grits or advantages or drawbacks to different sharpening angles. I was happy to know how to keep an edge but didn’t consider myself knowledgeable in sharpening whatsoever.
As I got older and worked to save more money, I finally splurged on a high end knife. It was exciting, but I didn’t necessarily want to use it in the same way I would use less expensive knives with entry-level steels. I was nervous to dull harder steels because I didn’t think I’d be able to bring them back to razor sharp. I caught the bug, my wallet begged for mercy, but I took interest in higher end knives and steels. I would use them for light tasks, then maintain them and return them to their cases for later rotation and appreciation.
Suddenly, there was a global pandemic. Work stopped, stimulus checks became a thing, and the government gave me enough money to consider a higher end sharpening system and stones. I asked around and had multiple friends tell me the systems they used, but one said if he were starting that day, he’d look into TSPROF systems. I did my research, I fell in love with everything I saw, I considered my life choices, and I decided to order a TSPROF system and accessories.
Since then, about 3 years ago, I’ve wanted to sharpen absolutely everything I could get my hands on. I was no longer afraid of “super steels” or sharpening mid-tech or custom knives. With a few pointers, sponging up any videos and tips I could from the community, I was able to learn to put immaculate, even bevels on seemingly any steel. After sharpening dozens of my own knives, I would sharpen friends and family kitchen knives, pocket knives scissors, and was thrilled and motivated by the feedback I got. Having a cook tell me a knife I sharpened for them was the sharpest knife they’d ever used thrilled me. Having my friends say they’d never seen a mirror edge before made me want to get the highest performance edges I could achieve. Here I am still fascinated by sharpening and more interested in knives than I ever have been. I would advise anyone to join the community and meet some awesome people!