Uptown Cutlery makes a point of quality while keeping PT’s blades sharp

Luciano Marano
lmarano@ptleader.com
Posted 12/26/20

Even after becoming a father and leaving the epicenter of a California metropolis to return to the comparatively quiet streets of Port Townsend, Sam Rezendes hasn’t lost his edge.

He’s …

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Uptown Cutlery makes a point of quality while keeping PT’s blades sharp

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Even after becoming a father and leaving the epicenter of a California metropolis to return to the comparatively quiet streets of Port Townsend, Sam Rezendes hasn’t lost his edge.

He’s a pretty sharp guy. Owner and operator of Uptown Cutlery, located in the upstairs section of Aldrich’s Market, Rezendes has turned an idle interest into a new profession, an escape from the pressure-cooker atmosphere of professional kitchens and an entrepreneurial adventure.

The one-man, blade sharpening-and-knife-sales outfit opened the same day as the newly remodeled market itself, servicing kitchen and pocket knives as well as shears, razors, scissors, food processing blades, and garden and woodworking tools.

The shop’s stock includes kitchen cutlery and pocket, boating and fishing knives, as well as sharpening supplies and accessories for sale.

Rezendes grew up in Port Townsend and is a 2003 graduate of Port Townsend High School. He recalled working at Lanza’s Ristorante as a teen, where he first learned about the importance of a sharp knife while preparing pizza toppings. After a decade of cooking in kitchens in Portland and San Francisco, he started sharpening blades for Bernal Cutlery in 2013, and helped grow the business from two to 10 employees, managed the retail operation, and taught knife skills classes, something he hopes eventually to do again at Uptown Cutlery.

While he and his partner had been tentatively planning to leave the City by the Bay and head north in the wake of having their first child, it was COVID-19 that ultimately made up their minds.

“We had already been sort of thinking [and] I’d been sort of pushing for it,” Rezendes said. “My parents are here and her mom’s in Bend, Oregon. It felt right to be back.

“She got laid off completely and I was about ready to move and do something else,” he added. “Having a young kid is a lot of work so the city life started to feel a little oppressive. We were right in the middle of San Francisco, too … in a tiny little apartment.”

Rezendes primarily uses two varieties of Japanese-style water stones for all his sharpening, finishing with a strop to leave a refined and polished edge.

“It’s a much slower metal removal process but the edge that I get is a little more refined, typically,” Rezendes said.

“I do a little different method. I think a lot of American sharpeners typically use belt sanders or grinders, which is a little bit more of a dirty process because it’s a dry grind. There’s no water involved. So what I use is a wet stone. I have two different grinders here; European style; a Japanese style. Those have water that they sit in when they’re working so it keeps the metal cool so I can sit on the grinder and do shaping.”

The cost of sharpening varies by type and size of blade (visit www.uptowncutlery.com to learn more). The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Appointments, though not required, can be arranged and are recommended for large or specialty jobs or work needing done especially quickly (on average blades can be sharpened and returned in one or two days).

Contact 360-499-6235 or sam@uptowncutlery.com with questions and requests for more information.

While he considered starting out as a mobile service, Rezendes said the ability to curate a stock of knives for his customers to purchase was too appealing.

“The retail thing was important to me,” he said. “The idea of just doing a sharpening service without some sort of retail component for me felt like more of a hustle than a service to the community in some ways. In terms of what I wanted to do, I really like being able to be available to folks.”

Exactly what’s in the case tends to change, but Rezendes is adamant that he can recommend every blade in stock.

“Obviously, I like to sell things that I like personally,” he said. “I have some Japanese knives. I have some French knives for culinary knives.

“The pocket knives, I’m trying to just sort of have a nice little selection; different price points for people. Boat-specific stuff is something that I really wanted to do because we’re in a boat town. So I brought in some nice rigging knives, and try to have some fillet knives and outdoor knives.”

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