Guidance for guests bringing knives for sharpening

We are looking at introducing a knife sharpening at Repair Cafe Gosport. There are quite strong laws, for good reasons in the UK regarding carrying a knife in a public place (including transporting it in a personal car). It is legal to have a knife in your possession for “a good reason” and our local police have indicated that transporting it for sharpening would be “unlikely” to be considered illegal. Has any other group good some good practice guidelines we could look at, for example, it has been suggested that it should be in a dedicated carrying box or sealed i.e. held between two pieces of cardboard and wrapped in tape.

All help would be appreciated.


Carrying in a box or sealed might help support the ‘good reason’ to carry the knife but there’s nothing in the law about how a knife is to be carried. The section is short and can be read at


As I understand it may come down to the judgement of a police officer and ultimately a court as to whether the knife in question is being carried for “good reason”, for example you could imagine the following situations potentially being seen differently:

  1. attending a repair cafe session as a walk-in (no appointment) and the item was in a carrier bag on the passenger seat of your car
  2. attending a repair cafe session, having booked in advance and the item was in a sealed box in the boot

I went on a knife-making course a while back and the people running it insisted that the finished item went home sealed up between cardboard and generously wrapped in tape.

I was hoping another group who have been doing this for a while might have prepared some guidance I can borrow.


We at Market Harborough Fixers C.I.C decided to refuse knife sharpening to avoid any such worries. However we do help with sharpening gardening tools and in 1 case a set of chisels.


I will keep this post up to date based on what we learn. I am going to persist a bit longer as we are trying to engage with more people, as almost everyone has a blunt knife in their kitchen it seems like a good way to get people to visit their local Repair Cafe.



It has to be reasonable and possible to e.g. buy a kitchen knife in a shop and carry it home, so why shouldn’t it be reasonable+possible to carry a kitchen knife to an appointment at a repair cafe for sharpening? And mobile knife sharpeners advertise on Facebook, it has to be reasonable+possible to carry your kitchen knife across the road to their van and then back a little lighter/brighter/sharper.

Sensible advice would seem to me to be that the owner should be aware that transporting the knife is entirely their risk/responsibility, that they should preferably do it safely (edges/points protected, however dull/rusted) and discreetly (in a bag/box/car boot), that they must in advance arrange an appointment, and should use similar responsible approach to returning home with the gleaming razor-edge result of your sharpening.

It’s probably worth making sure the sharpeners have some cardboard and tape to wrap around sharpened stuff, just in case the owner arrived unprepared.

I know the Blackdown Hills RC does sharpening, I’ll ask if they take any particular precautions.


Of course any new kitchen knife is nowadays sold in a sealed pvc packet

We we’re just avoiding any unauthorised requests as we don’t have a booking ahead system

Best Regards Steve

In an ideal world of course I’d agree with you. A lot of what you’re writing rests on the interpretation of ‘reasonable’. The courts interpret that as reasonable to the [white middle-class] man on the Clapham omnibus. This man would likely concur with your analysis. However the police are not using the same standard so do you want to run the risk of being arrested, possibly spending time in a police cell, possibly being charged and if so going to court or getting a caution. BTW it would be good for any guideline to include a reminder that a caution is an admission of guilt and will constitute a criminal record so if one considers themselves innocent they shouldn’t accept one and need to fight it in court. A wrongful arrest even with no further action is deeply traumatic (which is possibly why I’m being rather sensitive to this topic).

I had also done a search for professional sharpeners as I was curious as to how they’re dealing with this and found that the overwhelming majority will come to your place and do the sharpening in their van, which avoids most of the issue of carrying knives around, but is unfortunately not transferable to a repair event.


Err, yes. In a feeble defence, please note that I may be white middle-class but I’m nowhere near Clapham.

I can imagine this being a lot more exciting (not exactly the right word) in cities where (as I the aforementioned person on the 5b Credition->Exeter omnibus imagine) there tends to be higher police presence on the ground to possibly see/apprehend the person furtively scurrying towards a repair party with something metallic and blunt hidden under their jacket. Not here; can’t remember the last time I saw a police person in uniform any distance from a jam sandwich. They’re talking about re-opening the Crediton police station to have a counter for the public to approach them and discuss stuff. Hasn’t happened yet.

Perhaps we’ll advertise “tool sharpening and fettling” and leave the knife thing off. Then it’s just axes and mattocks to worry about :-o

Ah yes that would make one sensitive. Non illegitimi carborundum.

I wasn’t familiar with fettling, what a great word. Thank you for mentioning it.

Thank you. They (the Metropolitan Police Service) eventually, after only four years, one month and 26 days, did apologise.

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we had knife sharpening for the first time at repair cafe hayling- it sounds a good idea to wrap the knives in a bit of cardboard after sharpening

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We offer tool sharpening at our Repair Cafe and I like the idea of pre-booking knife sharpening so when challenged, you can show you have a genuine reason for carrying a knife.