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How Toucan Blades got started

As a child in St Albans, I did my best to learn from my grandfather and other master craftsmen with whom I would spend my holiday time in Wiltshire.

I put a lot of time into sharpening my parents’ kitchen knives, and my pocket knife and sickle. I grew into an adult that pays a lot of attention to detail, with perfectionist tendencies, actually! I continued to sharpen tools for myself and for others, getting particularly good at sharpening machetes when I was farming in Belize.

For a few years, some friends in Belize in Central America where I lived from 2002 were urging me to offer my sharpening skills at the local farmers’ market.

I finally took them up on it in March, 2021. My business was called AjJik’, which is Maya for “the sharpening man”. I began just with a Carborundum stone which cost £3 at a hardware store. I practised, researched and took training with very experienced sharpeners. Like my grandfather before me, I set out on my bicycle with my tools to reach my customers. As I became proficient at sharpening and established a regular clientele, I was able to invest the sharpening income into the purchase of more equipment, growing the business organically.

My wife, Nuna McDonagh, and I decided to relocate to my hometown of St Albans and later to Blandford Forum in Dorset.

Since May 2022, I have been continuing in the sharpening trade in England but with the new name of Toucan Blades, the keel-billed toucan being the national bird of Belize. Nuna is also part of the business, she does all the graphic design, website and advertising for Toucan Blades.



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John W Turner
John W Turner
Jan 28, 2023

First class by Dominic. Informed me when he was due to arrive. Friendly, clean and professional service provided that returned our kitchen set of knives to their original and much needed sharpness.

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