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Sunday, December 3, 2023
Dec. 3, 2023

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Working in Clark County: Don Sutton, blade sharpener

By , Columbian staff writer
3 Photos
Don Sutton of The Sharp Shop, a home-based business, sharpens a drill bit in east Vancouver.
Don Sutton of The Sharp Shop, a home-based business, sharpens a drill bit in east Vancouver. (Natalie Behring/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

When he’s not tooling around the Northwest on his CanAm motorcycle, Don Sutton is working on tools for area carpenters, builders and other professionals who need sharp, precise implements at his business, The Sharp Shop. Many of the items he sharpens are high-figure ones such as drill bits, saw blades, circular saw blades, yard pruners, scissors, and hair clippers. When, for instance, a 2 3/8-inch drill bit costs upwards of $200, time and money are considerations. But Sutton says, “I get ’em in, and get ’em back quick so the customer doesn’t have to wait or go to the expense of buying a new one.”

Name: Don Sutton.

Residence neighborhood: Sifton.

Business name: The Sharp Shop, 360-936-1813.

Age: 72.

Educational/professional background: I graduated from Sunnyside High School. Next to the school there was a trucking company I used to walk by every day. I told them I wanted to be a truck driver when I graduated. They said, “Come in and we’ll hire you!” I drove truck for 40 years, but not for them!

How — and when — you got started in your business: The trucking company I worked for started a welding company. In 2007 I had gone down to get supplies for them and ran into the Hogan drill bit manufacturing representative, who was looking for a local specialty bit sharpener. I was getting close to retirement, and thought sharpening drill bits would be something I could do afterward that wasn’t too hard. If there was nothing to do I’d go play, ride my bike, and when the work comes in I’d do it. I went back east to Flint, Mich., took classes and purchased my first sharpening machine. It’s a simple, manual machine, but very specialized.

Personal/business philosophy: Do it right the first time, and customers are your most important asset.

Most rewarding part of job: Working with customers.

Most challenging part of job: When I get bits or blades that someone has tried to sharpen themselves and I have to figure out the geometry to sharpen them.

Something surprising about your work: Getting new customers by word of mouth.

Best feature of my Clark County community: Friendliness.

What would make your community a better place: Less traffic congestion.

What is your favorite travel destination and type: The Oregon and Washington coasts on my CanAm motorcycle. Really anywhere the bike takes us.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Wilco.

Hobbies: Woodworking.

Most enjoyable book/play/movie/arts event in past 12 months: “American Sniper,” Clark County Fair.

Something you’d like to do this year/within five years: Motorcycle ride to Winthrop.

One word to describe yourself: Outgoing.

Person you’d most like to meet: Ken Griffey Jr.

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Columbian staff writer