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While on a trip to Mendoza, Argentina, I came across a man sharpening scissors using a bicycle to power his grinding wheel. It’s a clever lo-tech combination.

He was performing this service in a pedestrian mall. After filming him, I walked away and when I looked back, he was gone, in pursuit of another place to ply his trade.

Dale Dougherty

I’m founder of MAKE magazine and creator of Maker Faire. I am CEO of Maker Media, the company that produces MAKE, Maker Faire and Maker Shed. I am Chairman of the Maker Education Initiative (



  1. We are used to this guys, I remember when I was a child here in Argentina and they ride across the neighbourhood playing a whistle to make us know he was working around!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Es una profesión tradicional de Argentina. Es muy común en los pequeños pueblos de interior, y su llamado se hace mediante una especie de ocarina.
    Saludos desde Córdoba, Argentina.

  3. Simon Jansen says:

    After filming him, I walked away and when I looked back, he was gone, in pursuit of another place to ply his trade.”
    Either that or his stand collapsed when you had your back turned and woooosh, off he went!

    James May just did a similar thing with his ‘Swiss Army’ bike on his Manlab programme.

  4. In Argentina it’s a common practice, mostly in the “suburbs” or “barrios”, you hear the “afilador (sharpener?)” blowing a plastic whistle, with different notes like a sort of harmonica that sounds like a whistle, to announce he’s working. You would go to your door with your knife or scissor.
    Now I usually see sharpeners with bicycles quite older than the one in the video… you just found a “premium” service haha :P, but they all have the grinding wheels pedal-powered ;)

    1. GCM says:

      in Brazil it’s the same thing… :) this is their typical ‘whistle call’:

  5. I remember that when I was a child in North London (UK) there used to be a man on a bike with a similar setup. That would have been about 44 years ago.

    Now excuse me please as my CoCo is getting cold.


  6. pmst says:

    This was common here in Italy long time ago, they are called “arrotini”.

  7. anand jeyahar says:

    It used to be common here in TN, India too till about 8-10 years ago… But seem to have lost…. either that or my hometown has upgraded big time and these have moved on to smaller villages…:)

  8. This is amazing and best way to use a bicycle. This is the old technology with new gadgets but still working perfectly. 

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