Knife Sharpener Lee Hwee Chin from Pow Li

About the programme

Nestled in a nondescript corner of the People’s Park Complex, is Singapore’s last manual knife sharpener Mdm Lee! Watch in amazement as she brings her arsenal of tools out to grind and sharpen knives of all sorts! If you have a blunt knife lying around at home, be sure to bring it along for her to show you how it’s done!

Book your tickets!

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Details

Programme Details

Language

Chinese

Ticket Price

S$20 (excluding eventbrite service fee)

Where

Chinatown MRT Station Exit C

Instructions

Dress comfortably. Masks are mandatory. Bring ear plugs.

Bring a couple of your blunt knives from your mommy’s kitchen 

Participants must abide by the house rules set out by the host (eg. out-of-bound areas, use of toilet). Facilitators will brief participants before the start of the programme.

Please arrive 20 minutes before our scheduled meeting time for registration and temperature taking.

Please do not attend the event if you are feeling unwell.

Look out for our facilitators who will be wearing yellow or blue festival t-shirts.

Meet knife expert, Mdm Lee!

Hello everyone, I am Mdm Lee Hwee Chin and I have been sharpening knives for over 50 years! When my father and I first started learning the craft in the 1970s, there were so many accidents and complaints because we both lacked the experience. Today, I am able to confidently sharpen different types of knives ranging from filleting knives and cleavers to spears from dangkis (Taoist spirit mediums)!

For me, the most important thing in this business is trust. When customers entrust us with their knives, we must work carefully and do a good job – imagine how disastrous it would be if we damaged their family heirloom! Even though I have been working here for so long, I am still learning every day. Sometimes, it really feels as though I have only just started and that I can carry on for another 50 years!

More about Pow Li

The story of Pow Li began in the 1950s, when first-generation owner Mr Lee Wen Hen set up his own workspace at Kreta Ayer. Originally a carpenter, Mr Lee moved into knife-sharpening out of personal fascination for the craft. The name Pow Li was Mr Lee’s trademark. Mdm Lee explains: “Whenever customers asked if our knives were sharp, he would exclaim “pow li! pow li!” (“guaranteed sharp”). And that’s how the shop got its name.”

Helming the shop today is his daughter Madam Lee Hwee Chin. 74 this year, she began running the business with her father at the young age of 23. She was moved by his tireless dedication and sought to ease his workload wherever she could. Today, Madam Lee is one of the last knife sharpeners who does everything by hand. With her infectious optimism and lively demeanour, she attracts the company of neighbours and regular customers who frequently drop by to say hello.