How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife

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A serrated knife with its unique support is the best tool for cutting hard or challenging items with ease, as compared to other knives. Believed to be distinctly beautiful and strongly functional, a serrated knife has a unique design due to which it has the solemn ability to cut through a crusty piece of bread while keeping its soft interior intact.

This type of functionality is only confined to serrated knives, as they are not like other knives present in the kitchen. The blade performs as if it is a hand saw. The teeth are like those of a carnivorous being, which catch and subsequently tear the hard exteriors to pass smoothly through the softer area inside.

The sharp points of the blade do the job and witness the wear; whereas the recessed teeth retain its sharpness. Made to retain its edge, a serrated blade does not disappoint you when it comes to cutting even when worn. Thanks to the V notches and scallops that bear a little wear as compared to the points.

serrated knife

So, is there a need to sharpen a serrated knife? Well, while such a knife is likely to last for over a few years without sharpening, the fact is that its blade finally begins to shred rather than cutting cleanly. After that many years, the blade begins to become dull. Thus, it is deceivingly efficient.

This is where the problem begins, as most people think that serrated knives never get blunt. This post guides you on how to sharpen a serrated knife easily with the right tools. So, read on…

Should I Stop Using Serrated Knives?

A common fallacy amongst the knife users is that serrated knives are not that handy or are less functional than knives with plain blades. This is because they feel that serrated knives cannot give precise cuts.

A blade with serrations helps in obtaining precise cuts and slices on any target item. All that is required is to know how to sharpen such an edge to keep its accuracy and performance intact.

Is It Possible to Sharpen Serrated Knives?

When the serrated edge beings to go down in terms of performance, it means it needs sharpening. However, many people are of the opinion that it is impossible to sharpen such an edge due to its scalloped tooth-like design. Well, the fact is that it is possible to sharpen such an edge.

Obviously, you can employ any of the standard sharpening methods that are easy or efficient for other kitchen knives. Although none of them is suitable for a serrated edge, it does not mean that you cannot restore the sharpness of such an edge.

At the same time, many people think that it is hard to sharpen a serrated edge. Well, even this is not true. It is not hard to do so, provided sharpening is done only on the side that has the serrations.

The opposite side is flat that should be ignored or should not be sharpened. Focusing only on the serrated side for sharpening prevents damaging or changing the blade’s original shape.

Mostly, all serrated knives come with a blade whose one side is beveled and the other is leveled. In most cases, the former side is on the right while holding the knife to cut a product. This inequitable structure makes it a bit tricky to sharpen these serrated knives. This is because you cannot sharpen it as any other knife.

How Frequently Serrated Knives Should be Sharpened?

Generally, a serrated edge does not require sharpening or honing as frequently as smooth blades. This is because as its sharp teeth perform most of the work and the subtler scallop-like serrations follow the points while cutting, the edge bears less friction. Thus, the serrated edge tends to degrade more gradually than the smooth or flat edge.

Should You Hone the Serrated Edges?

Yes, as honing preserves the serrated edge’s shape. Regardless of your inclination towards a gentle slice of a wavy edge or the pointed shape of a typical serration or double serrate sliding through the tough food parts, regular honing is essential to retain these innovative edges in their best condition.

Knifemakers spend a significant amount of time and skilled efforts to generate precisely planned serrations that can easily cut through crusty or thick foods. A honing process involving the right honing tool that does not remove metal is genuine and capable of retaining these edges at home.

Such a process never fails in preserving the serrations’ shape. Further, while honing, pulling the blade via at an angle confirms that the honing tool only contacts the beveled side.

A sharpening tool or a sharpener that works by discarding the metal finally results in changing the edge’s shape, flattening the waves, corroding the points, or grinding the knife’s flat side. Thus, honing is essential.

Comprehending the Serrated Knife’s Structure

Before you know how to sharpen a serrated knife, it is essential for you to know some key points about its structure. This will give you an idea of how to go about sharpening the knife such that you strike only on the most needed surface without triggering any risk or damage.

In case of a knife having a plain edge, you are just sharpening and polishing a flat surface. However, when the knife is serrated, you need to focus on two shapes namely, the gullet and the teeth.

The gullet refers to the interior area usually having a curved shape between the serrated edge points. As the goal of sharpening is to have sharp gullets, it does not mean that you should focus completely on the gullets.

The key to successfully sharpening of a serrated blade is to focus equally on the teeth. This is because they are the ones to penetrate initially into the food for commencing the cut process.

Thus, when it comes to sharpening a serrated blade, there are two things for you to do: Polishing the gullet and re-pointing the teeth. It is comparable to sharpening a saw; remodel and restore the teeth’s shape along with that of the gullet.

Sharpening a Serrated Knife: Exploring the Different Ways

Yes, there is more than one way to sharpen any serrated edge of any knife. They are discussed below:

Way 1: With a Sharpening Rod

A sharpening rod is an effective tool for sharpening or honing tooth by tooth. If you want to manually sharpen a serrated edge, a ceramic honing rod also known as a sharpening rod is the right choice.

A ceramic honing rod is tougher than its steel counterpart. The ceramic material works by discarding some material from the edge to trigger a sharpening impact. The rod’s shape is such that it fits inside the serrations. Its diameter is equal to the serration.

The serrated part of a blade is chisel grind. This indicates that they are ground only on one side with the rear side remaining totally flat. The key to successfully sharpening such an edge is in sharpening the ground side and discarding the burr from the flat, rear side. Burr refers to the thin steel strip twisting on the cutting edge.

Following are the steps to sharpen a serrated knife using a sharpening rod:

  1. Identify the beveled edge side of your knife. Unlike the knives with plain edges, these knives give a different appearance from both sides. If you look from one side, it seems as the angle of the blade is same until its end. However, if you look from the other side, it seems that the blade angles a bit downward. The sharpening rod will be applied only to the beveled edge.
  2. Position the rod in a gullet, which is also referred to as a serrated scallop. This placement should be at the right angle. The good news is that it is easy to find this angle for sharpening, as the bevel angle shall be right. It is suggested to place the rod at 13 to 17 degrees angle to get great outcomes. In case of a straight edge portion, the rod needs to be at an angle of 20-25 degrees. However, when it is the matter of serrations, it is ideal to mark the serrated scallops using a marker. Doing so will exactly tell you where to place the rod so that you then sharpen with accuracy.
  3. Now, adjust the rod such that it matches with the diameter of the gullet. This step should be executed only if the rod’s diameter is not the same as that of the serration.  You should put the rod at the gullet’s middle where it can fit nicely.
  4. Next, begin sharpening the gullet. Once the rod is placed properly on the first groove, gradually move it back and forth. Continue pushing it in another direction so that the edges inside the groove become sharp. Do keep rotating the rod for getting the best performance from it.
  5. Then, look for metal shavings or burr on the rear of the groove with the help of your fingers. This is essential for gaining an ideal finish. If the burr is felt, it means that you have successfully sharpened the groove. If it is not felt, continue with step four on the same groove.
  6. Once the first groove is successfully sharpened, continue with the same process on each of the remaining grooves on the edge. You will surely have many grooves on your knife’s serrated edge. You should work until all of them are sharpened perfectly.
  7. Finally, discard all burrs, as it is unwise to leave them as they are. Do so with the help of fine-grit sandpaper. Rub this sandpaper along the rear side of the sharpened edge. You can even use the rod to discard difficult or non-budging burrs.
  8. Sharpen even the straight-edged section. That’s it!

Do you have a knife that is not fully serrated? In case you have one such knife, know that you will have to employ both conventional and serrated treatments for sharpening. For restoring the sharpness of the straight edge section, use a whetstone. Similarly, for the serrated section, use the ceramic honing rod.

Just ensure to buy a ceramic rod from a hardware store that perfectly resides in your knife’s gullets. In case you find it tough to hold and move the rod, just keep it down and move the edge of your knife over it. Do not move the rod or else you will end up hurting your fingers.

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Way 2: With a triangle-shaped sharpener

A sharpener in a triangle shape is an easier alternative to the standard sharpening tools. It is specially designed for sharpening the gullets that have a V shape. The same steps discussed in the first method apply to this sharpener too.

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Way 3: With an Electric Knife Sharpener

Yes, an electric knife sharpener can be your option. However, for a serrated knife, a unique sharpener is required. Such a sharpener is made for serrated knives and can sharpen each serration effectively. Using such an electric sharpener is perhaps the easiest way to sharpen a serrated edge.

Such sharpeners come with a slot that is exclusively dedicated to serrated knives. This slot will not be there in lower-end sharpeners. A few motorized sharpeners are such that they can only reach until the serrations’ tip. Do not use them, as they can harm the bevel by sharpening at the fixed angles on both sides of the blade.

There are high-end sharpeners that usually have their sharpening surfaces on spring-based bars that adapt to the blade’s shape and angle. However, even these sharpeners may not easily reach the whole surface of the hollow gullets.

A manual tool is, thus, a better choice for gaining better outcomes. It is worth noticing that there is nothing as an automatic sharpener for serrated knives.

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There are many ways to sharpen a serrated knife. You should select the one that you can implement with ease.