Sharpening Serrated Knives: A Step-By-Step Guide

sharpening serrated knives

Are you wondering if it is indeed possible to sharpen a serrated knife? A lot of our readers actually asked the same question, and the answer is yes. However, you have to know that sharpening serrated knives is not as simple as sharpening a straight-edged knife. It requires a slightly different technique, which can be difficult and time-consuming.

It is quite obvious that on a serrated knife, you will need to sharpen each serration manually. Don't start panicking, though; it is not rocket science. With the help of our step-by-step guide below, you will be able to sharpen your serrated knife perfectly and with ease. Before that, let us talk about what a serrated knife is.

What’s a Serrated Knife?

Serrated knives are knives that come with tooth-like edges. These knives are ideal for cutting through foods that have a hard exterior but a soft interior, such as a loaf of crusty bread, which is why they are also commonly referred to as bread knives.

The principle behind serrated knives is pretty similar to that of a saw. The teeth present on the knife will bite into the surface of the food and then rip it as the knife smoothly slide through it. What this results in is food being cut evenly and cleanly through the resistant and tough skin, while maintaining the soft interior of the food by not crushing it. This sort of knife works great for cutting foods such as crusty bread or a tomato.

Sharpening Serrated Knives

Like any other knife, serrated knives need to be sharpened when they go dull. With that said, these knives tend to be sharper much longer in comparison to a straight-edged knife.

Due to their shape, they can be a bit tricky to sharpen, which is why it is best to sharpen these knives only when you find them becoming less effective.

To sharpen a serrated knife, you will need a sharpening rod. These are easily available and are quite cheap too. These are typically tapered so that they can accommodate serrations of different sizes. Then, once you have a sharpening rod, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Locate the Side With the Beveled Edge

Typically, serrated knives don’t look the same from both sides. On one side, you will find that the face of the blade continues at the same angle until the edge of the blade. On the other side, the blade’s face tends to angle downwards just slightly before the serrated edge. This, in particular, is called the bevel. Only use the sharpening tool on this beveled edge.

Step 2: Place the Sharpening Rod in One of the Serrated Scallops

Choosing the right angle of the serrated blades is easier as you will be able to use the bevel’s angle as a guide. This will typically be anywhere between 13 and 17 degrees in comparison to the blade’s edge, which tends to be shallower than you may be used to when sharpening knives.

Do note that if your knife also has a straight edge portion, then the bevels are typically ground to the same angle, which will be at 20 to 25 degrees.

Also, if you are still unsure and need a better guide, then we suggest drawing on the scallops with a permanent marker. By doing so, you will know when you are hitting these at the right angle if the marker is removed.

sharpening serrated knives

Step 3: Move Around the Sharpening Rod to Match the Scallop's Diameter

With a tapered sharpening rod, you will need to locate the rod in the scallops at that point where the diameter of the rod is the same size as the scallops, or maybe slightly smaller.

Step 4: Begin by Sharpening the First Scallop

Take the sharpening rod and run it along the very first groove in many short strokes. Push this in one direction away from the blade’s edge towards the spine. Keep rotating the rod as you are pushing it for a more even grind.

Make sure that you are pushing the rod only to the point with the same diameter as the scallop so that you avoid enlarging the scallop.

Step 5: Check for a Burr

With the help of your fingers, run along the backside of the groove so that you can check for any metal shavings or a “burr.” The second you feel a burr means that you have sufficiently sharpened the groove. This will only take a couple of strokes. You can also run your fingernails along the back edge to feel a burr.

Step 6: Continue Sharpening Every Groove on the Knife

If the blade’s serrations are all in different sizes, then make sure that you are constantly adjusting the position of the tapered sharpening rod so that it fills the groove correctly.

Step 7: File Away All the Burrs

The burrs are the metal shavings that are filed off when you sharpen the blade, and to remove them, rub the back of the blade against a sheet of fine-grit sandpaper. Alternatively, you can use the sharpening rod to lightly run it against the backside of every groove. Be careful that you do not apply too much pressure when you are removing the shavings.

Step 8: Sharpen Any Straight-Edged Part of the Knife

If the serrated part of your knife is only a part of the whole knife’s length, then ensure that you sharpen the remaining length of the knife with the help of another sharpening tool or with a whetstone.

Under no circumstance should you be using a serrated knife sharpener on the part of the knife that has a straight edge, as it can possibly damage the knife and render that part of it useless.

Pro Tip: Use Electric Knife Sharpeners

If you are someone who uses a serrated knife regularly, you can also consider investing in an electric knife sharpener. This handy device is all about speed, convenience, and ease of use.

To sharpen a serrated knife using an electric knife sharpener, all you need to do is pass the knife through the appropriate stage of the machine and let it do all the work.

Conclusion

Sharpening serrated knives do require some prior knowledge and effort, but doing so correctly can ensure that you can use that knife effectively for a long time. Ensure that you pay close attention to all the steps we have listed above before you sharpen your serrated knife.

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