Updated: May 20, 2021

How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife

Whether it’s slicing that crusty French bread or sawing through a tree branch to use for your makeshift shelter in the jungle, a serrated blade comes in handy. The best part is that it slices without squishing the inside of the bread. This type of knife has a blade edge like a hand saw. Its teeth can rip tough exteriors while sliding smoothly through soft interiors.

Even though serrated knives do not need sharpening often like the regular knife blade, the edges may begin to dull after a few years. you may still be able to use your knife, but there will be differences in how symmetrical the slices are. When you start noticing more morsels and bread crumbs on the cutting board, it is a sign that it is time to sharpen the knife.

When you sharpen a serrated knife, you effectively reduce the pressure on the knife to catch and slice through the surface. If you sharpen the knife, you will notice a reduction in crumbs on the cutting board.

Sharpening a serrated knife is not as easy as it looks, but you can always do it yourself if you have the right tools. Also, the quality of the knife matters. If the quality is good, it can be resharpened many times before it becomes useless.

Do Electric Knife Sharpeners Work?

There is a lot to consider when using electric knife sharpeners. First, does it have slots made for serrated knives? Sadly, low-end knife sharpeners do not have this feature. Other motorized sharpeners touch only the tips of the blade. Since they sharpen both sides of the serrated knife blades, they could damage the bevel.

Some deluxe electric sharpeners have spring-action bars where they mount the sharpening surface. This often conforms with the angle and shape of a serrated blade. However, it may still have issues reaching the surface of the gullets. Also, if you don?t know how to use the electric sharpener, you could damage the blade.

You need to consider all these factors if you still choose to use electric knife sharpeners for your serrated blade.

Manual approaches often give better results.

Tools You Need To Sharpen A Serrated Knife

The best tool for sharpening a serrated knife manually is a honing rod. It is also known as a sharpening road and comes in different materials. They include ceramic and steel. The difference between both of them is that ceramic is a lot harder than steel. It can remove material from the edge of the blade and sharpen it in the process. Also, the shape of a honing rod is built to fit the serrations of a blade. It can be used to sharpen the knife thoroughly.

how to sharpen a serrated knife

How To Sharpen a Serrated Knife With a Ceramic Honing Rod

You need high polished ceramic rods to sharpen a serrated knife. It is the most reliable technique so far. Also, the ceramic rod must be built with a maximum of 1800 grit and a minimum of 1500 grit. This makes it easier to sharpen harder material.

The technique is effective and simple. Also, it works on different types of notches, whether it is short, wide, or narrow.

1. Start on a flat surface.?

Before starting, make sure you prepare a flat surface to work with. Place the knife on the flat surface and hold the ceramic rod. Don?t forget that you are working on the sides with serrations on the blade. Ensure that this side faces up.

Place the honing rod in a serration and ensure that it fits into a V-shaped cut. Also, make sure the rod aligns with the bevel angle. Keeping it at this posture makes it smoother to work on the serrations. Be sure to hold the ceramic rod firmly. You don?t want to make mistakes.

When you start to work, you will hear a loud sound. This is caused by the knife?s serrations and it simply means you?re on track.

2. Start sharpening.

Slide the ceramic rod to the blade?s tip from the recessed areas. Continue to do this until it is smooth and shiny. When you are done, move to the next serration. It takes some rubs on each serration to finish the sharpening. Don?t apply more pressure as you sharpen. The rod is harder than the knife so it could damage the blade.

Remember that resharpening the indentations using the rod enhances the sharp pointed tip. This tip makes the first contact with items before other parts.

3. Flip the knife.?

When you succeed in sharpening every serration, turn the knife over to finish the polish. As you sharpen the knife, some steel residue may be stuck to the flat part of the blade. The residues are called burrs. It is easy to feel them after running your hand along the side of the knife. In some cases, they may be visible enough for you to see them.

There are two ways to remove the burr from the knife. One is to sharpen the flat side on a whetstone. Another method is by using sandpaper to clean off the burr. Naturally, sandpaper is a sharpener because it has silicone. It can remove the burr without a hassle.

To do this, rub the cardboard on the knife in a backward and forward motion. Make sure the polish is minimal and continue until the burr vanishes.

Following these steps will help you sharpen your serrated knife in no time and get it ready to use again.

How To Sharpen A Serrated Knife with an Electric Serrated Knife Sharpener

  1. All electric sharpeners come with a manual. Use it to understand the mechanics involved in sharpening a serrated knife.
  2. Remove the sharpening guide attached to the unit because serrated blades don?t require an angle guide when sharpening.
  3. Use grid 6000 or the finest belt to polish the blade. The coarsest belt grinds away more steel so avoid it at all costs.
  4. Set the sharpener on a countertop or flat surface. This keeps it stable while you operate the unit.
  5. Keep the flat side of the knife against the belt at 10 degrees. Pull the trigger so you can start the motor.
  6. Take the knife across the belt gently three to five times. Remember that the method works on the flat side. It does not work for micro-serrations and gullets.

Tips to use an electric sharpener

Sharpening the serrated knife with your electric sharpener takes a few minutes at most. however, you can optimize the blade?s sharpness when you know how to handle it better.

Don’t forget to read the manufacturer’s manual. It will guide first-time users and help them finish quickly.

Dos and don?ts of knife sharpening

Here are some important rules of knife sharpening to consider to avoid injury or damaging the knife:

Oil stones?

Whetstones or oil stones as they are called come in rectangular form. They are often used to sharpen regular straight blades. For serrated knives, this is a bad idea. oil stones can shave off the scallops and produce a blade with a clean, plain edge. However, you may be able to use round-barreled oil stones called files to sharpen a serrated knife. Still, you would need enough experience.

Round Arkansas File

This tool is used to sharpen knives and fits easily in the curved edges of serrated knives. It works well for most bread knives that do not require an aggressive filer. It sharpens the edges in a few single files. Survival knives are tougher, so you would need to do it a few extra times using the round abrasive file for a razor-sharp edge.

Smaller files are used for smaller serrations. But it only works if the knife has different-sized scallops.

Ceramic Rods

These sharpening rods were discussed above. They are quite similar to other rods made with diamonds. However, the difference is the texture. Ceramic rods are ideal for maintenance and touch-ups while diamond rods are more aggressive and coarser. The latter is ideal for sharpening and re-beveling a knife that hasn’t been used for long.

Dowels and Sandpaper

You can use dowels with sandpaper if you don?t want to get a knife sharpener. It works exactly like an abrasive file. Dowels come in different sizes and you can select a few.

Safety Precautions to Remember While Sharpening Knives

Knives are dangerous tools whether they are serrated or straight knives. Not following safety precautions for sharpening knives can leave you with an injury. The process poses danger to your fingers, so here are some precautions to remember

  • Don?t expose your fingers to the blade. Always wear a glove to protect your fingers
  • If you use a honing rod, don?t hold the rod and the knife close to your body
  • If you use a whetstone, ensure that you hold the stone in place or attach it to the table using rubbers or damp paper towels.
  • When you are done sharpening the knife, remove the steel shavings or burr. You can clean it with sandpaper or use a wet sponge.

When Should You Sharpen Your Serrated Knife?

There are some signs to look out for to determine when your serrated knife is due for sharpening. Take a look at the knife and check if the pointed tip has lost its sharpness and is now blunt. After some time, the recessed part will follow and the serrated knife won?t produce clean cuts anymore. Rather they would begin to rip and rend food because the edge is blunt.

When you start needing to apply force and a lot of pressure to get a clean-cut, it is a sign that the knife needs sharpening. One way to determine when a knife is dull is by the morsels or bread crumbs it leaves after cutting on the chopping board. The bread would appear uneven. When you notice this, it is time to sharpen the serrated knife for smoother results.

How Often Should You Sharpen Your Serrated Knives?

Regular knives can be sharpened biannually because they are probably used more often. Serrated knives may not be used as often, but once a year should be enough depending on usage.

Final Thoughts

If your serrated knife becomes blunt, you can choose to take it to a professional to get it sharpened. However, if you choose to do it yourself, these tips above can help. A serrated knife of good quality can easily be sharpened because of its build. It also requires some maintenance. With enough time, effort, and endurance, you can take your serrated knife from dull to sharp in a matter of minutes.

Jeremy Dodd
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