How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife

How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife

Are you looking for information on how to sharpen serrated knife edges? You might even be wondering whether sharpening a serrated knife is something you should be trying to do in the first place. 

A serrated bread knife is one of the most useful kitchen knives when it comes to cutting foods with a soft interior but a hard exterior like bread. If you want to have your serrated blade in its best shape, it must be sharp enough to do the job. Read on as we discuss how to sharpen a serrated edge knife. There are a few different methods and some important things you should take note of no matter which method you opt for.

Can You Sharpen Serrated Knives?

Before we look into the different methods of sharpening a serrated knife, this is an important question to address. This question is essential because you want to avoid causing damage to your knife by applying pressure and abrasion if this is not recommended by the manufacturer. You can and should sharpen serrated knives. The good news is that you don't need to do it as often as with other types of knives. Serrated knives are commonly used to cut bread. The pointed teeth of the knife are responsible for most of the cutting action. These teeth stay sharper when there is less friction, and this fact also makes them trickier to sharpen.

There are various ways of sharpening serrated knives, but the most important thing is that you keep them sharp. No one enjoys using a dull bread knife on the cutting board. While you might find it intimidating to attempt getting your serrated knives any sharper, it is a necessity. A little regular maintenance is easier to do, and you don't have to spend too much time on it. You should also avoid sharpening your quality serrated knives too often, and we look at some of the reasons why a little later.  Here are the various ways of keeping your serrated blade sharp.

Uses of Serrated Knives

We have already mentioned that serrated knives are commonly used to cut bread with a hard crust. That's not all these kitchen knives are good for, however, and it's not uncommon to find them on the cutting board when there is no bread in sight. You can also use serrated knives to cut fruits and vegetables. Although they are best as bread knives, you can use them to cut your lemons and tomatoes, as well as many other foods in your kitchen. When your knife is properly sharpened, it makes your cutting experience smooth. No longer do you have to dread the cutting board.

No matter what your relationship is with the kitchen and the cutting board, it's always ideal to have a wide variety of knives available for various needs. This includes a cook's or chef's knife, a serrated blade, and many other special-purpose knives. Once you have a range of cutting tools for all your cutting needs, you want to make sure that you keep them maintained so that you never have to use a dull tool.

Methods for Serrated Knife Sharpening

There's more than one way to keep your serrated blades in tip top shape. You may or may not have a special tool to achieve this. In this section, we cover all the main ways to keep your serrated kitchen knives sharp. Using any of these methods is one way to ensure that you always have crips and clean slices of bread. You can use an electric sharpener, a sharpening rod, a mug, or even a stone for your knives.

Each method of creating a sharp edge is different, so you have to pay attention to a few different tips and rules when you get started. One of the essential things to familiarize yourself with is the differences in each side of the blade. It is very common to find that one side of the blade has the same angle or bevel along the whole edge. On the other hand, one side usually has the blade at a downward angle just before you get to the serrated edge. It matters a lot which side of the knife you work with when you are trying to get a sharpened blade.

How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife with a Sharpening Stone

A sharpening stone is perhaps the most useful tool to sharpen your knife. Known commonly as sharpening whetstone it is hugely popular. This stone is merely a rock with a flat surface that can be very useful to sharpen all kinds of knives. Because it is flat, it is not ideal to use on the serrations and beveled edges of your knife. Instead, you can use the sharpening stone to sharpen the flat side of the knife. After you are done and the flay side of your knife is sharpened, you can use some sandpaper to polish and remove the burr that may be found around the blade.

Sharpening a Serrated Knife with an Electric Sharpener

The second method of sharpening a serrated knife we are going to look at is using an electric sharpener. An electric serrated knife sharpener is a great tool to have for your straight and serrated knives. It makes the sharpening work so much quicker and easier compared with a manual sharpener for your knife blade.

There are many high-quality knife sharpeners on the market, but you need to ensure that you find one that can work with serrated knives. Many of these can be used with other types of knives as well. There are various models of electric knife sharpeners, so the method to use is going to depend largely on which one you have.

As a general tip on how to use an electric sharpener for your knife blade, you should ensure that the device is placed on a flat surface or countertop while you are operating it. Once you turn on the machine, you can place the knife at the specified angle against the sharpening belt and pull it a few times across. It only takes a few minutes to get your serrated bread knife sharp.

It is important to note that some sharpener models can only sharpen the straight part of the knife. One other note, we must reiterate is that you should only sharpen your serrated knife once in a while as needed. If you use your electric knife sharpener on a serrated knife too often, you could make the serrations dull and turn these into a straight edge. Extreme caution must be used when handling a sharp knife and a knife sharpener to avoid injury. While this method does not take a long time to make your blades sharp, these machines are not always cheap.

Using a Ceramic Sharpening Rod to Sharpen your Serrated Bread Knife 

The next method we are going to discuss is probably one of the most common. You can use a ceramic honing rod for sharpening serrated knives. This method is manual, and the good news is that a ceramic honing rod is very inexpensive. The main drawback to this way of serrated bread knife sharpening is that it can be quite time-consuming. If you have not sharpened your knife in a long time or it has developed some bends, then this method can give you great results.

These manual sharpening tools can either be made of steel or ceramic, but in either case, they are referred to as honing steel. As far as hardness, ceramic rods are superior. They are also very fine and great with straightening scallops.

There are a few steps you should take and tips to follow when manually sharpening a serrated knife with honing steel.

  • Make sure to point the tip of the knife away from your body.
  • Lay the honing steel rod in each serration or scallop and align it with the angle of the serrated bevel as much as possible.
  • Pull the ceramic rod lightly and gently through the serration and away from the blade to keep your hands safe. 
  • We recommend that you avoid pulling the rod back and forth in both directions as this exposes you to the knife's sharp edge.

You can repeat the method outlined in the point above with each of the knife's serrations. This step takes the most time, and you may have to repeat it a few times with each serration on your bread knife.

Once you are done pulling the rod across all of the knife's serration, you can finish up with a polishing step. One way to do this is to pass both sides of the blade over a leather strop. This process polishes the knife blade and takes care of any fine burrs that might have remained behind.

Manually sharpening a serrated bread knife using a ceramic rod may take the most results, but with some patience and practice, you can achieve a great outcome. It may take a long time, but it is an accurate method that is less likely to make your knife's serrations straight or dull. It is worth mentioning that sharpening and honing are slightly different. You can also use a diamond sharpening rod, but this can remove steel from the knife and gives it a new edge.

There are different shapes when it comes to sharpening rods. If you find one with a taper, this can help you to work with blades with various serration sizes. The angles of the knife blade serrations are the bevels. You can use a sharpening rod on the beveled edges as this side achieves better results. 

If you have some fine-grit sandpaper, you can use this after the sharpening rod to remove the metal shavings that have started to accumulate on the back edge of the knife blade. The fine-grit sandpaper is also useful for dealing with burrs or rough edges that have formed on the metal blade, but it should only be used minimally.

How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife Without Tools

As you have seen, there are various tools you can employ as a sharpener for your knife blade.  Some of these are electric, while others are manual and mechanical. The results vary according to the tool, but when used correctly, these methods can help you keep your serrated knives sharp and effective. What do you do when you don't have any special tools on hand? You may not have the time or opportunity to go to the store to buy one of these sharpening rods or tools. There are a few different options available in this case.

Many serrated knives don't come cheap, however, so you should make sure that you handle them with care and don't use any and every sharpening method. You should avoid damaging your quality serrated knife. A proper knife sharpener applies the right amount of pressure at the right angle to get great results without affecting the serrated edge of the knife.

One handy method you can use for sharpening your bread knife if you don't have a serrated knife sharpener is a coffee mug. While it may not be the best or the easiest way, it certainly gets the job done. Not every mug you have can do the job, so you need to find one with a rough space around the bottom. The process might leave some marks on the mug, so if you have any older ones, these might be better to use.

The first step is to turn your coffee mug over and place it on a flat surface. You can place a damp cloth underneath the upside-down mark to keep it secure so that it does not slip and hurt you in the process. With your free hand, you want to hold the bottom of the mug in place. You should firmly grip the knife in your other hand. Place the serrated edges of the knife against the rough bottom edge of the mug. Move the blade up and down or back and forth along each of the serrations to sharpen them. This method is similar to using a sharpening rod.

One of the most important things to note with this procedure is that you do not expand the size of the knife serrations. If you use the wrong angle and don't align the blade serrations and the mug edges well, you could distort your high-quality serrated knife. To avoid this. make sure you use the mug edges as a guide when sharpening your knife with this method.

You can repeat this back and forth action about four times on each serration to get maximum results. Some burr forming can occur, but you can remove this carefully with some fine-grit sandpaper.

How to Sharpen a Serrated Pocket Knife

If you only have a small serrated pocket knife, you might want to know how to sharpen it and if the above methods can be used. Because of its size and shape, it might be challenging to use an electric knife sharpener. If you have a honing steel rod or another sharpening rod, then you can use this to sharpen your serrated pocket knife.


How do you sharpen a serrated knife? If this was the question on your mind when you started reading, you should now have a good idea about all the different methods you can use for sharpening. The most favored way is with the use of sharpening whetstone. Where not present in your kitchen, a ceramic, steel, or diamond sharpening rod is one alternative. These rods are effective, but require a bit of time to use. An electric knife sharpener is an excellent alternative, and it only takes a few minutes to use. 

If you do not have any tools on hand, you can keep your serrated knife well-sharpened with the help of your favorite coffee mug. With all of these methods to keep your serrated blade sharp, you must ensure that you exercise caution. You should also remember not to sharpen your knife too often or too much because this can also make it dull and distort the bevel of the blade.


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