*Note, This article contains affiliates. We use them to bring you the best equipment on the market at the best prices. By clicking on pictures you will be directed to those products.
Serrated knives seem to be a hotly debated topic in the knife world. Serrated blades can be found in kitchens as bread knives, some pocket knives have serrated edges as well as in some tools like saw blades. Can you sharpen a serrated knife, of course! They can be incredibly helpful and last a lifetime if cared for properly, so here’s our handy guide to serrated knife sharpening.
What are serrated knives?
If you’re looking for a blade that can cut through harder surfaces without having to apply extra force then a serrated blade might be for you. A serrated style knife is mainly characterized by its serrates, which when sharp can carve through harder surfaces more easily than straight edged blades without extra weight.
There are two main categories in which to put a serrated knife. The first being a single serrate, and the second being alternating serrates. A single serrate edge are knives like a bread knife and some steak knives. One side of them has the characteristic indents and the other is flat.
An alternating serrate has the divots on each side of the blade. If you were to look closely at a saw blade this is what you’ll find.
Note: A serrates are much different than a scalloped edge. Scalloped edges have a standard blade with divots taken out of higher on the knife face called scallops. You’ll find scalloped edges on some carving knives for cutting meat like brisket.
Why would you use a serrated knife?
If you were looking to slice through a French loaf of bread you would most likely use a serrated knife. Why? As the serrates move across the crust of the loaf, the sawing motion cuts the bread without applying extra force and squashing the loaf. Another example you probably have at home next to your kitchen knives, is a steak knife to slice through your favorite cut of meat.
Outside of a kitchen you might keep a half serrated pocket knife in your pocket for occasions when you need to saw through small twigs or if you needed to cut through thicker rope quickly.
How do you sharpen a serrated knife?
Sharpening a serrated knife takes a little bit more work than a standard knife does, and potentially a special tool, however the process is relatively simple. As with any knife, when sharpening we recommend putting your knife in a steady vice like a clamp and setting yourself up over a cutting board for added safety.
Next you’ll need to know if the blade edge is a single serrate or an alternating serrate, as well as how wide and deep the indentation is. This is when the potential for a special tool comes into play.
There is a chance that your knife could be sharpened using your standard sharpening rod and honing rod. If this is you, then congratulations! Otherwise, you’ll need a file or specialty sharpening rod to help you. We’ll have a link below to help you find one that would work for you. When it comes to these rods, remember that there are many different size serrates, so there is no one size fits all knives.
The CUSH-P Method for Serrated Knives
From here we recommend going through our CUSH-P method to get the best results. Making sure that the blade is clean and functioning correctly before sharpening. While your serrated knife is steady in its clamping system work the sharpening rod across the serrations at the angle set by the manufacturer. As with most sharpening, there will be a small amount of metal that is removed during this process.
Note: We don’t recommend putting any knife outside of butter knives in a dishwasher, especially a serrated knife. The teeth of these knives can break off in the machine and cause damage.
Now flip the knife over and this is where our two categories come into play. If the other side has serration as well then repeating the process above is all you need. If there isn’t serration and instead it’s a flat side, then run your standard whetstone across the back of the knife. This will help take any burrs off of the teeth.
Furthering our CUSH-P method, honing the serrations is fairly limited. Run the honing iron through once or twice should do just fine. If you have a half serrate knife like this one, the vast majority of your honing will be on the flat edge. We do not recommend using a strop in the case of serrated knives. During testing, it mainly caused cuts in the strop than the removal of any burrs.
Finally, it is very important to keep these knives protected. Due to how fine of point the teeth of the edge are, they can much more easily harm someone, or become damaged and break off.
When in use, make sure you are using some form of cutting board, and then return it to its sheath for safe keeping. We recommend always having a dedicated sheath with hard exteriors for these and not placing them directly into the drawer.
Note: This checklist is included with all our sharpeners. If you're looking for a new knife sharpener check out here.
How often should I sharpen my serrated edge knife blade?
Our guiding principles for any knife, edge, or otherwise has always been to sharpen your knives when it no longer performs as well as you want it to. It is important to note here that this will vary depending on what you use it for and how thick of metal the blade is.
For example, a serrated knife used to cut bread will hardly ever need to be sharpened as opposed to a pocket knife you used to practice survival situations. Overall we don't expect to have to sharpen these kinds of knives often at all.
A quality serrated knife should last you a lifetime, especially if you care for it!
As with any blade's edge, if you care for it they will last a lifetime or more. This is especially true when it comes to a serrated knife. They require a very minimal amount of upkeep but they can do an incredible amount of work. Always remember to use proper equipment and the right methodology to make sure you get the best results and a sharp edge!
Have experience sharpening serrations? Need help with your sharp edges? Let us know at Support@itsjustsharp.com and let us help you get to the cutting edge!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to sharpen serrated knives?
The best way to sharpen a serrated knife is to use a proper sharpening rod, ceramic honing rod, or proper sharpening tool with the correct angle.
Only a few strokes will be necessary to get a perfect edge on each scallop, just make sure to keep your knife steady. Properly honed, they should last a very long time.
Do you need a special sharpener for serrated knives?
You might need a sharpening rod depending on the kind of edge you have on your serrated knife. As with all things, having the right tool can save you a lot of heart ache and frustration.
In this case a normal whetstone or oil stone is unlikely to get you the results you need unless you're removing a burr from the back of a single serrate type edge.
Can you sharpen a knife with a serrated edge?
Yes! Any knife can be sharpened if you have the right knowledge. In the case of a serrated knife, it take a little more knowledge than a simple flat bevel knife, however it isn't much more complicated.
Can you sharpen a bread knife with a regular knife sharpener?
Not really. We do not recommend using a flat whetstone or oil stone to sharpen a serrated knife. Serrations require more work of sharpening tools like a rod that slides through the serrations at the correct angle to give these kinds of knives the slicing power that makes them famous.
That being said, you can use a flat whetstone or oil stone to help you get the non scalloped or serrated side of your knife if you have a single indent type knife. By running your flat side across the stone you should be able to remove any excess material called burrs.
Also of note, we looked for electric knife sharpeners that could handle most serrated knives and were unable to find one we could recommend. If we come across one we will update this section so stay tuned!
Is it ok to sharpen serrated knives?
Yes! Sharpening a serrated knife on your own is something that a lot of people attempt. If you're comfortable with using a sharpening stone, a ceramic rod, and determining the right angle of bevel, this may be a worthy challenge for you.
If you don't feel comfortable with handling these kinds of knives, then pro services will probably be able to help you.