How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife

how to sharpen a serrated knifeMany people put off sharpening their serrated knives, thinking that it is not possible to do at home or would require a lot of special equipment. However, this just isn’t true. Although it does take more time and patience than sharpening a non-serrated blade, it is still a simple process that you can easily do yourself.

The serrations on these knives make them ideal for cutting through hard objects, as the serrations are able to grab and hold on to tough surfaces. Most people imagine slicing bread when they think of serrated knives, but there are actually many more applications where a serrated knife will outperform a non-serrated one. For example, try using a serrated blade when cutting soft cakes, citrus fruits, and tomatoes. Just the slightest amount of pressure is needed to make the serrations puncture the item, which then allows the blade to slice through smoothly and evenly.

Since the serrated knife has such a specialized form, this allows it to still perform well when it is rather dull. Unfortunately, this often means that people will overlook sharpening these knives. So if you know that your serrated knives have been getting neglected lately, then here is a simple step by step guide on how to sharpen them.

Purchase a Sharpening Rod for Serrated Knives

To sharpen serrated knives, you will need a special sharpening rod. Using a sharpening device meant for non-serrated knives will grind off the serrations, which can ultimately ruin your knife. Instead, you need to choose a sharpening rod that will fit in between the serrations on your serrated knife. If you have many different sizes of serrated knives or your knife has a few different sizes of serrations, then choosing a sharpening rod that tapers at the end is the best option.

It is also important to consider the size of grit and material of the sharpening rod that you purchase. When shopping for a sharpening rod, you will see coarse, medium, fine, extra fine, and ceramic. Ceramic is highly recommended, as it is very effective and will provide a beautifully polished edge. Otherwise, extra fine will also work well for most at-home applications. The larger grit sizes will provide a faster sharpening rate on very dull knives, but as long as you continue to regularly sharpen your knives, a ceramic or extra fine sharpening rod will be enough.

We recommend the DMT Diafold Serrated Knife Sharpener.

Locate the Beveled Edge

Serrated knives are not the same from both sides. On one side of the blade, you will notice it is a completely flat face from the top of the blade to the blade’s edge. On the other side, the blade angles slightly where the serrations begin. This is known as the bevel, and you will need to match this angle when sharpening each serration. So make sure to keep this side of the knife facing towards you during sharpening.

Match the Cone to the Gullet

The serrated groove along the edge of the knife is technically known as the gullet. To properly sharpen each gullet, you will need to use the part of the sharpening rod that has the same diameter as the groove. To do this, begin by holding the knife in your non-dominant hand, with the tip of the knife resting on a cutting board. Make sure that the beveled side is facing upward. Next, take the sharpening rod in your dominant hand and hold it perpendicular to the knife. Now find what part along the tapered cone of the sharpening rod fits into the groove along the knife. This will be the area of the sharpener that you will want to use in the next steps.

Sharpen Each Serration

After you have matched your sharpener to the gullet, you are ready to start sharpening that individual serration. Look at the angle of the bevel, and try to match that with your sharpening rod. Now hold the knife steady as you move the sharpening rod back and forth in short strokes. If you are using a tapered sharpening rod, then make sure to only move the rod back and forth a couple inches, as you only want to use the part of the rod that matches the size of the gullet. As you move the rod back and forth, you do not need to use a lot of pressure. Rather, use a gentle hand and keep the movements very light and short.

After three to five strokes, run your finger along the backside of your knife. You should feel that a sharp bump has formed. This is due to the metal being pulled up and over the edge of the knife by the sharpening rod. This process is known as “drawing a burr.” This burr is a sign that the old fatigued metal has been moved and that you have made progress in sharpening your knife.

As long as you can feel that a burr has formed on the underside, then you can move onto the next serration. On some serrated knives, there may be a two or more different sizes of serrations. Make sure to always ensure that you are using the appropriate part of the sharpening rod for each individual gullet. Continue the sharpening process down the length of the blade until each individual serration has been sharpened.

Grind Off Burrs

Once all of the serrations have been sharpened, it is time to get rid off the burrs on the opposite side of the blade. Flip the knife over and run the sharpening rod over the edge of the blade in one light, flat stroke. All you want to do is grind off all of the burrs that were created from sharpening. You do not want to affect any of the serrations. So be careful with your angle as you do this. Afterwards, you should be able to run your finger along this backside of the blade and not feel any sharp bumps. Once it feels smooth, your newly sharpened knife is ready to use.

Video Guide

Here is a video guide on sharpening a serrated knife courtesy of Expert Village: