Serrated knives are specialty knives that are great for specific kitchen tasks. Their “teeth” grab and grip into whatever you’re cutting, making short work of delicate items like tomatoes, delicate cakes, and bread. They are particularly useful for items that are hard on the outside and soft on the inside.
A popular fallacy is that serrated knives can’t be sharpened. Luckily, we’re here to tell you different and walk you through the process so you can hold onto your best kitchen knives for a great deal longer.
Can You Sharpen A Serrated Knife?
Yes, you can sharpen a serrated knife! It is slightly more time consuming and finicky than using a whetstone to sharpen a straight-edged knife, as you must sharpen each groove one at a time, but it’s worth taking the time to keep one of your most functional kitchen knives on task, not to mention saving money on buying a new one.
The best tool for sharpening a serrated knife is a ceramic sharpening rod. When purchasing a sharpening rod, make sure that it is a compatible size with the grooves of your knife. If it’s a little smaller than the grooves, that’s fine, but if it’s larger, it can enlarge the grooves and make the knife ineffective.
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Most sharpening rods are tapered, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find one that matches the size of your serrations.
What You Will Need
- Sharpening rod to fit your serrations
- One sheet of fine-grit sandpaper
- A cutting board to rest your knife or wooden surface to rest your knife on
How To Sharpen A Serrated Knife
Have a look at your serrated knife – most will have beveled serrations on only one side. It is important to only sharpen the serrated side and not the flat side – attempting to sharpen the flat side could damage the spiked tips.
- Grasp the handle of your knife in your less dominant hand and rest the tip gently on a cutting board on a table or countertop.
- Hold your sharpening rod in your dominant hand and place the tip of the rod so it’s sitting in the first scallop, close to the handle.
- Make sure that the diameter of the rod snugly fits into the hollow – if you exceed the size of the hollow, you will end up enlarging it instead of sharpening.
- Adjust the angle of the rod – you’ll be able to find the correct angle by aligning the rod with the original angle of the hollow.
- Gently swipe the rod across and through the hollow – make sure you are moving the rod away from the blade only – moving towards the blade could see you slip and cut yourself. Don’t swipe back and forth – sharpen in the same direction only, in slow sweeps using moderate to gentle pressure.
- After the first two swipes, start to twist the rod as you swipe – this can help remove any burrs that have formed.
- Sharpen the groove until you can feel a small raised burr on the flat side of the blade. Once you detect this, it means the hollow is sufficiently sharp.
- Repeat this process for all hollows down the length of the blade, adjusting the diameter if your edge has different sized grooves. Each hollow will require the same number of strokes.
- Once you have completed sharpening all grooves, very gently run the sandpaper over the flat side of the blade to remove any burrs created during the process. One or two light passes will suffice.
In the kitchen you’ll find the following kinds of serrated knives:
- Bread knives – these kitchen essentials are not only great for slicing through fresh loaves of bread, they also do a bang-up job of finely slicing tomatoes, cutting through pineapple skin, and delicately slicing even the lightest of sponge cakes.
- Steak knives – not all steak knives are serrated, but it’s a popular design for this use, mainly because you and your guests will be slicing through steak into ceramic dinnerware, which will dull a straight-edge blade much more quickly than a serrated one.
- Utility knives – as with steak knives, utility knives may be straight-edged or serrated. A serrated utility knife will slice through an oversized, overstuffed sandwich with ease, leaving all the contents even, along with coping with a wide range of general kitchen jobs.
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Kitchen lore claims that serrated knives don’t need to be sharpened – unfortunately, this is somewhat of an old wives’ tale.
While serrated knives do tend to stay sharper for longer than straight-edged knives and can cut competently even when a little dull, they won’t stay sharp indefinitely. After time, the blade will quit slicing cleanly and start tearing up your food.