Everyone Owns One!
It’s so true! We all own and use serrated blades. Some use them to cut a slice of baguette, and some to chop through that sizzling prime rib steak. Others have serrations on their pocket and hunting knives. The point is that everyone has one! Logically then, it only makes sense that we know the process of how to sharpen a serrated knife, so they stay well maintained and last a lifetime. This is especially true for anyone who owns an expensive set of serrated blades. And heck even if you don’t own an expensive set but instead a cheap $10 one, at least you’ll now have some information on how to sharpen a serrated knife should you ever require to do so. There’s no point chucking your old ones out and spending unnecessary cash for new ones.
Have you ever pulled that one steak right off the barbecue, thrown it on your plate, grabbed your steak knife, and wrestled the steak to death having hardly had any? That’s been me on so many different occasions! This post is specifically for those people and for anyone who squashes the baguette instead of cutting through!
Let’s Talk Serrations: Serrated Vs. Non Serrated Blades
So what exactly is a serrated blade, and how does it differ from a typical plain edge style? I like the definition given by knifeart, so I’ll use it here. Serrated edges are blades that have some kind of toothed or saw-like edge ground into on the cutting surface. Generally speaking, the presence of these “teeth/dents” result in minimal contact area with the material being cut, and therefore a greater pressure in comparison to a standard plain edge.
If you were to get all scientific about this, you could apply the formula of Pressure=Force/Area to better understand what is happening. When comparing serrated vs. non serrated, we can assume the force applied using both will be the same (constant). The only variable is area then, and the serrated edge has less contact area (because of the teeth/dents) in comparison to the plain edge. Hence, the pressure will be higher for a serrated blade and it will therefore cut materials faster, but not necessarily cleaner. Try to visualize how this comparison would work with a hard bread (I mention baguette previously). A plain edge would simply compress and squash the bread whereas a serrated one would tear the crust so the edge can start cutting.
You may be thinking at this point, a serrated edge is better than a plain edge, but this is simply not true. Each edge style has its own specific uses, as well as its limitations. To determine what’s best for you, you’ll need to better understand what you will be using it for. This is a separate discussion altogether (I may have a blog post about this in the future).
Should You Use An Electric Knife Sharpener To Sharpen A Serrated Blade?
This tends to be a question with differing opinions. When talking about how to sharpen a serrated knife, I tend to remain extra cautious when considering electric sharpeners. Now, some companies claim that their product will work on serrations, and I am not here to argue that. There are people who claim to have had positive results when working on serrations with an electric style, and I don’t necessarily disagree. What I do think, however, is that there is a better way to work on serrated edges and using an electric style does not help accomplish this.
The thing with electric styles is that you can’t control the process. What do I mean by this? What I mean is you ultimately can’t alter how much material is removed from the edge. You place your edge in one of the stages and let it do its thing. Why does control matter or the amount of material taken off? Well that’s a great question! It matters because you end up losing serration each time you sharpen this way. Keep doing it this way and the extreme case is you may end up with a plain edge, losing all serration.
Important Advice That Could Save Your Edge!
Before we get into how to sharpen a serrated knife, I would like to provide some valuable advice that I wish you would seriously consider. Sharpening serrated edges requires patience, as the process involves paying special attention to each individual serration. There’s also a technique involved and while it may be easier for some, it could take time for others to master. The main idea here is to be in control so you don’t end up with a plain edge from a serrated one! If you have an expensive set of serrated blades and are not sure if you’d be comfortable sharpening each serration, I’d suggest you consider giving your knives to a professional sharpening service company. There is nothing worse than an expensive investment going down the drain because you wanted to save a couple of dollars to do it yourself. The pros exist for a reason! USE THEM!
How To Sharpen A Serrated Knife: The Proven, Right Way That Works!
Alright, so you’ve decided to work on your serrated edge….what next? You will need to look into purchasing a sharpener that is capable of working on serrated blades. I recommend using the DMT Diafold Serrated Knife Sharpener (click the link to check it out on amazon).
This device is specifically designed to work on serrations, and comes in three different diamond grit variations: coarse, fine, and extra fine. Gauge what condition your edge is in and pick your grit accordingly. If your blade is extremely dull, you may want to consider the coarse grit. If your blade is only somewhat dull, pick the fine grit. Pick the extra fine if your blade only needs a touch up or polish. The cool thing about this product is it’s portable, lightweight and easy to store!
So how do you work this thing? It’s not that hard actually. First I would suggest you get a feel of how big the gap/spacing is between each tooth/serration. Do this by sliding the rod into the serration and stop at the point where you have a tight all contact fit between rod and serration. You will note that the rod is designed to work on serrations of various sizes (small serrations in the beginning of the rod, and larger serrations towards the end of the rod, near the handle). Now you can sharpen! To do this, hold the knife such that the serrations are parallel to the table surface, and hold the rod such that it too is parallel to the table surface. Firmly run the rod into the serrations by using short, quick strokes. Remember to always pull the rod away from each serration! Focus on keeping your technique consistent. Do this until you have completed all serrations. Again, remember technique is key! Don’t rush to do things in a haphazard manner. Take your time to do it properly.
If you don’t feel comfortable working on your serrated edge, seek professional help. It may also be worthwhile for you to try working on a cheaper blade so you can get the hang of it. See if you can nail down the technique and go from there. I found a cool video that does a much better job at describing the technique than I do. It’s in your best interest to check it out (credit to Thomas Stuckey and Expertvillage).
I hope this post has helped to answer the question: How To Sharpen A Serrated Knife. If you have done things differently that worked for you, I’d love to hear! Please drop me a comment below! Cheers and thanks again for visiting myelectricknifesharpener!