By design, a serrated knife can stay for years and work fine without sharpening. A quality one under correct use may serve you for long without any maintenance. But, the moment you realize it’s crushing rather than slicing through, it’s time for sharpening.
Serrated knives are very deceptive. They will still cut through even while dull. The blade edge operates as a hand saw. It’s only the increased crumbs after every cut that betrays its dullness.
Sharper is better for obvious reasons. First, you get to cut symmetric slices easily. And the amount of effort needed to cut through is minimal, and the crumbs negligible.
For a quality high carbon steel serrated knife, sharpening it is easy with the right tools. Furthermore, the manufacturer intended it to be re-sharpened rather than thrown away. Below we look at how to sharpen a serrated knife.
Sharpening Serrated Knives
Sharpening a serrated knife is more challenging than working on flat edge knives. The reason being, you need more patience and care while doing it. The other alternative is sending it to a professional sharpener. And wait for an invoice.
I guess you have decided you aren’t getting a bill for knife sharpening. Let’s sharpen that knife then.
1. Ceramic Honing Rod
The ceramic honing rod is the best tool for serrated knife sharpening. It is preferred over steel honing rod because it’s harder and thus sharpens better. The ceramic honing rod design fits inside the serrations nicely for easy strokes, tooth by tooth.
The first step of the sharpening process is identifying the bevel edges. Your serrated knife has two sides. The backside has the face of the blade run at the same angle to the edge. On the front side, the look has little angle downs before the serrated edge called bevels. Only run the sharpening tool over the bevel edges.
Place the ceramic honing rod on the serrated grove (gullet) at the end closer to the handle. Slant the rod to match the angle of the slope. Slide the rod gently while applying low pressure to sharpen the gullet. Rotate the rod as you slide it for a more even grind.
Once burr forms move to the next serration, run your fingers on the backside to locate the burrs.
Sharpening with a ceramic rod has another advantage of reestablishing sharp teeth tips. These tips make the first entry into the material before cutting begins.
To remove the burr from the knife’s backside, flip the knife and move this flat side over the fine-grit side of a sharpening stone. Or do a gentle slide over the rear of your blade with the ceramic honing rod.
Finally, sharpen the straight-edged parts of the blade using a whetstone or other available sharpening tool. That’s it, and you are done.
2. DMT Serrated Knife Sharpener
As the name suggests, this is a sharpener designed explicitly for serrated knives. There are three grit sizes to choose from; extra-fine, fine, and coarse. For most serrated knives, fine grit does the job well. But if your knife is very dull, go for the coarse grit. The extra-fine grit is mainly for polishing sharpened edges.
Hold the sharpener with your dominant hand and the serrated knife with the other. Match the diameter of the sharpener cone to the serration or gullet size on your knife. Stroke beveled edge back and forth lightly while ensuring you are within the diameter size of the serrations.
Keep stroking until a burr forms on the backside, proceed to the next serration, and repeat the process. Once you have sharpened all the serrations, grind off the burr using light flat strokes on the backside of your knife. Your knife is sharp enough to swing back to action.
3. Triangle-Shaped Sharpener
These sharpeners’ design works best for serrated knives with V-shaped gullets. The sharpening process is similar to the ceramic honing tool, only that the triangle-shaped sharpener is not rotatable.
4. Make Your Own Sharpening Tool
Are you the DIY type who feels limited by a single-purpose tool? You can make your serrated knife sharpener using a dowel and an emery cloth. Here is how:
- Find a dowel that fits the knife’s scallop firmly
- Wrap an emery cloth around the dowel
- Hold the cloth using a fastener or your finger
- Sharpen slowly with a lot of care
- Switch dowels to match other scallops
- Make a round dowel for round scallops and a square dowel for V-shape scallops.
Serrated knives are sharpenable. While it takes years for a quality-serrated knife to require sharpening, eventually, it will need it. You can either send your dull knife to a professional sharpener or do the sharpening yourself.
Sharpening a serrated knife isn’t hard. You only need a suitable sharpener and some free time. Nevertheless, be careful not to damage the serrations. Always match the diameter of your sharpening tool with the size of the serrations.
To lengthen the period between sharpening sessions, use your serrated knife for the purpose intended. Let your serrated knife work on bread alone.