How To Sharpen A Serrated Knife

Are you wondering how to effectively sharpen a serrated knife at home? Unsure which tools you’ll need to get the job done? Here at Dexam, our experts have put together this step-by-step guide on how to sharpen a serrated knife blade effectively, maximising the lifespan of your tools.

how to sharpen a serrated knife guide

Why Should You Be Sharpening Your Knives?

In order to feel confident in the kitchen, it’s important to not only invest in having all of the right tools but also make sure they’re well maintained. One of the most underrated accessories in many homes is the trusty serrated bread knife, which is an absolute essential. Designed for effortlessly slicing into crusty loaves, these knives are often long-forgotten in the drawer, but when utilised correctly they’ll save you from the frustration of having squashed bread and unsightly crumbs. 

With their teeth-like edges offering long-lasting durability, serrated blades are often more durable than straight blades because less of their surface area is regularly worn down. But like any knife, serrated bread knives will too become dull over time. Every time that you use your knife the blade will become increasingly worn, with the vast majority of the damage not coming from the food you’re cutting but the chopping board itself. With every slice the blade becomes duller, with the teeth becoming rounder or perhaps even becoming bent and out of shape, meaning that sharpening when this occurs is absolutely essential. But, if you are unsure of how to effectively sharpen a serrated blade at home, or are perhaps even intimidated by them to the point of avoiding keeping them truly sharp, then we’re here to help.

A Guide To Sharpening Your Serrated Bread Knives At Home

Picture of a serated bread knife


How To Identify When Your Serrated Blades Need Sharpening

Serrated blades very rarely need to be sharpened, thanks to the fact that their pointed teeth do most of the work, while the serrations simply follow suit, and it can be easy to forget about them. There are, however, a few tell-tale signs that will help you to easily identify whether your knives are sharp.

The first thing that you are likely to notice is that your bread knife simply isn’t cutting as effectively as before. If it once cut cleanly through a crusty loaf, but now you find that more crumbs are being left behind, then your blade likely is in need of sharpening to help return it to peak performance. 

Don’t forget to inspect the blade closely too. Are your serrated teeth looking rounder? Is the blade bent the wrong way? Each of these things can also be key signs that your knife is in need of some TLC.

Choose A Suitable Knife Sharpener

Investing in a suitable, high-quality knife sharpener is the absolute key to keeping your knives in tip-top condition. There are two different types of knife sharpeners available, either electric or manual. 

Each different method will effectively sharpen your knives, while they carry their own pros and cons. While we do believe it is useful to have both options available in your kitchen, you may need to pick one, to begin with. Whichever method you choose, it’s vital to make sure that you are using your tools correctly. We’re here to help you learn how to use a knife sharpener effectively.

Electric vs Manual Knife Sharpeners For Serrated Blades

When it comes to sharpening serrated knives, the process is often a little more complicated. Unlike flat edges knives, properly sharpening a serrated blade requires a little more care and attention. This is an investment that will truly pay off in the long run, however, particularly if you have already invested in some beautiful, handcrafted knives which are designed to withstand the test of time.

As serrated knives often hold onto their edge for longer than straight-edged knives, often going on for years without needing to be sharpened or honed, it can feel almost impossible to sharpen them without completely changing their shape. Therefore, it’s important to only do this when absolutely necessary, closely monitoring any changes in their performance.

Electric Knife Sharpeners: 

For individuals looking for a fast and effective approach to knife sharpening, electric sharpeners are fantastic. Taking the difficulty out of things for you, all you have to do is turn the machine on and the rest will be taken care of for you. These electric tools are also ideal for those learning how to sharpen a serrated blade, carrying this out quickly and efficiently without too much user input required.

Chef's choice electric knife sharpener

Manual Knife Sharpeners:

The great thing about manual sharpeners is that they provide the user with complete control over the technique used and the angle in which you sharpen your blades. They are often less expensive and, with the right care and technique, can sometimes be safer to use as you have control over the speed in which you’re working. They do, however, require a lot more effort on your part and serrated knives do provide a bigger challenge regardless, with their toothed edge making matters more difficult. 

If you’d like to learn more about sharpening straight-edge blades in your kitchen, our useful knife sharpening guide will tell you everything you need to know.

Chef's choice manual knife sharpener

How to sharpen a serrated knife with an electric sharpener

Investing in a suitable, high-quality electric sharpener that is designed to work on serrated edges is the absolute key, to avoid damaging both the knife and the sharpener.  

Take a look at the following steps to help you understand how to sharpen your serrated knives: 

 1. Take the time to fully understand your machine.

You must fully understand the stages of the machine, so as to pass the knife through the right sections. While the machine does the majority of the difficult work for you, it’s important to utilise it correctly so as to avoid removing too much of the metal or altering the shape of the blade entirely.

Each electric sharpener has a variety of stages available, from stage one (coarsest) through to two and three. The coarser the stone, the more metal it will take from your knife and, thus, the sharper the blade. Choosing the right setting is the absolute key, to ensure you’re not overly sharpening and therefore reducing the lifespan of the knife.

  2. Make sure your hands are clean and dry

Before you sharpen your knife, you should ensure that your hands are clean, free from any oils and are completely dry. This helps you to minimise your chances of slipping or sustaining an electric shock.

 3. Ensure That The Blade Is Clean

You must make absolutely certain that the blade is completely clean and clear of any debris, prior to sharpening. It’s particularly important to focus on in between the serrations, as these are commonly missed areas 

 4. Inspect the blade for signs of physical damage

In this next step, you must inspect the knife thoroughly for any signs of physical damage, perhaps in the forms of either cracks, chipping or crookedness. This can have an impact on the overall strength and structure of the blade, rendering sharpening it to be totally useless.

 5. Make sure to avoid excessive pressure.

When you do enter the knife into the electrical sharpener, you must make sure to never apply any excessive pressure, to prevent the likelihood of you damaging the blade and potentially even sustaining an injury of your own.

 6. Hold the serrated blade safely

You must remember to always hold the saw-toothed blade so that the sharpest tip is pointing away from you. For the dullest blades, it may be necessary to insert into the allocated slot in stage one stone, to bring them a new lease of life. 

 7. Getting to grips with inserting and removing the blade.

Insert the blade slowly and, once you reach the furthest point of the machine, ensure that the blade is resting on the grindstone at an angle of appropriately 15 degrees. If it’s your first time using the machine, take the time to practice smoothly sliding the blade into the machine at the appropriate depth and angle, before turning the motor on.

Sharpening Vs Replacing Knives

Many people who are unfamiliar with the benefits of sharpening knives are guided by the misconception that it’s better to buy an inexpensive, low-quality knife that will simply be replaced when its performance begins to dwindle. While purchasing a lower-cost knife may originally be a temptation, in the long run, you are far more likely to spend a higher amount due to how frequently you’ll find yourself replacing them. 

Instead, investing in a high-quality serrated knife that has been carefully crafted, designed to maximise efficiency in the kitchen and to withstand the tests of time, is absolutely crucial. Made from more dependable materials, they will have better edge retention in the first place, meaning that they require far less frequent sharpening and maintenance. 

How Can We Help?

If you are looking for premium quality kitchen utensils, including beautiful knives with handcrafted wooden handles, or exceptional manual or electric knife sharpeners, we have everything you’ll need and more. Take a look around our online store today, or contact a member of our team for further information.