Serrated knives seem to stay sharp forever—which is part of their appeal. In fact, they can go years without needing to be sharpened, thanks to their pointy teeth: the teeth do most of the work, which reduces the friction on the blade. Basically, the teeth rip into hard surfaces, which keeps the finer scooped portion of the blade protected. This enables serrated knives to stay sharp so long, unlike chef’s knives and other smooth blades.
On the other hand, this makes them more difficult and/or time-consuming to sharpen. It can be done, though—it just requires special equipment. You’ll know it’s time to sharpen your serrated knife when it stops cutting cleanly. If your bread is shredded instead of sliced, give your knife the care it needs.
Why sharpening serrated knives are different
The scalloped edge of a serrated knife is constructed a bit differently than a smooth knife. Whereas a smooth knife is sharpened to a 45-degree angle on both sides, a serrated knife is only angled on one side.
The scallops or notches on the knife are chiseled into the edge, which is why the flat side exists. While only the teeth come into contact with the cutting board, allowing it to stay sharper, the recessed gullets will still dull over time. The trick is to sharpen those recesses—you can’t just use a whetstone or a regular electric sharpener.
How a serrated knife is sharpened
At this point, you might be wondering if it’s even worth it to sharpen your serrated knives—why not just buy cheap ones and toss them when they eventually dull? As with your smooth knives, paying a bit more for good quality and careful maintenance will dramatically extend the life and enjoyment of your knives.
If you want to do it yourself, you can. You’ll need a conical honing tool (they’re available in ceramic and metal versions, depending on your needs), and you will individually sharpen each of those notches by working the honing tool back and forth, perpendicular to the knife, until you feel a burr forming. When you do, you can then move on to the next notch. At the end, you’ll flip the knife over and grind off the burr, then clean your knife for its next use.
There are also specially-designed electric and handheld sharpeners for serrated knives. These cost more, but take some of the guesswork out of working with serrations. You should make sure that they will meet the needs of your particular knife before purchasing. Consider reading reviews and asking a professional what they recommend for basic maintenance. Of course, taking your serrated knife to Larson Sharpening, Inc. will guarantee a beautifully-sharpened blade in no time at all.
Want to let expert knife sharpeners in San Diego, CA take care of your serrated knives? Contact the team at Larson Medical Sharpening. We have almost four decades of experience in keeping your knives sharp. Bring us your knives today for sharpening!
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