Serrated knives are very useful in ensuring that you can cut through tough material. However, you’ll need to keep them sharp. Here’s a simple guide on how to do that. One of the essential kitchen skills you’ll want to know is how to sharpen a serrated knife. Knives with serrated edges are a popular choice both for home use and outdoor use.
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This is why you’ll need to know how to sharpen a serrated bread knife and also a serrated pocket knife. Each technically has the same effect, but they can be different in their own way.
Why Serrated Knives?
Before learning how to sharpen a serrated knife, let’s first talk about why you would want to use serrated knives. Normal knives should be able to get the job done after all, right?
It all comes down to the sort of things that you can do with the knife. There are mainly two cuts that you can do with a knife:
- Push Cuts. If you’ve ever cut an apple or a piece of wood, this is what you do. You push the knife edge through the things you’re cutting.
- Slicing Cuts. Though it may look similar, a slice is different since it makes you draw the knife edge across the thing you’re cutting. This is what happens when you slice off a piece of bread from a loaf.
This is where straight-edged knives and serrated knives have different approaches. The single edge of a normal knife is different from the multiple edges of the serrated knife.
Most people agree that for push cuts, single-edged knives are the best choice. However, for slicing cuts, you will want to get serrated knife.
It is why a lot of cooking enthusiasts and cooks will need to learn how to sharpen a serrated knife. Having a serrated knife in the kitchen makes it easy to cut meats, breads, and ingredients.
It is not just in the kitchen. You’ll also want to know how to sharpen a serrated steak knife that is often used when it’s steak night at home.
Outdoorsmen will also need knives that are pretty good at slicing. You will need it to saw branches off, cut ropes, and more.
This is why knowing how to sharpen a serrated pocket knife is also a necessary skill. Take note though that a lot of these pocket knives have half-serrated edges so sharpening them is a lot of different from a full serrated edge.
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The next step in learning how to sharpen a serrated knife is to find the necessary tools. You actually have several choices that are available to you.
The first ones you should look at are the manual sharpeners. Your main choice is a honing rod.
A honing rod is what you will most likely find in a kitchen. It is very popular for its ease of use.
You should pick a honing rod that has a fine grit to ensure that the serrated edges get the best treatment. You’ll need to pick one that tapers into a smaller point since there are different serrated edge sizes.
There are other manual sharpeners for serrated edges.
One of the more popular ones is the use of a tapering rod. These are usually v-shaped rods that have fine grit on them to smooth out the serrated edges and are set on a block for easy use.
Also, you can turn to sharpening stones for an emergency sharpening while on the road. These are really useful with single-edged knives but need a special approach when dealing with serrated edges.
Finally, there are automatic knife sharpeners. These actually make things easier.
You need to select a knife sharpener that can perform sharpening on serrated edges. This makes it a lot easier for you and reduces the time for knife sharpening.
The first thing you’ll have to learn is how to how to sharpen a serrated knife at home. This is mainly through three ways.
The simplest way to learn how to sharpen a serrated kitchen knife is by using an automatic knife sharpener. These are very popular and easy to use.
All you need to do is insert your knife edge in the appropriate slot and activate it. This is actually a good option.
This is because a lot of serrated knives are cheap tools. Your bread knife or steak knife won’t need the dedicated attention that actual sharpening requires.
If you want to sharpen your table cutlery, then an automatic sharpener is the way to go. However, there are several other knives you will need to be aware about.
Serrated kitchen knives are used for cutting up ingredients and these are why you will want to do manual sharpening.
To do manual sharpening, you have a choice between a sharpening rod and triangle sharpener.
For a sharpening rod, you place the rod in one of the scalloped edges and feel the angle of the bevel. This is what does the cutting and which you need to ensure is sharp.
When you have laid the rod and it fits in the scallop, then you start running the rod back and forth in it. You should also be rotating it so that the entire scallop will have an even result
Take care though that you only push and pull equal to the size of the edge. You want to sharpen the serration and not enlarge it.
Do this several time and then try to detect a burr or metal shavings on the body of the knife. This means that the metal material has been shaved off and the edge has been sharpened.
You then need to move on to the next scallop. Continue doing this until you have fully sharpened each and every edge of the serrated knife. When the main sharpening is done, you will then have to remove the burrs.
This is done by using a fine-grit sandpaper to file down those shavings until the entire thing is flat. Your other option is to use a sharpening rod to do the job, though you will need to be careful and only apply light pressure.
The other method of home sharpening uses a triangle-shaped sharpener. These usually have two protruding triangle rods set at an angle on a steady base.
This allows for sharpening similar to what you would normally do with single-edged knives. You use the rods to individually sharpen the edge, but this time it is the knife that is being moved.
Otherwise, you will have to follow the same rules as sharpening with a sharpening rod. Take note though that you will have to rock the knife to duplicate the rotation of the rod and evenly apply the sharpening across the edge.
While On the Trail
The main problem with sharpening in the outdoors is that you don’t often have access to the larger sharpening rods. There are pocket versions though, but sometimes you only have access to a sharpening stone.
Do something similar to what you did with the sharpening rod and use the corners of the stone to sharpen your edges. This is a bit time consuming but it works well with pocket knives.
Take note that in the outdoors, some knives have only partial serration. Sharpen these sections differently to ensure that they are each in good condition.
Sometimes, you don’t have a stone or a sharpening rod. In a pinch, you can use emery cloth or sandpaper wrapped around a wooden stick.
This operates on the same principle as a sharpening rod, though you will need to put some more effort into it. Take note though that this is only for emergency purposes and you should correct this sharpening as quickly as possible with the normal procedure.
However, learning how to sharpen a serrated edge knife can sometimes be a big challenge for some people. If you are one of those people, then seeking some professional help may be the only way for you to go.
It is actually pretty easy to find a professional sharpening service. Your local butcher or restaurant will most likely have a service they turn to for their knife sharpening.
However, be careful. There are mass-market grinding services that do large low-quality jobs, while there are more professional cutlers that specialize in high-quality knives.
If you’re just working with cheap knives, then the former is okay. However, if your knife is of the more expensive variety, it’s best to look for a respected cutler to do the sharpening.
Take note that this sharpening is not going to be quick. Some of them have long waiting lines for their services and you may have to wait for your knife to be serviced.
You might want to talk with the sharpener first to ask about their experience and whether they specialize in particular knives to see if you can trust them.
Cutting Through Anything
Learning how to sharpen a serrated knife can be a tedious process, with a lot of choices to make. Individually sharpening each edge can take a lot of time. However, it can be worth it as long as you see the results. Put some effort into it and you can be sure that when you pull out your knife, it will get the job done.