How to Sharpen a Serrated Bread Knife Effectively

Updated On: April 18, 2021
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Can you sharpen a serrated bread knife? Contrary to the popular misconception, yes you can. Serrated knives can cut through uneven bread and cake surfaces as smooth as a hot knife can melt through butter.

Serrated knives are designed in a way that allows them to never lose their complete sharpness in their lifetime. The serrations will get dull, and still, they can perform at almost their best. And there comes the misconception that these knives don’t need to be sharpened.

The truth is just the opposite. They need to and should be sharpened from time to time to keep the teeth in their best, sharpest condition. Their design allows them to work perfectly even when they get dull. But that doesn’t contradict the fact that they should be ground.

Some Basics on a Serrated Bread Knife

A serrated knife has more similarities with a chainsaw than with a regular, smooth blade knife. Why they’re designed this way is totally upon the fact that they’re intended to slice through uneven thicknesses.

For example, bread isn’t soft in all places. It has a crust that can be as thick as an inch and as hard as a bone. Cutting a hard crust bread with a regular smooth knife isn’t as easy as it is with a serrated knife.

A smooth knife can easily cut through the bread’s core, but it has a hard time penetrating through the thick, hard crust. On the contrary, a serrated knife has sharp teeth that can bite onto the crust and easily perforate through.

Think of food items that have varying levels of thickness. Hard-shelled vegetables, thick-skinned fruits, and soft meat bones — all of these can be cut easier with a serrated knife than with a smooth knife.

Also Read: Best Knife for Cutting Meat

The design of serrated knives came from the design of sawblades. Wood is thicker in the shell and has varying degrees of thickness in the core. If saw blades were smooth as chef knives, they could never cut through the wood crust. The same happens with hard-crusted bread. Again, the teeth make the cutting easy.

How to Sharpen a Serrated Bread Knife

Now that we have some basics on the design decisions on the serrated edge knife let’s talk about how you can take to sharpen serrated bread knife —

You should use ceramic for this process. Ceramic is harder than what your knife is made up of – stainless steel. You’ll find hundreds of steel sharpeners, but they won’t do the job just right. You need something stronger than steel to remove the blade steel layers. That’s how sharpening is done generally.

A smaller rod diameter will make the sharpening process lengthy, and you’ll likely miss many spots. On the other hand, a thicker rod will only touch the edges. The serrations won’t come into contact and won’t be sharpened.

Find a ceramic rod that has its diameter shaped right about the size of the teeth of your blade. This way, the blade teeth will come into full contact with the rod. You should check your knife’s serration size and get a ceramic rod accordingly sized.

The knives are of generally two hardness types. One type has a coarse grind on its teeth, and the other is more on the smoother side. For cutting harder crust, a coarse tooth is better. However, if always kept well sharpened, both types can get the job done easily.

Like serrations, ceramic rods for serration sharpening come into two as well. The coarser serration needs a tougher ceramic. You can check your knife packaging to see which category it fits into and use that knowledge to get a ceramic rod.

A serrated knife has two sides. One is serrate, and the other is flat. Place your knife flat on the ground and stroke the ceramic rod on the blade grain. The grain is just another word for which direction the knife is smoothed on.

Follow the same process to sharpen all the serrations. One problem you’ll notice in the process is that metals from the teeth will bend and come out in the other direction. This can be resolved by doing a similar grinding movement from the smooth side of the knife.

Some people like to use a different type of blade sharpener. For example, a triangular metal sharpener or a chef knife sharpener. Although they can get the job done perfectly, the fastest and most effective tool to do this task is the ceramic rod.

Always wash the knife before and after sharpening. Any remaining food stain or edging stain can get etched onto the blade as a permanent mark. You don’t want that to happen. However, they can always be removed by ceramic edging.

Also Read: Remove Rust From kitchen knives

Things to Avoid to Ensure Your Serrated Edge Knife Stays in the Best Shape

A blade never gets dull only because of doing what it was made to do – cutting foods. Knives are handled roughly. They’re tossed and thrown into the dishwasher, the drawers. They get dropped onto the floor and are hit on the cutting board. To check our dishwasher safe knife set.

All these contribute to the knife blade and serrations getting worn out and bent out of shape. Sometimes the knife edge will get smoothed out because of the rough handling — making the blade even duller.

It’s not possible to keep a knife safe from rough handling at all times, and it’s not practical to do so. You can, however, do one thing to maintain the best state for your knife by sharpening regularly and trying to handle it more carefully. Following these two tips will lengthen the shelf life of your knife.

You’ll find some cheap knives in the market that are promoted as something you’ll never have to worry about sharpening. The manufacturers promise that these knives will always stay sharp, but that’s not true by any means. Stainless steel loses its shape and gets worn out. Don’t fall into these base marketing tricks.

Final Words

A good serrated bread knife is never considered anything but sharpenable. If people tell you otherwise – they’re wrong. And if you take the little time to whet your bread knife, it’ll easily last for years. You’ll save your money in the process by not having to buy a new one every time the old one gets dull.

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