Keeping your knife blades sharp is important and there are different methods you can use to do this, depending on whether the blades are straight or serrated. If you have a serrated knife, the most commonly used method is to use a sharpening rod, although there are other ways to sharpen these knives. Here is a guide to sharpening serrated knives with a step-by-step guide for using a sharpening rod and an overview of the other options.
Why Do You Need to Sharpen Your Knives?
Sharpening is an essential part of knife maintenance for the following reasons:
- Performance- When your knife is sharp, it will cut cleaner slices quicker than when using a blunt knife.
- Safety- A blunt knife is potentially dangerous to use. In fact, a blunt knife is often more dangerous than a sharp knife as your knife is more likely to slip while slicing. Therefore, sharpening your knife increases your safety.
Why Is it More Difficult to Sharpen Serrated Knives?
There is a big difference between sharpening a straight-edged knife and a serrated knife. Sharpening a straight blade correctly can take practice, but it is a skill that most people can perfect. To sharpen a serrated edge is trickier as the angles are in the gullets of the serrated edge. Unlike a straight-edged knife that has just one angled blade edge, a serrated knife has multiples sections to sharpen. A further difficulty is that the gullets vary in size from one knife to the next. So, you need a tool that fits perfectly into the gullet and this is why a sharpening rod is an essential tool.
How to Sharpen Your Knife with a Sharpening Rod
A sharpening rod is the best tool for sharpening serrated knives. This is a metal rod with a rough surface that tapers at one end. As the diameter of the rod varies throughout its length, you can use it for serrations with various spacing. Here is how you can sharpen your serrated knives using a sharpening rod.
- The first step is to find the bevel edge. Most serrated knives have a single bevel edge, and this is angled in each gullet. You should only ever sharpen the beveled edge side of the knife.
- Next, you need to put the sharpening rod into the serrated grooves, which are known as gullets. Align the rod into a position where the diameter of the tapered sharpening rod fills the gullet completely.
- Stroking away from the blade, run the rod in short, smooth strokes through the gullet. Repeat this process for each serration in the knife.
- Once you have sharpened each gullet, turn the knife over to check the flat side of the blade for metal shavings called burrs. You can do this simply by running your finger along the flat side of the blade.
- Remove any burrs by either running the flat side over a whetstone or by rubbing with fine sandpaper.
- If your knife is only partially serrated and there is also a section of straight edge, then do not use the sharpening rod to sharpen this section of the knife. Instead, sharpen this section with a whetstone.
- Finally, give your knife one last wipe with a soft cloth to remove any debris.
For more tips on how to sharpen your knives, watch the following video:
Alternative Methods of Knife Sharpening
Although using a sharpening rod is probably the best method of sharpening your serrated knives, it is not the only method you can use. Some of the alternatives include:
- Electric sharpener- Some modern electric knife sharpeners have a section for sharpening serrated knives. The advantages of using these are that it is easy and convenient. Each electric sharpener differs, so it is important to thoroughly read the instructions first.
- Manufacturer sharpening- Some reputable knife brands give a warranty with their products that includes lifetime sharpening of serrated knives. The benefit of getting the manufacturer to sharpen the knives for you is that they understand the design of the knife and will have the best sharpening tools for your model. On the downside, it can cost you money to send off the knife and you will not have your knives while the manufacturer is fixing them.
- Professional sharpening services- A further option is to use a professional knife sharpening service. This means you will get your knives sharpened to an excellent standard. However, it will cost you money and this means it is only worthwhile if you have a good quality set of knives.
Keeping your knives sharp is important for them to work effectively and for safety reasons. Although it is trickier to sharpen a serrated knife than it is to sharpen a straight-edged knife, it is possible to do so. The best method of doing this yourself is to use a straightening rod, although there are several other ways to sharpen serrated knives.