How to Sharpen Serrations
October 25, 2013
Sharpening serration is often viewed as an unnecessary or daunting task. I know I’ve heard, “I use serrated knives because they don’t need to be sharpened”. I think we all know that can’t be further from the truth. In fact, I find that I need to dedicate more time to maintaining serrated blades that I do plain edge blades. Now, if you checked out our post, Plain Edge vs. Serrations, then you already have a good idea of the advantages and disadvantages of both plain edge blades and serrated blades. I’m going to piggyback of that post and add a couple more observations about serrations and then we’ll walk through how to sharpen them.
Serrations are most knives are generally chisel ground. Meaning only on side of the blade has any bevel. In fact we could argue that serrations have multiple bevels but they happen to only be on one face of the blade. This is nice because it really does reduce the amount of effort needed to get a serrated blade sharp. The biggest barrier that many people come across when sharpening serrations are:
- The proper tools
- The correct angle
Finding the proper tool to sharpen serrations with is both simple and complicated. Serration from different manufacturers have different sized and shapes of scallops and often times it can be difficult to find a all in one tool for every serration you come across My general advise would be to grab a Diamond tapered Rod, Dogbone Sharpener or make your life simple and just grab a Lansky Kit with the serrated hones.
Finding the correct angle is actually fairly easy with serration because there bevel is so defined. The biggest problem I’ve come across when sharpening serration is maintaining the angle. Serrations bevels are generally a pretty shallow angle compared to other bevels. I generally find them to be around 13°-17° which is a bit lower than I usually sharpen plain blade knives at. This becomes a problem when we’re attempting to maintain a consistent angle with the serrations because your muscle memory is trained for a slightly more obtuse angle. This means that we’ll have to pay careful attention to our angle when sharpening serrations by hand relying more on visual cues rather than sound and touch.
Sharpening serrations with a Tapered Rod
Step 1- Place your taper Rod in the scallop (also called a gullet) of a serration
Step 2- Match the angle of your tapered rod (remember the angle is very acute/shallow) to the bevel angle of the scallop and using short strokes, push the tapered rod against the bevel.
Step 3- Sharpen the scallop until you have removed enough material to form a burr on the opposite side of the bevel. A good way to check is if the flat side of the chisel grind will catch your fingernail.
Step 4- Repeat this process on each and every scallop on the blade.
Step 5- After you’ve sharpened each scallop, remove the burrs from the flat side of the chisel grind by laying your taper rod flat against the back of the chisel grind and carefully polish away the burr.
Step 6- Enjoy a sharp serrated blade
Other Serration Sharpening Methods
A tapered rod is not always the end all, be all of serration sharpening. If you have very small scallops you may have to try some different methods. Using a Lansky Sharpening Kit with the Serration Hones is always a fool proof method to get your serrated blades sharp. Other tools include using the edge of some stones. A pocket stone such as a Lansky Dogbone Sharpener is produced with serrations in mind. With Dogbone style sharpeners you can use the edge to sharpen serrations but it generally requires a little more finesse. Since you are using the edge of a stone, you’ll need to rock the stone’s edge from side to side in the serration to make sure you reach the complete bevel. You can follow the general advice I posted above, the principles are the same, but the rocking motion is important to make sure your sharpening the complete scallop.
Another method is to use the edge of a benchstone to sharpen your serrations. This can be a little different because you’ll need to bring the stone to the edge, rather than the plain edge sharpening method of bringing the knife to the stone. Just follow the same mentally with a tapered rod but make sure to rock the edge from one side of the scallop to the other like I described when using a dogbone.
Any questions, comments or concerns? We’d love to hear from you so make sure to post a comment below.
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