How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife

Serrated knives are great for cutting bread and other foods that need to be cut into thin, evenly-spaced slices. However, they can get dull and become unusable if you don’t sharpen them often.

You can sharpen a serrated knife using a honing rod or a stone. These tools work by going between each serration and raising the teeth back to their original angles.

Honing rod

A honing rod is a tool that chefs use on their knives before and after preparation. They use it to re-align the blade’s edge and keep it sharp, which prolongs its life.

Honing rods can be made of steel, ceramic or diamond. It is important to choose a honing rod that will work with your knife’s steel.

If you use a regular steel rod to sharpen a serrated knife, it can damage the serrations and cause them to become dull. A ceramic or diamond honing rod, on the other hand, can re-align each tooth back to its original shape.

To sharpen a serrated knife, hold the honing rod at a 10-degree angle and slowly pass it over each burr. The goal is to remove the burr without damaging the blade.

If you’re using a tapered rod, be sure to find the thickness that matches the size of your serrated knife’s gullet. Then, gently drag the rod across the gullet until it feels smooth and shiny. Repeat five to ten times on each side of the blade.

Emery cloth

If you’re looking for a quick, cheap way to sharpen a serrated knife, consider an emery cloth. This tool uses a strip of fabric coated with an abrasive combination of corundum and magnetite.

Unlike sandpaper, which usually cantains abrasive material glued to a paper backing, emery cloth is made with abrasives adhered to a cloth, making it stronger in tension and more tear-resistant.

You can purchase a ready-made emery cloth or make one yourself using dowels from a hardware store. Find a dowel that sits in the first scallop of your knife without wobbling, then wrap a piece of emery cloth most of the way around it.

This method will not produce as high of a finish as a honing rod, but it’s less expensive and can be done in less time. You’ll need to switch dowels as you work on different scallops, so be sure to keep track of which ones are too small or large to fit into the serration.


Serrated knives are often used for tasks that require a sharp edge, such as cutting through rope, heavy fabrics, or foliage. They’re also popular among chefs, and a good serrated knife will stay sharp longer than a plain edge.

Some knife makers claim that you can use their serrated knives without having to sharpen them, but this isn’t always the case. These knives are usually very cheap and flimsy.

To sharpen a serrated knife, you will need a whetstone, which can be found at your local hardware or home improvement store. You will want to choose a whetstone that is sized to match the serrations of your knife.

After you have sharpened your serrated knife, you will need to remove any burrs on the blade. These are tiny steel strips that stick to the cutting edge of the knife and can be removed with a stone or honing rod.


Using a file is an easy and effective way to sharpen serrated knives. These files have fine grooves that are just the right size to fit between the gullets on serrated knives’ scalloped edges.

First, locate the bevel of your knife’s blade on the non-serrated side and use it as a guide for where to apply the file. If you don’t have a bevel, draw one on your knife with a marker.

Next, find a wooden dowel with a thickness that matches the bevel of your knife’s serrations. The dowel needs to fit between the gullets, touch the edge bevel, and not rock or wobble when you pull it across your serrated blade’s bevel.

Once you have the dowel, hold your knife in your dominant hand and place it on a surface with the serrated side pointing away from you. Set the sharpener in the serration you want to work on, holding the knife at a 45-degree angle from the rod.

Ken Onion

Ken Onion is an innovative knifemaker whose work has revolutionized the industry. Born in 1963, he hails from Kaneohe, Hawaii, and invented the SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism for Kershaw Knives - earning him a position as Premier Knife Designer with them.

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