Sharpening Serrated Blades

Steve Efren asked:

Although your serrated knives will still cut as they grow dull, you will begin to notice a tearing or shredding action rather than smooth cuts. If this is happening, then it is time to sharpen your knife. Sharpening dull serrated blades can be a bit more difficult than sharpening plain blades. Maintaining serrations is important if you want your knife to cut well, but they do require a bit more experience to sharpen. Serrated blades can also take longer to sharpen than a similarly sized plain blade.

The good news is that because of the design of a serrated edge, the serrations actually take longer to become dull than a plain edge, even on the same knife. The sharp points on the serrations start the cut, and the curved parts between these points are relatively protected, experiencing less pressure, which keeps them sharper for a longer period.

To sharpen serrated blades you’ll need to find the right knife sharpener. Look for a sharpener that is specifically designed to be used with serrated blades. They may come in the form of a pull-through sharpener, a sharpening stick, or a sharpening stone. What makes them different than regular knife sharpeners is that they have a small “V” shaped cross-section that can be worked inside each serrated tooth. Some serrated knife hones are actually triangular in shape to accommodate these serrations, and they may be tapered to accommodate many differently sized serrations. The same principles apply to choosing a serrated knife sharpener as choosing a regular knife sharpener, including materials and sharpener styles.

Some of these sharpeners can be used both for plain blades and for serrated ones. Gut hooks and fishhooks, found on some knives designed for hunting or other outdoor uses, can be sharpened using this type of sharpener. Pocket-sized serrated knife sharpeners are perfect if you carry a pocketknife with a serrated blade section.

When using the knife sharpener on a serrated blade, regardless of what type of sharpener you choose, keep the angle in mind. On a knife with a partially serrated blade, the serrations are nearly always ground at the same angle as the plain edge portion of the same blade. When sharpening the serrated edge, it should be kept at this same angle to give it as close to the original factory edge as possible. Some styles of knife sharpeners have a system for holding the knife at a specified angle so that you can be sure each of the teeth is sharpened at the angle you choose.

When sharpening serrated knives, you can’t just draw the knife across a sharpening stone like a plain knife blade. To sharpen the serrations, work the hone perpendicular to the cutting edge of each serration. A serrated knife should be sharpened one tooth at a time, which can be time consuming. Only move on to the next tooth when you can see or feel a raised burr of metal. Then flip the knife over, and lightly grind the burr off from the backside of the knife.

Although it can take patience to sharpen serrated blades, the actual process is not that difficult. Don’t let fear of the process scare you away from sharpening your serrated knives. As long as you have the right sharpener, specifically one that is designed for serrated blades, it is possible to return your serrated knives to close to their original sharpness.

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Knife Sharpening Stones Today

Sean Sanders asked:

Do you enjoy doing a bit of handy work around your home? If you do, you must have probably tried your hand at sharpening your kitchen knives. Either that, or you’ve had this nagging urge to. As you must’ve noticed, it doesn’t really take that much to get into it. With a little patience and a good sharpening stone you can do this task quite easily. Your dad still probably keeps one or two of these sharpening stones in the garage or the tool shed. During your younger years, you must have wondered how on earth such a primitive natural material can sharpen all these sharp things with the help of some water or oil. Your pops could’ve been listening to some good tunes and whistling to them while you watch him do this task.

To this day, knife sharpening stones are still used even though it may seem such a primitive thing to use. In ancient times, man discovered this technology of making sharp tools with the use of stones to sharpen the edges and tips of their crude weapons for hunting. Amazingly, this very basic principle is still being used by modern man in modern sharpening equipment.

There is a wide variety of knife sharpening stones that we can use in this day and age. Manufacturers have developed this into a thriving industry. They are available in a number of different types, sizes and material compositions. Carburundum is the most popular type of material used for knife sharpening stones. The others are made of diamond stones, Arkansas stones, ceramic wet stones and Japanese water stones. These sharpening materials are quarried and others are also man made. If you take a closer look at these, you will find varying grits relative to its sharpening function. Smaller grit numbers gives the stone a coarse surface which is initially used to get rid of the blade nicks and imperfections. Those with higher grit numbers on the stone will give you a finer finish or polish on your knife.

Not all tools with blades have flat edges and blades, thus sharpening stones are also made in different shapes to allow you the flexibility of using various knives and shears. Wood working tools have oddly shaped blade edges and these also require regular sharpening as it takes a good beating from hard wood. Knives with serrated edges need a different shape of sharpening stone as these wear quickly and are prone to damage when they are sharpened. You should only sharpen serrated knives when necessary. Use a cone-shaped taper sharpener for these kinds of blades as it is the best suited type of sharpening stone for them.

Always know which type of material to use for your sharpening stone. Diamond stones work best with water honing oil and natural sharpening stones are better used with petroleum based oils.. However, if you do not have any oil or water on hand, you can even just use spit if you own saliva or spit. That is if you have enough supply of it. Just remember that, once oil has been used on, it won’t take to water well anymore. Always clean the stone after each use with either oil or water, depending on which you work with for sharpening. It is time for clean up, once you notice gray streaks accumulating all over the surface of the stone. This means it has accumulated significant amount of debris.

Man has come a long way from his old crude ways. It is amazing to see how we have come to use old techniques and innovate man’s primitive tools to survive. It surely has made our lives easier!