How to Sharpen Serrated Steak Knives

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How to sharpen a serrated steak knife. A question every steak lover will have thought about when buying and looking after their steak knives. Everyone loves a good, sharp knife. No one, however, loves it more than those who work in the kitchen. A chef’s knife or steak knife can mean the difference between a perfect cut of meat and a hacked up hunk that does not even look appetizing.

Sharpening a straight-edge steak knife blade is a pretty straight forward process. Sharpening a serrated knife, however, can be quite the task if the cook is unfamiliar. Thankfully, there is a process to it that anyone can learn!

What You Will Need

To sharpen a serrated blade steak knife, it requires more than a standard knife sharpener like you find in a good knife set. It requires a tool known as a serrated knife sharpener (now isn’t that easy to remember). These sharpeners, rather than being a single thickness all the way through, are usually tapered to help fit better between different sizes of serration.

These sharpeners can also be made of many different materials. Generally, diamond and carbide sharpeners will be the most aggressive and require the fewest passes. However, for a finer sharpening, the best options are usually ceramic. They will take more time to restore a heavily damaged blade, but they will create a razor-like edge if used properly.

How To Sharpen Serrated Steak Knives

1) Find your beveled edge

Generally, serrated knives will have one side that is flatter than the other. You want to find the less flat side. This is called the bevel. It is important to only sharped the beveled edge – otherwise, you could ruin the cutting surface of the knife.

2) Place the sharpener in the gullet

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A serrated knife looks something like a mountain range or a saw blade, with high and low points. The gullet is the low point. This is where you want to place your sharpener. You want to try to match the sharpener’s angle with the bevel’s angle as best you can. It is usually a more shallow angle than you may be used to sharpening your knives at – these bevels are usually between thirteen and seventeen degrees, rather than twenty degrees that you would see on a straight blade.

3) Match the Gullet’s Diameter

This is where the taper of the serrated knife sharpening tool comes into play! Adjust the location of the sharpener until it fits perfectly between the serrations on the blade (the serrations are the high points on the knife). It is not bad if it is slightly smaller, but you want as little wiggle room as possible in the gullet!

4) Sharpen the Gullet

Using short, back – and – forth motions, move the sharpener through the gullet. This is the motion you want to use to create the finest edge and keep your knives around for a long time!

5) Check for Burrs

When working with metal, usually you want to avoid creating a burr. Sharpening a serrated knife, however, is a different story. Run your hand over the flatter edge of the knife and see if you can feel any metal shavings. Feeling burrs means that you have sufficiently sharpened your blade!

6) Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Repeat the first five steps for every serration. Each time, it is important to check for a burr on the flat edge of the knife to make sure you have made it sufficiently sharp.

7) File Away Those Burrs

Those metal shavings that you filed off come back into play now. You want to remove them with fine-grit sandpaper or a high-grit polishing block. These burrs can catch in food, and no one wants to eat metal shavings!

Closing Thoughts

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Sharpening a serrated knife can be a time-consuming task, but in the end, it is well worth it! Having a sharp knife can mean the difference a beautiful and well-prepared meal and a time-consuming and laborious process – or worse, an injury! You can also make the job easier and safer by securing the knife in a vice – this is especially important if you choose to use a “home-brew” type of sharpener like placing emory cloth on a dowel rod.


Below are our recommendations for tools on how to sharpen serrated steak knives.