How to Sharpen A Serrated Knife Properly by Yourself

If you’ve got a knife with the conventional edges, a quick run through the whetstone sharpening guide will have your knife back to its sharp self in no time. You might even prefer to hone the knife instead to reduce the rate at which you sharpen it.

But then, the same sharpening rules do not apply to serrations.

A closer look at the serrated sharp edge shows that you can’t just go in with a sharpening stone or whetstone and hope to be done with it. That brings us all here today – your top guide on how to sharpen a serrated knife at home, or anywhere else, and doing it properly.

Can serrated knives be sharpened?

Serrated knives are not designed to be single-use and, as such, can be sharpened. The irregular surface of the knife make the sharpening methods tricky and different from how normal knives are sharpened. However, with the right methods, the teeth can be taken back to their sharp selves.

Otherwise, there is no need for this guide in the first place.

Does your serrated knife need sharpening?

The fact that your bread knife is not cutting through food items as well as it used to does not mean that it requires sharpening.

Yes, you might have gone through the dull knife tests that I wrote about here, and the knife failed each one, but you need to consider something else.

Sometimes, it is not that the knife edge is not sharp anymore. It is that they have been bent out of shape from constant use.

In that case, sharpening could cause wearing off of the serrated edge of the knife which could have easily been controlled otherwise.

Rather, consider honing the serrated blades to get the edge back into alignment and the bread knife starts cutting better again.

Read more about honing here to know how different it is from sharpening – and why you should consider it.

It is also worthy of note that the quality serrated edge holds its sharpness for longer than normal edges. Since their sharp edge does not come in contact with the cutting board, these knives don’t dull at the same rate as your chef’s knife and other kitchen knives.

What you’ll need to sharpen your serrated knives

Fortunately, you don’t need an extensive setup to get your serrated bread knife back to top cutting quality again.

All you need is:

  • A dull, serrated knife – without that, we would not even be here in the first place
  • Sharpening rod – like the whetstone for the straight knives, we use a sharpening rod for the serrated knives.

Steps to sharpening serrated knives

Now that you have the above, here are the steps to achieving a fine sharpness level on your quality serrated kitchen knives again.

  • Step #1: Preparing the workspace – Create a workspace for your serrated knife sharpening. This does not have to be anything elaborate. A kitchen countertop will do just fine.
  • Step #2: Preparing the materials – Get your sharpening rod and your serrated knife
  • Step #3: Blade positioning – Hold the knife at an angle such that the side of the blade is opposite the floor of the workspace
  • Step #4: Safe handling – make sure the knife blade is away from you.
  • Step #5: Using the sharpening rod – introduce the sharpening rod to the serrated knife. Fit the rod’s width into the serrated sharp edge to see which part of the rod works best for you.
  • Step #6: Sharpening motion – in swift but gentle motions, drag the sharpening rod back and forth within the serration. Repeat this motion at least, five times for each serration.
  • Step #7: Eliminating the burrs – once you’re done with the serrations, stroke the flat side of the knife blade on a sharpening stone a few times. This maintenance step eliminates the burrs that must have formed on the knife
  • Step #8: Finishing step – wash the knife once you’re done sharpening and dry it off. You can test the knife’s sharpness to see that it is now to taste before you store it away or decide to sharpen it again.

Choosing the best Sharpening Rod

Sharpening rods, like good knives, come in different kinds too.

These tips will help you get the best of them, no matter where you are shopping at.


Truth be told, I don’t worry too much about the brand name when choosing a sharpening rod. As long as they are made of good materials and they get the job done.

If you are just buying, though, please consider the brand names. This way, you know that you are getting good value for your money on the rods.

Some of the brands that will treat you right all the time are:

Materials of Make

Sharpening rods come in different materials too.

All of them are good at what they do, but they do it better than one another.

The materials I would recommend you consider are:

  • Ceramic rod – the ceramic sharpening rod is best used on your high-end serrated bread knife. Unlike steel rods, the ceramic rod has fine grit and won’t shed much metal from the surface of your knives either. Generally, they are good for just about any kind of knife. (check out this ceramic sharpening rod from Spyderco)
  • Steel rod – stainless steel is generally preferred by most chefs and heavy users. The material is rust-resistant and hypoallergenic, among other things. Steel is also the most common material in the sharpening rod game. However, it is rough on hard knives and can cause damage if not used appropriately. (I’m yet to find a steel rod I can trust. I’ll update you when I do.)
  • Diamond rod– diamond is one of the most precious substances on earth, but it is also the hardest one known to man. It is, thus, little wonder why it makes its way here. The diamond serrated knife sharpening rods might cost more but they deliver amazing value for money, longevity, and durability. (here’s a functional diamond sharpening equipment from Chef’s Choice)


You already know that I don’t like to splash too much on items if I can get a better alternative at a much reasonable price.

With rods to sharpen a serrated knife, I don’t expect that you spend more than $20 – $35, depending on what you are looking for.

No matter the material, quality of build, and other specs, that price range above gives you something decent.

Grit Size

Like your whetstone or other preferred sharpening stones, the sharpening rod for the blade serrations comes in different grit sizes too.

Whetstone grit sizes
A similar comparison with whetsone grit sizes

They are broadly classed into four main types, which are:

  • Fine
  • Extra fine
  • Coarse and
  • Medium

The best one to use will be dependent on how dull the knife serrations are. It is also advisable that you get, at least, two grit levels so that you can finish the sharpening process with a lower one after working with a higher level.


There is a high chance that you will own more than one bread knife. You don’t want to have to buy a new sharpening rod for each one of these knives. You can, instead, get a serrated knife sharpener that tapers in diameter towards the end.

This ensures that the same serrated knife sharpener can be used for multiple knives by just adjusting to the rod diameter that fits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Having discussed how to sharpen a serrated knife by yourself, I believe there might be a couple of questions and concerns that I am yet to address from the above.

That’s why I created this section to ensure I cater to the needs of everyone on this page. If there is a question that I still do not cover, please draw my attention to it in the comments.

Can you sharpen micro-serrated knives?

Micro-serrated knives are the jack of all trades in the world of knives.

They have enough serrations to not be classed as a straight knife but not enough teeth depth to earn the full serrated knife badge.

Be that as it may, you can still sharpen these knives.

They might have been sold to you as knives that will never need sharpening, but that is not true. Due to the tools (usually power tools) required here, I would suggest that you take the knife to a sharpening expert to get it restored for you.

How can you sharpen a serrated electric knife?

The electric knife movement needs to be catered for also.

Fortunately, I remembered that just before I was about to close this piece off.

For those who have a serrated electric knife, I found this short video guide to be extremely useful

Sharpen your serrated electric knives in style

Can you sharpen serrated knives with a whetstone?

If you have a combined serrated knife (that comes with flat edge on one end too), you can sharpen that side of the blade on a whetstone.

As discussed above, you could also use your whetstone to get burrs out of your serrated knife after running it through the sharpening rod.

Can you sharpen a serrated knife using cardboard?

Cardboard is best used to remove the burr on your serrated knives, not as a knife sharpener in itself. If you don’t have the proper tools for sharpening a serrated knife, you can use cardboard to get the knife edges sharp enough for use at that time.

Find out more about this method from the unconventional knife sharpening guide I had earlier written about.

Closing Up

From whether or not you can sharpen your serrated bread knife to the materials you need, how to even sharpen the knife at all, and other FAQs, I think we have it all covered here.

It’s time to take your serrated knife to the sharpening rod and have it come back better than it used to be. Don’t forget to consider honing the knife from time to time and what stropping could also do for you.

If you are not comfortable with sharpening a serrated knife at home, try to find a local sharpening store to get it done for you. It would make much sense to learn this basic knife care and maintenance technique though. You never can tell when it will come in handy for you.

Similar Posts