Serrated knives tend not to dull as fast as other knives, but they still slowly dull over time. Like any other knife, they need to be sharpened and maintained for optimum use.
You can sharpen serrated knives with an electric sharpener. Using an electric sharpener is less labor-intensive than using manual forms of sharpening, but over time the serrations can be worn down if you only use electric sharpeners.
Continue reading to learn more about which brands carry the most popular electric sharpeners, and which are specifically designed to sharpen serrated knives.
When using any sharpener, make sure you are using the tool according to the operating instructions. Here is a basic overview:
- You want to make sure the knife is clean to prevent build up around the sharpening disks.
- Use the sharpening stages in the correct order. If you are only trying to hone a blade, most manufacturers suggest using the fine stages.
- Manufacturers also recommend using the fine stage for a serrated edge; make sure to only sharpen the flat side of the blade, not the scalloped side.
- When using an electric sharpener, you want to insert the blade from the front of the device, pulling it quickly toward you, while applying slight pressure to the knife, letting the weight of the knife do most of the work.
Here are some questions you should ask before using an electric sharpener on a serrated blade.
- What type of knife is it?
- What condition is it in?
- What type of electric sharpener should you use?
- How does the sharpener work?
If it is a survival knife, the metal used to forge it may be harder in order to hold up the abuse inflicted on it in a wilderness setting. It also may have less serration along the blade than a kitchen knife would.
Your sharpener needs to be able to handle whatever material your knife is made of. Having the wrong tool for the job may make it difficult to achieve the desired sharpness. It is also very important to consider the material used, as different fabricators temper their steel at different temperatures. The steel rod has to be tempered at a higher level than the blade, otherwise, the steel is too soft to do the job.
Make sure there is no structural damage to the blade. If it has been badly chipped or the blade has cracked, you could injure yourself and damage your tool by attempting to sharpen it. You should also pay attention to how many serrations you have on the blade. If the serrations are really worn, you may want to consider sending it back to the manufacturer to have it refinished or replacing the knife altogether.
There are many great products on the market to fit any sharpening need. Here are three reputable companies that sell electric knife sharpeners.
- Work Sharp Sharpeners
- Wusthof Electric Sharpener
- Chef’s Choice Sharpeners
Work Sharp has several electric sharpeners to choose from. They sell outdoor sharpeners, as well as culinary sharpeners. Their outdoor products are very versatile and can be used for sharpening your best kitchen knife, just as easily as sharpening a rusty old axe; should you need to. They also sell guide attachments specifically designed to sharpen serrated knives using their outdoor sharpeners.
Their top-rated products are:
- Knife & Tool Sharpener– The Knife and Tool Sharpener is designed for industrial use tools, as well as survival and hunting knives. This is my choice for tools and outdoor use/pocket knives with or without serrations.
- E5 Kitchen Knife Sharpener– The E5 Kitchen Knife Sharpener is designed for culinary knives, including serrated blades. However, this sharpener is not designed for sharpening tools. If you need something that does both, I recommend the Knife and Tool Sharpener.
Wusthof is known for their high-quality cutlery. They also have an electric sharpener that is just as good as their knives.
- Easy Edge Sharpener 4341-1 – The Easy Edge Sharpener is able to sharpen both serrated blades and non-serrated blades. I’m a big fan of Wusthof knives in the kitchen and I recommend this sharpener for kitchen knives and finer outdoor knives like filet knives you may use while camping.
Chef’s Choice has the largest selection of all three brands. With so many options to choose, I am only listing the two best sellers. They both are designed to be used with serrated blades.
- Trizor XV Electric Knife Edge Select Model 15 – This is a popular, everyday electric sharpener. It produces a very fine edge and is a great addition to any home kitchen.
- Professional Sharpening Station Model 130– This is Chef’s Choice most popular sharpener, and is primarily used in professional kitchens.
All three brands offer amazing products, to fit your particular need.
Even with incredible brands producing electric sharpeners for serrated blades, they will wear your knife down faster than honing by hand.
If you are concerned about dulling the serration with an electric sharpener, you can also use a honing or sharpening rod. It is more labor-intensive, but better for the overall longevity of the knife. It won’t remove the metal anywhere you don’t want it to, preserving the teeth on the blade. You want to take off as little metal as possible to help maintain your scalloped edge. There are three types of rods.
- Stainless steel
- Ceramic steel
- Diamond steel
Technically all honing and sharpening rods are made of steel, some are just coated in order to sharpen instead of merely honing. Stainless Steel honing rods don’t remove any metal, instead, they are used to keep the edge straight and burr-free, thus prolonging the time needed between sharpenings. Steel honing rods are the most common type of honing rods and can be found in nearly every home.
Ceramic coated rods remove a small amount of metal, making the blade sharper, while also helping smooth away burs. This will wear down the metal gradually over time, but you don’t lose your scalloped edge in the process. Ceramic steels also wear away faster and can chip or break easier than other options. I’ve seen them break in half just from being dropped on cement. Fortunately, they are inexpensive to replace.
Using a diamond coated rod will also remove metal, but they are more durable than ceramic coated rods. It takes the most amount of metal off the blade, but it gives knives a super fine edge, which makes cutting a breeze. Many professionals prefer using a diamond honing rod over any other type.
Using a steel honer or sharpener is different from using stones. Making the simple act of sharpening a blade, a difficult process. You really want to base your sharpening technique on the type of blade you have. Wusthof has some great tips on how to hone or sharpen your blade using a steel rod here.
I highly also recommend watching as many videos as you can, as there are different techniques you can use.
In the first video, we have a man out in the wilderness, sharpening a hunting knife. He uses a small portable sized sharpening rod. He pushes it at a down word angel lifting it before bringing it back up. He does this with all of the scallops, until he has sharpened them all and is satisfied with the results.
As you saw in the video examples above, when you are honing a serrated blade, you may need to use a smaller honing steel; if you want to sharpen inside the scollops themselves. Work Sharp also offers a pocket style sharpener here.
When it comes to sharpening serrated knives, most professionals would agree, using an electric sharpener is not the best tool for the job. Yes, it will sharpen the blade, but it will eventually ruin the edge if you use it too often.
Using a honing or sharpening rod is the better choice because you have better maneuverability and greater control over the amount of material you remove. When you are using electronic sharpeners you have little to no control over how much material you remove and can easily ruin the scallops if you are not careful.
It’s completely acceptable to use an electric sharpener for serrated blades, but you should be sure to follow the instruction included with your particular sharpener and know that electric sharpening of the blade will wear the serrations down much faster than hand sharpening.
If you’re looking for a great electric sharpener that isn’t all that expensive, I’d go for the Knife and Tool Sharpener by Work Sharp. If you’re sharpening kitchen knives then I prefer the Easy Edge Sharpener by Wusthof. You don’t need to go with either of these, just choose something that fits your budget and will work well for your needs.