Best Way to Sharpen a Serrated Knife?

Last Updated on 06/03/2022

Best Way to Sharpen a Serrated Knife

What is the best way to sharpen a serrated knife?

If you have never sharpened a serrated blade before then in this guide you will learn how to sharpen a serrated knife with pictures. All you need is a tapered sharpening rod or appropriate width sharpening steel as well as a sharpening stone and some fine-grit sandpaper. Using a tapered sharpening rod means you can use the same tool for a variety of different serrated blade widths. Check out our guide to the best serrated knife sharpener now.

Different sized knives will have different sized serrations so you may even need to use triangular sharpening rods for some jagged serrations. We will have a guide on the different types of serrated knife sharpeners very soon but until then we do have a list of the best pocket knife sharpeners here…

serrated knife diagram

Before you start to sharpen your blade it is a good idea to study this diagram of a serrated knife so that you understand which sides need to be sharpened in the guide below. It is also a good idea to test the blade on a piece of paper before you sharpen it so that you know if there is any improvement.

What tools do you need to sharpen a serrated knife?

You don’t need much and maybe you have a combination sharpening tool that already does it all with a tapered rod and ceramic edge but if you don’t then all you need are these three things:

  • Sharpening steel rod or shaped file
  • Sharpening stone (may not be needed)
  • Sandpaper

With these sharpening tools, you can bring any serrated blad back from total dullness or just keep a super sharp edge on your favorite knife.

How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife Guide

Now that you understand the workings of a serrated knife it is important that you only sharpen the beveled side of a knife and not the flat edge (see image above). Here are our 5 easy steps to sharpen a serrated knife or blade:

Step 1: Identify the Bevel

Most serrated knives will have a flat side and what we call a beveled side which means that the knife angle curves in to provide a sharp edge. You should only ever sharpen the beveled edge of a serrated knife and not the flat side. These inward curves of the blade are known as scallops and a sharpening rod is ideal for the task so long as they aren’t too wide. Place your sharpening rod in the first scallop at the same angle as the bevel which is normally between 12 – 25 degrees.

How to sharpen a serrated knife

Step 2: Apply Even Pressure

Starting with the first groove at either end on the beveled side you can start to apply even pressure and move the rod up and down between a 12 – 25 degree angle. You should do this several times to start with before checking the sharpness and then only make a few runs with the rod before checking again. Never press too hard or make the scallops wider than they should be by using a rod that is too wide.

Step 3: Test Constantly

Checking the blade for sharpness and burrs can be done by eye, touch, and by testing but for best results you should do all three of these things. After your first sharpening session, you should take a visual inspection of the serrated knife to see if you notice any issues or obvious problems. You should then very gently, to begin with, run your finger or fingernail along the edge of the blade without injuring yourself to see if it feels sharper. The final check should be done on a piece of paper to see if it will cut through it better than before.

How to test a serrated knife after sharpening

Step 4: Lightly Sand Any Shavings Away

Clean any shavings off with a quick pass over with some fine-grit sandpaper and you will no doubt notice some areas that need more attention than others. You will again need to work your way along with all the serrated concaves that need more filing and again test these for burrs and sharpness. The aim of repeating this process, again and again, is to get a little bit sharper each time until you have got a super sharp serrated blade again in all its former glory.

how to sharpen serrated knives finish using sandpaper

Step 5: Finish the Edge

Many serrated knives have a straight edge section at the tip which should be sharpened with a sharpening stone. If you have one, you can also finish off all the serrations with a ceramic rod to give that highly polished finish that will last a long time. The whole blade can be given one last quick rub with some sandpaper to check for burs and then washed and oiled for use.


We hope you found this guide on the best way to sharpen serrated knives useful and continue to follow us on facebook here.

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

  1. […] can see our guide to sharpening serrated knives here and our list of  the best pocket sharpeners […]

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