Can You Sharpen A Serrated Knife With A Steel?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 03/06/21 •  4 min read

Did you know?

Serrated knives despite being able to hold their edges for long compared to straight-edged knives, also require grinding to restore their sharpness. However, these blades are difficult to sharpen and hence require you to use the right sharpener.

Serrated blades are sharpened differently and using different sharpeners than those used for straight-edge blades. While sharpening these blades is complex, you can do it by yourself as it is a self-explanatory task.

With serrated knives, you will need to pass the sharpener gently through each serration. This helps in ensuring that all serrations in the blade are sharpened uniformly.

How to use

Steel rods are quite easy to use when sharpening serrated blades. Most rod sharpeners for serrated blades feature a taper for accommodating different serration sizes. The steps that you should follow include:

Locate the beveled edge side on the blade

Serrated blades are not the same on both sides; one side is beveled while the other is not. On one side of the blade, the blade continues with the same angle from the handle to the blade’s edge. However, on the other side, the blade’s face angles down slightly before the serrated edge. This is the bevel of the blade. Only run the rod on the beveled edge.

Place the rod in one of the serrations

Identifying the right angle for serrated blades is quite easy. This is because you can rely on the bevel to guide you. The perfect angle for these blades is 13-17 degrees. Once you have identified the right angle, the next thing you should do is place the rod in one of the gullets.

If your rod has a taper, locate the point where the diameter rod is equal to the size of the serrations or slightly smaller.

Grinding the first serration

Run the steel along the first serration in short consistent strokes. Push the rod in one direction toward the spine and away from the blade’s edge. For purposes of even grinds, rotate the rod slightly.

Ensure that you only push the rod to the point where the serrations are the same diameter as the rod. This prevents the serration from enlarging.

Check for burrs

Once you are done with sharpening your serrated blade, run your fingers behind the glove to check for metal shavings or a burr.

After you feel a burr, it is evident that you have sufficiently sharpened the groove. You can run a few strokes of the steel rod to polish the sharp grooves.

When sharpening your serrated blade, you should keep adjusting the position of the grinding rod so that the steel rod fills the groove. This, in turn, results in uniform sharpness.

File away the burrs

The burrs on the blade are mostly metal shavings that have been filed off during grinding.  To remove these burrs, gently rub the blade against fine-grit sandpaper.

Alternatively, you can run the rod lightly against each glove while exercising great care and caution so that you do not apply extreme pressure that is likely to remove the shavings.

Using an electric serrated blade sharpener

If you have a couple of dollars to splurge on the best serrated knife sharpener, you should consider buying an electric sharpener for the blade. This sharpener is not only efficient but also less tedious than a steel rod.

The electric serrated blade sharpener features inbuilt guides that make it effortlessly easy to set the angle.

When using this sharpener for your blades, the first thing you should do is read the user manual and manufacturer’s guide. This will enlighten you on the steps to follow when sharpening your blade.

Most electric sharpeners come with a 3-step mechanism with the last step being the honing and polishing stage.

After you have read and understood the working principle, the next thing you should do is place the blade in the grinding slot.

Draw the full length of the blade through the electric sharpener 4-5 times for each side. Alternate the sides for grinding uniformity and evenness.

The best thing about an electric sharpener is that it is a great choice for extremely dull serrated blades that are otherwise hard to sharpen using a grinding steel rod.

Since not all serrated blade models are the same, you can adopt different grinding strategies depending on the type of blade you are grinding.


Maintaining the sharpness of a serrated blade is not always an easy task.

Unlike straight edge blades that you can sharpen in only a few minutes, serrated blades are complex to sharpness. A sharp serrated blade cuts through food easily and in clean and consistent cuts.

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.