How To Sharpen Bread Knives The Right Way

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 07/08/18 •  5 min read

A special sharpening rod, tapered into a point at the end, is a must-have for sharpening bread knives since these are serrated. To accomplish this, simply drag the rod through the individual scallops on the edge from the wider part to the pointy tip. Do this four to five times per scallop or serration.

Many say that bread knives don’t go dull because the serrations protect the scalloped edges.
But that is a massively erroneous belief.

What many people don’t know is that the cutting board is usually what dulls the sharp edge of blades, not the food. The serrations prevent this because these are what touch the board first instead of the edge.

However, wear and tear still come into play. It may take a year or two before this type of knife blunts, sure, but it will blunt.

Before we dive into the specifics of sharpening this type of knife the right way, get to know the bread knife first.


What is it?

A bread knife is a long knife ranging from 15 to 25 centimeters (approximately 6 to 10 inches) in length.

Obviously from its name, it is typically used to slice bread.

The long blade length is dedicated to slicing bread with a wide surface such as loaves.

Modern bread knives in the market have serrated edges, that will help in breaking the bread’s crust easier without crushing them.

However, there are still straight bread knives available in the market, if you prefer it for easier sharpening.

(See more: top-quality bread knives you should know about)

What to use?

how to sharpen bread knives

Some may go straight to avail of a knife sharpening service from a nearby knife shop.

You may use a whetstone if you still own a straight-edged bread knife, and it should be fine when used correctly.

However, modern bread knives have serrated edges, which will be intimidating to some to sharpen them by themselves.

The growing number of a more modern electronic knife sharpener promises to sharpen even a serrated blade edge.

If you prefer buying this, make sure to read carefully the instructions or check the specification.

There are electronic sharpeners that can’t be used with uneven edges.

You can end up damaging the knife or even have a serious injury.

However, there are a growing number of reviews that electronic sharpeners do not promise an equal sharpness compared to how they can sharpen straight-edged ones.

Instead of sharpening, there are people who would rather ‘maintain’ the sharpness by honing it.

This is what the honing rod is for, and not for sharpening.

Manufacturers would usually market honing rods as a sharpening tool.

This could be a better option.

There is also a ceramic sharpening knife appearing in the market, that looks like the same as a honing rod but uses ceramic material for the rod.

The best option that can be used is the whetstone from a patented sharpener dedicated to pocket knives.

They have a small triangular edged stone that can be used to sharpen each section of the serrated edged blade easily.

How to sharpen a bread knife

If you are using a straight blade-edged bread knife, the process will be the same as other knives when using a whetstone.

Choose the proper whetstone, it is recommended to use around 4000 grits if it is not chipped or dull.

Start by soaking the whetstone for some time and take it to your work surface.

Hold the handle with one hand, while the other hand will be on the surface need the tip of the blade to assist the motion of sharpening.

Start sliding the blade while paying attention to the right angle of the knife’s bevel, from the heel of the blade to the tip of the knife.

You may start slowly and you got the hang of it, you can do it faster by sliding it more smoothly.

You’ll know it is finished when you feel that the blade is smoother to glide.

Check if it is smooth by doing a paper test.

Grab some patience when sharpening a serrated bread knife.

You will need to sharpen each of the serration (yes, that’s right) to maintain the sharpness of all the sections.

If you will use a ceramic rod, start from the serration nearest to the knife’s heel.

Hold the knife with your prominent hand, and the rod’s handle on the other.

Make an up and down motion going towards the rod in each serration, where the side of more visible serrations should be facing down.

Repeat the process until it is finished.

You may feel that there will be some powder forming on the blade, but you don’t have to worry, it can be washed off easily.

If you are using the patented sharpener dedicated to pocket knives, it will be a bit easier.

It would be the same technique in using the ceramic sharpening rod, but this time, you can slide through the serrations.

Just make sure that you were able to touch each of the edges for better results.

The reason why it is smoother to do it on this kind of sharpening stone is because of its edges.

The edge has triangular sides, allowing to touch each serration better.

This should not be done with the edge of a whetstone, as it is larger and thicker, which can damage the knife blades.

Just remember that in sharpening this kind of knife, do not apply pressure and take your time in doing it.

Applying excessive force can damage the serration and the knife as well.

There’s no need to buy new bread knives every time they get dull.

Know the different techniques in sharpening them and get the best value for your knives.

Get a smoother and finer slice of bread – perfect for breakfast or any time of the day!

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.