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How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife

How to sharpen a serrated knife
How to sharpen a serrated knife

Serrated knives keep their edge longer and work well cutting through tough materials. The drawback is serrated knife maintenance. If you’re new to knives, sharpening a knife can be a daunting task. Throw in a few teeth-like edges and the job can seem impossible.

This guide breaks down some tips and tricks for serrated knife sharpening and some things to look for as you go through the process. For reference, we used the Spyderco Para 3 and the ESEE-3S-KO fixed blade to demonstrate.

Set Up

Serrated knife sharpening setup 1
Serrated knife sharpening setup 2

While sharpening a plain edge knife can be done on practically anything abrasive, a serrated edge knife requires a sharpener that can get into its scallops. The right tool for the job makes all the difference. A ceramic or diamond coated sharpening rod is great for getting into the individual grooves of the serration. The idea is to use something narrow enough to get into the scallop, but large enough to sharpen the entire curve.


Sharpening a serrated knife
Sharpening a serrated knife

Begin with the sharpening rod in your dominant hand. Hold the knife in your opposite hand with the serrations pointing away from you. Next, set the sharpening rod in the serration you would like to sharpen at the same angle as the grind. Reference our Knife Angle Guide when determining bevel angle.

Gently slide the sharpening rod away from you making sure to stop when the diameter of the rod is the same width as the serration. It’s important to only sharpen each serration to its given width or you could risk damaging the blade. Follow this process for each serration until a burr, a thin strip of steel, develops on the cutting edge.

Sharpening a serrated knife
Sharpening a serrated knife

After a burr has developed, use the sharpening rod or stone to remove it. To do this, simply run the stone or rod down the length of the blade from end to end. It isn’t necessary to follow a specific angle as this side isn’t designed to be a cutting edge. Only work the burr until it is evenly removed from the opposite edge.

Spyderco Sharpmaker

Spyderco Sharpmaker 1
Spyderco Sharpmaker 2

Fun fact: Syperco manufactured sharpeners before making knives, so you know they’re good! Using a Sharpmaker is one of the simplest and easiest ways to sharpen any serrated knife. It includes triangular sharpening rods that allow for easy access to individual serrations, while the system itself keeps the edge angle consistent.

Spyderco Sharpmaker strop
Spyderco Sharpmaker strop

To use one, orient the sharpening rods with one of the triangle corners facing the side of the knife you want to sharpen. Next, place the serration closest to the handle toward the top of the sharpening rod. Run the serrated edge of the knife along the sharpening rod making sure to run each serration over the stone. Repeat this process until you feel a burr develop on the opposite side, then use the other sharpening rod to remove the burr. You can also use a strop to give the knife that extra little bit of finish.


Some of the best Automatics and EDC knives are serrated. Even your kitchen knives, like your bread knife, need sharpening from time to time. These methods of sharpening a serrated knife may require a little more attention to detail than a plain edge knife, but it’s easy once you get the hang of things. Now that you know how to sharpen a serrated knife, check out Blade HQ’s huge selection of knife sharpeners to find the one that works for you.

Watch our guide on how to sharpen your knife using the incredibly simple Spyderco Sharpmaker, and while you’re at it check out our extensive Sharpmaker Review for more info.

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