Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Best Serrated Knife Sharpener

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You might be in the market for a serrated knife sharpener for your bread knife or jagged steak knife. Serrated knives really are the best.

The biting teeth of a sharp, serrated knife can make short work of all kinds of foods and various other hardened surfaces that simply cannot withstand its vicious steel bite. While they tend to hold an edge for a long time, however, that super-sharpened state won’t last forever, which brings us to our topic today.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the best serrated kitchen knife sharpener, and along the way we’ll share some of our favorite options with you, advising how they did in reviews, and we’ll also offer some sharpening tips for beginners. After that, we’ll also drop a few buyer’s tips and frequently asked questions, so that in the end you’ll be empowered to find the right sharpening set for you to properly maintain your serrated knives.

If you’re ready, then let’s get this party started and talk about sharpening your serrated blades the RIGHT way!

Sharpening serrated knives can be a wee bit tricky

Serrated knife close-up on a white background
Serrated knife close-up on a white background.

If you’ve only sharpened straight single or double-beveled knives, then sharpening a serrated blade for the first time can be a bit of a challenge. They’ve got grooves, after all, and if you have more than one then some of them may even have different spacing.

Thankfully, if you’ve sharpened knives before then you’re off to a good start, as a lot of the basics will be similar enough that you can quickly adapt. You’ll need files that fit the groove spacing and after that, it’s a matter of finding the right angle based on the bevel and groove and filing a sharp edge to make the ‘teeth’ of the blade into perfect little points.

It takes practice and to help you along, let’s look at the best tools for the job and some electric knife sharpener options that can automate the entire thing!

The Best serrated knife sharpeners

Sharpening your serrated knives will definitely require the right tools, so we’ve collected a nice variety of the best serrated knife sharpeners for you to compare. We’ll throw in a little information from the reviews and tell you a little about each one, and later in this article we’ll share our favorite and you can see if you agree.

Each of these sharpeners is of excellent quality, and you’ll find both hand sharpeners and some electric options, as well, just in case that’s your preference. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the sharpeners and we’ll see what you think!

Spyderco 400 Square Ceramic Sharpening Files

Spyderco - White Ceramic Sharpening File Set with Suede Snap-Close Pouch - Ceramic Stone - 400F

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Spyderco serrated knives are some of the best on the market and as they’ve been in business since 1978, it’s no surprise that they have quality sharpening tools that are perfect for your serrated knives. This kit comes with the following ceramic sharpening files:

  • Round
  • Triangle
  • Square
  • Teardrop/’Slip’

Your files come in a rugged leather sleeve and with the assortment of shapes, you can really get your blades almost laser-sharp. No oil, electricity, or clamps are needed with this set – just use them, wash them, and put them away when they’re dry.

Peeking into the reviews, we see that these sharpeners have an impressive 85% 5-star rating, with another 10% in 4 stars. Only 1% gave it 2 stars and no one felt it was a 1. The complaint from the 2-star reviewer didn’t even outline a text complaint – they just gave it 2 stars with no reason behind it, but the overwhelmingly positive reviews advised that this set will get your serrated knives wickedly sharp.

Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker with Safety Rods,

Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker with Safety Rods, Instructional DVD, Two Premium Alumina Ceramic Stone Sets for Blade Repair and Professional-Grade Finishing - 204MF

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Spyderco makes the list again with their Tri-Angle sharpener with safety rods and we have to say it’s a neat little portable sharpener. The base and the case for it are made from durable ABS plastic, which has been keyed with holes to securely hold the included safety and sharpening rods.

The portability is cool – it’s basically a small, rectangular box that you can pocket, but the rods themselves are Alumina (safety) and ceramic (sharpening). You get 2 fine-grit and 2 medium-grit sharpening rods and they even throw in an instructional DVD to help ensure that you learn to use this like a pro.

It can also sharpen anything you’ve got – not just your serrated knife blades!

Moving on to the reviews, the Spyderco Tri-Angle was quite well-received, with 81% giving it 5 stars and another 11% giving it 4. There were 2% of reviewers who gave it 1 star and the complaints there ranged from ‘the case lid is too tight’ to ‘the rods were not of uniform length’ and one user said that they felt it was better for low-quality blades than for expensive ones.

Due to a large number of good reviews, take this with a grain of salt, but we would be amiss if we didn’t mention them.

Lansky Diamond Ceramic Turn Box – Style Sharpener

Lansky Diamond Ceramic Turn Box TB-2D2C

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If you liked the Spyderco Tri-Angle but prefer a quality sharpener with a wooden case, then this Lansky Diamond Ceramic Turnbox is just what the doctor ordered. Along with the tiny, wooden carrying case, you get 2 medium-grit diamond rods for sharpening and minor repair, as well as 2 fine ceramic rods for finishing the job.

Aside from helping you with serrated knives, this sharpening set is also good for most kitchen knives (European and American – not Asian), as they have preset angles of 25 and 20 degrees.

Checking the reviews, 71% of reviewers gave this product 5 stars, while another 18% felt it deserved at least 4. In the 1-star category, 4% of customers weren’t happy with the Lansky. Although we noticed that these were predominantly for missing items and in one case, a missing hole/manufacturing error.

Otherwise, the praise was pretty solid, with many users stating that Lansky is one of their favorite brands and that this sharpener is both fast and easy to use. It’s a great little portable sharpener that really packs a punch!

Smith’s DRET Diamond Retractable Serrated Knife Sharpener

Smith's DRET Diamond Retractable Sharpener, Gold

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Lightweight, portable, and exactly what you need! Smith’s has been providing quality sharpeners for well over 125 years now and this diamond retractable sharpener is one of the best. This model is ideal for your serrated blades, but it will also sharpen any single or double-edged knife with quickness.

The medium-grit monocrystalline diamonds are what does the trick and they also make this sharpener almost impossible to break. Add in that It’s also got lightweight aluminum housing and measures in at only 5.2 inches when retracted, you’ve got a sharp-looking sharpener that you can take with you wherever you want to go.

Moseying on over to the reviews, we have 70% giving it 5 stars, with another 19% giving it 2. Some of the top reviewers said that they were so happy, they’d never buy another brand, but let’s look at the 2% that gave it 1 star.

In the 1-star ratings, a couple of reviewers felt that the diamond coating was removed too quickly, and one felt the case was cheaply made – compared with a large number of glowing reviews, we’d like to think that the problem ones were a ‘one off’, but make of this what you will.

Henckels Fine Edge Pro Sharpening Steel

HENCKELS Fine Edge Pro Sharpening Steel, 9-inch, Black/Stainless Steel

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Next up we have another hand sharpener — this one a full 9 inches in size. The Henckels Fine Edge Pro sharpener is much less portable than the Smith’s sharpener but it’s definitely a nice tool to have. Made of a single piece of sharpening steel, it’s appropriately durable and rough to the touch so that you can shave your knife steel to a razor’s edge.

Checking the reviews, we have a solid 79% giving this product 5 stars, while another 15% gave it 2, and only 1% rated it a 1-star item. In the positive reviews, many users advised that it worked quickly and was felt quite hefty and well-made, although, in the 1-star reviews, we hear that this was produced in China and that they much preferred the original Henckels sharpeners that are directly from the parent company in Solingen Germany.

We liked this sharpener a lot and at the price, you’re still getting a good sharpener, even if Henckels outsourced this particular model – just know that if you want one of the German ones that this is not it.

DMT Dia-Fold diamond Serrated Knife Sharpener

DMT FSKC Diafold Serrated Knife Sharpener

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Next up we have this Dia-Fold Serrated Knife sharpener and it doesn’t even need oil! This is the coarse model, which is best for sharpening your knives when you’ve been neglecting them for a while, although you can also get them in a fine and ultra-fine grit if you like to sharpen more frequently.

What you get is a lightweight sharpener that has a 45-micron coarse diamond grit with a 325 mesh, and while it takes a little time to learn to sharpen with it, you can definitely get a serious biting edge on even a damaged serrated knife.

In the reviews, we had 64% give this product 5 stars, while another 13% gave it 4. One of the best glowing reviews stated that they were able to restore a razor edge to Cutco serrated blades with this product, while the 1% of reviews (which came to 9%) were mostly unhappy with the plastic handle and a few felt they preferred older DMT models.

All in all, we felt that this is a great, inexpensive sharpener and as DMT has a solid reputation, we think that you’ll definitely find this one worthwhile as a budget handheld that can get the job done well.

Work Sharp Precision Adjust Elite Kit

Work Sharp Precision Adjust Elite Knife Sharpener Including Additional Sharpening Stones and Carry Case

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While small sharpening sets can often get the job done fine, some of us want a more dedicated setup, and this Work Sharp Precision Adjust Elite kit is one heck of a deal. It comes in its own carrying case and gives you access to a wide range of grits – 220, 320, 400, 600, and 800 diamond plates, and a ceramic fine grit for finishing. They also add in a leather strop and there’s a ceramic rod specifically for serrations.

The base is the coolest part – you can clamp in your knife and it lets you switch out grits on the fly so that your knife is tightly secured and gets exactly the amount of abrasion that you’ve decided on.

The angles are adjustable so that you can sharpen non-serrated blades as well, within an angle range of 15 to 30 degrees. So, how did it do in the reviews?

Well, 77% of reviewers gave this product 5 stars, and another 15% thought it at least deserved a 4. In the positive reviews, the biggest perk that was repeated was the ease of use and effectiveness. The system was intuitive for most and they were quite happy with the results.

In the interest of a balanced report, when we flip the coin to the 1-star reviews, a few customers didn’t like the base and one advised that you have to watch the grit setting, as they said that theirs moved during use. Finally, for very large knives, this may not be a good fit – although for serrated and standard-to-kitchen-sized blades it’s just about perfect!

Lansky Medium Hone for serrated knives

Lansky Medium Hone for Serrated Knives, One Size

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Before we get into the electronic sharpeners, we wanted to include a hone for the last part of the sharpening process and we think you’re going to like this one. This Lansky medium grit hone allows you to fix the occasional nicks and chips that your knife will inevitably get over time and since it’s ‘medium’ rather than coarse, you can also sharpen it up a bit too!

Keep in mind, of course, that it is primarily for honing – the final bit of the sharpening process will be best done with a fine grit, just as you would with any knife.

Exploring the reviews, we have 71% of users giving this product 5 stars, while another 17% felt it had earned 4. We recommend peeking at the 5-star reviews on your own – there are a LOT of customers with serrated blades who were very happy with this.

Of course, to be fair, we’ll move on to the 1-star reviews, which made up about 4% of the customers. In this 1-star category, we had 2 reviewers that weren’t happy with the design, with one stating that it wasn’t good for his serrated knives and one that felt it was a bit ‘overhyped’.

All in all, however, this product was very well-received and as Lansky has been around since 1979, we’d have to say that we agree – this is a great little honing tool.

Sharpal Pocket Sharpener for Straight & Serrated Knives

SHARPAL 191H Pocket Kitchen Chef Knife Scissors Sharpener for Straight & Serrated Knives, 3-Stage Knife Sharpening Tool Helps Repair and Restore Blades

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Sharpening a knife on your own takes practice, so if you are looking for an electric sharpener option that you can suction to a door, your desk, or on a plastic ice chest if you’re camping, then look no further – The Sharpal Pocket Sharpener fits the bill!

It’s tiny but mighty, and it’s pull-through style, so usually, all you need to do is run the knife through the groove until it’s sharp! The Sharpal will definitely work on your serrated knives and it also works on scissors and your smaller kitchen knives, as well. Not bad at all for a pocket-sharpening system!

Wandering into Reviewtown, 83% gave it positive reviews, with 63% giving it 5 stars and 20% giving it 4. The positive reviews were full of praise for the ease of use, effectiveness, and especially for the suction cups – apparently, you can stick just about anywhere that you like.

As far as the negative review, a humble 4% were unhappy, with one advising that the sharpener did not like their folding Benchmade knife and there were a few complaints about kitchen knives. Also of note, one 4-star reviewer says that you shouldn’t use this around food, as it does produce a small number of metal shavings as it works!

Chef’s Choice Trizor XV Serrated Knife Sharpener

Chef’sChoice Trizor 15XV Professional Electric Knife Sharpener for Kitchen Knives with Diamond Abrasives and Precision Angle Guides, 75db, 3 Slots, Gray

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Our final entry is an excellent little gadget called the Chef’s Choice Trizor XV and it’s a 3-stage sharpener that will work wonders on your serrated or standard blades. The first two stages will hit your blade with diamond grit, while the 3rd slot is a stropping setting to help finalize and polish the finish.

If you use it for kitchen knives as well as serrated blades, then you should know that this is designed for a 15-degree angle, so if your blade needs a different sharpening angle then you don’t want to use this unless you wish to grind it down to 15 degrees. That said, if you want a good-looking corner sharpener that can quickly hone and sharpen your serrated blades, then the Chef’s Choice is a choice that you’ll be very happy with!

Looking at the reviews, we see that 78% of reviewers gave this 5 stars, and another 14% gave it 4. Of the positive reviews, quite a few said it was the best sharpener they’d ever purchased and that it really sharpens and restores old blades with quickness!

In the negative reviews, we have 1-star ratings from 3% of customers who bought this, with one advising that it was not a good fit for Japanese knives and another user recommending that you try it on older, dull knives first to get the feel for it. Finally, one reviewer advised that it scratched their German knives.

While this can be buffed out, be advised that this was reported by one user, and be sure to test the product carefully before moving on with your more expensive knives.

Best newbie tips for sharpening serrated blades

Sharpening serrated blades is a wee bit different from your standard straight-edge blades. After all, you’ve got those grooves to deal with, and you need to make sure that the tips are sharp when you are finished so that it can ‘saw’ with those serrations.

Below we’ve compiled a few tips to help you along as you learn the art of sharpening your serrated blades:

Play with your tools – You’ll want to start out by looking at the distance between each point, as this will help you to select the right sizes for sharpening steel. Also, try different tools for the straight edges and when you see pronounced differences in serration sizes. ‘One size does NOT fit all’, but it will fit MOST, and you’ll figure out the rest quickly as you play with your sharpening tools.

Follow the angle in the grooves – You need to find the proper angle for sharpening, and the way to do this is to simply follow the angle in the groove. If you have a clamp, then be sure to use it – this will make it much easier to learn the angle, although you can still do it by hand in a pinch if you are steady and careful.

Only sharpen the bevel – You’ll see the bevel on the blade and that’s always your target. Leave the rest alone and never try to sharpen the non-beveled side – that will only damage your knife and you won’t be having a good day!

Watch the burrs – As you sharpen, you’ll see small piles of flaked metal that clump into tiny ‘burrs’. Use these as a cue to test the serrated edge and if you are seeing a bunch of them, then check your bevel and confirm the angle before you continue. A burr every now and again is fine, but too many may indicate that you’re not on the right track!

Buying information for serrated knife sharpeners

If you like to visit knife and gun shows, or just happen to see a sharpening kit at a flea market that you like, how do you know if it’s good? Let’s look at a few buying tips for serrated knife sharpeners that can help in a pinch:

If you don’t have a vise or another stationary base to clamp your blade in, then consider getting one. It’s a whole lot easier and your knives will be all the sharper for it.

If you are making an impulse buy, be sure it’s a name that you recognize. Spyderco products, for instance, definitely come without regrets, and other brands like Lansky and Work Sharp are also known around the world for their quality.

Once you’ve found your favorite tools, look for the same type with different grits from that vendor – you already know that the one you have is good and if it comes in other grits, why not complete your collection? You’ll get a lot more mileage with a matched set that you love!

When buying online, always check the worst reviews – if you don’t do it beforehand, then you might be reading them later and if that’s happened to you before, then skip that step and carefully review the worst reviews you can find. It takes longer but you’ll be happier with your purchases.

When in doubt, you can always pay an expert to sharpen your more expensive serrated blades, and if it’s a small shop then you might even be able to buy some lessons from that same expert – it never hurts to ask and it’s an excellent way to improve your skill quickly!

Product recommendations

Now that we’ve gone over some great sharpening options and thrown in a few tips along the way, it’s time to declare a favorite. Out of all of the sharpeners we reviewed, the first on our list was actually our favorite. The Spyderco 400 Square Ceramic Sharpening Files are a real treat and with the assortment of shapes, a skilled sharpener can really work some magic on their blades.

If you prefer something electrical, then the Chef’s Choice Trizor XV will be a better fit and it’s got a little more heft to it, so you can put it in the kitchen or in a little corner of your workshop for when you need a quick 3-stage bit of maintenance to keep your knives razor-sharp.

FAQs

While we’re close to concluding this article, we wanted to throw in some frequently asked questions before we go just to share a few more useful tips before we ‘call it a day’. We hope that you find the answers helpful and with that, here are those questions!

What’s a good file to use to sharpen a serrated knife?

Interestingly enough, Chainsaw files aren’t just food for chainsaw blades! The rounded files have fine grooves in them that actually fit most gullets perfectly and will allow you a lot of control as you sharpen those scallops.

The next time you visit the hardware store or your favorite online dealer, then check for some Chainsaw files and you’ll see what we mean. They’re well worth trying out and you won’t be disappointed.

Should I use fine or coarse for serrated knives?

It all depends on how dull your blade is. Coarse is for the dullest or even damaged blades, as the rougher grit lets you shave off more metal to fix chipping on the blade. The finer grit is better for finishing off a sharpening session or just a quick sharpening session for those who like to sharpen after every use.

How do you sharpen a serrated steak knife?

While it’s not recommended to do this all of the time, if all you have is a sharpening stone then you can wet it (for Asian sharpening stones) and hold it at a 15 – 20 degree angle, rubbing gently back and forth at the individual grooves for the tooth bevels. Basically, you are sharpening the teeth individually this way, but as a stone isn’t the best way to go, you really don’t want to do this often – stick to your smaller sharpening tools for best results.

Some final words on serrated sharpeners

Today we’ve talked about the best serrated knife sharpeners and as you can see, you’ve got a lot of fine options. For the sharpest blades, hand-sharpening is highly recommended, but electric sharpeners can certainly do the job as well.

While our favorites were the Spyderco 400 and the Chef’s Choice Trizor XV, if any of the sets we’ve shown you today have piqued your interest, then be sure to check the reviews and consider giving them a try. You’ll get helpful feedback from others who have used the sharpener and if you are going the hand-tool route, you really can’t go wrong with extra tools.

It will take a little practice but if you stick with it, you might just find that your favorite serrated knife could be a whole lot sharper than you’d imagined! Thanks for visiting and until next time, we wish you the very best!

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: David McLemore

David learned to cook at an early age after his mother told him that he couldn't live on pizza forever, Dave uses his modest kitchen skills to recreate sorely-missed recipes from home and to occasionally make new favorite ones from places he is visiting.

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