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How To Sharpen Bread Knife

How To Sharpen Bread Knife

How to sharpen a serrated bread knife

Bread knives with a serrated blade retain edge sharpness for a very long time. They can be used for years, especially if you only cut baked goods and not tomatoes, lemons, and other fruits and vegetables. 

Bread knives lose their sharpness due to contact with cutting boards and kitchen surfaces. It is possible to restore the original sharpness of the knife blade edge. But it is more difficult to do so with a serrated bread knife than with a regular flat edge blade. You will need special sharpening tools and skills to do this. 

1. Features of the bread knife

The bread slicing tool stands out among other knives in the kitchen. It features a serrated cutting edge. Thanks to the sharp teeth and grooves, home cooks and professional chefs can carefully cut soft pastry or a crispy loaf. This will not deform the pastry and will leave a minimum of crumbs on the cutting board. 

Such a knife is easy to use due to the serrations. The notches may have a semicircular or triangular shape. The appearance of the tool resembles a construction saw, which teeth are not set. That is, all the serrations are arranged on the same line. 

It also has other features:

  • The tip is lowered and has a semicircular shape;
  • The blade length is usually longer than a standard knife, which allows you to cut larger loaves;
  • The knife handle has a finger guard to prevent cuts while slicing bread. 

Because of these features, the process of sharpening a serrated blade is different from sharpening regular knives. 

2. How to sharpen a serrated knife

To restore a serrated knife or wavy kitchen knife edge, you will need a special sharpening tool. It has the shape of a cone-like rod with notches on the surface. The tool is similar to a musat. Different diameter rods are needed to sharpen blades with different serration sizes. 

If you take a look at the serrated edge, you will see that it has different shapes. One side is beveled at an angle while the other side remains flat. This feature of the sharpening profile is called "bevel". You will only need to sharpen such knife on one side. 

How to do it: 

  1. Place the sharpening rod between the teeth of the serrated edge right in the notch. 

The tool must be set at the desired angle. For bread knives, it ranges from 13 to 17 degrees. The bevel is plain to see, so there will be no problem with proper position of the rod. 

For easy tool positioning and angle control, you can color the teeth with a sharpie marker. It is easy to tell by the marker residue on the surface that the rod is not positioned properly and you are not tilting it at the right angle. 

2. Select the correct rod diameter depending on the size of the notches in the teeth. 

The diameter of the knife sharpness restoration tool decreases in the direction from its base to its tip. You have to position the rod so that the diameter of its part matches the size of the notch or is slightly smaller.

3. Sharpen the first serration.

To do this, make short back and forth movements with the rod along one groove. Turn the tool at the same time so that it removes metal shavings from the blade in a more even way. 

Use only the part of the rod with a diameter no larger than the groove of the serrated knife edge. Otherwise, you will increase the size of the groove and the serrated knife will not cut the bread. This will also make your knife look worse.

4. Sharpen other serrations.

The next step is to continue and sharpen the entire blade edge. Keep in mind that some knives have different sized serrated edge grooves. So you need to change the position of the rod of the sharpening tool to match the size of the groove.

5. Check for burrs.

After completing the above steps, you should check for burrs on the back side of the blade edge. Burrs form during knife sharpening. These are small metal flakes or shavings. 

The presence of a burr indicates that you have removed a sufficient amount of metal from the groove. You can feel the burr clearly if you carefully run your finger or fingernail across the blade. 

It usually takes about 5-7 strokes of the tool to sharpen each groove.

6. Remove the burrs. 

Next, you need to get rid of the metal shavings on the back side of the serrated knife. You can use fine grit sandpaper for this purpose. If you do not have one, you can slightly run the same sharpening tool over the back side. But you must not put too much pressure on the rod to avoid ruining the sharpened edge.

7. Sharpen the flat part of the blade. 

Some bread knives have teeth only at some part of the knife blade. The tip and the belly may have a flat shape and a regular profile grind. In this case, you can restore its sharpness with a sharpening whetstone. 

You should not use a sharpening rod for this purpose. It will mess up the flat cutting edge profile. 

3. Other tools for sharpening a bread knife

We do not recommend using alternative sharpening devices to sharpen a serrated blade edge. They are not built for this kind of work. You could ruin your serrated knife for bread due to lack experience and not having the necessary skills. 

Nevertheless, let us consider all the available options. 

3.1. Triangular Sharpener

This is a replacement for a sharpening rod. It is a tool with a triangular cross-section. As with the regular sharpening rod, the size of the triangular sharpener gradually decreases towards the tip. 

Triangular sharpeners are designed for knives that have V-shaped serrations on the blade. The steps to restore sharpness will be the same as described above. The only difference is that you do not need to rotate the sharpener in the process. You have to rock it back and forth on the bevel. 

3.2. Homemade sharpener

If you do not have a suitable tool at hand and can not buy it anywhere, you can make your own sharpening tool. You will need fine sandpaper and a rod. A metal dowel or a wooden stick of suitable diameter will do well as a rod. 

You have to wrap the rod with fine-grained sandpaper and proceed to sharpen the blade. The work steps are described above. It is important for the size of the rod to match the serrations on the knife. If it is a serrated blade with V-shaped serrations, you will need a triangular rod. 

3.3. Square sharpening whetstone

Use it with caution and only as a last resort. This kind of sharpener is not designed for serrated knives. Therefore, it is easy to damage a serrated blade with such a stone. 

How to do it: 

  • press the knife against a hard table surface or clamp it in a vise;
  • bring the edge of the stone to the beveled surface of the serration;
  • sharpen the serration while rocking the stone back and forth;
  • while moving the whetstone try to cover the entire surface of the serration. 

If you do not have the necessary skills, it is better to avoid manual sharpening by hand and purchase a special sharpener

4. How not to sharpen a serrated knife

Sometimes owners of bread knives may be tempted to sharpen bread knives using an electric sharpener. You should only use electric sharpeners if they have a special slot for serrated knife blades. 

But most electric sharpeners, especially from the inexpensive range, do not allow you to sharpen serrated edges. They are only suitable for regular knives. You can just ruin the edge if you use them for the wrong purpose. 

The main problem is that the sharpener removes metal on each side of the blade. The serrated edge has a different shape. At the same time, you cannot change the angle of the disks in the sharpener. This damages the serrated knife and makes it unusable. 

5. Useful tips

Knife sharpening experts suggest following a few rules:

  • Get a knife that requires less maintenance. We are talking about models with a small number of large serrations. They are easier to make sharp with a manual sharpener. Besides, reducing the number of serrations results in each serration putting more pressure on the product. They cut into the food better and cut off the right pieces. At the same time, such a knife hardly ever gets dull. 
  • And you only have to sharpen the edge when absolutely necessary. The serrations on the edge make it easier for almost the entire blade of the knife to avoid contact with the cutting board. Therefore, the cutting part almost never gets dull. A serrated blade does not need a sharpening as often as a regular knife. Typically, you only have to sharpen your serrator no more than once every 2-3 years. 
  • Check the blade sharpness with bread. To do this just try to cut a slice off a bakery product with a crust. If the cut is clean and there are minimal crumbs, there is no need to sharpen the serrations. 

Take care during operation to avoid injury. 

Conclusion

Even though a bread knife rarely gets dull, it is still necessary to sharpen it. A sharp blade is safer and more convenient in everyday use. Do not forget about classic chef's knives. If you are looking for a sharpener to sharpen knives at home with blade lengths between 30 and 250 mm, TSPROF Pioneer will do best. The Pioneer will help you safely make the edge sharp again while maintaining the proper sharpening angle. 

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