We all love smooth, sharp knives. The kinds of knives that, when you slice meat, it glides right through. But when it comes to tougher materials, you’ll need a little more bite from your knife.
That’s why I keep several micro-serrated knives around. Micro-serrated knives aren’t my favorite, but they are incredibly useful. I’ll admit that I often don’t give them the credit they deserve. They’re the perfect balance between smooth and jagged blades. If you have a micro-serrated knife, you know what I’m talking about.
Micro-serrated knives are sometimes marketed as knives that “never need sharpening”. If you know anything about knives, you know that this isn’t true. All knives need sharpening.
The problem with micro-serrated knives is that you can’t sharpen them like you usually would. There’s a particular way to do this, which I’ll show you today.
What are Micro-Serrated Knives?
Micro-serrated knives aren’t a specific type of knife, such as ceramic knives. They are any knife that has micro-serrations on its blade.
Take a look at the edge of your blade. If you see some small jaggedness on it, you have a micro-serrated knife. Keep in mind that this is not the same as a normal serrated knife.
Ordinary serrated knives have a deep sawtooth edge that you will notice right away. You’ll need a closer look to see this on micro-serrated knives.
But not too close. These knives are not the same as scratched blades. If you sharpen your smooth knives improperly, you will get some tiny chips on the edge. This will make it unevenly jagged and quite terrible to use. If this happens, you should consider throwing your knife away.
The small jaggedness of micro-serrated blades is not an accident, it was designed this way. This is why their points are evenly spaced. As I said, they’re the middle ground between smooth and jagged knives. This design gives them advantages that other knives don’t have.
Advantages of Micro-Serrated Knives
Micro-serrated knives combine the sharpness of a smooth knife and the bite of a jagged knife. This gives you a blade that is useful for just about anything.
Have you ever tried cutting bread with a smooth knife? No matter how sharp the knife is, it won’t do a good job. Without any bite, there’s no way a smooth blade can grip and rip the fibrous bread.
This is why if even if you swing your knife back and forth, it’ll only press the bread down. This is why you want to use a knife with some teeth. These knives can tear through bread and other fibrous materials with ease.
On the flip side, have you ever tried cutting steak with the jagged end of a hunting knife? This is another classic example of knife misuse. You’ll not only have a very hard time doing this, but you’ll also destroy the food.
You can never get those appetizing slices if you use a serrated knife. Since meat is more flexible, you’ll want a razor-sharp edge. This way, your knife will sink right into the meat.
Micro-serrated knives give you the best of both worlds. They have enough bite to tear fibers. But they also have enough sharpness to slice through meats without destroying it.
This is why no matter what you need a knife for, your micro-serrated knife will come in handy. They can deal with everything from rope to jello.
Another great thing about micro-serrated knives is that they come in all shapes and sizes. Again, micro-serrated knives aren’t a specific type of knife. This way you can enjoy micro-serrated blades on small or big knives.
Disadvantages of Micro-Serrated Knives
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none”? This phrase applies quite well to micro-serrated knives. Even though they are both sharp and jagged, they aren’t the best at either one. For most tasks, there is another knife that is better suited than a micro-serrated one.
Another disadvantage of micro-serrated knives is the chance of chipping. This is something that you’ll have to be careful of for all serrated knives, micro or regular. But micro-serrated knives are worse off.
Their jagged tips are often very small and thin, making them prone to breaking. This is why it is very important to always keep them sharp. A dull micro-serrated knife will chip all over the place.
Which brings us to our main problem: sharpening.
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The Sharpening Problem
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Over the years, knife sharpening has become more of a joy than a necessity to me. I love the subtleties of the technique on how to sharpen different types of knives. Sharpening a micro-serrated knife, while not actually difficult, requires proper method.
The problem with micro-serrated knives is that you can just run the blade through a sharpening stone like a smooth knife. If you do that, you’ll destroy the scallops on the edge, and your knife will lose its jaggedness. There’s also a risk of chipping if you do it this way.
The first time I ever sharpened a serrated knife, my biggest question was, “how do I sharpen this without smoothening it out?” It can seem like a pretty daunting task. But in reality, it’s a lot easier than you may expect. Let me show you how.
How to Sharpen a Micro-Serrated Knife
You can use a variety of different tools to sharpen your micro-serrated knife. My personal favorite is a sharpening rod. I find it very easy to sharpen my micro-serrated knives when I use a ceramic sharpening rod (or anything harder than steel).
You can also opt for sharpening stones, electrical sharpeners, or anything else. Just keep these 3 simple steps in mind:
Step 1: Find the Bevel Side
Most, if not all, micro-serrated knives are single beveled. This means that on the edge, one side is completely flat, while the other slants (making the edge sharp). It’s not like double-beveled knives that have a v-shaped edge.
Knowing which side has the bevel is very important. The scallops that form the teeth of the knife are on that side. That’s the side you want to avoid sharpening.
Step 2: Sharpen
Once you know which side the bevel is on, you can then proceed to sharpen. Make sure you sharpen the side opposite of the bevel – the flat side. This way, you won’t smoothen the jagged tips of your blade.
To do this, place your knife flat on the surface of your sharpener. Since you are working on the side with no bevel, you want to sharpen at the tightest angle you can. So add a tiny tilt just to avoid scratching the body of your knife.
Then lightly rub your knife against the sharpener. I always say don’t put a lot of pressure when sharpening knives. When it comes to micro-serrated knives, I can’t stress this enough.
If you press hard into the sharpener, one of the jagged tips may get caught and snap. And just like that, you ruin your knife. This is why you need to be extra gentle when sharpening a micro-serrated knife.
Step 3: Test and Polish
Whenever you’re sharpening a knife, a good way to know if it’s done is by feeling for a burr. You’ll find this on the opposite side of what you’re sharpening. So in micro-serrated knives, feel for the burr on the bevel side.
Once you feel that, it’s time to polish. You can simply wipe your knife clean, but I like to take an extra step to remove the burr. Unlike ordinary knives, you can’t remove the burr by sharpening the other side. You already know that if you sharpen the bevel side, this will ruin your micro-serrated blade.
So instead, I do this by using cardboard. I lay my blade on the cardboard, tilting on the bevel side. I apply just enough pressure so that the entire surface of the bevel, including the scallops, sink into the cardboard. Then I lightly drag this along the cardboard to remove the burr.
Tips for Sharpening Micro-Serrated Knives
As always, here’s my cheat sheet when it comes to sharpening micro-serrated knives:
- Find the bevel side
- Work on the flat side
- Use a sharpening material that is harder than steel if you can
- Keep the angle as tight as you can. Tilt just enough to avoid scratching the body of the knife
- Use light and gentle strokes to sharpen
- Wear safety gloves to avoid cuts
- Always feel for burr to know when it is sharp
- Remove the burr by rubbing it on cardboard
- Use the paper test to check the sharpness
- Wipe your knife after sharpening.
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Yes, you will have to sharpen your micro-serrated knife once in a while. Even though they’re advertised as forever sharp, they will go dull soon. And even if they can still cut, you may be damaging your blade if you use it unsharpened.
But sharpening these blades is a lot easier than it might seem at first. With these simple steps and tips, you won’t run into any problems at all.
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