Sharpening knives with serrated edge without whetstone

Smooth knife blades of all types are best sharpened with a whetstone. Irregular blade contours, such as waves or serrations, require rounded to circular sharpening tools. Grinding involves machining individual hollows. Sandpaper works as a temporary solution.

Individual work on each rounded hollow

If you have your knife sharpened, you may come across special grinding wheels at a professional sharpening store. They have bead-like “grinding worms” on the surface of their rollers that fit into the hollows of the knife blade. With the proper spacing and diameter and the correct stopping angle, this method is most effective in sharpening bread knives, saw knives, and all serrated knives.

To create a razor sharpness in this way requires elaborate and long hand sharpening work. In principle, each individual hollow and its slope towards the shaft tip or saw tooth must be ground individually and rounded. However, since the blades usually live on the cutting force of their protruding tips, “sharpening” is usually sufficient.

Abrasives and methods to be neglected

Small grinders are occasionally offered in stores, including those in unrelated industries such as discount stores and general retail. They are placed on a base and provide one or more notches. Knives are to be inserted into these with the blade and moved back and forth in a sawing motion. Several metal discs “scrape” the blades sharp in the process.

These types of grinders destroy more than they accomplish. Perhaps they provide supposed sharpness gain during the first few uses. Often, however, the use must be paid with the permanent damage of the blade. In some cases, professional sharpening is no longer possible.

Another very rough way to sharpen knives without a whetstone is to use metal sharpening rods. They act similar to files and are unable to produce a clean grind due to unavoidable linear surface textures. Metal should never be ground through other metal.

Alternatives to the whetstone

When it comes to sharpening kitchen knives that have an uneven grind or need or should be sharpened with another tool in the absence of a whetstone, two alternatives come to mind.

Diamond files and ceramic grinding and sharpening rods can substitute for a good whetstone when used properly. It is important to have an appropriate diameter so that proper alignment of the attachment angles and insertion into the hollows can be accomplished without difficulty. For straight blade runs, abrasive paste or sandpaper can also produce reasonably good results. However, both abrasives should be replaced with a whetstone as soon as possible, if possible.

Tips & Tricks

If you are out in the wilderness and want to sharpen a knife, you can look for a natural sharpening surface in the absence of a sharpening stone that you have with you. Any open volcanic rock with a clean and unvegetated surface will provide a grindable grit. This is sufficient for provisional sharpening of, for example, a pocket knife blade. Grind only on surfaces that are wetted.

Elizabeth Green

Elizabeth Green

Elizabeth Green is a seasoned home chef and culinary expert who has a passion for all things kitchen-related. With her extensive knowledge of the latest kitchen products and appliances, Elizabeth provides insightful reviews and recommendations to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. Whether you're looking for a new refrigerator, blender, or cookware set, Elizabeth is your guide to finding the best kitchen products available in the UK.

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