Tired of tearing bread with your hands? That’s what people used to do, but you might have become used to a more precise cut. For bread, that requires a bread knife, which actually works in a similar way to tearing. Bread knives are different to standard knives in that they have tiny serrated edges that basically saw through the bread as you cut. A normal, straight-edged sharp knife wouldn’t work very well with bread is it’s soft and coarser. If you’ve ever tried cutting bread with a normal knife, you’ll know it doesn’t do a great job.
So you’ve already got a bread knife, but it’s getting harder to and harder to actually cut through the bread? That means it’s probably blunt or at least losing its sharpness. Some people simply go out and buy a new bread knife at this point, but they’re making a massive mistake. That’s a complete waste of money. You might not know how yes, but you can sharpen your bread knife and make it as good as new at a fraction of the cost. That’s what this article is here for.
Keep reading to find out how to sharpen a bread knife to make it as good as new. This is especially useful for expensive bread knives. These need looking after, and you can’t simply buy a new one every time it goes a bit blunt. For cheaper knives, you might find the equipment to sharpen more expensive than the actual knife itself. While that could be the case, remember that once you’ve got the sharpening tools you’ll be able to keep sharpening again and again. That’ll save you a lot of money in the long run.
We’re also going to look at how to sharpen a bread knife without any sharpening equipment, which is obviously even cheaper. Make use of what you’ve got and sharpen your bread knife rather than struggling along with the same old knife or wasting money on a new one.
How to sharpen a bread knife
Remember that bread knives can actually hold their sharpness for longer than a standard edge. Only try to sharpen your bread knife when it has clearly become blunt, as it can be harder to do than with standard knives and you may not be able to restore the proper shape every time.
Get the right sharpening tool
Start by heading down to your kitchenware or DIY store to find a sharpening tool. Remember, serrated blades need a different type of sharpening tool than standard blades. These can sometimes be bought in a kit together, or you might want to look out for a specific rod-shaped serrated edge sharpener. These might have a taper for different serration sizes. The sharpner should be clearly labeled in store. You could also try online to find one cheaper if it’s not urgent.
If you want to take sharpening really seriously, you could look for online reviews to find the best sharpener for you and your specific knife.
Find the edge
Serrated blades don’t have the same edge on both sides of the knife. You need to find the beveled edge. The bevel is where the blade angles down just before the serrated part, rather than carrying straight from the blade to the serration as it does on the other side. Find this beveled side before you apply the sharpener. You should only sharpen on the beveled side.
Position the sharpening tool
Your sharpening tool should be placed at a perpendicular angle to the knife blade and should fit into one of the grooves of the serrated edges. The angle should be about 15 percent off a right angle between blade and tool, so not completely perpendicular, but out to one side. If the knife also has a straight edge section of the blade, it will need a more pronounced angle up to 25 percent. You’ll have to switch angles as you go along the blade.
When you’ve got the correct angle, move the sharpening rod so that it’s thickness matches those of the serrated gullet sections. It will fit at the right point if it’s tapered. If it’s not, you’ll need a tool that fits the exact size of your serrations. Hold it in place so that the rod is the same size as the gullets or a bit smaller.
Sharpen the gullets
Unlike a straight edges sharpening tool, you don’t run the sharpener up and down the blade. You need to sharpen at your almost-perpendicular angle each serrated gullet one at a time. Move the rod across the gullet in a sawing motion. Push away from blade towards the back of the knife. You can rotate the rod as you move it backwards and forward. Be careful at every stage of the sharpening process. Don’t push too far up the tapered tool so that the gullets are not enlarged.
Move your hand along the other side of the grooves to see if there are any metal shavings. When you feel one, you will know the knife has been sharpened enough and you can stop.
Sharpen each gullet one after another like this.
Clean the blade.
After you’ve sharpened every gullet, clean away the burrs and metal shavings with a filing tool or sheet of sandpaper. Make sure you sharpen any straight edges after you’ve done the gullets and clean up after that, too.
How to sharpen a bread knife without buying a sharpening tool
If you don’t want to buy a sharpner, you can still do a good job yourself. Get some emery cloth and wood dowels or another rod-shaped implement. Make sure the dowel is the right size to fit the gullets (as explained earlier).
Wrap the cloth around the dowell and hold it in place. Use the same process explained earlier in this article. You might have to change dowell size for different gullet sizes. You’ll need to go a bit slower when doing it this way, but you can still achieve a good finish.