How to Sharpen Electric Knife Blades

If you’ve got an electric knife, you’ll know how efficient these tools can be and how much effort they can save you when carving meat. Around Christmas or even for a Sunday lunch, my dad would always have his electric knife out. The very sound of these blades whirring just reminds me of family time.

But if you want your serrated electric knife blades to perform at their best then, just like any chef's knife, you need to take good care of them. One of the most important things you can do is to keep the blade nice and sharp. But since these are powered, serrated blades, a lot of people struggle with how to effectively sharpen them.

But don’t panic. If it’s time to sharpen your electric knife then we’ve got all the information you’ve been searching for. This guide will have you confidently sharpening your electric knife blade in no time at all… well the time it takes you to read, anyway.

Table of contents

What Is An Electric Knife?

An electric knife is similar to a manual serrated knife. This might seem like an obvious observation but it’s important to get to grips with exactly what we’re working with here. Understanding this will help us to better maintain our utensils.

Unlike regular serrated knives such as a steak knife or bread knife, these ones are powered by electricity. The blades are attached to a part that contains an electric motor but they can be removed when you need to clean or maintain them or even for storage.

The great thing about electric knives is that the motor drives the blade in a back and forth cutting motion. This means that you don’t have to exert any energy when carving through meat. That said, there’s nothing massively different between these blades and any other type of serrated knife. The good thing about this is that you can sharpen them in the same way!

Is There Anything Special About Sharpening An Electric Knife Blade?

The question on everyone’s lips is how do you sharpen an electric serrated edge? Well, we have good news. Since these blades are the same as any other serrated knives, the sharpening process is exactly the same.

That said, this is a pretty time consuming method of sharpening so a lot of people like to take their knives to a professional. If you ask anyone about sharpening a serrated blade, they’ll probably tell you that they hate doing it because of how monotonous it is but it’s certainly not difficult.

We will provide you with detailed information on exactly how to sharpen your electric knife blades later in this guide.

Do I Have to Sharpen My Electric Knife Blades?

When you use any electric carving knife, whether it’s straight edged or serrated, it will eventually go dull. This also applies to electric and manual blades. There’s just no getting away from the fact that you have to maintain your blades to ensure a sharp knife.

The good thing about serrated electric blades is that they don’t tend to go dull as quickly as straight-edged knives so you’ll get a lot more use out of them between sharpenings. There are some people that will tell you that you don’t need to ever sharpen a serrated blade but ignore this advice as it’s simply not true.

A lot of manufacturers will urge you to replace the blades as opposed to sharpening them but that’s largely a money-making ploy and sharpening them will give you many more uses out of the blades.

But replacement really is the only alternative to sharpening your electric knife blades. Most manufacturers will offer replacements so you won’t need to replace the whole unit, just the blades. However, this comes at a cost so it’s probably better just to set aside some time on a Saturday afternoon and get the job done.

How to Sharpen An Electric Knife Blade

When you have to sharpen your electric knife blades, you have two main options. You can either use a manual sharpening rod or an electric knife sharpener. We recently wrote a guide on choosing the best sharpening system which you can find here.

Using An Electric Knife Sharpener

Before you start sharpening, it’s really important to note that there are different types of electric knife sharpener. It  is vital that you choose the right one for the blades you’ll be working with.

If you’ve got a very high quality electric knife then we would highly recommend choosing an electric knife sharpener that is of just as good quality as you’ll get the best results this way. We have heard horror stories of exceptional electric knife blades being butchered by a poor quality sharpener. It simply isn’t worth it.

You might think it would be difficult to find a good quality electric sharpener if you’ve never used one before. The best way to determine whether something is worth it is to look at online reviews. People are typically brutally honest about things like this so you’ll get a very good idea of the quality.

Also, always be sure that the sharpener you choose is able to sharpen the blade you’ll be working with. If you use an electric sharpener that isn’t designed for serrated blades, you won’t achieve the results you’re looking for.

Step 1

Before you start sharpening your blade, it is vital that you disconnect the knife from power. This might involve unplugging it from the wall or taking out the batteries if it is a cordless knife. This might seem like common sense but one too many people have accidentally left the knife plugged in and disaster followed.

Step 2

Next, you will need to take the blade out of the electric knife. When you do this, you have the opportunity to check the condition of the blade. In some cases, it might not need sharpening but simply replacing. This will happen eventually so you’ll want to look for things like cracking and severe curving.

Step 3

Take your electric knife blade and have the sharp side facing the hollow part of the sharpener. You’ll now need to insert the blade carefully and make sure it goes as far into the sharpener as is possible.

To begin with, you’ll need to use the coarsest stone, especially if there are any nicks in the blade or it has gone very dull. This will take off more material so it’s important that you realise this will shorten the lifespan of the blade. This is why it’s better to sharpen more regularly.

When you use a finer stone, sharpness will be restored without the need to take off as much metal, therefore giving your knife a longer life.

Once the knife is inserted, make sure that it stays in contact with the stone. You should feel some pressure and it’s essential to maintain this throughout the sharpening process.

When you’re ready to start, you’ll need to begin with the heel and slide the blade until you reach the tip. Make sure that you keep to the right angle but for the most part, this will be somewhere between 15 and 20 degrees. To get the best results, you’ll want to run the blade over the coarse stone up to three times.

Step 4

Once you have ground out any chips and burrs on the blade, you can switch to a finer grinding stone. Most electric knife sharpeners will have different slots for the different grits so make sure to use the right one.

The process is largely the same as before, passing the blade over the stones around two or three times. These finer stones will refine the edge and polish it out so you’re left with a beautifully sharp finish. By doing this, you’ll help the blade to retain its edge for longer so you won’t need to sharpen as often.

Step 5

Now that you have a nice sharp electric knife blade, it’s time to put everything back together. Before you reinsert the blades, now is a good time to clean them and you can do this by wiping them over with a damp cloth. Make sure that no metal dust remains and that you thoroughly dry the blade when you’re done.

Now you can attach the blade to the handle and, if you took out any batteries, put these back in.

Using a Sharpening Rod

If you want to have a bit more control over the sharpening process then a sharpening rod is a much better alternative to an electric sharpener. However, it is worth keeping in mind that this method requires a little more skill and practice and is certainly more time consuming. That said, once you know what you’re doing, it’s not as complicated as most people imagine.

Another great thing about using a sharpening rod is that you won’t take anywhere near as much metal off the blade. This means that it will be able to undergo many more sharpening sessions before it needs to be replaced.

Step 1

As before, you will need to make sure that you power down your electric knife before you attempt to remove the blades. This is purely in the interests of safety so unplug the knife or take out the batteries.

Step 2

Now you will need to remove the blade from the handle. It is possible to sharpen the blade while it is still inserted, especially if you don’t have a good grip point to remove it. However, you will need to be more careful when doing it this way.

Step 3

If you are using a straight-edged blade, then you would run the length of the blade down the sharpening rod. You’ll need to make sure that you are keeping the blade at a consistent angle whilst maintaining consistent pressure.

When you watch the professionals doing this, they’ll typically hold everything vertically but for amateurs, it’s usually better to hold everything horizontally as you’ll have better control.

But since we are working with electric knife blades which are largely serrated, the process will be slightly different. The cutting points on the blades are actually between the serrations so you’ll need to get the sharpening rod right in there for the best results.

Make sure that you match the motions to the serrations and again, ensure consistent pressure as you sharpen each one. This is what makes sharpening an electric knife blade a much more time consuming process when you do it manually but you’ll be able to get it spot on so it’s often worth it. That said, it’s known to require a bit of practice so make sure you give yourself plenty of time and don’t kick yourself if you don’t get it right the first time.

Step 4

Now that you’re done, it’s time to clean the blade. Using the same method that we discussed above with a damp cloth and ensuring that the blade is fully dry.

To test the blade, you can use it to cut a piece of fruit, bread or any other food. While this won’t mimic carving meat, it will give you a good idea of how sharp the knife is. Don’t ever be tempted to test the sharpness by running your finger along the blade. This will result in an injury.

Tips For Safe Electric Knife Blade Sharpening

The great thing about sharpening an electric knife blade is that it isn’t a complicated process. While doing it with a sharpening rod is a little more complex, it’s nothing that even the most inexperienced person couldn’t get their head around after a couple of attempts. But one thing that you absolutely must keep in mind is that you’re working with something that could hurt you so it’s essential to keep the following safety tips in mind.

●     Always make sure that your knife is disconnected from power before you perform any maintenance.

●     Don’t try to rush the sharpening process. It’s better to spend a little extra time and get it right than to rush and potentially injure yourself or damage your blades.

●     When sharpening, make sure that your hands are clean. They’ll need to be free from water and oil as these things could be a slip hazard.

●     Never try to directly touch the blade. There are other ways to test how sharp it is.

●     Only ever use high quality knife sharpeners. Yes, it may cost a little more but it’s worth it for better results and a safer experience.

Final Thoughts

An electric knife is a lifesaver when it comes to carving meat as it will do all the hard work for you. However, it’s essential to make sure that your knife stays sharp if you want it to work as well as you would expect. If you’ve ever wondered how to sharpen electric knife blades then the good news is that it’s pretty simple.

You can use a sharpening rod or an electric sharpener. While the latter is more easy and convenient, the former gives you better control and is less harsh on your knives.
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