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Oct 14, 2009 06:27 PM

bread knife sharpening

I've been told that serrated bread knives just die after some time and that it's not worth speeding Wustoff money on one and expecting to find a capable sharpener.
T or F?

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  1. Fritz,

    Well, all knives get dull soon or later and they will need to get sharpen. It is tough to sharpen a serrated bread knife on your own. You can sharpen the the outer edge, but inner edge will be tough. On the other hand, if you use your bread knife correctly, the inner edge should remain sharp for a long time because the inner edge will never get to contact hard objects like a cutting board or your counter, so maybe sharpening the outer edge is all you will need. Still, it is tough to sharpen a bread knife.

    I think Wusthof is a bad choice for bread knife. Wusthof, Henckels or any German knives have softer steel. They do not maintain their edge well and they are designed this way, so that they are easier to sharp on your own compared to Japanese knives. Unfortunately, for a serrated bread knife, that logic does not help at all. For a bread knife, I think it is better to have harder steel, so the edge maintains for a long time and when the time comes, you can send it to a professional sharpener.

    I have a Shun bread knife. My Shun has VG-10 as its core, a hard steel which holds its edge very well. When the time comes, Shun will sharp my knife for me for free. This is part of the Shun's service. I have to send the knife to Shun with my money, but Shun will sharp it for me for free and ship it back to me for free.

    I bought my Shun Steel bread knife for $70 which is cheaper than a Wusthof Classic bread knife or a Henckel Four Star bread knife ( The Classic Shun has a wooden handle and that will cost $130. Same steel, same blade, same handle shape, just different handle material.

    Consider that I can send it back to sharp for free over its entire lifetime. It is a pretty good deal.

    Here is a Q&A from Shun:
    How do I sharpen serrated knives?
    If you send the knife to us for service, we can certainly sharpen any of our serrated knives. We do not recommend using any sort of electric sharpener for this process.

    Your idea is another approach. Just buy afforable bread knives like $27 Victorinox bread knives and replace them every few years. I will say buying 5 Victorinox bread knives is about the same (slightly more expensive) as buying one Shun Steel bread knife and shipping it back to factory 4 times.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Hey Chem, the lowest price I can find on a Shun Stainless bread knife is nearly $80. At this price, do you still think it's a better buy than the Kershaw Wasabi bread knife at half the price? ($40) The Wasabi has the same scalloped edge pattern but uses "Daido 1K6" steel (HRC 58) instead of VG10.

      And do you know if they offer the free sharpening service on the Wasabi line like they do the Shun line? (I think that's partly why the Shun cost more, but I'm not sure.)

      1. re: Eiron

        You can contact them on their webpage and find out if the sharpening applies to all lines they offer:

        1. re: Eiron

          You know. That is an excellent point. I guess the Kershaw Wasabi is a good deal as well. I have preveiously contact KAI and the costume service person said the free knife sharpening service applies for all KAI products. Here is the exact quote (yes, I still have that email):


          Good Morning XXXX,

          We will take care of all of our knives from all of the lines, KAI Inc, SHUN, Kershaw. We do not need your receipt for sharpening. I will include the directions to get your knife to us when the need arises and if you have any other questions, you can always contact me directly.

          Please send your knife in for repair. See below:
          Thank you so much for your inquiry into the warranty of your knife. All of
          our knives carry a limited lifetime warranty.
          If you need to send the knife in for warranty service we need you to
          do the following:
          1.Please enclose with the knife, inside the box, a letter with your
          name, return address and telephone number.
          2.We suggest sending the knife back to us via U.P.S or Federal
          Express. This automatically provides you a tracking number so you may
          verify the knife's arrival at our facility.
          3.Please address the box ATTN: Warranty Department and send it to
          the address listed below. Our website also asks that you please allow 4 weeks for our processes and shipping before inquiring into the status of your knife.
          Thank you again for your inquiry.
          Cheryl Kalleck
          Warranty Supervisor
          KAI USA, Kershaw Knives,
          Shun Knives & Zero Tolerance
          WARRANTY DEPT.
          18600 SW Teton Ave
          Tualatin, OR 97062
          Phone: 800-325-2891 x1110
          Fax: 503-682-7168

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Thank you for that; this thread is now a 'Favorite Topic'.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                If you look just above the first post you will see a checkbox. So check this thread. Then go to "MyChow" and in the menu bar you will see...

                My Posts - Reading List - All Activity - Favorites - etc

                'Favorites' is Chow's way of bookmarking threads. You can always un-bookmark them later.

                Your 'Favorites' list is available to other people to see.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics


              I meant customer service not costume service :D

              Actually, I guess it is not customer service which responded to me. It is the Warranty Department. :)

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Chem, did you ever directly compare the weight/balance of the Shun Classic bread knife to the Shun Steel bread knife?

                1. re: Eiron

                  :) Actually no. I have only used the Shun Steel bread knife and have not tried the Shun Classic. I can tell you the center of gravity of the Steel bread knife if you are interested, so you can compare the Classic knife in the store. For the Steel bread knife, its center of gravity at the very end of the blade, right at heel.

                  I didn't worry too much about the weight/balance of my bread knife because I know I won't be using it very often.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Thanks! I did take grnidkjun's advice & emailed Kershaw (duh!, why didn't I think of that?), but I still haven't received a reply.

                With this sharpening info in hand, perhaps the Deal Of The Century is going to be this knife:
                I got the chance to hold this knife two days ago & it's both light-weight & extremely comfortable. The handle is another KAI success, IMO. Not like the Shun, which "falls into place" due to its left/right-handedness, but natural in the way its ambidexterous shape is rounded & tapered. It has the same forward/backward scalloped edge as the Shun Series but is a bit shorter at 8". Oh yeah, it's also very, very sharp!

                At only $9.95 & with lifetime sharpening, all this knife needs now is Sam Fujisaka's endorsement! :-) The only reason I'm not buying one it 'cuz I don't want the non-stick coating on my knife.

                1. re: Eiron

                  A good deal, for sure. But this really is too short for a bread knife. Wish they made one of useful length.

                  Has anyone actually tried the free sharpening service from KAI with a serrated knife? Do they actually sharpen serrated knives properly?

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    Yeah, maybe. I think a lot of how useful a knife's length is, is determined by what you're used to using & what you're using it on. My current bread knife is 9" (40+? yr old Imperial Wonda-Edge), but I rarely use the last two inches on the artisan loaves I slice.

                    So, I'm going to try using my 7" serrated carving knife for a while, & see if it's long enough to be useful as a bread knife. Heck, I don't use it for anything else!

                    1. re: Eiron


                      I thought it is a crime to use a *serrated* carving knife in the USA. What country are you from again? :P

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        :-D This is one of my hand-me-down knives from my parents (along with the Wonda-Edge bread knife). It's an ekco "Eterna" carving knife, identical to this one:
                        I don't recall ever using it for carving, even though it's got the traditional carving knife shape to it. Actually, I don't recall using it much for anything. I don't know why I've kept it all these years, really. Obviously, it's the wrong shape for using as a bread knife, especially with the turned-up tip. I guess it's actually more of a 6" to 6-1/2" length unless I rock it way up onto the tip. We'll see how it fits my experiment. :-)

            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Don't forget Cutco serrated knives and their lifetime free sharpening service (for price of shipping). Had a couple of knives resharpened after about 12 years. Note that the blade height on each knife becomes slightly less because of the metal removed when grinding new serrations. Each knife is probably good for three or four "sharpenings" before the blade shape is significantly changed.

              Personally, I think Cutco serrated knives are awesome. The few Cutcos I have (for bread and tomato) are serrated. I use Wusthof for paring and chef.

            3. There are sharpeners who will "sharpen it" rounding ouu the serations. It gets less and less serated. but there are some who will sharpen the individual serations and that is preferred. Ask a sharpener first.

              Most serated knives have a bur that you can feel even fro the factory and removing that( with somethig like a hand strop)will improve the cut

              1 Reply
              1. re: Rodssharpeningservice

                I wonder if a Dremel mototool would work. You can buy all sorts of abrasive tips for it, one of them might be the right size to fit into the scalloped edge indentations. I use one for sharpening my chain saw blades.

              2. Accusharp knife sharpeners work on serrated bread knives. Yes they do. I didn't believe it either.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ambimom

                  This is true. However I wouldn't take an Accusharp to any knife, bread or not, that is either expensive or made out of hard steel.

                2. I just use my fine waterstone and run the blade across (at 90 degrees) to the edge of the stone at 45 degrees to the top and the side. Seems to work. I hope you can understand what I mean by that.

                  My Shun bread knife feels like it will be years before it needs sharpening.

                  1. Bread knifes are the one knife I do not spend much money on. The will stay sharp a long time if you only cut bread. Best I have found is the Victorinox 10.25". Gets great reviews and costs 20 bucks. When you think it is dull, get another one. They will last years. They are kind of like non stick fry pans. Get a cheap one and when it is worn out get another one.
                    Don't get me wrong I like good stuff. My regular knives are all Japanese and were quite pricey. I sharpen them myself to a razor edge.