Serrations can greatly enhance the cutting power of a knife’s edge, especially when that power is applied to materials like rope, cord, webbing, and other fibrous materials. A serrated edge is also the tool of choice for many kitchen and cooking chores, including slicing bread. But despite the obvious utility of serrations, a surprising number of knife users shy away from them because they believe they are difficult to sharpen. That’s simply not the case—especially when you understand Spyderco’s serrations and our sharpening tools.
First, let’s explore why serrations cut so aggressively. In simplest terms, a serrated edge offers more edge length
than a plain edge. If you took two identical blades—one with a plain edge and one with a serrated edge—and imagined “stretching” the serrated edge until all its teeth, angles, and recesses were perfectly straight, it would be significantly longer than the edge of the plain-edged blade.
Serrated edges also make contact with the material being cut at many different angles, constantly establishing new cutting angles and pressures. This interrupted cutting dynamic also allows the serrations to contour to the surface shape of the material being cut, further increasing their effectiveness.
One of Spyderco’s most significant contributions to the cutlery industry was the introduction of serrated cutting edges on folding knives. During Spyderco’s early history, its founders sold knife sharpeners and other brands of kitchen knives as “pitchmen” at fairs and trade shows across the country. That experience taught them a lot about what sharpness and cutting performance are really all about and gave them an exceptional insight into the advantages of serrated edges.
Subsequently, Spyderco invested significant time, energy, and resources into the research and development of serrated edges. By understanding how serrated edges cut, we learned how to optimize their performance and ultimately developed our own high-performance serration pattern—the SpyderEdge™.
To really understand serrated edges, it’s important to realize that all
cutting edges are in fact serrated edges. Even the finest, most highly polished edge consists of thousands of microscopic teeth generated by the abrasive material used to create it. Cutting with a PlainEdge™ blade is therefore very much like cutting with a microscopic saw.
A serrated edge takes this same concept and scales it up, providing greater and more purposeful control over the shape, size, and angle of the edge’s teeth. Spyderco’s highly refined SpyderEdge pattern, which consists of an alternating series of one large groove and two smaller ones, is based on years of relentless research, development, and product testing. Each groove is separated by a highly defined, acutely pointed tooth and the terminal cutting edge runs continuously along all the recesses of the grooves. This scientifically perfected pattern offers 24% more total cutting edge than a plain edged blade of the same length.
The acute points of each tooth create focused penetration points that initiate the cutting action, while the concave edges in each groove offer an infinite number of cutting angles that automatically contour to the material being cut. The result is a dynamic fusion of highly aggressive cutting mechanics that is extremely effective, especially on hard-to-cut fibrous materials like rope and webbing.
The serration pattern on our SpyderEdge kitchen knives is even further refined by making the points of the serrations longer. This allows them to contact the surface of a cutting board while raising the rest of the cutting edge above it, preserving the edge and allowing it to cut significantly longer without dulling.
Right out of the box, our SpyderEdge knives cut with a vengeance and stay sharper longer than traditional PlainEdge blades. But, like all knives, with enough use they will ultimately start to dull. So how do you get them sharp again? The easiest way is with our Tri-Angle Sharpmaker®, a complete sharpening system that uses triangular ceramic rods with rounded edges as the sharpening abrasive. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessary to individually sharpen each serration scallop. Instead, use the Sharpmaker in the conventional manner—by holding the plane of the blade vertical and drawing the edge from heel to tip along each stone. The only difference is that you should use a looser grip and go a little slower to allow the edge of the stone to “flow” down into the recesses of each scallop. Also, since the serrations are only ground on one side of the blade, make three passes on the “bevel” side of the serration and one pass on the “back” side to remove the burr. Continue this process, alternating three strokes on the bevel side to one on the back side, until the desired sharpness is achieved.
Serrations can supercharge the cutting power of a blade and are ideal for many cutting chores. Now that you understand them—and know how easy is to sharpen them—there’s no reason NOT to include them in your selection of cutting tools.