An effective tool for cutting through rope, separating cables, and opening parcels is a serrated knife. Although the word “serrated” might give you the impression that these knives are just good for slicing meat, they are actually capable of slicing through a variety of materials, including paper, wood, plastic, metal, and even skin.
These knives have long, tapered blades with narrow profiles that allow the user to slice effortlessly through materials. The best serrated knife will have a sturdy handle that provides a firm yet safe grip while also allowing the blade to be easily controlled. The best serrated knife is made from high-carbon Japanese or German steel that is durable, sharp, and easy to maintain. It should also look attractive enough to carry in your pocket along with your phone and keys.
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Serrated Knife
Serrated knives are a type of Japanese knife that has a triangular or saw-like edge. These knives can be used for both cutting and scraping, but they’re better suited for slicing than chopping because of their unique shape. When shopping for one of these knives, consider its size, weight, handle, blade length, and more. Keep reading to learn about several key features of serrated knives.
The first thing newbies notice when they pick up a serrated knife is how large it is. The average height from tip to tip on most models ranges between 5 and 7 inches. However, there are mini versions available that measure 3.5 inches in total. A larger knife means you’ll need to take bigger slices of meat or vegetables, which could wind up being messy if you don’t have a clean kitchen surface to place them on. If using a serrated knife for longer cuts of meat isn’t your style, then opt for a smaller model so you can make multiple passes with the knife rather than having to cut each piece individually.
Weight and Balance
Japanese chefs rely on two main types of knives to create delicious dishes: sushi knives and chef’s knives. Sushi knives are lightweight and typically made out of steel alloys containing a small amount of carbon. They feature a narrow profile and a pointy end that allows them to slice through delicate foods without piercing them. Chef’s knives tend to have a broader profile and a full tang (a metal casting that extends throughout the handle), which gives them greater strength and balance. Many chefs also use paring knives as an addition to their kit since they’re useful for many different tasks.
Serrated knives fall under the category of chef’s knives. Their broad profile helps reduce friction while cutting, making them easier to wield at high speeds over long periods of time. However, they do have a tendency to weigh more than traditional Japanese knives due to the added material required for strength and durability. This makes them harder to comfortably hold during extended use.
The best way to describe the handles of serrated knives is that they’re made of wood, plastic, and stainless steel. Wood is the primary component of the handle, whether real or fake. It provides a nice grip even in wet conditions, though this grip can wear down over time. Plastic handles are less durable than wood but still reasonably comfortable despite repeated washing. Stainless steel is the strongest of the three materials and least likely to absorb moisture, but these handles tend to feel too cold for some users.
Many manufacturers incorporate a combination of these three materials into ergonomic handles designed specifically for comfort and dexterity. Some handles may also include a rubber coating to help dampen vibrations and shockwaves transferred from the hand to the wrist.
Like many other tools, the blades of serrated knives come in various materials. Most blades are made of either carbon steel or high-carbon stainless steel.
- Carbon steel blades are extremely hard and resist rust very well. However, they’re incredibly sensitive to heat, water, and pressure. Any of these elements applied directly to the skin can easily cause a serious burn.
- High-carbon stainless steel blades are tougher than those made of carbon steel. They’re not as easy to hurt yourself with, but they will dull much faster than wooden handles. Also, keep in mind that any liquid spilled on a high-quality stainless steel blade will immediately soak right through, whereas a carpenter handle might require a rag or glove to wipe off.
Most serrated knives range in length from 4 to 8 inches. A shorter knife means you can manage food items with ease, such as fileting a fish or carving a roast. Longer knives offer room for bulkier ingredients like chicken thighs or pork tenderloins. Shorter knives work great for precise cutting jobs like chopping delicate herbs or produce. However, no matter what the length of the knife, always try to maintain a solid grip on the handle by placing the knuckles of the non-cutting hand flat against the handle instead of wrapping around it. This keeps the hand protected and prevents accidental shocks to the wrist.
One of the biggest advantages of a serrated knife is that the sharpest part of the blade stays sharper longer than a standard Japanese knife. This is thanks to the low angle at which the cutting edge meets the handle. Because of this angle, the cutting edge doesn’t get damaged as quickly as other knives. Instead, chips formed during cutting will simply roll off the edge of the knife onto the table or floor.
This edge retention ability comes at a cost, however. Since the cutting edge takes up space, a serrated knife won’t accommodate as many cutting boards or plates as a standard Japanese knife. Additionally, the increased thickness means the knife will be slower to chop fruits and veggies.
Types Of Serrated Knives
Serrated blades are designed to cut in a sawing motion, which is why they’re called “sawblades”. There’s more than one way to classify these blades based on their design and intended use. Here are some examples.
- Single-edged blade – single cutting edge with no guard; used for piercing or slicing soft materials like cheese, sausage, bacon, etc. The term “single-edged” refers to the sharp edge being closer to you as compared to other edges on the knife handle. This makes it easier to slice food towards yourself rather than having to move it over to your right hand side.
- Double-edged blade – two cutting edges on opposite sides of the blade; used for chopping vegetables, carving meat, etc. The term “double-edged” refers to the fact that both edges of the blade face outward when held at an angle, making it necessary to turn the blade around before performing certain cuts.
- Triple-edged blade – three cutting edges on the same side of the blade; used for skinning game birds, preparing kindling for a fire, etc. The term “triple-edged” refers to the fact that all three edges have the same orientation (are flat), making it impossible to turn the blade without first removing the center pin.
- Quadruple-edged blade – four cutting edges on the same side of the blade; used for opening tin cans, carving wood, etc. The term “quadruple-edged” refers to the fact that all four edges have the same orientation (are flat), making it impossible to turn the blade without first removing the center pin.
- Heckler/Kukri – multi-purpose tool combining aspects of a number of different types of blades into one compact device. It has multiple rows of teeth along its length, allowing it to perform various functions depending on how many rows of teeth you have activated.
Fixed vs. Adjustable Blade
The vast majority of pocket knives employ fixed blades. That means there isn’t any pivot connecting the spine of the blade to the handle. Instead, the part of the blade that would normally be covered by a sheath gets stapled inside the handle so it can protrude out whenever needed. Most often, this will be the fore blade, but sometimes it’ll be the back blade.
These knives are simple, reliable, and inexpensive. They hold up well against heavy use and tend to last longer than most because there aren’t any moving parts getting filled with gunk and grime. However, if you want more options, adjustable blades are available.
Most retractable blades work similarly to those found on larger utility knives. Rather than using a bulky sheath, these knives utilize spring tension to draw the tip of the blade back into the handle. Retractable blades are great for campers who don’t want to waste time digging through gear looking for something small enough to fit a keychain knife. Keep in mind that the smaller the blade, the weaker the metal becomes due to the amount of force required to pull the thinner steel back into the handle. This is also not recommended for heavier usage since the constant retraction could cause structural failure.
A true multitool offers several tools within easy reach. Typically, these are divided into separate pouches or slots so you can grab what you need quickly. Some even include a corkscrew, bottle opener, and scissors. These are excellent choices for car campers who might not carry every possible tool they could ever need. If you plan to use a lot of different tools, make sure you buy one with plenty of storage space. One final thing to consider is whether you want a folding or fixed blade. Both styles offer advantages and disadvantages, so do a little research to see what feels right to you.
How We Chose Our Top Picks
We take the time to listen to individuals with firsthand experience to make sure we don’t let you down, searching reviews on specialized journals and enthusiast blogs for the greatest information accessible. When making our top recommendations for the best serrated knives, we took a range of things into consideration. Style, materials, weight, and pricing were among them. Style was crucial because a knife won’t serve its job well if it resembles a utility knife or a folding knife too much. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with carrying more than one tool that can serve as an EDC or keychain in your pocket.
The material is also known as the blade shape. While carbon steel blades are strong enough for most uses, stainless steel tends to remain sharp for a longer period of time. But, keep in mind that these knives were chosen based on their overall quality and performance. Lastly, the length of the knife is crucial to how easily the knife fits into your hand (or sheath) while still maintaining an appropriate balance between the handle and the blade. The shorter the better for some people, but not all knives are suitable for everyone. For example, someone with arthritis may struggle to get their hands on a long knife.
Frequently Asked Questions About Serrated Knives
What is the difference between a regular knife and a serrated one?
A regular knife has a non-serrated edge, while a serrated knife features a row of sharpened teeth along its cutting edge. The teeth are designed to slice through tough materials like leather or rope much more effectively than a standard blade would.
How do I use a serrated knife?
The most important thing when using a serrated knife is safety. Make sure you keep it away from flammable materials (such as wood) and don’t cut towards yourself or your hand. If you’re right-handed, make sure you hold the handle with your left hand so you can guide the tip with your thumb.
Are there any drawbacks to using a serrated knife?
One drawback is that they tend to be heavier than equivalent-length plain-edge blades, which may not be ideal for certain uses. Another downside is that they require specialized tools to deploy their benefits, meaning you’ll need either a set of locking pliers or other specialized equipment to properly manage them.