How To Sharpen Serrated Knives – Smith’s Pocket Pal Sharpener Review

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smiths pocket palOur friends over at Duluth Trading recently sent us their unique Smith’s Pocket Pal knife sharpener. It’s a feature packed knife sharpener that enabled me to do something I haven’t done in ten years: sharpen the serrated blade on my old Spyderco folding knife. It’s a long overdue task that has secretly tormented my to-do list. The problem is, it’s kinda tough to check an item off your to-do list when you have no clue how to do it. I also figured it’s a pain to do, since even venerable Benchmade‘s LifeSharp provides sharpening on Benchmade knives, however they don’t mess with the serrated portion. How to sharpen serrated knives eventually led us to Duluth Trading’s Smith’s Pocket Pal sharpener.

pocket pal sizWhen they call it the Pocket Pal, they’re not kidding. This little sharpener is more at home in your pocket than lost on a workbench somewhere. It’s not much bigger than three quarters side by side, yet has a fairly packed feature set. If you’re not accustomed to measuring in quarters, it’s 3 1/8″. A carbide sharpening slot takes care of setting the edge if you have particularly dull blades (Smith’s suggests you don’t use the carbide for anything serrated). There’s also a ceramic slot to finish the edge, or for fine-tuning blades that just need slight sharpening. The most unique part of the Pocket Pal is the tapered diamond rod.

The taped diamond rod is specially designed for sharpening serrated blades and gut hooks. Smith’s steps for sharpening the serration are simple:

1. Hold the sharpener with one hand and your knife in the other (see the pic courtesy of Smith’s here to get the idea).
2. Insert the tapered diamond rod fully into the serration at the desired sharpening angle. Smith’s recommend a 23 degree sharpening angle for best results.
3. Move the tapered rod back and forth through the serration until sharp. Repeat for each serration.
4. Put the finished edge on your serrations by pulling the serrated part of your blade through the ceramic slot.

The usual precautions of keeping your fingers and other body parts away from the sharpening action apply throughout this process. The only drawback to a tool as compact as the Pocket Pal is that the diamond rod is pretty small. It was ideal for the smaller serrations on my Spyderco, but even at its largest point didn’t have the diameter to match the size of the larger serration grooves. Depending on how big your serrations are, you may be better served by a larger diameter tapered sharpening rod. Most pocket knife serrations are small, however, and for those the Pocket Pal should be ideal.

In case you think I’m turning into John Locke from Lost when it comes to knife coverage on HomeFixated, here’s an entertaining forum thread that shows I still have a long way to go before being validly labeled as a knife freak. Some people are reallllllly into knives, I’m trying not to be one of them. FYI, I rarely fly with a briefcase full of knives, especially post 09/11. If you’re in the habit of carrying giant John Locke style bowie knives, you may want to opt for a beefier sharpening option. If you have more typical pocket knives around, including any with serrations, check out the Pocket Pal from Duluth Trading for just $13.50.

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About Marc Lyman

Marc grew up under a brave single mom who "encouraged" home improvement on the family home. Early toddler gifts included a tool set, and even a cordless Bosch drill when cordless drills first came out. In grade school (give or take a few years), Marc's mom said, "We need to cut down some trees. . . . here's a chainsaw." A father figure also involved Marc in many home improvement projects, including a summer of home remodeling in Palo Alto, CA. Toss in some Obsessive Compulsive personality traits researching everything home improvement related. The end result: a genetically pre-disposed, socially sculpted home improvement machine! For his complete profile, please visit our About page. Really, it's worth it.

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9 thoughts on “How To Sharpen Serrated Knives – Smith’s Pocket Pal Sharpener Review”

  1. To sharpen your Spyderco, you should buy the first item Spyderco ever manufactured, the Triangle sharpmaker. Their motto: First we made things sharp, then we made sharp things… The sharpmaker is a great sharpener, and doesn’t require you to maintain a 23 degree angle (which is nearly impossible). Instead, you just hold the knife vertically, like you normally would. I’ve maintained a razor-sharp edge on all my knives, including the Spyderco Tasman Salt (look it up, its very hard to sharpen). I use my Tasman on a daily basis, and in salt water. The sharpmaker is about $50, but well worth it. I just bought the diamond stones for it, which ran as much as the sharpener did originally.

  2. I use one with a longer diamond rod, I find that it is best to find the part of the rod that fits the scallop and just use that area of the rod. If you don’t you end up only sharpening the center and not the sides.

    I never though of running it through a ceramic ‘v’ afterwards though. Most serrated knives are only sharpened on one side, so I wonder how that works. My everyday knife is chisel grind, so I have to actually sharpen it the old fashioned way.

    • Good tips Tom, thanks for your thoughts! Serrations are usually ground into one side only, but I think the ceramic v just cleans up the edge you hone with the rod. Seemed to do the trick on the couple serrated knives I tried it on.


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