How to Sharpen an Electric Fillet Knife

Use a tapered sharpening rod and a leather strap to sharpen electric fillet knife blades. Unplug or remove the batteries of the knife, and detach the blade. Then, bring the sharpening rod down over the scallops towards the cutting edge at a 20-degree angle. Repeat the process on each scallop around five times, and use a leather strap after to remove the burr.

Electric knife’s sharpening tool can also restore dull serrated blades. However, their price is high and may not be convenient to carry while fishing. Stick around to learn about the different tools to sharpen serrated electric blades, whether you should use them, and why it might be better to buy a replacement blade instead.

Can You Sharpen Electric Fillet Knife Blades?

Sharpening serrated electric fillet knife blades is possible by using a rat tail sharpener or an electric knife sharpener. A common practice among anglers is to buy a new set of blades instead of sharpening them. This is because sharpening serrated blades is tricky, taking plenty of time and patience.

Since electric fillet knives have replaceable blades, buying new ones saves time and effort. Plus, interchangeable blades are usually inexpensive.

How to Sharpen Serrated Electric Fillet Knife Blades

You can sharpen electric fillet knives with a tapered sharpening rod, an electric knife sharpener, or an electric sharpener with a belt. Learn how to do it here.

Using a Tapered Sharpening Rod or Rat Tail Sharpener

A sharpening rod or rat tail sharpener requires physical effort and takes several minutes to sharpen serrated knife blades. Fortunately, this tool is more affordable than electric sharpeners, and you can take it with you anywhere you go. Follow these steps to use it correctly.

Step 1: Turn Off Your Knife and Remove the Blade

Unplug your knife or take the batteries out if it’s a cordless knife. Then, use the release mechanism to detach the blade. Place the handle away safely.

Step 2: Hold the Blade and Sharpening Rod

Use your non-dominant hand to hold the blade with the tip opposite from you. Grab the sharpening rod with your dominant hand.

Step 3: Position the Sharpening Rod

The rod’s tip must rest over the first scallop from the heel. Adjust the sharpening rod’s angle over the scallop to match the original scallop sharpening angle.

Step 4: Make a Complete Downward Motion

Move the sharpening rod to make a pass in a single downward motion to begin sharpening. Don’t apply pressure, and let the sharpener do the work for you.


  • Lift the sharpening tool after making a downward motion instead of pulling it upwards in your direction. Otherwise, you will remove more steel than necessary and damage the scallop’s shape.
  • Make sure to lift the sharpening rod before it exceeds the scallops’ width. If you sharpen scallops with the wider part of the rod, it will affect the blade edge teeth.
  • Rotating the sharpening rod over the scallop after a few passes is another technique to consider. This method allows you to get rid of the burr originally produced after the initial passes.

Step 5: Repeat the Process

Make at least five passes on each scallop until you sharpen all of them. Use the same technique to touch up the smaller scallops between the larger ones. The end of the tapered sharpener will access those narrower serrations.

Step 6: Use a Leather Strap to Remove the Burr

Rest the knife flat over the strap. Then, raise the spine slightly. Make a reverse stroke to pull the knife back, away from the edge over the leather strap. This process pushes the burr back to produce a sharpened cutting edge.

Using an Electric Knife Sharpener

An electric sharpener is more expensive, consumes space, and can damage the blade if you’re not careful. Plus, you can’t use it on the field, as it needs electricity to work. However, this tool is easier to use and takes less than 30 seconds to sharpen a serrated fish fillet knife. Make sure to get a sharpener that works with serrated blades, and use it as follows.

Step 1: Preparations

Find a stable flat surface to place your sharpener. Then, make sure that the blade is clean and dry. Take the time to wipe off any dirt, food, or debris.

Step 2: Identify the Slot to Use

Electric knife sharpeners come with two, three, or four slots. Some slots polish the blade, whereas others sharpen dull blades. Identify the slot for sharpening.

Step 3: Determine the Sharpening Angle

Since serrated blades feature a single bevel, a 20-degree angle is ideal to sharpen them. Adjust the sharpener to this setting if necessary.

Step 4: Sharpen the Blade

Insert the blade into the sharpening slot. Start from the tip, and move the blade toward the tip. Repeat this process two or three more times and make sure to maintain a consistent angle. Continue until achieving the desired sharpness.

Step 5: Insert the Blade in the Polishing Slot

After getting the knife sharpened, run it through the polishing slot. It will produce a smooth finish and a durable blade.

Using a Belt Electric Knife Sharpener

This method involves using a sharpener like the Work Sharp. Since this tool requires electricity, you can’t use it outside. Nonetheless, it’s probably the fastest to produce a sharpened serrated edge. Using this tool is also the easiest and safest.

Start by removing the angle guide, as you won’t need it. Then, rest the knife over the part of the belt moving down. Raise the spine slightly, and make sure the serrations are in contact with the belt. Power up the device, and pull the knife to draw a cross. Repeat the process a few more times back and forth until you produce a sharpened edge.

Honing vs Sharpening

Honing and sharpening are not the same thing. When you hone a knife, you simply realign the edge. On the other hand, sharpening is removing blade material to create a new cutting edge.

Honing doesn’t require metal grinding. Plus, it’s similar to how you would hone a regular chef’s knife. Sharpening requires a sharpening rod with a tapered design. Tapered rods access even the tiniest of scallops without damaging the serrated teeth while sharpening. It helps sharpen the blade faster and maintain the knife’s longevity.

Make sure to look for a tapered sharpening rod exclusively. You will likely find countless honing steels promoted as sharpening tools. Learn how to make the distinction between the two and their purposes. It will allow you to choose correctly.

Should You Sharpen Your Serrated Electric Fillet Knife?

You should sharpen your serrated electric fillet knife when it gets dull. Filleting fish requires a sharp edge to make clean slices. Otherwise, the blade won’t be effective and will ruin your catch. Dull blades also require more effort and can be dangerous.

If you don’t have the time to sharpen a serrated knife, consider buying replacement blades instead.

Disadvantages of a Dull Knife:

  • You have to apply more pressure if you use a dull knife. It makes it more tiresome when you’re on the field and need to fillet dozens of your catches.
  • The cuts are not clean. As a result, you won’t be precise while filleting and may waste fish meat unnecessarily.
  • More risks of cutting through the fish. Since you need to apply more pressure, you lose control of the knife. Therefore, it’s easier to cut through the fish backbone or meat unintentionally.
  • Any dull knife is more dangerous to use than a sharpened one. If you fillet small crappie or bluegill, the blade may slip and cut your hand. 

Why Shouldn’t You Sharpen Your Electric Fillet Knives?

If you’re a casual angler, sharpening serrated fish fillet knives may not be worth it. Here’s why.

First, you must consider whether you have other uses for the sharpening tool. An electric knife sharpener is not a good purchase if you intend to use it for fillet knives only.

These tools can be expensive, usually between $107 (Chef’s Choice Trizor XV) and $599.99 (Chef’s Choice Commercial EdgeSelect). Since serrated blades can last years under sporadic fishing, you won’t need the electric knife sharpener regularly.

The same applies to the rat tail sharpening rod. This tool requires skill, patience, and time to master. If you go fishing sporadically and don’t have any sharpening experience, you may find the process tedious. It would be better to leave the sharpening to a professional or buy new serrated electric knife blades instead.

Is Buying Replaceable Blades Better than Sharpening?

Buying new replaceable blades may be a better option rather than sharpening dull serrated electric knives. Replaceable blade costs are far more affordable than buying sharpening tools. Check out this table featuring the most popular brands and the cost of their replacement blades.

Knife BrandElectric Knife Blade Replacement Price
Schrade Old Timer$13.99
Mister Twister$16.99
American Angler$24.99

Tips to Keep Your Electric Fillet Knife Sharp

  • Keep the serrated knives clean. Rinse and wipe the blades after filleting. Wash them by hand, and avoid the dishwasher.
  • Store the electric knives properly. Use the storage case to keep the blades organized. 
  • Don’t keep the blades in a drawer with other sharp utensils. If the blade hits other steel cutlery regularly, it will get dull faster.
  • If you use a cutting board, consider wood or plastic cutting boards. Glass, granite, marble, and ceramic are harder materials. They will weaken the blade steel upon contact.
  • Avoid forcing the electric fillet knife blade if you encounter resistance while filleting.  
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About Tom Hammaker

Tom Hammaker is a freelance copywriter with a specialty in advertorial blog posts. He’s worked with small local business owners and taken on larger projects with clients like Proctor and Gamble. He wrote his first direct marketing piece when he was a jobless teenager back in high school. It was a flyer for a landscaping business he was trying to start. The result? The mailing absolutely BOMBED! When he is not working, he's either out on the water fishing or playing golf. You can find him here on LinkedIn or his personal website

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