On request I am posting a short note on serrated knives. Ask a question and get a simple answer. The topic is interesting and the question is; are Japanese serrated knives popular, better or more useful when cutting in the kitchen, or when cutting bread.
Japanese blades historically do not have teeth, and their focus is on the knives shape, angle, raw material used, and ability to sharpen and stay sharp.
Since being asked this question I tested some of my serrated knives and there is no doubt that they make cutting more easy. If you magnify the blade you can see that the teeth have a series of sharp curved edges and the back side of the blade is usually flat, which is similar to a Japanese single sided blade. This by the way helps in cutting angle and precision but a serrated knife does not cut as accurately as a single sided Japanese blade. The simple reason is based on the design.
Imagine a single blade and now imagine making contact on the surface of the object you intend on cutting. The non serrated knife makes direct contact, while the serrated makes indirect given the knifes’ teeth and spacing between the teeth, the curvature. This means that only the raised curved part of the blades’ teeth touches the surface. The curved (indented) part of the blade is suspended in mid-air until you penetrate the surface and begin to cut the interior. However the most significant aspect of the serrated knife are the multiple contact points of the teeth. They actually grab the surface and release the tension of foods with surface tension such as tomato.
Generally speaking the a serrated edge will work better for slicing cuts through tough surfaces, or in some cases where the surface has an outer skin, such as a tomato. When it comes to the cut of any product you must consider serration as a quick and easy solution. But you need to consider one important fact, the spacing between each tooth. Serrations tend to grab and cut the surface easily, and if the spacing is made up of multiple teeth you have a better tool in your hand.
This is the “micro-serrated” knife-edge and it performs very well at slicing jobs where precision isn’t as important. The serrated blade is about smoothness and ease in making a cut and for many that’s what counts, i.e. bread. However I am not saying that cutting bread accurately isn’t important, or that with serration you cannot cut cleaning, evenly or accurately – you can.
Whether or not serrated blades will out-slice a single sided blade depends on the medium being cut. It also depends on the skill of the person using the blade. Harder materials or materials under tension do well for serrated blades. With softer materials the serrations can unwind the material rather than get cut smoothly.
The serrated knives teeth are interesting because they make multiple contact on the surface and perform very well. The spacing between the teeth (curvature) will spread open whatever is being cut so you cannot get a perfectly smooth cut. Think of the cut as a butterfly cut.
Now think of the single-edged knife or double (used in this case) demonstrates that the surface contact is even and covers more surface area.
But you must consider that between each curve is a surface area and on larger bread knives these curved areas are not nearly and sharp, or accurate as those with micro spacing between each tooth. The shorter the distance the more sharp and precise. That’s why a bread knife has a different design over a kitchen chefs knife.
The most powerful blades are considered serrated as the type of blade that delivers the greatest cut. While this is true, no doubt when it comes to cutting with microscopic accuracy, you’ll get more cut precision with a single sided blade.
The Japanese have another technology that has a blade with a similar technology on the side of the blade to make cutting certain foods more smoothly. The same concept applies however the side wall of the knife is useful after the cut is made and not at the contact.
But if you take a bone in a finger, or a baguette then serrated would probably work best. But when you choose a knife consider its usefulness, work intended, cost factor and maintainability. keep in mind that the plain edge knife (double or single edge) is much easier to sharpen than the serrated edges because a serrated knife functions like a saw. It can often still cut when dull however when dull, it will likely tear rather than cutting smoothly.
The conclusion is a bread knife serrated is the best choice and for everyday use for simple easy and smooth cutting a micro edged serrated knife is perfect and gives you the performance you’ll likely need.