Scissors sharpening

Two blades
in a perfect dance
When we are talking about scissor sharpening, we must consider the complexity of the process, as well as understanding the way scissors work. In unskilled hands, a pair of scissors may get damaged beyond repair fairly easily. Alike knives, scissors also get chips on the cutting edge throughout use, it is a part of the life cycle.

A scissor can be more difficult to get sharpened if a chip on the inner cutting edge is deep into the blade. There are only certain parts of scissors that can be sharpened, other parts of the blade must remain untouched to keep the original geometry. Let's dig deeper into the process to see why scissors sharpening service is more complex than it may sound.

Scissor sharpening cannot be compared to knife sharpening, as it is an absolutely different process. Both blades in a scissor should be perfectly alined to ensure the ideal cut.
Scissors have an outside cutting edge, as well as an inside edge. The outside is where we should remove matherial from. The inside edge must remain perfectly flat, or even hollow (honed). I have seen people attempt to sharpen a pair of scissors at home. When they bring damaged scissors to me, 99% chance I would return it back to the customer. On the picture, you can see the light reflects from the inside edge. As we know it should remain intouced. I decided to return the item, instead of trying to get it fixed, because it would take inappropriate amount of time.

The outer side of the cutting edge
We work with only three main types of scissors:

  • Fabric shears
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Hair scissors

Clients from Wayside Sewing in Marlborough bring me a lot of fabric shears from their customers. Normally, this type has a bigger finger bow and thicker neck. Fabric shears are bigger in size and heavier than kitchen or hair scissors.

Mainly I see fabric scissors with a straight blade, as well as a scalloped blade type. It may seem that the scalloped blade is impossible to get sharpened, but the process is the same. Sharpen the outer side of the blade, while keep the inner side untouched. As long as you remove all chips from the outside cutting edge, scissor will work just fine.
Kitchen shears, on the other side, has a shorter blade, and a plastic finger bow. Very often you can see a bottle opener on the side of it. Most kitchen scissors have a straight cutting edge, with a few serrated type exceptions. Normally, only one blade is serrated and the second blade is straight.
Hair scissors are small and light, fully made of metal. Despite that, it can get extremely sharp!

How it should be done
Now we know that scissor sharpening service should be provided by an experienced handy man. Do not trust anyone who says that they can sharpen a pair of scissors. You may get it back ruined.
Want to learn to sharpen your scissors?
Here are some tips:
1. Save the original angle as much as possible. The manufacturer made sure that scissor alined perfectly for the best performance. Changing the angle of the cutting edge may not provide desired results.

2. Machine sharpening can be used to remove chips and imperfections from the cutting blade. But you should remember that stone sharpening will make it perfect. Start off with a 3000-grit stone and you can go up as much as you want.

3. After sharpening the inner cutting edge must be resurfaced. If a scissor has a screw holding two parts together, it can be disassembled and finished on a 10,000-grit stone. Put the inner edge flat on the stone to get it resurfaced. When finished, the inner cutting edge should have no burr.

If your scissor has a rivet, you should keep it opened at all time while sharpening. Once sharpening is complete, close the scissor, but don't allow both inner blades touch one another. Once the scissor fully closed, re-open it all the way, pushing the blades againt each other. You can repeat the process several times to ensure burr removal.

It is easy to sharpen a pair of scissors if you know the way. To know the way you need to screw up a few pairs.