Scissors are essential tools and they can get dull. Fast. Getting the blades of your scissors professionally sharpened can get expensive too. Rather than shelling out for a sharpening session or for a brand new pair of shears, I decided to learn exactly how to sharpen scissors on my own. I did a little research, and here’s what I learned:
As all of these processes involve handling sharp scissor blades (and dull blades which can actually be more dangerous), exercise some caution. No pointing the blade at your self, wear your safety goggles, and absolutely no running with the scissors.
There are lots of different ways to sharpen a pair of scissors. Pick the method that works best depending on how damaged your blades are, and what you have on hand.
Table of contents
How to Sharpen Scissors with Sandpaper
For this method, use medium grit sand paper. Cut the scissors into the piece of sandpaper a few times, turn the scissors over, and cut a few more times. Check the sharpness. If the blade isn’t as slick as you’d like, repeat the process. As you can imagine, the entire length of each blade needs to rub across the sandpaper to sharpen them completely.
How to Sharpen Scissors with Aluminum Foil
Like with sandpaper, sharpening with aluminum foil involves cutting into the foil repeatedly to remove burs and nicks from the blades. The aluminum foil needs to be folded over a few times and flattened before cutting. Alternatively, you can use steel wool with the same method.
How to Sharpen Scissors Against Another Object
You can use the shaft of a screwdriver to burnish the cutting edge. Open the scissors wide and close down like you’re cutting, then move the scissors from the top to the tip on the metal shaft. Do this for both blades.
Alternatively, you can use a glass mason jar or other glass container that you don’t mind damaging. Open the scissors around the glass, and “cut” at the side of the jar repeatedly, running the length of both blades against the glass.
How to Sharpen Scissors with a Store-Bought Sharpener
Both sharpeners have their pros and cons. Knife sharpeners are nice to have in the home for the sheer fact that they can sharpen a wide variety of blades. Scissor sharpeners are safer to use as the blade is contained, plus they can sharpen both blades at once.
All of these methods are great for sharpening scissors, but if you really want to clean up your old scissors…
Use a Sharpening Stone for Razor Sharpness
You can pick up a sharpening stone at your local hardware store. They come in a variety of sizes as needed for different blade lengths, and run between $5-15 depending on the size. The stone comes with one coarse side and one fine side. A new stone has to be soaked in machine oil overnight. It also should be kept in a closed container between uses, and lightly oiled before each use.
Here’s how it works:
- Step 1: Hold the sharp edge of one blade flat against the stone.
- Step 2: Keep the blade as flat to the stone as possible, and hold the scissors at an angle. Slide the blade away from yourself while moving the blade from the tip to the end (i.e., when the blade is closest to you on the stone, you will be sharpening the tip; when the blade is farthest from you on the stone, you’re sharpening near where the screw sits). Do this a few times until the blade is sharp.
- Step 3: Repeat steps 1-2 on the second blade.
How To Use a Scissor Sharpening Service
Ok, maybe you just don’t want to sharpen your blades yourself. Maybe you’re lazy? Or maybe you have lots and lots of scissors to hone. Either way, if this sounds like you, there’s a solution: you can mail your scissors (and knives, and axes, etc.) in to a scissor sharpening service. Here are a few:
- Sharpen By Mail – starting at $5 for household scissors, going up to $25 for professional blades.
- WillSharpen – $9 for household shears, $20 for beauty/professional
- SimplySharper – scissors, knives, clippers, etc. $5 – $21
As you can see, all of these scissor sharpening services are useful if you don’t have a place near you that can do it. You’ll have to pay shipping on top of the service fee though. If you want to avoide shipping your scissors and waiting, see if you have a local service at one of your regular grocery stores. There’s a guy outside our grocery store a once a week that sets up a little table for knife and scissor sharpening.
To keep your scissors preserved and have the sharpness last longer, it’s best to have different pairs for different tasks. For example, I have one pair that only cuts fabric, a pair of kitchen shears, a pair of barber shears, and one pair of scissors for everything else I need to cut in my life. Hopefully these tips will help you get your scissors in tip-top shape once again.