If you’re keeping up with caring for all your edges around the home both in the kitchen, and in your survival packs, then eventually you’re going to have to sharpen your scissors.
We gave you a brief preview of sharpening scissors during our article on keeping your multi-tool in top shape, but now we’re going to go much more in depth on the matter.
For the sake of this article, we’re going to be demonstrating using a pair of standard metal scissors, however the process works the same if its kitchen shears or the shears in your medical kit although we hope you’re not reading this in an emergency trying to get med kit tools ready, call emergency medical teams if you are!)
In addition we’re not going to use a stand alone scissor sharpeners. We believe in getting a tool that can do many jobs, and not a unitasker that would make a certain Food TV personality sad.
*We have to stress as we always do, be safe and careful when dealing with any kind of knife, scissors included. If you don’t feel comfortable then consult with your local knife shop or professional.
First we have to discuss how scissors blades work.
If you read our article on Sharpening Vs Honing, you’ll know about bevels. I.E. the part of the knife that actually does the cutting and its associated angles. As the knife moves the bevel across the medium to be cut the bevel is able to slice through.
In the case of scissors, the bevel is actually split and each arm has half of the bevel, and the other side is flat. As the scissors arms move toward each other they each slice and thats what causes the cut. You might think of this like two knives working together.
As we go through this article we’re going to show you two ways of getting your scissor blades to razor sharpness, one way assumes that you can separate the arms and one way if you can’t.
Finally if you separate the arms for sharpening please know that depending on the brand and quality of the scissors, the angle may not be the same for each arm. Following best practices would have you always check your angles!
Some scissors have an adjustment screw in the middle which will allow you to separate the arms. If you disassemble and sharpen scissors at home, then remember that this screw will dictate how difficult it is to make them function and how clean a cut you get.
We regularly check and adjust the scissors we have but should only be done if you’re confident with what you’re doing. If you don’t feel confident then some knife shops can help you adjust them to your needs.
Step 1: Separate arms as needed!
Make sure to not loose any of the parts that come out if there were nuts, screws, or other hardware that holds these arms together. If you don’t have all the parts together you might as well have dull scissors as they wont work well. Many hardware stores will carry parts if you loose one and buying a single screw or nut will save money over having to buy a new pair.
Also at this point this would be a great time to get your arms cleaned! If you follow our CUSH-P Checklist, then you know we always start with a clean edge!
Step 2: Ok Now Its Time To Get Your Sharpening Stone.
For this we used the Ruixin Pro model to help us. When getting your scissor blade seated into the vice make sure to take care. even though they may need help, the blade flat could still hurt.
If you aren’t able to separate the arms then this is where you can jump in. As we prepared to sharpen scissors that don’t come apart we noticed that we had to slightly offset them one way or another to get the sharpening arm in place.
Sharpening scissors has a slightly different variation than working with a knife here. Typically we recommend working the arm and sharpening stones from one side to the next in one fluid motion across the dull blades.
When sharpening scissors at home we noticed that a different approach may be necessary of going from the top down the beveled edge toward the floor. We will say that safety is especially important if you use this technique and be sure to use a hand guide and handle if available to keep from accidentally being cut.
Be sure that you are taking the stone the same way to the entire length of the blade from the base to the tip. As with any knife we recommend starting with a low grit coarse sharpening stone and working your way up to a fine grit on the finer side. This may only take a few swipes of the arm to get the results you’re looking for on each scissor blade.
When you’ve worked your way up to sharpened edges, you may need to check the back of the arm. Typically when we sharpen knives there is a level of honing using a honing oil and stop to get the edge in the right direction.
In this case the edge could have rolled slightly which would prevent the scissors from going back together correctly. In that case you may have to run your stone flat across the arm to take off any burrs that may have developed.
Step 3: Reassembly.
Ok now that you have those old scissors brought up to a cutting edge all you need to do is get them back together. As you reassemble your newly sharp scissors be sure to look our for sharp edges!
When you have your no longer dull scissors put back together we highly recommend testing them for sharpness and adjustment.
In testing we typically start with cutting paper and move to thicker mediums like a paper towel and then on to whatever it will typically be cutting. This way you know they are completely sharpened for the work you need it to do.
Sharpening scissors at home.
We hope that this has helped you get to a place where you feel comfortable being able to sharpen scissors. We know there are various sharpening methods out there that can lead you astray or even cause damage. With just a little bit of knowledge you can get the maximum use of your knife sharpeners and be able to cut just as well as your survival blades and kitchen knives!
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What about Multi-Tool Scissors?
If you’ve struggled with these then you’re in luck! You can check out our article on How To Sharpen A Multi-Tool, or we have an instruction video!