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Is It Possible to Sharpen Scissors?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Depending on the scissors, yes, scissors can be sharpened, although they generally require the attention of a skilled sharpener. It is also possible for scissors to be sharpened at home, if you are comfortable with a whetstone. When you do sharpen scissors, you may want to think about the value of the scissors, as high quality scissors are worth the effort, while cheaper scissors may be better off being discarded.

When scissors are sharpened, the beveled edge on one side of each blade is renewed, refining the edge of the scissors so that it is sharp again. Scissors do need to be sharpened periodically as even routine use will eventually dull them, and you want them to have a crisp cutting edge. You have a number of options when it comes to sharpening scissors, depending on the manufacturer. Some manufacturers will allow consumers to mail in their scissors for sharpening, typically manufacturers of high end scissors. It is also possible to hire a knife sharpener to sharpen them, or to sharpen scissors yourself at home.

If your scissors are eligible for sharpening by the manufacturer, you will generally be given information about that at the time of purchase. Buying high quality scissors is a good idea for a variety of reasons in addition to sharpening support; they tend to hold up better, for example, over the long term. Typically you must sheath the scissors for mailing and wrap them in plastic wrap; some companies will even send you a mailing envelope. Depending on the manufacturer, you may be asked to pay a small fee to sharpen scissors.

If you cannot send scissors out to be sharpened or you don't want to, you can approach a professional knife sharpener. Not all knife sharpeners sharpen scissors, so make sure to ask. As long as you're sharpening your scissors professionally, you may as well take all of your knives in, establishing a routine which ensures that all of your blades stay in good condition. A scissors sharpener may also have suggestions for extending the life of your blades.

To use a whetstone to sharpen scissors at home, you merely need to ensure that the angle on the blade is matched by the angle of the whetstone, as you want to crisp up the edge, not refine a new one. Move from the end of the blades toward the central pivot with smooth strokes of the whetstone until the blade is sharp, repeat the process on the other blade, and then run the whetstone lightly along the back of the blade to remove any burrs.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon316807 — On Jan 30, 2013

I've tried using aluminum foil, and it never worked.

By anon85396 — On May 20, 2010

I also cut fabric, some of it which contains Kevlar (same stuff used in bullet proof vests) which is real tough on scissors! I have found several methods which actually work.

One is a quick way to make your scissors cut again, assuming your scissors are not bent in any way, because if they are then buy a new pair because they won't work unless they are made true again!

Obtain a glass bottle (a beer or Coke bottle will work), then take your shears and try to cut the neck of the bottle off. Of course, you won't be able to, then actuate the scissors several times after you do this, which will remove the "wire" made from attempting to cut the bottle neck and your scissors should cut well again!

The next method is not as quick, but is the more "correct" way to sharpen scissors. Take a flat fine grit Norton stone, if it's an oil or water stone then use oil or water on the stone as instructed. Then, if you can, take the screw out which holds the scissors together so you have the blades separated. It's much easier to sharpen them separated.

If you cannot separate them, you can still sharpen them, it's just more of a hassle! With the flat inside face (the flat parts which are on the inside facing each other when the scissors are assembled) of the blade facing away from you and the angled sharp edge facing upwards, lay the Norton stone against the angled sharp edge and matching the angle as well as possible, move the stone along the angled edge and away from you or upwards, towards the inside flat part of the blade!

Repeat this several times until you can feel a burr/wire when scraping the flat inside face upwards with your fingernail until you hit the blade edge. Never try to sharpen the edge inside the flat face; you will ruin the scissors!

After you form a burr/wire on the edges you can either simply reassemble and actuate the scissors several times to remove the burr/wire or use a leather strop to remove the burr/wire.

I prefer stropping because it seems to put a longer lasting edge on the scissors. The way you would strop the burr/ wire off is by laying the strop on a flat surface. Then lay the flat inside face of the scissor blade on the strop, with the sharp edge with the burr/wire on it facing away from you then move the scissor blade away from you while keeping the scissor blade flat on the strop. Do this several times, making sure you strop the entire sharp edge in this manner.

Afterward, reassemble the scissors and they should be sharp again and ready to cut!

Hope these hints help. It may take several tries to get comfortable sharpening your scissors this way, but once you get the hang of it then you will always have sharp scissors! Be well!

By anon65731 — On Feb 15, 2010

Don't believe it! I tried the fine grit sandpaper method and the aluminum foil method, both of which made the scissors more dull.

By NYCgal — On Feb 10, 2010

I am interested in the sandpaper method. Does it matter what I use the scissor for when using this method? I cut fabric. Will they still stay smooth and cut fine fabrics?

By TheMaDHaCkER — On Feb 02, 2009

You are also able to sharpen scissors by simply cutting up some fine grain sandpaper.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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