You probably don’t realize it, but scissors are one of the most used tools in the kitchen. For cutting paper, cardboard, or aluminum foil, but they are also frequently used for cutting herbs, certain vegetables, and even meat and fish. It is therefore logical that your scissors lose their edge with use. We notice this because we have to exert more force and we can no longer cut in one go over the entire length of the scissors. The bottom line is clear: your scissors need to be sharpened.
And with scissors it’s like with knives: you can sharpen them yourself. The best method depends mainly on the condition of the blades. If they cut just a little worse, using sandpaper will suffice. Cut five to ten times in sandpaper using both sides of the scissors (the grain size of the paper doesn’t matter much) and you will notice that your scissors regain their sharpness.
However, if you want a really sharp result, or if your scissors are so blunt that you can’t even cut a sheet of paper, now is the time to go big. It’s time to get your whetstones out!
Sharpening on a whetstone
Sharpening a pair of scissors on a sharpening stone requires a different technique than knives. Most (kitchen) knives – with the exception of some Japanese knives – have a sharp blade on both sides. The cutting edge, therefore, has a V shape.
For scissors, it is different, because they have two blades. Each blade is only sharpened on the outside, which is also called a “chisel grind”. To sharpen scissors it is recommended to take them apart and sharpen each blade separately. This allows you to sharpen the entire length of the blade. And also it eliminates the risk of getting injured on the blade opposite to the blade you are sharpening.
Then you will need to choose the right whetstone. If it is a question of restoring their edge to scissors in good condition, you can choose a fine stone (grain 1000 or greater). If your scissors are very dull, you will need to reestablish the blades first with a coarser whetstone, 100-400 grit. Since almost all scissors are stainless steel, any type of abrasive can be used. For a quick result, go for the diamond.
The advantage of diamonds is that the stone does not hollow with use and therefore will last a very long time. However, if you have time and if you want a more refined result, you can opt for other materials like ceramic, aluminum oxide, novaculite or others.
Sharpen the inside of the blade
Once you’ve found the right stone, you can start sharpening the inside of the first blade. It is therefore not yet the sharp part but the flat interior. Frequent use of scissors, where the two blades rub against each other, can cause irregularities. You must therefore eliminate them. In addition, it also allows you to remove any traces of rust.
After wetting the whetstone, place the blade of the scissors flat on top. In a controlled motion, you move the blade from the entablature (the place where the blade extends into the handle) towards the tip on the whetstone. Use the entire length of the stone without exerting too much force. It is the stone that does the work.
Repeat this process until – if it is – all the rust is gone. You can also use a pencil or felt to mark the entire blade. When all the marks are gone it means the blade is completely flat.
Around the edge
You can now deal with the sharp side of the blade. The advantage of sharpening scissors over knives is that the sharp part is wide and visible. The choice of the sharpening angle is in principle thus predetermined.
Now place the blade at an angle on the stone, taking care that the entire length is in contact with the stone. Use the same movement from the entablature to the tip, using the entire surface of the stone. Depending on the condition of the scissors, a burr will or will not form (the duller the blade the more likely the burr will form).
When the bit is formed, you can stop sharpening. If your scissors are still relatively sharp before you start, you can mark the blade with a marker to make the sharpening visible.
Once the blade has regained its edge, you repeat the operation with the second blade of the scissors. If any burrs have appeared on the blade, you can easily remove this bit. You raise the two blades of the scissors and perform a few cutting movements. By sliding the two blades over each other, the burr disappears.
Other sharpening methods
Successful operation? Awesome! Be aware that there are other ways to sharpen your scissors besides whetstones. Chef’s Choice offers an electric sharpener that allows you to sharpen with a fixed angle which is very practical.
Work Sharp also offers electric sharpeners with which it is possible to sharpen the scissors. Like the Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition, a true professional small-format sharpening machine with sharpening bands and a guide system. It allows you to sharpen all kinds of tools, including scissors.
Another option is the Work Sharp Knive & Tool Sharpener which comes with an accessory specially designed for sharpening scissors. Then the sharpening systems of the Culinary range from Work Sharp also allow you to sharpen the scissors. You just need to click the guide backward, wedge the scissors on support to sharpen them on the sharpening strip.
Are you the proud owner of an Edge Pro Apex sharpening system and want to use it to sharpen scissors? So we advise you to consider purchasing the adapter designed specifically for sharpening scissors. Although this option is more expensive, it allows you to adjust the angle exactly as you want. Which is more difficult with an electric sharpener.
Another possible sharpening system is the Spyderco 204MF Sharpmaker. It comes with a large selection of sharpening rods which can also be ordered separately. The Spyderco is an easy to use the system. Note, however, that it will probably not succeed in restoring its edge to extremely blunt scissors. In this case, we recommend that you use a diamond sharpening stone.
One can also consider a sharpening gun but they have the drawback of being less stable, it is difficult to maintain a constant sharpening angle. Scissors may not be sharpened evenly. Manual sharpeners and electric sharpeners are not suitable because they sharpen both sides of the blade at the same time. While your knives should only be sharp on one side.