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  • by David Kranker 3 min read

    How to Sharpen Scissors & Shears - Red Label Abrasives

    It’s inevitable that shears or scissors will eventually become dull with use. Fortunately, the abrasive technicians at Red Label Abrasives have a relatively easy process you can use to re-sharpen shears and scissors and it can be accomplished in three easy steps. Before diving into the process, it’s important to make sure you have the necessary equipment for the job. 

    Needed Materials

    • A tabletop disc sander

    • Sanding discs for the disc sander

    • A leather strop

    • Buffing compound

    • Buffing pads

    Step 1: Take the Shears or Scissors Apart and Clean Them

    Using a wrench, loosen the nut holding the central bolt in place. Remove the bolt and carefully separate the blades. 

    If there is dirt or debris on the blades, it can get in the way of the sharpening process and even damage the blades. You can clean them by adding about two teaspoons of dish soap to a container of warm water, dipping a stiff brush into the mixture, and gently scrubbing each blade on both sides. When they’re clean, rinse them well and dry with a rag or towel.

    If the blades are rusty in places, you’ll want to use the tabletop disc sander to remove the rust. You don’t need to don hearing protection or a dust mask, but you will want to wear eye protection, as there is always the risk of injury due to flying sparks, metal splinters, or disc fragments. 

    Closed coat aluminum oxide and zirconia are the most commonly-used abrasives for shear and scissor sharpening. At Red Label Abrasives, we have both hook and loop and adhesive sanding discsspecifically designed for shear and scissor sharpening

    You’ll start with a coarser abrasive disc (typically 40 to 80-grit) to remove the rust. Carefully move the blade back and forth across the disc to remove the rust. After using a coarser grit, move to a medium grit (around 120), followed by a finer one (220 - 240) to eliminate scratches. After wiping the blades down with a damp rag, let them dry and apply a light coating of machine oil.

    If the blades are bent, place them on a heavy workbench or another flat, solid surface and hammer them flat before sharpening.

    Step 2: Sharpen the Blades

    Apply a 600-grit disc to your 5” or 6” tabletop disc sander. Turn on the machine. Then, holding one of the blades at a 45-degree angle, run it carefully back and forth across the moving disc until a burr develops. Then create your convex edge by moving the blade gently from side to side as you keep drawing it back and forth across the disc. When the edge is created, wipe any metal shavings carefully away from the blade with a rag or paper towel.

    Repeat these steps with the other blade before turning the disc sander off and applying an 800-grit disc. Repeat, moving successively through 1200, 1500, and 2000-grit discs. By the time you reach the finest grit, your shear or scissor blades should be perfectly sharp.

    Step 3: Buff the Shears or Scissors

    After sharpening, use a leather strop to polish the blade edges and remove any residual burring. Hold the bevel lightly against the strop surface and turn the blade away from the cutting edge with each stroke. (Never move toward the cutting edge or it will cut into the strop, dulling the edge and damaging the leather.) Then turn it over and do the same to the other side of the blade.

    When you’re done with the strop, buff out any residual scratches and create a mirror finish by using ⅚” buffing pads and a jewelers’ rougebuffing compound, which is a burnishing compound formulated to deliver a high-quality polish. 

    How Often Should You Sharpen Your Shears or Scissors?

    Blunt or dull blades make your work a lot harder, so you should sharpen them as needed. As a general rule, whenever they stop cutting cleanly through material, it’s time to get them sharpened. By maintaining the cutting edge of your shears or scissors, you keep them functional for as long as possible.

    We’re Here For You

    At Red Label Abrasives, we provide the abrasive discs you need to sharpen your shears, scissors, and other cutting tools, so that you don’t have to replace them until their working life is over. For more information about our products, speak to a technician today byfilling out our contact form or calling 844-824-1956.