Sharpening scissors by hand with a flat whetstone should be easy enough. All you need to do is keep the bevel flat to the stone and grind down to new metal, in theory. If you pride yourself on your knife sharpening techniques and your ability to hone an edge better than factory quality, you may be surprised at how badly you do if you tackle a simple pair of scissors. Scissors respond much better to the consistent action of a good sharpening machine.
Scissors cut by shearing, not by slicing. As the faces of the two blades slide past one another, the slightly beveled edges of the blade meet. Sharp edges cut, but dulled edges crush and push the material you’re working on. Using force jams the work in between the blades and springs the blades apart. Refurbishing a pair of scissors in that condition or worse requires some work on the pivot as well as the blades, but if the edges aren’t restored to factory condition perfectly, the scissors never work as good as new again.
Most European and American scissors cut with flat bevels and restore easily with sharpening machines designed for scissor blades only. A good sharpener cuts a new bevel quickly with microscopic precision you can’t match by hand with benchstones. Scissors sharpening machines designed for home use work only with flat-ground bevels and straight blades. These machines won’t sharpen scissors with curved blades or serrated edges. Top quality stylists’ scissors are now made with slightly curved blades and convex bevels. Putting those scissors through a standard sharpening machine completely changes the character of the tool.
Inexpensive hones do a good job of maintaining an edge on scissors but don’t refurbish badly damaged edges. Ceramic rod hones also wear away as they cut, so trying to grind a new face on a pair of scissors could change the cutting angle of the hone. Steel rod hones reset an edge but won’t reshape dulled or nicked scissors blades.
Some of our favorite scissors sharpeners:
The Chef’s Choice 500 ScissorPro grinds an improved version of the standard scissors bevel and allows some adjustment of bevel angle using a special adaptor jig.
The Fiskars Scissors Sharpener hones scissors in the same way a honing steel restores a kitchen knife, by resetting the edge.
Read all of our Scissor Sharpener reviews below: