As an avid crafter, I have a myriad of scissors that I use for different craft types, and I do like to look after them the best way I can. I have heard many times that you can sharpen scissors by folding a piece of aluminium foil over 3 or 4 times and then cut through it several times with the scissors… But does it actually work?
Can you sharpen scissors with aluminium foil? The short answer is, aluminium foil will never sharpen your scissors, but it can certainly improve their performance, because the foil will clean the blades and remove little burs from the cutting edge.
Now I know that may seem like a strange thing to say, but I will explain what I mean.
I know there are many people that use aluminium foil to sharpen their scissors and they will read this and throw their hands in the air whilst exclaiming, “Wait, what!? Of course it works, I’ve been sharpening my scissors like that for years!”
Well, like I said earlier, it can certainly improve the performance of your scissors, and it may seem like it has sharpened them, because after cutting the foil, they will cut better.
However, the reason they cut better is because cutting the foil has actually cleaned the blades rather than sharpened them, making it appear as though they have been sharpened.
It can be quite surprising how dirty our scissors can get, even though they may look perfectly clean, there can be sticky residue on them that will make the dust from cutting paper or fabric stick to the blades making it seem like they need sharpening.
I use this method myself when my scissors seem a bit dulled, and it works really well, even though, it can actually dull the blade because most scissors are not made to cut something as hard as the foil… But I don’t worry about that because the amount it will dull them is so negligible.
Please take great care when using, or sharpening scissors or knives of any sort, we really don’t want blood on our craft stash…
and also, it will hurt lots!
So Why Doesn’t aluminium Foil Sharpen Scissors?
To sharpen scissors, you will actually need to remove the blunt edge of the cutting blades with something harder than the steel that the scissors are made from, or something abrasive… Aluminium foil is neither of these things.
Steel is approximately 2 and a half times denser than aluminium and much harder, so it is not physically possible to actually ‘sharpen’ scissors using aluminium foil.
Using Sandpaper To Sharpen Your Scissors
If you don’t want to have to take your scissors apart and use a sharpening stone to sharpen them, then there is a very easy alternative.
You can use a sheet of sandpaper in much the same way as using the aluminium foil.
Get some 150-200 grit sandpaper, or finer if you prefer an even smoother edge to your blades, (finer sandpaper has a higher grit number) fold the sandpaper in half so that the rough edge is on the outside and cut through it.
Make sure you cut through the sandpaper using the whole length of the blade, so open the scissors up and cut from the base right up to the tip of the blades… Try cutting about 15-20 times and see how it has improved the cut or if it needs more cuts.
Make sure to wipe down the blades with a damp cloth to clean off any residue after sharpening. Alternatively, you can clean them with some rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth.
If you have very fine precision cutting scissors, such as hairdressing ones, then I recommend having them sharpened by a professional.
Does Cutting Sandpaper With Scissors Damage The Blades?
It doesn’t damage the blade, but using any method of sharpening scissors by simply cutting into something abrasive doesn’t actually sharpen the right part of the blade.
This method sharpens the front edge of the blade, but to sharpen scissors correctly you need to angle the blades.
How To Sharpen Scissors Correctly
There are a couple of ways to sharpen scissors that I recommend, the first is to take them apart and sharpen each blade on a sharpening stone, making sure to angle the blades correctly… If you don’t feel competent at doing this then take them along to a professional to do.
The second way that I recommend, is to use a scissor sharpener such as the Fiskars one. This is great if you want to continue sharpening your scissors at home, and they really do work very well. It’s also a much more affordable way of doing it, so it gets my vote every time for my general craft and kitchen scissors.
Are Your Scissors Tensioned Correctly?
There is another reason your scissors might not be performing as well as you would like… They might not be tensioned correctly.
If this is the case, then it really won’t make any difference as to how well you sharpen them, they just won’t cut at their optimum performance.
What Is Scissor tension?
Quite simply, it’s the tightness, or looseness of your scissors.
If you try to cut something, such as a piece of paper, and the paper bends rather than cuts, then it’s quite possible the tension is out.
The blades are designed in such a way that they have a slight curve, so when they are screwed together there is a very slight spring effect which keeps the cutting edges in contact whilst using the scissors.
If the blades are too loose, then the spring effect doesn’t work and the edges will not come into contact… This is when the paper will tend to bend rather than cut cleanly through.
If the blades are too tight, then it may need more force to cut through the paper, this can be hard on the hands and can also wear out the blades more quickly.
How To Adjust The Tension On Scissors
It is really simply to adjust the tension if your scissors are screwed rather than rivetted together. You will need to tighten or loosen the screw to adjust the tension, but do it cautiously a tiny bit at a time until they feel right for you.
If your scissors have a rivet instead of a screw adjuster, there is very little you can do to adjust the tension, other than to remove the rivet and replace it with a screw or something similar that you can adjust.
Show Your Scissors Some Love With Oil
If you buy good quality scissors, then there is no reason they shouldn’t last your lifetime… I have a pair that was my grandmas and they are still going strong!
Clean them by giving them a wipe down with a soft damp cloth, or better still, some rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth. If you use a damp cloth, make sure you dry them thoroughly… Be very careful not to slide your fingers along the blade!
Once you’re happy that they are nice and clean, oil them with a light oil, such as Singer sewing machine oil. You just need to open them right up and put a drop on either side of the blade near the screw. Then open and close the scissors a few times to make sure the oil gets right between the blades, and use a soft cloth to wipe it over the length of both blades.
Cleaning and oiling your scissors is a good habit to get into, I try to do mine every month or two and it takes very little time, but keeps them in good working order for years.