When it comes to kitchen cutlery, it's the chef's knife that gets all the attention. And rightly so, since it's the tool you use the most. But the humble pair of scissors is often overlooked, despite the fact that it's used for everything from snipping herbs to trimming fins on whole fish to shearing through chicken bones (not to mention cutting parchment and occasionally opening some stubborn piece of packaging).
With such a wide range of duties, it's no wonder your kitchen shears will eventually lose their edge. You may notice that cutting requires more pressure than it used to. Or you might realize that you've been using your kitchen shears for years and never sharpened them once. Either way, the situation is the same: your scissors need sharpening.
Now, with a chef's knife, sharpening can be tricky and there's no shame in taking it to a professional rather than doing it yourself and risking messing up the bevel, the angled edge of the blade that needs to be sharpened at a precise angle.
Sharpening Scissors: It's Easy to DIY
And the same is true for scissors. When in doubt, take them to a pro. But the difference is, sharpening kitchen scissors is a whole lot easier than sharpening a chef's knife. So even if you've never sharpened a blade before, you can almost certainly sharpen your own kitchen shears.
Sharpening scissors is easier than sharpening a kitchen knife for a couple of reasons. One, the bevel on scissors is much wider than on a chef's knife, which makes it easier to see the angle you need to hold the blade. And two, you don't have to worry about honing the blade after sharpening it as you do with a chef's knife. The scissors' dual blades take care of that for you, with each blade aligning the burr on its mate with a few snipping motions.
Other than the scissors themselves, all you need is a sharpening stone, ideally one with a coarse side and a fine side.
How to Sharpen Scissors
The first step is to take apart your scissors, that way you can get all the way up to the back end of the blade (the part nearest the handle) and so that the opposing blade isn't swinging around on you and potentially cutting you while you work.
Most kitchen shears just pull apart to make them easy to clean. Some might have a nut or screw that needs to be removed first. If your scissors are simply riveted together, you won't be able to take them apart. You can still sharpen them, but most likely it means that you've been using non-kitchen scissors as kitchen shears.
Next, break out your sharpening stone and turn it to the coarse side up. It might help to set it on a towel so that it doesn't slide around.
Now, place the flat, inner side of one of the scissor blades on the stone and give it 10 strokes, from the back of the blade toward the tip, keeping the edge of the blade flat against the stone. The upper part of the blade might be slightly concave, but the edge itself is flat, and that's what you're concerned with.
After 10 strokes, you should see fresh metal along the edge, which is what you want, and that means you've done it corrrectly. You can turn the stone over and give the flat edge of the blade 10 strokes on the fine side now, but this is really optional, because once you see clean, fresh metal at the edge, you've done what you need to do.
Sharpening the Bevel
This next step is really the only tricky part and even then, it's still fairly straightforward. What you want to do is give the beveled edge of scissor blade 10 strokes, making sure the beveled edge is flat against the stone. This shouldn't be too difficult, since the bevel is quite wide in comparison with a chef's knife, so you can both see and feel it.
And as before, when you see fresh metal, you're done. Repeat with the fine grit side of the stone if you wish.
Now repeat this entire process on the other blade of the scissors and you're done.
Reassemble Your Scissors
When you reassemble your scissors, if they're the usual type of kitchen shears, the two halves just come together manually. But if there's a screw, make sure you tighten it properly without making it too tight. What you should feel is the two back sides of the blade coming together and just touching with no wobbling, and without feeling sticky. If it feels sticky, it's too tight. If it's wobbly, it's too loose.
Now, comes the last step. With a chef's knife, sharpening is followed by honing, where the rough edge of the blade is straightened out using a honing steel. With scissors, you can skip this step. All you need to do is snip the scissor blades together a few times and the blades hone each other. And that's that—you've just sharpened your scissors!