Crafty Tip: Keeping Scissors Sharp

I have a sharp little tip for you today. It is one that I learned when I first started to DIY and decorate my home on how to keep my scissors sharp.

How many of you have a pair or two of scissors around your house that you use for cutting paper, cardboard, fabric, string, plastic packaging? …the list goes on. Those scissors in your office or kitchen drawer might be the most reliable everyday tool in your house, but with use will dull over time. Many years ago I found the way to keeping scissors sharp for a long period of time, even with daily use.

How to keep scissors sharp. If you are trying to cut fabric or ribbon without getting a ragged edge? Never let your scissors go dull again. Follow this tip and your scissors will stay sharp and cut cleanly every time! Guaranteed!

I may not have posted much the past few weeks, but I have been very busy behind the scenes doing projects that required lots of cutting of many different materials from foam to fabric to stone.  I created my studioffice in my house so I would have every tool I needed to do my DIY projects at an arm’s reach.

I have quite a few pairs of scissors in my studioffice...all are super sharp. I keep them sharp with this simple tip.

How to Keep Your Scissors Sharp

  • The first step to keeping your scissors sharp when you do a lot of crafting and DIY’ing is to have more than one pair, but not for the reason you may be thinking.

How to sharpen fabric scissors?

  • The reason to have more than one pair of scissors is to label each pair to do only one job. For instance, one pair for cutting fabric, one pair for paper, one pair for cutting thick material like foam, another pair for small cuts.

Have you ever tried cutting a piece of ribbon with the scissors in your kitchen drawer? You get a ragged edge. If you only use the scissors labeled “fabric” to cut ribbon, you will get a clean cut every time and the blades will stay sharper longer. When cutting wired ribbon, have one pair labeled “wire ribbon” since the wire can dull the blades faster.

I label my scissors: Fabric, Paper, Thick, Heavy Duty, and Micro. I use Washi tape to make my labels and a label maker, but you can use any type of tape and a pen to label each pair.

They hang from the “Creative Wall” I designed in my Studioffice.

How to sharpen scissors

Fabric: fabric and ribbon

Paper: All types of paper, except glitter cardstock, then I use my pair labeled “Thick”.

Thick: Foam, heavy cardstock, cardboard, string, twine, yarn.

Heavy Duty: Sandpaper, plastic packaging.

Micro: Fine and detailed cuts. One pair to use to cut notches when sewing corners of fabric together and a pair for doing detailed cuts in paper.

When you label each pair, even your family will know which pair to use so your scissors and you will be happy.

If and when your scissors do get dull, it is not too costly to replace them, but you can sharpen them the same way you would a knife, using a sharpening stone. You can even sharpen a dull pair of scissors by cutting through a folded piece of aluminum foil.

Another tip to keep them sharp and working perfectly every time you use them is to make sure you clean off any goop, glue or paint from them before putting them away. This will ensure they will be in sharp form the next time you need to cut something.

How to keep scissors sharp

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Tips on how to make the most of a craft room and keep your tools and supplies at at arms reach to make DIY'ing and crafting easy and fun | In My Own Style

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  1. I have a question about what type if scissors I should buy for glitter fabric to make hair bows. The ones I have now are not cutting it.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Heidi – It sounds like your scissors are not sharp. :-( If you can’t get them sharpened, then I would suggest you buy a pair of fabric shears. They come in various sizes. For making hair bows a 6″ size would work well.

  2. Some of the first classes I took on Craftsy were taught by Carol Doak. One of the many points she made was, you do not need specific scissors, rotary cutters or other cutting devices to be used for fabric only. She said after years of study, she has found that because paper is made in new, better ways, that you can cut paper and fabric with the same scissors or other tools and never worry about dulling the blades. As The Queen of Paper Piecing, I think she would know! I have been following this advice ever since with absolutely no difference in how fast the blades dull. Comments?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      I see a big difference for the pair I keep just for fabric. It I use theme to cut anything else, they dull fast. So I will always keep them labeled. :-)

  3. Kairi Gainsborough says:

    When I was a kid, my mom used to get mad when I used her “fabric scissors” to cut out paper. I never understood why that was, until I started buying my own craft supplies! I love the way you labeled all of yours, so you don’t forget which is which. I’m planning on getting some new thinning scissors for my hair, so I’ll have to start making labels.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kairi – Having the labels really has helped me keep my scissors sharp. I didn’t show them…forgot about them, but I have a pair I call my yucky scissors. They are the ones I use to cut items that have paint, glue, or sticky stuff on them that is so hard to get off the scissor blades. Having this pair keeps all my other pairs nice and clean. :-)

  4. Great idea! Can you tell me what labeler you use? I love your labels and I need to label so many things!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linda –

      I have an older model Brother label maker that is not made anymore. Here is a link to the new version of the model: When buying tape refills, check around online to find the best prices. In stores, the tape refills can get pricey.

      1. Thanks! I have been looking at the Brother Ptouch models.

  5. What seemed to be just a simple tip expanded into so many sharpening ideas! Your readers are a pretty “sharp” bunch themselves. I’ll be getting out the tinfoil for my husband’s mustache scissors…

    This also reminds me to take a few moments and sharpen all my knives…

  6. My mom taught me another way to sharpen scissors is to cut through folded sand paper. It works very well when you have bumps and notches in your scissors. They get very sharp.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Amie – I have heard about doing that, and sure have lots of sandpaper. I will try it out. Thanks for sharing the tip.

  7. Great suggestions!! I will need to try the folded over tin foil technique soon as my expensive fabric shears are becoming difficult to use. My question is – have you ever oiled the blades? My scissors are cutting the fabric fine but are becoming more and more difficult to open/close. Any helpful suggestions???

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Darlene – I have not oiled the blades on my scissors, but if your scissor blades are clean from gunk, perhaps there is some built up around the joint that holds the blades together. Maybe apply some “CRC Multipurpose Lubricant” or “2 in 1 Oil” into the joint screw that holds the blades together would loosen things up. I would try that and wipe away the excess. Open and close the scissors a few times and see if it helps. You may have to do it a few times until the blades move easily again.

      1. Thank you for the quick response!! I used oil into to joints as well as loosing up the joint screw. IT WORKED :)

  8. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    Such great tips. My scissors are neglected. I love how in Germany you can take them to certain places and they sharpen your scissors and knifes for you.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Julia :-) – Where I lived in PA, there was a guy who had a booth at the Farmer’s Market every Saturday that sharpened things. He did it while you shopped. I took everything to him from lawn mower blades to knives.

  9. Joanne B. says:

    Oh how i just loved reading this post today Diane! I have a pair of scissors that were my mother’s “good” pair- that she used ONLY for cutting fabric. She’s been gone 15 years now and when I used them I am brought back to when I used to watch her sew when I was a child. I love sliding my hand into these scissors knowing her hand was once there too. I DO hide these scissors from my husband- love Kathleen’s idea of the lock! and thanks to you for the foil trick- I’ll definitely try that one too! And Patricia’s hint to “cut” into a glass jar! My mother used to have me run out those scissors when the “knife man” came through the neighborhood to sharpen them and we know those days are LONG gone! Life has changed so much since we were kids- I just turned 60, so we grew up in that same era- and these old helpful hints are going by the wayside too. Thanks for sharing and thanks for prompting me to take this walk down memory lane! Oh the good old days! When did we turn into our mothers, and when did we figure out that that wasn’t such a bad thing after all?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Joanne – :-) I remember the knife man coming through the neighborhood in his truck, too. It wasn’t often, but he did come by every once in awhile. My mom was super organized and full of tips to make life work better.. from folding sheets to corralling plastic bags together and storing them in a clever easy to use way. I miss her and my dad, too. XO

  10. Thirty plus years ago, my Mother-in-law, who was a serious sewer/tailor, gave me several different pairs of Gingher scissors for fabric use only and advised that I have them professionally sharpened. Then she got real and told me to make several cuts on a piece of tin foil on a regular basis. I still have them and they are still sharp.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Debbie – Love to hear stories like this. I bet those Gingher scissors are heavy and well made, too…no plastic :-)

  11. Hi, Diane! I saw a hint some time ago on Pinterest, aimed at keeping the kids, or even hubby, from using your best scissors: it was a small LOCK ~ attached through the handle! Seems failproof, and it’s also quite funny! But unfortunately I don’t have the name of the source (clever person!) to pass along.
    Love your Blog! I’m a fairly new follower, and don’t know how I missed you till now, but I’m delighted to read every new post you publish!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kathleen – When my daughters were little I trained them to read the label before they used any of the scissors I had. On a recent visit home, my oldest needed scissors and found a pair without a label. She found me and asked what the pair was for since they were missing the label. It made me smile big time that she wouldn’t use them until she knew they were the right ones for the job. I trained them well. :-)

  12. Patricia Neild says:

    Just an addition DIane for your other readers, I use about 4 different dressmaking shears and as I live in a small country town I rarely see the sharpener man who comes from the coast once a year so in the mean time if I get a no so sharp happening you can use an old glass jar to ‘cut’ and using the cutting motion over the edge of the jar it brings back a sharpness for cut cutting. This wont be as good as a newly sharpened pair (which is always heaven ) but will stop that burring or missed cut that usually happens on the good fabric rather than the ordinary :)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patricia –

      Great tip and so easy to do since most of us have jars in our kitchens. Thanks for taking the time to share it. I know others reading the post will benefit from it.

  13. Love the post Diane! I know which of my scissors stands for what but use to hide them to avoid husband and kids misuse kkkk I will tape them right now! kisses ML

  14. Snowmanluv says:

    Can you show what’s on you board? What you use often and not so often.

      1. I definitely would appreciate that post! Just captured your picture to start bugging hubby! Thanks,Sharon

  15. Thank you Diane. I didn’t know that tip about the foil! (I really like to keep an extra sharp pair during those “my hair appointment can’t get here fast enough ” times!)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patty – I have a pair, actually 2 for haircutting purposes, too.I keep them in my bathroom. Both are haircutting scissors, one is for thinning. I use them quite often since my hair tends to get heavy looking between cuts. :-)

  16. Don’t forget 2 of the biggest blade killers: dropping them or cutting into hidden pins. And then, unfortunately, aluminum foil is not the solution!
    Nice studio–everything labeled AND accessible.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kristin – I spend a lot of time in my studioffice and wanted it to be my organized place where I can get everything done. When we moved to the new house, I recreated it with a few tweaks in the new house. Agree with you that there is nothing worse than metal pins and the wire on ribbon to dull a blade. Oh and florist wire. Use metal cutter for that. :-)

  17. Sharpen by cutting folded aluminum foil? Who knew? I always learn something new here! Thanks! ;)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Donnamae – Sometimes something so simple will do the job. If you fold the foil over a few times and then cut into it, the blades will become a little sharper. It is a quick fix when you can’t get them sharpened by a pro or a sharpening stone.

  18. Thanks for the tip about cutting folded foil. I have never heard of that and will be trying that asap.
    I really enjoy your post.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Treva – Using the foil is one of those handy use what you have on hand tricks…that works!