Proper scissor sharpening
is more than grinding a new edge. A scissor should have proper "SET", be properly
"BALANCED", and the tips should close but
not gap or overlap past the cutting edge. Scissor screws must not loosen with use and finger rests, finger/sizing rings and
bumpers should be firmly attached and not damaged.
At Bruce's Sharpening scissors are cleaned, sharpened, balanced (fall adjusted) and set. Each scissor
is tested on single layer of tissue and adjusted until it cuts cleanly end to end, then tested in hair to ensure it will cut
what you cut. How long a scissor will stay sharp depends
on how clean the hair is that you cut, dirty hair can dull a scissor edge pretty quickly. Other factors are the quality of
the steel and frequency of use. Dropping a scissor can result in nicks
in an edge or bending of a blade. Either or both will cause the scissor to stop cutting and the edge and set will have to
be redone. A rubberized floor can help minimized damage. Convex edge scissors with their acute
angle edges will fail quicker than a bevel edge scissor.
For sending to Bruce's Sharpening
PO Box 41, Maxatawny, PA 19538 by USPS mail
For UPS or FedEx use 15868 Kutztown Road instead
of the PO Box.
prices see the Price List tab on left.
There are two basic kinds of scissors being used
by groomers and stylists. The older and most common is the bevel edge scissor and it's
the easiest to sharpen. In recent years the convex edge with a hollow shape inside
and convex outer edge have come in use, especially with stylists who wish to "slide cut". These require much more
work to sharpen and the cost to sharpen is therefore 2-3 times higher. In general grooming scissors are longer and have wider
blades while the stylist "shears" tend to be smaller in size. Cutting a long dog requires a larger longer pair of
scissors than a small human head does.
The Term "Shear" orginally identified large scissors such as carpet shears and other large
scissors used for heavy duty applications. As specialized scissors were developed for the hair stylist as opposed to
a "barber" the term "shear" was adopted by stylists to differentiate the different kind of cutting that
a stylist does over the old fashioned barber-pole hair cutting shops. Call them what you will, they all are designed to cut
There are three basic factors which affect how well a scissor will cut. Sharpness of the
edge, the amount of set (curvature) of the two blades and the inside hone line.
Many well-known brand name scissors can have one or more of these 3 necessary factors that are less than idea. Cheap scissor
can have 2 or more! Any scissor won’t cut optimally until the flawed condition is corrected.
Scissors are manufactured by starting
with a soft metal and doing the basic shaping. Once the scissor final shape has been obtained the metal is then hardened
by heating it to a high temperature. The temperature will vary by the type of metal. The scissor then is quenched (rapid cooling).
This process changes the internal metal structure and makes the metal very hard. If left in this hard state the metal
would not bend and be brittle. The metal is then softened a bit with a process called “tempering.” This is done
by heating the metal again but to a lower temperature and allowing it to cool from that temperature. The tempering leaves
the metal still quite hard but gives it flexibility. For forged scissors this is the basic process. Cast scissors are made
by pouring metal into a mold and they will not have the hardness or flexibility for most grooming and salon work. You will
most likely find cast scissors in your kitchen junk drawer, not in a salon or grooming shop.
The blades of a scissor are curved toward
each other called “set.” This set acts much like the spring on a clipper blade which keeps the
cutter teeth against the comb teeth. Without enough set (tension) the hair in a clipper blade would get between the
cutter and comb teeth and cutting would stop. Similarly the set of a scissor is necessary to apply enough pressure as the
scissor is closed so that hair will cut between the scissor blade edges and not fold. This lack of sufficient set most
often shows up near the tips of scissors where hair simply folds rather than cuts. The blades then have to be re-curved
until the scissor again cuts without folding the hair. Dropping, stepping on, or just trying to cut too much hair with a dull
scissor edge can cause the set to change. If the scissor set is lost and has to be added a scissor bender is used. Some
use a hammer and a curved anvil but this is mostly done in Japan to add set to a scissor blade. If the scissors have not been tempered properly or if there are flaws in the metal a scissor
may break during setting. This is unfortunately but it’s a manufacturing issue that doesn’t show up too
often but can happen. Most manufactures will not warrant their scissor against breakage unless they are the ones to
break them. Then they simply replace them and you won’t know about it. If you use a local sharpener and not the factory
this is a risk you will have to take but as I wrote, it is very rare.
The other factor that affects the cutting quality is the inside line of the scissor which
should be even from heel to tip but often in lower quality scissors there are low spots which can make a scissor cut unevenly
at best or not cut at all in certain locations. This can be corrected by your sharpener. Better made scissors have
properly honed inside scissor blade faces. So it is not only how sharp the edge is but how uniform
the scissor blade face is and the proper set to make a scissor cut hair easily.
You can left click on the images below and elsewhere to get a larger image.
|Scissor sharpening Machines and accessories
These scissor grinders are made by Wolff
Industries and can handle every kind of scissor. Convex edge scissors are ground with 800 grit diamond wheels and then highly polished.
Bevel edge scissors are ground with 400 grit diamond wheels and polished. Special ceramic hones are used to establish the
"inside line" on hollow ground convex edge scissors. In the picture are also a handle bender, scissor set tool,
an anvil for tightening riveted scissors and scissor pliers for loosing and tightening frozen screws. I stock screws, bumpers,
finger rests and finger rings.
|Replacement sizers or cushinging rings
|Replacement Bumpers, Screws, Washers
|$12 set replacement shear blades
Flat hone versus "grinding"
This is an interesting topic for those who have been told that one or
the other is a better method to sharpen shears/scissors. Know
this. Your edge doesn't care!
A grinder uses a circular abrasive
wheel to "grind" away the dulled portion of your scissors. In my case it is a series of finer grits from coarse
to fine. A flat hone uses flat circular discs of what is basically sandpaper to abrade (grind) away the dulled portions of
your scissors. Like I wrote - your scissor edge doesn't care how it became sharp again. Flat honing tends to take longer than
using a grinding wheel, that's why flat honers charge much higher prices and to justify their higher prices and tell you about
how flat honing is so much better. A flat honer goes from coarse sandpaper discs to fine with each finer grit taking out the
scratches from the previous grit and then polishes the edge as a final step.For convex edge scissors the convex shape requires much more work than a bevel edge, but the only part that cuts
hair is the edge, not the convex shape behind it. Special convexing scissor holders allow "grinders" to convex shape
the scissor, just like the flat honers who have to have hand roll the scissor on the spinning disc to get a convex edge. How
good their hand motions are determines how well they can sharpen a convex scissor. The convexing jig on a grinder insures
repeatability each time the scissor is sharpened. Some of the newer flat hone machines have developed special clamps that
can eliminate some of the operator skill.
Convex edge scissors
use a much finer angle - typically 40-50 degrees - while bevel edge scissors are typically 25-35 degrees. The finer edge is
polished too because it looks pretty and gives the thin edge a bit longer life than an unpolished edge. The thinner the edge,
the quicker the edge will dull so polishing helps get that razor cut edge a bit more life than it would have otherwise. A
grinder also highly polishes a convex edge as a final step. Convex
edge scissors also require the "inside line" be maintained by honing this area of the scissor. Because of the design
of convex edge scissors the scissors have to be taken apart so the inside line can be honed from past the pivot point to the
tip. This has to be done properly in order for the edge to cut, just sharpening the outer edge isn't enough. Bevel edge scissors
do not have an inside line like a convex edge scissor so don't require they be taken apart and honed and this is why sharpening
bevel edge scissors can be much cheaper. As always, time is money.
Each method gets to the same end. The skill and knowledge of the operator is key to getting the best cutting edge
regardless of the method.