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The Way Sewing Used to Be: Scissor Sharpeners


Today, sharpening scissors comes in the form of an inexpensive and simple to use gadget. Delivering a sharp blade every single time (that’s what the product description read), Fiskars’ Scissor Sharpener rejuvenates blades to just-like-new status so that you don’t have to go looking for a replacement, or even worse, your paper scissors. I’ve even heard some women chime that they sharpen their husband’s (or significant other’s) scissors so their man will leave their pair alone. Smart ladies. Even rotary scissors have a “high tech” option for honing circular blades back to the perfect cutting edge.

Gertie was a convert to sharpening her scissors after she visited Henry Westpfal in New York City. For a nominal fee of $8.00 including tax, her 7-year-old scissors cut like butter. It is argued that because fabrics don’t have the heavy starching they used to, sharpening scissors aren’t as important. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t. Who knows? But it may explain why the variety of tools available has diminished. Sure, there are some old school methods still for sale in modern craft stores, like sharpening stones, but a part of me feels like I’m buying a flip phone.


I didn’t investigate the many rudimentary home methods that can be used until someone gave me these vintage sharpener. A year after I started #thewaysewingusedtobe, people now gift me their mother’s and grandmother’s sewing supplies on the regular. Did you know that you can sharpen your scissors with tin foil, a sewing pin, sandpaper, whetstone and a glass cylinder? I didn’t. Maybe I do want that flip phone.

A few weeks ago, Jen shared a fantastic video of a “putter” at Ernest Wright & Sons of Sheffield – one of the last hand manufactures of scissors. Piggybacking off of her sentiments, it is fascinated the care that it put into something many people don’t care about.

If you don’t have a specialty scissor sharpening vendor in your area, hit up any place that offers knife sharpening. Cooking shops are another option as well as Williams Sonoma. Gingher has a service too and charge $7.50 (includes return shipping).



  1. Reply


    I have never seen that thing

  2. Reply


    Super cool. I have been thinking my scissors could use a bit of a refresh. What I really want to know is how one goes about sharpening pinking shears…

  3. Reply

    Stina Pettersson

    I sent my loved Kai to be sharpened this autumn (by the Swedish service “Knivbrev” (Knife Letter) – you get an envelope, send sour sharp things away and they come back 2 days later sharper than ever) and wow, what a difference! And about pinking shears – I tested the cut-through-sandpaper-tip a couple of years ago, and I say don’t! I had to buy a new pair in the middle of finishing a bridal dress…

    • Reply


      Wow! Two day turnaround. That’s impressive considering they were shipped.

      As for sharpening pinking shears, I’d use the tin foil method. Fold a large piece of tin foil into many layers. Cut through the foil multiple times throughout the length of the blades.

  4. Reply


    Yes! My pinking shears are in serious need of sharpening!

  5. Reply


    When we lived in Montreal, 5 years ago, there was this sharpening truck that would come by every so often. At least, I think it was a truck. I never looked. My husband would hear it coming, run to the kitchen to grab a knife and (carefully) run downstairs to the truck. It felt so charmingly old timey to me.

  6. Reply

    Fickle Sense

    Lovely film:) I love handmade.

  7. Reply


    Some farmer’s markets have a sharpening guy at them. I use tin foil a lot but I also use a ceramic sharpening stick that I use on my shoe making knifes. You hold it like a honing steel and swoosh swoosh swooh

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