Small Metal Shears

the pair of scissors that I used to cut solder, wire and 18, 22 and 20 gauges sheet was a good heavy duty, DETACHABLE pair from Chicago Cutlery. The blades locked together and also unlocked, so each blade can be sharpened separately… it makes it much easier to sharpen individual blades rather than fussing with permanently locked together blades. I used it for many years, until the lock finally loosened, but it was repurposed for using in the kitchen… I still keep the blades sharp…

I can tell that scissors are getting dull when they struggle to cut through tough, thick, and slippery plastic packaging, like the stuff that mail order comes in…even my Cuisinart pair eventually got dull… sharpening them lets them zip thru plastic like butter again.

I highly recommend a diamond coated Accusharp whetstone… it’s small, about 3 X 1 inches… One side is coarse and the other side is a fine grit. It’s small size is much easier to use on scissors that have fixed blades that don’t separate. They are available at Home Depot, Ace Hardware and almost any regular hardware store… I had been using a standard silicon carbide and aluminum oxide set of knife sharpener stones that were twice the dimensions… the diamond coating “bites” into even high carbon steel and hard vanadium stainless steel blades far quicker and and with much less effort than conventional whetstones. Mine hasn’t lost it’s coating after a year of three times a week use for sharping kitchen knives and scissors, all of which I can keep razor sharp now. It works just as well on tin snips that will easily cut 18 gauge silver sheet. (the problem with hardware store tin snips is the pivot point gets loose if you try to cut anything thicker than very thin steel, like steel gutters… okay with cutting thicker soft metals like aluminum and the steel wires in clothes dryer vent hose.)

The first time I tried sharpening scissors, I didn’t know how well it would work… I was surprised at the results and then sharpened all of my dull scissors… even cheap Walmart scissors were like brand new…getting the hang of just sharpening the beveled edge was very easy…like sharpening a knife, you don’t need to be exactly on the entire beveled edge… a little steeper on the edge is okay… but the coarse side of the diamond stone will cut down the entire bevel again without much effort…once sharpened, touching up with the fine grit side is sufficient… The only problem is that the grit size isn’t marked on the stone…but it’s not necessary… it really does work perfectly…

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Rob: please see my post above… it should be helpful… thanks, steve

Bezel shears from Rio are only around $18.00. My bezel shears are about 50 years old and have never needed sharpening. Though I kinda doubt that the newer ones are made out of the same quality steel as mine were. Given a choice I always go for vintage tools and equipment. Well except for my micro motor.


Steve…I did read your post and it tells me a lot. I have diamond coated lapidary wheels and graver sharpeners. I have figured out how to use them to sharpen knives but never thought to try them on scissors. I did use them to sharpen the shears that I had damaged and they worked well. Thanks for the advice…Rob

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Jo…Being vintage myself, so too are a lot of my tools. I don’t own a micro motor, but I have a couple flexshafts, one very vintage and a pneumatic turbine. Being a tool junkie I have been kind of craving a micro motor. What do you suggest I look for? I don’t do a lot of faceted stone setting. Thanks…Rob

you already have it figured out… congrants!

Thanks again…Rob

if you will be using a wheel, my only caveat is to stay as precisely as you can on the beveled edge.
I’ve used a grinding wheel with stones of different grits and they are great for doing knives that can be sharpened from both sides. scissors and shears can only be sharpened from the beveled edge… I’ve found that hand sharpening actually gives you better control as it removes metal more slowly…you don’t want a wavy edge on the bevel, as it won’t match up with the other blade… experiment with a pair of dull scissors first, before you sharpen something that you will need for your metal cutting work… the wheel should rotate into the metal rather than away from it,… rotation away from the edge might give you a feather edge… rotating into the metal cuts into it, but it will require eye protection for sure…
please be careful!..

As far as being left handed is concerned, tin snips come in left, right and straight configurations. Perhaps that could help. Most cities of any size once had supply houses for sheet metal workers, etc. Perhaps yours might still!

Hi Rob, try and find “French-made shears”, which are actually made in France. They are blue in colour and have either a spring or no spring design. No idea of price but who cares, they do work very well.

One way to find a good sharpener person is ask your hair cutter.

Go to a local sewing/fabric store. They have traveling people that sharpen all scissors of all types come on periodic times. They would also be able to get you in contact with the person if it is something you needed right a way. That same store would have a selection of smaller scissors for embroidery that would work very well on thinner gauge metals.