David Riddle Scissorsmith trademark logo, a site for sharpening and sales of professional hair scissors and shears. Photo of David Riddle, Scissorsmith.
P.O. Box 146, Saluda, NC 28773 • (828) 749–1002 •

Myths vs. Facts

Okay, we'll admit an attempt here to copy David Letterman's idea, but there are 10 of them, and they certainly are "Myths". Oh, yes, they are really things that I have been asked, or have heard about from "reliable sources" (whatever that means). Read and enjoy...

  1. FICTION: ICE scissors sharpen themselves when put in the freezer over night.
    FACT: ICE is a generic term for a tempering process and has nothing to do with sharpening.
  2. FICTION: Scissors will never wear out if sharpened properly.
    FACT: All sharpening involves the removal of some amount of metal. While excellent sharpening removes only the smallest amount of metal, eventually all scissors will wear out.
  3. FICTION: The best sharpening is done by computer (or by laser).
    FACT: Some elements of manufacture can be controlled by computer, but the finest sharpening is still done by skilled hands. Lasers can be very hot and would destroy the edge's temper if used.
  4. FICTION: Really good scissors never need sharpening, or they sharpen themselves while you use them.
    FACT: Some over enthusiastic salesman must have coined this one—even a Rolls Royce needs an occasional tune up.
  5. FICTION: Wet honing will cause scissors to rust.
    FACT: If this were the case, you would damage the scissors by cutting wet hair. This lame excuse was offered by a door–to–door scissors "sharpener" trying to sell his dry grinding method of "sharpening" (and we use the term "sharpening" rather loosely here).
  6. FICTION: Once sharpened, scissors will never be as sharp as they were when new.
    FACT: With inferior sharpening, this is certainly true. In the same vein, with superior sharpening the scissors may be sharper than new. The edge was originally put on by hand, and hands with the same or greater skill can restore the edge many times. Remember, "scissors are only as good as their last sharpening".
  7. FICTION: Once you drop your scissors they are ruined forever.
    FACT: The most frequent problem with dropping scissors is getting a nick in the blades. Normally, this is easily corrected by competent sharpening.
  8. FICTION: Some scissors can only be sharpened by the "factory".
    FACT: Sometimes "factory" really refers to the sharpening service that pays a commission to the salesperson. What the speaker may be really saying is that he won't get a commission on the sharpening if you have it done by someone else. In other cases, the speaker may be genuinely encouraging you to avoid having just anyone who drops by your salon sharpen your scissors, knowing that there are few truly qualified sources for sharpening.
  9. FICTION: Sharpening scissors too often will prematurely wear them out.
    FACT: Actually, forcing your scissors to cut when they are dull or nicked creates more edge damage and pivot wear than having them properly sharpened on a regular basis. Cleaning and lubrication of the pivot, ride and bearing areas are part of the sharpening and reconditioning procedure. By pushing the time between sharpening, greater wear is occurring in these areas, often due to the "side pressure" that is exerted to try to make them cut. Equally important, you are not getting the cutting performance that you paid for.
  10. FICTION: If you get your scissors sharpened you will cut yourself more often.
    FACT: When scissors become dull stylists tend to cut with the blades closer to their fingers to keep from pushing hair. Once this habit is established, they cut themselves more often, dull or sharp. Even dull scissors can cut skin. When scissors are sharp, they will cut well, even when held away from the fingers, thus minimizing the likelihood of cuts.