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Ask Martha: How Can I Get Old Household Scissors to Work Like New?

Mark Allen, owner of Mark’s Sharps, a sharpening and equipment-repair shop in Seattle, says regular maintenance is the key to a long-lasting pair.

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Clean the blades. Water and dish soap will suffice for most gunk that builds up after repeated use. For glue that’s dried on, use the rough side of a sponge and an acetone nail-polish remover.

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Oil the joint of the blades. A few drops of a lightweight multipurpose oil (like 3-in-One, available at hardware stores) on the pivot screw allows for smoother handling.

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Sharpen the blades. A professional sharpening service can hone each blade on the correct angle, as shown, then reassemble the scissors. (At-home fixes are less precise and can ruin your scissors.)

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CHOOSING THE RIGHT SCISSORS

 

Not all scissors are created equal. In fake, choosing the right pair of scissors can make or break your project. 

 

The best scissors are hot-drop-forged from steel, which means the steel is heated and shaped into one continuous piece, with the blade at one end and the looped handle at the other; it is trimmed, hardened, tempered, ground, polished, and joined with another half. These types of scissors are essential for cutting fabric -- not any old pair will do the trick. But less expensive scissors with blades that are stamped out in mass quantities are appropriate for many everyday tasks, like cutting paper. Cutting paper, however, will dull your scissors over time -- which is why sharpening is so important.

 

Other types of scissors you can invest in are:

 

Plastic-handed dressmaker's shears: These large, lightweight scissors are meant for cutting fabric but do an equally great job on materials like wrapping paper.

 

Ambidextrous dressmaker's shears: Lefted-handed? Right-handed? Ambidextrous? The soft handles on these scissors suit any type of cutter.

 

Pocket scissors: With rounded tops, you can safely tote these in your purse without fear of getting hurt.

  

Folding scissors: These scissors can be collapsed to two inches, so they make ideal travel scissors.

 

TYPES OF CRAFT SCISSORS

 

If you're choosing scissors for crafting purposes, be sure to choose a pair that's best-suited to your task. Here are a few of your options:

 

Rotary cutters: These scissors are designed to make one clean cut across paper or other materials, and their straight blade can be removed and replaced with decorative versions.

 

Pinking shears: The blades of these popular craft scissors have sawtooth edges, which create a zig-zag cut.

 

Pointed trimmers: If you're trying to cut into tight areas or working with intricate details, the pointed blades of these scissors make the task much more precise.

 

Patterned paper edgers: Give paper a decorative border, such as scalloping, with these craft scissors.

 

Multipurpose craft scissors: These go-to craft scissors specialize in long, straight cuts on a flat surface.

 

 

FUN FACT

Martha carries a pair of embroidery scissors with her at all times and uses them for everything from cutting ribbon for a present to snipping a loose thread from her jacket.