How to Look After Your Scissors – an interview with scissor-maker Nick Wright of Ernest Wright & Son

how to look after your scissors

Remember my visit to the fabulous Ernest Wright & Son scissor factory in my hometown of Sheffield at the end of last year? And my promise that an interview with owner Nick Wright all about how to look after your scissors would follow soon? Well at long last, here it is. Better late than never. Are you sitting comfortably……

Me: What’s the best way to look after your scissors Nick?

Nick: I would always say store scissors dry, and maybe wrapped in some clean dry absorbent material. We use carbon steel (not stainless) for most of our cloth-cutting products as we find carbon steel holds its sharp edge better and for longer; however it doesn’t always mix too well with moisture.
Frequently open your scissors really wide, and firmly wipe all the insides with a dry cloth (take care with your fingers!) including behind the screw area around where the two scissor halves meet. This can remove any collected lint and dust. A tiny drop of household oil can help too, right in behind the screw and worked in really well – but only very occasionally or when they really need it. Finally – I know it is sometimes tempting but please try not to ever move the screw! That’s fixed for a reason.

Me: Can you get fabric scissors and thread snips sharpened?

Nick: Yes of course – but only providing the sharpener knows what they are doing. The scissors may need re-adjusting and re-curving once they have been re-edged, and the screw may need re-setting. We do offer this service by post – unless you can get in to watch us doing them for you in Sheffield!
Good scissors have lots of re-sharpenings and many years of faithful service in them, as long as they are properly looked after.

Me: What are your top tips for keeping your scissors nice and sharp?

Nick: The usual tip I hear from the shows I visit is “keep them hidden from the family!”. But seriously, different materials (e.g. from hair to silk, tweeds, even paper) have different ‘blunting’ powers, so it can sometimes be good to keep one pair of scissors or shears specifically for one type of important job. By the way, we do make a great pair of kitchen scissors for general purpose cutting!

Me: How can you tell a good quality pair of scissors?

Nick: I always look for a distinct gap between the blades when closed – scissor blades should be slightly curved and sprung against each other, and always ‘biting’ across each other at the cut-point. The more inferior flat machined scissors have a habit of simply wrapping around things. Also I often tend to find the ‘weightier’ the scissors the better – it does usually mean they will be stronger and more robust in the long run.

So there you have it. From the man who knows what he’s talking about! That last tip about the gap between the blades is so true. I’m sure you’ve all used a pair of machine made scissors that meet beautifully all along the blades, that cut like a dream when you first use them, but then after a while don’t cut at the tips and  just seem to sort of slip around fabric rather than cut it? You’ll never have that with a hand-made pair. You can find out more about Ernest Wright & Son on their website and I have a limited range of their scissors available to buy at MIY Workshop:

  • 8″ right handed tailor’s shears £32
  • 10″ right handed tailor’s shears £50
  • large bow (handle) embroidery scissors £20
  • duck billed appliqué scissors £24
  • and now antiques stork embroidery scissors £21.

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