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When you start sewing, something you’ll hear all the time is “never cut paper with fabric scissors”. But can you actually cut paper with them? Or does it really dull your fabric scissors that badly?
- Ernest Wright is a manufacturer of scissors. They’ve been in business since 1902!
- LDH Scissors have been manufacturing scissors since 1990.
- And Pro Sharp have been sharpening scissors since 1997. They’re a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen.
Here’s their professional advice.
Overall, you can cut paper with fabric scissors, but the harsh fibers, minerals, and additives in paper will blunt the blade faster. If you want to keep your fabric scissors sharper for longer, cutting paper isn’t a good habit. But it’s not a big disaster if you do. All scissors become dull with use no matter what you cut.
If you do want to cut paper with fabric scissors, regularly wipe off the paper lint on the blades. You may also need to sharpen them more frequently. Here’s how to sharpen fabric scissors according to professionals.
In this post, I’ll let the professionals explain the effect of cutting paper on fabric scissors. You’ll get a better understanding of why it’s not ideal.
Note: I’m using the term ‘fabric scissors’ in this post because it’s what people search for, but technically they’re ‘fabric shears’. Shears have longer blades than normal scissors.
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What happens if you cut paper with fabric scissors?
Paul from Ernest Wright said “It’s not necessarily the act of cutting paper that harms the scissor, it’s the fibers and fine minerals that are left behind that do the long term damage.
You can feel a grit build up on the scissors after cutting paper, it is this that will blunt the blade faster.
Although it is true that you shouldn’t cut paper, the harm done by paper is often exaggerated by the stories we hear from sewists.”
Ursula from LDH Scissors said “You can cut paper with fabric shears, however we don’t recommend mixing the materials you’re cutting.
The tricky thing about paper is that commercial papers are not usually made out of fiber only; you can think of paper as blended synthetic fabric, such as cotton mixed with polyester.
Just like how the plastic content of the polyester is a harder substance to cut, the additives mixed in with paper make it harder on your blades than you may realize.”
Tom from Pro Sharp said “it is best to have a pattern paper scissor for general work. Paper is made from wood pulp and will blunt all fabric scissors.
Fabric scissors have a much steeper edge angle than paper scissors or general scissors. If you want to… do a running cut along a length of fabric, don’t cut paper. It’s not a good habit.”
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Deby from So Sew Easy also interviewed scissor companies for their advice.
A representative from Kai Scissors told her that paper will dull fabric scissors because “various clays, and/or calcium carbonate, are a component of many papers, including cardboard. They are there to make the paper stiff. These minerals are abrasive and dull the scissors.”
A representative from Fiskars/Gingher told Deby that all items will dull scissors. Even certain fabrics, like denim, nylon, and polyester, will dull scissors faster than lightweight natural fiber fabrics.
So paper isn’t necessarily worse than these harsher fabrics.
You’ll just need to wipe off the paper lint that collects on the blades frequently, otherwise, the scissors will feel rough when you open and close them. You’ll also need to sharpen your scissors more often.
What to read next…
- I Asked 3 Pros How to Sharpen Fabric & Pinking Scissors
- How To Clean & Look After Fabric Scissors: I Asked 3 Pros
- Fabric Scissors vs Normal Scissors: 7+ Differences Explained
- 21 Sewing Tools for Cutting Explained (Names, Pics, Uses)
If you’re looking for a new pair of scissors, LDH Scissors has a quiz to help you decide what type you need.
Pro Sharp offers a mail-in scissor sharpening service. They’re based in the UK. They sharpen all types and makes of scissors. This includes brands like Japanese Kai, and William Whiteley, the oldest scissor manufacturer in the world (started in 1760).
Email correspondence with Tom at Pro Sharp on 12 March 2021.
Email correspondence with Paul at Ernest Wright on 8 March 2021.
Email correspondence with Ursula at LDH Scissors on 25 February 2021.
Deby. ‘Can you cut paper with your sewing scissors?’. [online] Available at: https://so-sew-easy.com/cut-paper-with-sewing-scissors/ [accessed: 27 March 2021]