Sharpening sheep shears need heat and metal-on-metal grinding so unless you’re a professional carpenter, blacksmith, or tinsmith, you might very well need this done in a machine shop with a grinding wheel. Before taking those sheep shears to the shop, you can do your part by prepping your sheep shears using a square piece of sandpaper or a honing stone covered with mineral oil. Run the blades through about five times and then let it sit overnight. Just make sure that on the next day, you’re scheduled to take it to the shop. Meantime, here’s how a professional does it.
Protective gear. The person who does this for a living wears protective headgear made of fiberglass. This is needed because the machine gives off heat sparks when sharpening tools. There’s almost always the possibility of flying metal debris that can seriously hurt the eyes if these are left unprotected.
The process of sharpening sheep shears. Here’s how it’s done.
- Remove the string holding the metal blades of the sheep shears in place.
- Remember that sheep shears are not your traditional and basic pair of scissors. Sheep shears have a bouncing mechanism in place that allows it to dislodge automatically in case clumps of hair get caught in the blades. Thus, after removing the piece of string holding the blades together, allow the blades to spring or bounce into its usual shape.
- Pull the blades together until they are more than parallel to the base. At this point, you should feel a slight tension from both ends of the blade.
- Turn on the grinding wheel.
- Each blade is positioned sideways with the blade facing up. Each blade is placed on the metal plate of the grinding wheel and makes contact with it. The resulting friction will set off sparks from the heat generated by metal-on-metal grinding. This process will take about 10 to 15 seconds on each side of the blade.
- Turn the grinding wheel off.
- Feel the edges of the blades. They should be sharp to the touch.
- While it’s hot, use a smoothing stone on the edges of the blades. This will get rid of any remaining roughness or dullness on the blades. The smoothing stone is also known as a honing stone.
- Set the smoothing stone aside and snap the blades of the shearing scissors using your hands. This will allow the blades of the sheep shears to go back to its original shape.
Tips for protecting sheep shears from getting rusty and dull. A pair of sheep shears should last a fairly long time when given proper care. Properly caring for sheep shears include:
- Washing the shears after each use especially when it involves really heavy-duty work;
- Wiping the shears with a soft cloth;
- Lubricating the shears with specially-made lubricating oil that’s made for metal;
- Storing the shears in a cool and dry place when not in use;
- Finally, regularly taking the shears for conditioning and sharpening to maintain its useful state.
Go and get those sheep shears in top condition before shearing season comes upon you!