How to Sharpen Tin Snips

What You'll Need
Grinder or mill file
Table vice
Work gloves
Face mask
Safety goggles
Scrap piece of paper

Contrary to its misleading name, tin snips can be used to cut a range of different metals. In order to do this efficiently, it will be necessary to ensure that sharpening of the cutting edges plays a part in the regular maintenance.

Step 1 – Preparation

Whether you are using an automatic grinder or a file, you must start by undertaking a little preparation. Begin by using a rough cloth the carefully wipe the blades of the tin snips to remove any debris or dust that may be present on it. Prior to undertaking any work, you should take some steps to protect yourself against flying particles of metal. In addition to close-fitting overalls, you should also use protective goggles, face mask and gloves. You will often find that ear protection is required when using an automatic grinder due to the level of noise that the grinder produces.   

Step 2 – Disassemble

In order to complete the task of sharpening the tin snips properly, you will often find it easier to take apart the two sides of the tool. Depending on the type of fastener holding the components together, you will be able to use a wrench or a pair of pliers to remove the fastener. This action will loosen the spring that aids the working of the tool.  The fastener should be carefully set aside alongside the fastener. If you do not consider disassembling necessary, open the blades as wide as they are able.

Step 3 – File

When using a file to sharpen a pair of tin snips, it will be useful to secure it in a table vice before proceeding. If you have taken it apart, work on each piece individually. Closely examine both of the blades to check for any defects or nicks in the metal and concentrate on the points where you find them. Firmly grip the file and angle it so that you are just working on the blade rather than the face of the tool. Move the file in a single direction while you get used to the amount of pressure that you need to apply. Keep an eye on your progress to check that your actions are effective. Finish up by polishing the blade with a whetstone after soaking it with water. Place it on a solid flat surface and polish the beveled edge.    

Step 4 – Grinding Machine       

When using an automatic grinding wheel to sharpen the tin snips, ensure it is in good condition and at its full speed before you begin. Firmly hold the blades against the wheel, ensuring that the angle is correct to enable the correct edge to make contact with the wheel. Check the edge on a regular basis to see how it is working. Follow this with the use of a whetstone, as above. Wipe the blade with a cloth before testing it on a scrap piece of paper. When the cut is satisfactory, reassemble the tool.