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How to Sharpen a Seam Ripper

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Are you looking ways to sharpen your dull seam ripper? A seam ripper is  an essential sewing tool that you must keep sharp.

So, how do you sharpen a seam ripper? Sharpen a seam ripper with a ball of steel wool, bead reamer, sand paper, emory board, or honing steel. Add a drop of oil to lubricate the surface, and move the blade along the rough surface to sharpen the edge of the seam ripper.

A common seam ripper consist of a head, a handle, and a blade. The constant use of the blade makes it blunt, therefore it is crucial to keep the seam ripper sharpened at all times. 

Same reasons that you need to sharpen fabric scissors, it is equally important is to occasionally sharpen a seam ripper too.

Seam rippers help you to remove stitches, open buttonholes, and rip apart seams if needed  to mend, tailor or even when you upcycle men’s dress shirts into brand new clothes. 

Fortunately, there are several ways of sharpening a seam ripper instead of replacing it with a brand new ones. This article covers everything you need to know about sharpening seam rippers so that you never have to worry about a dull blade.

Do Seam Rippers Get Dull?

Seam rippers do get dull. With time and constant use, the seam ripper will become dull. In this case, it is best to either sharpen it or to change the blade.

To help the seam ripper from becoming dull too easily, it is important to use the plastic cap over the blade to protect it from unnecessary contact. Also, it is important to keep it clean at all times, not only seam rippers but any tool that is used for cutting any specific items like cloth or thread will become dull.

Can a Seam Ripper Be Sharpened?

Seam rippers can be sharpened quite easily. It can be sharpened by two basic methods, with steel wool or by using a bead reamer.

In the present date, approximately 80% of people throw away the blade of the seam ripper and just get a new blade attached. However, it is very easy to sharpen seam rippers. 

Use a ball of steel wool or bead reamer for sharpening your seam ripper is easy to do and can be done while sitting at home without any professional help.

can a seam ripper be sharpened

Tips For Sharpening a Seam Ripper

It is important to use the protective cap when not using the seam ripper. This will save the blade of the seam ripper from falling from the sewing table and will also avoid injuries. 

Additionally, clean the seam ripper after every sewing project by wiping it with some alcohol. This removes any corrosive residue that may have been in contact the with metal blade.

Other than that, here are few helpful tips for safely sharpening a seam ripper at home:

  • Put a touch of oil on the blade before sharpen to smooth the glide against a sharpening surface.
  • Use an emory board for nails to sharpen the blade part. Make sure you go in the same direction as the edge otherwise it will make the blade dull. 
  • Slide the seam ripper in the round and tapered bead reamer a couple of times. 
  • Wrap sandpaper around chopstick or skewer to rub against the blade to sharpen.
  • A sharpening steel from the kitchen knife block can hone the edge which sharpens the blade.

There are times when the blade will not cut nicely and will be difficult to work with. That is when you will understand that the blade needs to be sharpened. 

Use the tips listed above to sharpen your seam ripper in a minute at home. 

How do you sharpen a seam ripper

How to sharpen a seam ripper with steel wool?

Sharpening seam rippers with steel wool is an easy process that can be done in less than 5 minutes. 

Here is how steel wool can be used for sharpening a seam ripper:

  • Cut a long strip of 000 grade steel wool.
  • Wrap it tightly around a pencil and make sure that the steel wool is firm. 
  • Take the seam ripper and hold it firmly in your hand.
  • On the other hand, take the steel wool wrapped on the pencil.
  • Now start moving the steel wool wrapped pencil against the blade of the seam ripper in an upward motion.
  • Keep doing this on both sides for at least 5 minutes and the blade of the seam ripper will be nice and sharp.

How To Sharpen a Seam Ripper With a Bead Reamer?

A bead reamer is like a round file that is pointed. It can be used to sharpen or smoothen smaller objects like bead holes or edges, and also useful for seam rippers. 

Here is how a bead reamer can be used to sharpen seam rippers:

  • Simply take the seam ripper in one hand and the bead reamer in the other.
  • Move the bead reamer in an upward motion against the seam ripper’s blade.
  • Keep doing this for a couple of minutes on each side of the edge.
  • Check the sharpness of the seam ripper and continue if required.

Sharpening Seam Rippers: Final Thoughts

A seam ripper is a very useful tool and is easy to work with. It can be used for various purposes of sewing, cutting threads or opening the seam. 

However, it is important to take care of the seam ripper and also keep it clean and sharpened. Periodic cleaning of the seam ripper can make it last for years, and keeping it sharpened can help you in the easy cutting of the thread.

Keep the blade cleaned by wiping it with rubbing alcohol from time to time. This will clean off any corrosives that may have come in contact with the metal tip.

Sharpening a seam ripper can be done with a ball of steel wool, bead reamer, sand paper, emory board, or honing steel. Put a dab of oil, and slide the blade along the rough surface to sharpen the edge.

There you have it, everything that you need to know about sharpening your seam ripper. Keep the blades edge sharp and you won’t have any problems when you need it most.

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Monday 25th of October 2021

I have looked at several sites on how to sharpen a seam ripper. This one, yours, is the very best one I have seen. Thank you. As an aside, I had a seam ripper without the ball. Did you know that a lot of people don't know what that ball is for? It goes on the inside of the seam to keep the fabric partedd so you don't put a hole in your fabric. Anyway, I had one that didn't have a ball. What I did was to take the ball off of a small straight pin, lheld it with a pair of needle nose pliars, heated up the small end of my seam ripper, where the ball should be, and then stuck the ball from the straight pin on it :) Works perfectly!


Monday 25th of October 2021

Thank you for sharing! The tip about melting the ball and reattaching it to the seam ripper is genius!