What is Shear Sharpening Certification?

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Shear Sharpening Certification

The IBSA shear sharpening certification program is designed and executed as a fair evaluation of one’s sharpening ability.  No other program is as thorough or meaningful as what we’ve designed to test your skills.  Our judges have all certified as Master Sharpener or are sharpeners whose expertise is without question.  We test the certifier on 4 scissors:  Thinner, Right Hand Convex, Left Hand Convex & Bevel.  All certifiers will be tested against an official scoresheet, clearly detailing all aspects of inspection.  The scoresheet is available to each certifier for study, shows how points are assigned to each aspect of the sharpening process, and acts as a roadmap on what to do for each scissor, and more importantly, what the judges will be looking for.

Shear Sharpening Certification Process at the IBSA Event

During the IBSA’s annual convention, certification is offered to all registered attendees.  Here are some common FAQs.

  • A fee of $250 is required
  • You will be given the set of damaged scissors in an IBSA case
  • The set is yours to keep
  • You will be required to sharpen on your own equipment
  • A class will be given on what will be judged
  • You will have 2.5 hours for the certification
  • Certifiers will be together in one room under supervision
  • Results will be announced the following day
  • Judges will be available to discuss scoresheets

Our judges are volunteers and take their role seriously.  As (s)he examines the shears, perfection is expected.  Points are deducted for anything less than perfection. (No one is perfect) As the sharpener markets himself, (s)he is able to explain how (s)he is able to sharpen the shears correctly in that (s)he has been trained by and has had his work examined by true masters in the industry, ones that have been trained by factory techs for judging. Certain criteria have to be met in order to even become an IBSA Associate.

How can you get shear sharpening certification without attending an IBSA event?

In order to be IBSA certified or get the IBSA shear sharpening certification, there will be the certification fee + shipping.  The shipping is to move the shears through our system of judges and administrators.  Because this method of certification will not be under supervision, the certifier will only be able to qualify for associate or certified sharpener status. To certify as “master sharpener” one must attend an IBSA conference and certify there.

IBSA will send you, the sharpener,, the damaged scissors set that need to be sharpened and will need to be returned to a selected board member who will judge them first and will then send them to other judges.

As a member of IBSA (member privilege, you will be able to do this any time after the conference. Members who already have been certified can use this as a practice and maintenance for their skills before the next IBSA conference.

Shear Sharpening Certification Testing Environment

  • We encourage you to be as comfortable as possible. For example, if you sharpen in a van, we will allow you to do so under supervision.
  • 2.5 hours to sharpen.
  • Shears will be tested on a weave (real human hair)
  • Score sheets will be handed out beforehand in the instructional class before certification test with specifics will be discussed.
  • We require one machine per contestant (doesn’t necessarily have to be yours or what you have used but we require each sharpener to have their own machine to work with during the test).
  • If you have any questions during the certification test, you are only allowed to ask the judges.


  • The shears will be returned to you after judging.  They are yours to keep.
  • You will be able to discuss the results with each of the judges.
  • If you score lower than expected, take the test again.  Your score is an unbiased touchstone of your skills.