by David Thomas March 08, 2022
So, you have one pair of general scissors. They’re dull, loose and sitting in a drawer in the kitchen. You know the drawer – under the muffin liners, mason jar lids and that deck with only 49 cards that your partner keeps ... "just in case”.
If you can actually find them, you probably use them for every imaginable purpose without stopping to think that artisans have been making beautiful, quality scissors and shears for every conceivable use for a few thousand years.
If you open your eyes to the universe of scissors, you will quickly learn there does seem to be a pair for everything. We pulled together a list to give you a better sense. We came up with 32 different types, broken down into 10 categories.
Of course, people who rely on specialty scissors know the magic of quality. So if you’re a haircutter, or tailor, embroiderer, upholsterer or a professional chef, you already get it. If you have spent $35,000 on a pair of bonsai snips, you really get it.
Read on and you will probably find a kind you will want to get, too.
Embroidery scissors are particularly popular for their designs, which can be very intricate and elaborate. One of the popular designs is shaped like an elegant stork. Popular history will tell you that the scissors were used by midwives to snip the umbilical cord when a baby was born. But others reason that this design was originally associated with a clamp rather than a pair of scissors. In any case, expect to find them in a modern day sewing basket, not a maternity ward.
The typical design is a sidebent, in which the handles are angled to point up. That allows the scissors to rest 100% on the actual fabric and table for a precision cut. One variation is a static cut design, where the bottom blade doesn’t even move. Static cuts are now collectors’ items, and they were both expensive and very heavy, running at about 4.5 lbs or 2 kg.
One thing to keep in mind is to avoid pinking when you cut across the bias of the thread, as all the triangle shapes will be on what is called the straight-of-grain which makes fraying more likely on all edges. Pinking shears are also popular with paper, felt or other materials, adding a decorative border trim to craft projects.
With upholstery, you’ll also see thicker and sharper blades with maximum cutting edge hardness and durability. You will appreciate that edge when cutting through more layers, carpeting or harder materials.
After all, you couldn’t expect someone to actually touch the grapes with their fingers. Or, God forbid they get any sticky juice on their fancy white gloves. The design of these scissors became highly ornate with gold and silver plating. They are still made today but tend to be less detailed.
Alas we would be remiss if we didn’t warn you not only about the dangers of smoking. But we also need to warn about the danger of mishandling a cigar cutter. In a famous mishap in 1999 that may have led to his second retirement, basketball superstar Michael Jordan injured the index finger of his shooting hand while handling a cigar cutter.
Hardness influences how strong the blade edges will be and, therefore, how sharp they can get. Hardness will also influence how long the scissors are likely to stay sharp, as well as overall durability. More ingredients and process for the steel production adds quality and cost. The steel itself is a blend of alloys, elements and ores.
Some of the key ingredients in quality steel are carbon (which should be around 1% of the finished product); molybdenum (also for hardness as well as to resist corrosion); manganese (for durability and strength); chromium (for heat and corrosion resistance); vanadium (for strength and balance); plus cobalt and titanium (for hardness and to reduce weight).
Hair thinners are often called texturing or chunking shears. They reduce thickness and are also used to create a layered look. This works by having teeth on the edge of the blade or blades, which means some of the hairs don’t get cut and that creates an uneven effect.
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