Thursday, 31 July 2008

Scissors come in handy for many household chores. A good pair makes cutting almost effortless, but a bad pair can make a mess and shred your patience. Not all scissors are made equally, so we find out how to buy a sharp set of cutters.


The Basics

  • Some scissors label themselves as being ambidextrous. However, if you’re left-handed and do a lot of cutting, you may want to buy a pair designed specially for southpaws.

  • Depending on your needs, you may want a specific type of scissors:

    • Embroidery scissors are lightweight and finely tipped for cutting seams, threads and detailed embroidery.

    • Household scissors are medium-size for normal household work like cutting paper, cardboard, twine and foil.

    • Tailor’s scissors come in various sizes and are especially designed for cutting fabric and heavier cloth.

    • Paper shears are longer so that longer sections of paper can be cut with fewer snips, thus giving a clean line. Great for wrapping paper.

    • Kitchen shears are multi-purpose and will do almost any job your kitchen throws at you.

    • Safe scissors for children have rounded points for safety. Some are even plastic only, with sharpened edges that can cut paper but not skin (and not much else).

    • Poultry shears are good for working with chicken and duck instead of using a knife. They have serrated edges, and are solid and powerful for getting through bones.

    • Pinking shears cut fabric without any fringe.

  • Whatever type of scissors you buy, pick them up and make sure they feel smooth when you open and close them.

  • Many good quality scissors offer a lifetime warranty. If you can, buy better quality (usually more expensive) in order to save in the long run.

  • Use the ABC and D’s of scissor-buying to help you understand the differences in materials and design:

    • A = Alloy or the quality of the steel.

    • B = Balance and overall feel of the scissor.

    • C = Construction of the scissor: a nut and bolt assembly is the best.

    • D = Design/surability describes the overall shape of handle and blades as it relates to the ultimate performance.

  • Scissor handles have typically been made out of moulded plastic. Silicon and rubber are recent handle materials that have become popular for their softer and more comfortable feel.

Other Considerations

  • Scissors should be periodically sharpened for best performance. A drop of oil between the blades where the screw is can keep things operating smoothly.


We tested five different pairs of household scissors in typical situations, and also invited some scrap bookers to share their thoughts. We tried:

  • Wal-Mart: $3
  • Westcott: $13
  • Fiskars: $19
  • Wusthof: $42
  • Henckels: $75

Cut Test

  • Wal-Mart brand scissors performed badly overall. The cut was uneven and the handle was uncomfortable.

  • Fiskars were a great day-to-day scissors, but maybe not for fine, detailed work.

  • Henckels were the sharpest but almost awkward to work with and not good for smaller hands.

  • Westcott had a good grip but not the sharpest cut.

  • Wusthof got the top review providing the sharpest overall cutting on all our household chores and was first pick with our scrap bookers.


If you really need a good pair of scissors, invest in the pricier Wusthof (and make sure the kids don’t use them to cut tennis balls). If you’re just looking for good around-the-house tools, the Fiskars are a great choice.

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