Scissors and Cutters FAQ

What makes a good pair of scissors?

Quality scissors and cutting tools are determined by quality materials and engineering.

The quality of steel can influence the quality of the scissors or shears. Steel alloys of the highest quality are basic materials for scissors and shears. They provide the basis for exceptional cutting performance. It is fundamental for the efficiency and durability of the product. High quality scissors are made of high-grade stainless steel to avoid rust. Less expensive mass produced scissors are made from nickel-plated carbon steel that are prone to surface rust if unprotected form damp air.

Another factor influencing the quality of scissors and cutters is the manufacturing processes. Scissors can be made from forged or stamped steel.

Traditionally scissors and shears are forged. Making scissors from forged steel is a more expensive processes than stamping. Market pressures on price has seen the introduction of more stamped steel scissors as they are typically less expensive than forged.

Once the type of steel is determined, workmanship will be a leading factor in a quality pair of scissors. A good pair of scissors should cut easily and retain its cutting performance for a long period of time. High-quality scissors have many of the following features;

Anything that needs cutting must not press the scissor blades apart. That is why both blades are bent slightly against each other (draw) and turned (twist). A good pair of scissors has a smooth, neatly ground, brushed or polished surface. The care devoted to the grinding defines the quality of any cutters.

The points of a pair of scissors must fit well when closed so that it is possible to cut with the tips only. Well fitted blades lie on top of each other when closed.

A pair of scissors should open and close easily. The necessary closing effort must be even. This applies to the whole length of the cutting edge when the scissors are wide open until they are completely closed.

It is essential that cutting edges on the upper and lower shear blades are sharply ground working parts of the scissors. They are either smooth or serrated. Scissors with a smooth cutting edge are suited for cutting thin and light material such as paper, fabrics and foil.

Multi-purpose shears usually have a micro-serrated cutting edges that can cut plant material, poultry, and cardboard.

The finer the cutting requirements of a pair of scissors – e.g. embroidery scissors – the more pointed and narrower the tip needs to be. A good pair of scissors must cut cleanly right up to the last millimetre of the blade.

The two halves of a pair of scissors - upper and lower shear blade must be honed so when the scissors are closed, the blades sit together tightly from the point to the joint area. The cut of top-quality scissors must be soft and even. This is achieved by ensuring that the scissors blades are honed well.

The handles of a good pair of scissors must be formed so that the hand never tires or hurts. The handles should be shaped so that they fit the natural shape of the fingers for stress free work.

Depending on the scissors function, rough or delicate, repetitive or casual, working with either high or low energy – the handle eye ring must be appropriately large or small. The “eyes“ are shaped according to the size and function of the scissors. To enable large scissors to be held and worked with two or more fingers, the eye ring is often significantly larger and oval.

The screw or stud holding the two shears together ensures the easy closing action of a pair of scissors. Top-quality scissors have a screw instead of a punched stud. A pivot screw allows the scissors to be adjusted and sharpened making them long lasting. Punch stud pivots can not be unscrewed.

You need to sharpen, clean and care for scissors if you want them to last for a long time. Store scissors safely and in a dry place. Now and then a drop of fine oil should be given to the screw slot to maintain easy closing and cutting. If a pair of scissors is used extensively, the cutting performance may suffer and regrinding or sharpening the blades is recommended.


How are scissors made?

Scissors are made by either forging or stamping them out of steel. A good quality pair of scissors will depend greatly on the quality of steel that is used and the manufacturing processes.

A pair of forged scissors can go through up to 50 manufacturing processes before it is completed.

Slugs of hot steel are formed into the shape of long pointed triangles taking the rough shape of a scissor (upper and lower shear blades). Excess material is cut away on an press and the scissor eye rings are punched out.

Next, the closing surfaces are milled and the stud hole is drilled. The area forward of the handles is then cooled quickly to harden the steel and then tempered (heated) to take the tension out of the steel.

Once the blanks are created, the begin the surface treatment process and grinding processes. Grinding scissors and shears is an elaborate manufacturing process that requires skilled workers.

A stamped pair of scissors is punched out of strips of metal using heavy machines. Typically the blade is only stamped as the handles are plastic. This peice of steel shapped like the blades of the scissors is called a blank. The blanks are hardened by putting them in a furnace and then cooled quickly in water. Then the blank is tempered (heated) again to relieve any stress the steel may have.

Grinding scissors and shears is an elaborate manufacturing process that needs to be done with precision. careful attention needs to be paid to the interaction of the crescent, draw and twist ensuring that the blades meet only at one single point along the length of the blades.

The blades and handles are then assembled, inspected and honed and polished.


How to use and care for florist scissors and cutting tools?

Everyday, a florist needs to cut flowers and plant material into various sizes and lengths. It is critical to the life of the cut flower if this is not done correctly. This is a guide on how to use your florist scissors and cutting tools.

The stem of a flower acts like a drinking straw that carries water to the flower. If this is damaged either because it has snapped or is not cut at a 45 degree angle, it will not draw water correctly. Pinching, chopping or breaking the stem is not how to cut flowers.

Cutting with a blade or folding knife is a choice of floral designers and professional florist. It should be light, sharp, have a reasonably short blade and sit comfortably in your hand. A good knife will be made of steel that will not dull easily and can be sharpened. Sharp knives ensure no damage to your plant material and avoids cuts.

Ensure the knife fits into your hand easily. Cut heaven stems away for your body to avid cutting yourself. Cut the flower stem in one motion by pulling the stem up through your angled knife. Do not saw or chop the flowers. Cutting wires and/or cardboard typically will blunt or damage your knife.

Keep your knife, sharp, clean and dry. Use an oiled sharpening stone, lie the blade flat and stroke the blade over the stone in one direction, lifting the knife between strokes. Turn the blade and sharpen the other side of the blade using the same process. A bright coloured knife will be easy to find amongst your cuttings so as you don't end up loosing it or throwing it out.

Florist sheers or Pruners, and florist scissors are another popular cutting tool. Ensure the quality of the blade is sharp and long lasting. Typically select smooth blades,rare than serrated blades as the stem cut will be cleaner. The handle size and grip are very important as the work is repetitive and you must take care of your hands at all times. This length of the scissor nose and size of handles will determine the pressure you can apply when cutting. if you are cutting thick foliage of stems, you may decide to use a hook nose pruner for easy of cut. Do not cut wires with these type of cutters as you will damage the blade. Keep your blades clean and dry at all times.

Hook nose and anvil pruners are designed to cut through thicker plant material. A good quality pruner will last a very long time with little need to sharpen. When cutting heavier plant material try not to crush the stems. You may need to follow up with a knife to clean up any damage caused to the stem. Keep your blades clean and dry at all times.

Wire cutters are easy to use. As most florist wires are quite thin, a small pair would be adequate for most jobs. If you are working with artificial flowers, the wire in the stem can be quite thick and hard to cut, so use a bigger wire cutter or pliers. This is a robust tool that does not need much explanation.

Ribbon scissors or fabric shears are used to cut finer materials such as ribbon, netting, or even trimming leaves and flower petals. Florist craft,scissors that have a shorter blade may be adequate for narrow ribbons. Craft scissors will give a much cleaner cut when cutting wider ribbons or fabrics. It is advisable not to cut plant material with these scissors so,as to keep them clean and top condition at all times.