Reviewing pattern scissors

Everybody seems to be picky about their scissors and I’m no exception. Unfortunately, I’ve had to replace my pattern scissors and it was enough of a hassle that I thought I’d write about it. Now normally one would just ring up their supplier and order a replacement pair based on model number. However, my scissors were made by Wiss (I had the Wiss #20) and Wiss changed the tooling and shaping of the 20’s. I only found this out after I ordered the new 20. At first Wiss tried to convince me the scissors were the same, a claim to which I responded in outrage. Long story short, my favorite scissors are officially irreplaceable. Not happily, I went shopping. Keep in mind we’re talking about pattern cutting scissors here. I am more than aware that most of you -and I do mean most– are using the wrong kind of scissors to cut out patterns. Most of you have made pattern scissor selection an afterthought. The most that most of you do is make sure you’re not cutting patterns with your fabric scissors. Now, am I right or am I right?

Pattern scissors are very different from fabric scissors. For one, the blades and handles are much longer. The best is a 10″ shear, called a “bent trimmer”. The reason you need a large handle is because your entire hand must fit through for the highest degree of control. You can’t fit your whole hand through most fabric scissors (I think your whole hand should also fit through your fabric scissors). Likewise, the blades must be longer because you need the ability to make long, smooth, sustained cuts. Otherwise, you can get jagged edges in the paper. Similarly, the blades are shaped differently. You need blades that aren’t so thick that they obscure cut lines. The blades must cut all the way through the tip. Many fabric scissors give you a jagged jog when cutting (paper) through to the tip.

The shape of pattern scissors is also different. Pattern scissors belong to a class known as “bent trimmers”. The handles are offset. This means that ideally, the bottom of the scissor can rest flat on the table. Most scissors have the handles balanced and aligned with the blades, like a cross. Ergonomically speaking, handles should be oval rather than round. The handles should make full contact with the palm of your hand. The greater exposure to your hand, the better (your fingers should not be doing all the work). With large handles, force is distributed over a greater portion of your hand. If the holes are too large, you have to force your hand open beyond what’s comfortable in order to take up the slack.

Here are some photos and reviews of scissors, all bent trimmers. This first pair are the worst. I think I paid about $10 for them. Although they’re shaped correctly, they’re just crap. I use them in my shipping department. These are labeled #1

Below are the best ones, my favorite pair (#2). The old Wiss 20. These cost $20 (over 25 years ago).

Below this are the new Wiss 20 (#3). These are crappy. There’s something wrong with the bolt/nut assembly. It won’t stay tightened. I replaced it once already and it still doesn’t work. Still, that’s not the only problem with these. These cost about $30.00

Below this is #4, a pair made by Arius Eickert. These are the ones I’ve decided to use to replace my favorite pair (#2). These cost $31.00

Below is #5, model number S-100 from Kai. Cost is $70. These would be okay but the blades are shorter and the handles are larger, just larger enough that the handle size adversely affects my normal range of hand expansion. And I have large hands for a woman. Actually, most female pattern makers have larger than average hands (a topic you don’t want to get me started on). These would be good for a man with large hands but anyone else can expect to have hand pain using these for long periods of time. Also, the blades are almost an inch shorter than the others in this class of 10″ bent trimmers. Still, these are a quality pair, they just don’t fit me.

#6 (below) is a pair that I only took (Kai model N7250) because the salesman insisted these were the best. I have no doubt these could be the best for fabric cutting but they don’t work for patterns. Again, the handles were quite large. If the handles are too large, your hand is taxed muscle-wise, you’re having to open your hand far out of normal range just to open the blades far enough to cut something. These cost $70. I suspect these would be just dandy to cut slippery fabrics though.

Now, the Wiss brand scissors have a nut assembly that is recessed into the body of the scissor. If you can, you want a recessed nut assembly. Here’s a birds-eye view of the original Wiss 20 (#2):

Otherwise, the bolt hanging off tends to catch on paper when you’re cutting. Below is a photo of #4 in the same vantage point. Having the raised bolt/nut is a downside to this pair but not something I can do anything about. #4 is still better than the other choices.

Speaking of handles, these are important. Below I’ve taken various photos with #2 as the point of comparison. First shown is #1 (with #2). Surprisingly, these handles don’t fit as badly (the blades suck) although the larger hole is a little too large. The thumb hole is also too round. Oval is better.

Here is a comparison of #2 and #3, both Wiss. You can see there is no way that 3 is like 2. The 3’s are heavier and clunkier. You want the lightest weight scissor you can get. However, both have the recessed bolt feature.

Below is a comparison of #2 and #4 (the ones I’m keeping). These handles look most alike although the angle of the thumb hole of #4 is not like #2.

Below is a comparison of #2 and #5. Do you see that span bridging from the thumb hole to the main grip? That’s not good for 2 reasons. One, it’s extra weight. Two, the design forces you to have to open your hand a lot wider in order to open the blades far enough. Do that all day and your hands won’t be happy.

The last comparison is of #2 and #6. Regardless of what the salesman said, these aren’t pattern cutting scissors. Still, if you compare the angle of the main grip and the thumb holes, these aren’t aligned like #2. Now, these (model N7250) look pretty and neatened up but it doesn’t mean they’re ergonomic to the extent you can cut all day with them. Plus, the holes are larger. This taxes your hands.

I hope this will help you make a better decision regarding the purchase of pattern cutting scissors.

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