Scissors are hand operated cutting instruments consisting of a pair of metal blades connected in such a way that the blades meet and cut materials placed between them when the handles are brought together. They are used for cutting various thin materials, for example paper, cardboard, metal foil, thin plastic, cloth, rope and wire. Scissors can also be used to cut hair and food.
Scissors and shears exist in a wide variety of forms depending on their intended uses. Children's scissors, used only on paper, have dull blades to ensure safety. Scissors used to cut hair or fabric must be much sharper. The largest shears used to cut metal or to trim shrubs must have very strong blades.
Specialized scissors include sewing scissors, which often have one sharp point and one blunt point for intricate cutting of fabric, and nail scissors, which have curved blades for cutting fingernails and toenails.
The noun "scissors" is treated as a plural noun, and therefore takes a plural verb ("these scissors are"). Alternatively, people refer to this tool as "a pair of scissors", in which case it (a pair) is singular and therefore takes a singular verb ("this pair of scissors is"). (In theory each of the two blades of the tool is a "scissor" in its own right, although in practice such usage is seldom heard.)
The word shears is used to describe larger instruments of similar kind. As a general rule:
It is most likely that scissors were invented in 1500 BC in ancient Egypt. T
The earliest known scissors appeared in the Middle East 3,000 or 4,000 years ago. These were of the 'spring scissor' type comprising two bronze blades connected at the handles by a thin, curved strip of bronze. This strip served to bring the blades together when squeezed and to pull them apart when released.
Cross-bladed scissors were invented by the Romans around AD 100. Pivoted scissors of bronze or iron, in which the blades were connected at a point between the tips and the handles, were used in ancient Rome, China, Japan, and Korea. Spring scissors continued to be used in Europe until the sixteenth century and the idea is still used in almost all modern scissors,
Pivoted scissors were not manufactured in large numbers until 1761, when Robert Hinchliffe produced the first pair of modern-day scissors made of hardened and polished cast steel. He lived in Cheney Square, London and was reputed to be the first person who put out a signboard proclaiming himself "fine scissor manufacturer".
During the nineteenth century, scissors were hand-forged with elaborately decorated handles. They were made by hammering steel on indented surfaces known as bosses to form the blades. The rings in the handles, known as bows, were made by punching a hole in the steel and enlarging it with the pointed end of an anvil.
In a part of Sweden (now in Finland) an ironworks was started 1649 in the hamlet "Fiskars" between Helsinki and Turku. In 1830 a new owner started the first cutlery works in Finland, making, among other items, scissors with the trade mark Fiskars. Fiskars Corporation introduced new methods in the manufacturing of scissors in 1967.
A pair of scissors consists of two pivoted blades. Most types of scissors are not particularly sharp; it is primarily the shearing between the two blades which cuts. Children's scissors are even less sharp, and the blades are often protected with plastic.
Mechanically, scissors are a first-class, double-lever with the pivot acting as the fulcrum. For cutting thick or heavy material, the mechanical advantage of a lever can be exploited by placing the material to be cut as close to the fulcrum as possible. For example, if the applied force (i.e., the hand) is twice as far away from the fulcrum as the cutting location (e.g., piece of paper), the force at the cutting location is twice that of the applied force at the handles. Scissors cut material by applying a local shear stress at the cutting location which exceeds the material's shear strength.
Specialized scissors, like bolt cutters exploit leverage by having a long handle but placing the material to be cut close to the fulcrum.
Kitchen scissors, also known as kitchen shears, are similar to common scissors. The main difference is the location of the fulcrum. Kitchen scissors have the fulcrum located farther from the handles to provide more leverage and thus more cutting power. High quality kitchen scissors can easily cut through the breastbone of a chicken.
Most scissors are best suited to use with the right hand, but left-handed scissors are designed for use by the left. Left-handed scissors have handles which are comfortable to hold in the left hand. Because scissors have overlapping blades, they are not symmetric. This asymmetry is true regardless of the orientation and the shape of the handles: the blade that is on top always forms the same diagonal regardless of orientation. Human hands are also asymmetric and when closing the thumb and fingers do not close vertically, but have a lateral component to the motion. Specifically, the thumb pushes out and fingers pull inwards. For right-handed scissors held in the right hand, the thumb blade is closer to the body so that the natural tendency of the right hand is to force the cutting blades together. Conversely, if right-handed scissors are held in the left hand, the natural tendency of the left hand would be to force the cutting blades laterally apart. Furthermore, with right-handed scissors held by the right-hand, the shearing edge is visible, but when used with the left hand the cutting edge of the scissors is behind the top blade, and one cannot see what is being cut.
Some scissors are marketed as ambidextrous. They have symmetric handles so there is no distinction between the thumb and finger handles, and they have very strong pivots so that the blades simply rotate and do not have any lateral give. However, most "ambidextrous" scissors are in fact still right-handed. Even if they successfully cut, the blade orientation will block the view of the cutting line for a left-handed person. True ambidextrous scissors are possible if the blades are double-edged and one handle is swung all the way around (to almost 360 degrees) so that the back of the blades become the new cutting edges Patents have been awarded for true ambidextrous scissors.
Using scissors designed for the wrong hand is difficult for most people, even for left-handers who have become accustomed to using the more readily available right-handed scissors. They have to unnaturally force the blades together to cut and stretch their necks over the top blade to see what is being cut. This unnatural motion can also cause marks on the hand, sores, and eventually calluses.
Although often used interchangeably with "scissors," the term shears is reserved by those in the industry for scissors longer than 15 cm. Others assert scissors are symmetric whereas shears distinguish between the thumb hole and the finger hole. Like scissors, shears combine slightly offset jaws to cut material through physical shear, and combine this with levers to apply a considerable shear force. Shears are usually intended for cutting much heavier material than scissors.
There are several specialised scissors and shears used for different purposes. Some of these are: