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Scissors: Choosing the Right Pair

Martha Stewart Living, June 1997

Scissors are tools, and it helps to use the ones with the right size, shape, and blade for your project. Designating certain scissors for certain tasks will actually make them last longer. "When you cut paper, you dull scissors," says Cam Wiegmann, manager of Henry Westpfal & Company, a scissors store in New York City. "When you go back to cut fabric, it's not going to work." It's not hard to stock a house with the necessary scissors; simply think of all the times you reach for a pair, and make sure you have the right ones nearby. This doesn't mean you need dozens. You'll be well equipped with a few carefully chosen pairs.

The best scissors are hot-drop-forged from steel, which means the steel is heated and shaped into one continuous piece, with the blade at one end and the looped handle at the other; it is trimmed, hardened, tempered, ground, polished, and joined with another half. Considering that much of this work is done by hand, scissors are remarkably affordable. A good pair of hot-drop-forged dressmaker's shears costs less than $30 and will last for years. For cutting fabric, they're essential -- but less expensive scissors whose blades are stamped out in mass quantities are appropriate for many everyday tasks.

You'll find the widest selection at a specialty scissors store. The next best thing is to buy sewing scissors at a sewing store, craft scissors at a crafts shop, and so forth. Discount department stores and stationery shops carry a fine supply of general-use scissors. If possible, try a pair of scissors before you buy it. It should feel comfortable in your hand and make a clean, smooth cut almost effortlessly. There are almost as many kinds of scissors as there are uses for them.

Do You Know?
Martha carries a pair of embroidery scissors with her at all times and uses them for everything from cutting ribbon for a present to snipping a loose thread from her jacket.

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