Buying Guide for Scissors
Why buy scissors?
Scissors are one of those staple household items that you use several times a day around the house for dozens of different tasks without even really thinking about it. Whether you’re opening a package you received in the mail, trimming wrapping paper and curling ribbons when wrapping a gift, opening the packaging on a container of chicken or fish when making a meal, cutting cardboard or fabric or paper for a sewing or crafting project, taking cuttings of herbs or plants in your garden, snipping a loose thread on your shorts, or cutting off a tag on a new item of clothing, scissors are the go-to. They can be used for all these tasks and plenty more.
While there are plenty of all-purpose scissors out there, specialty scissors are available too, designed for specific tasks like trimming your nails or eyebrows, cutting hair, snipping fabric, and much, much more. In fact, you may want to have several different pairs of scissors on hand, like a general pair for various day-to-day use and pairs for sewing, beauty, cooking, or gardening.
What should you look for in scissors?
- Type: There’s a surprising number of different scissors out there to choose from, depending on your needs. Different types of scissors will have different shapes and textured edges of varying sharpness that make them better suited for specific tasks. Safety scissors are great for smaller kiddos like toddlers who are just learning how to cut paper, as this type generally offers a protected, duller blade so they can’t cut themselves. Classroom scissors generally have a kid-friendly grip and can be purchased with a blunt tip or a pointed tip (although blunt is generally safer for kids). There are classic standard scissors that are more all-purpose for various household tasks like cutting paper. If you need to cut fabric or cardboard, then look for an extra-sharp pair to accommodate those projects easily. Crafting scissors are great not just for paper but for thicker materials like foam or felt. And this doesn’t even cover every type available.
- Size: As with type, there are quite a few different-sized scissors out there. Not just in overall size but in blade length as well. Most scissors have a blade length of 6 inches or less, but there’s quite a difference between a 1-inch and 6-inch pair of scissors. Smaller blades mean more precision but less cutting power. Thus small, palm-sized scissors are best for tasks like snipping trailing threads, clipping stray eyebrow hairs, or trimming your nails. Larger scissors are better suited for opening packaging or cutting tape.
- Grip: The two holes at the end of the scissors are where you slide your fingers in to open, close, and operate the scissors. They may be plain metal to match the rest of the scissors, but there are plenty covered in plastic or other more colorful materials. The grip has more to offer than just a splash of color, though. Larger finger holes may be more comfortable on your fingers. The holes may be perfectly round or more oblong or oval or slightly curved; the latter may provide a superior, more ergonomic grip. Silicone or softer materials that cover the holes will be gentler on your hands and fingers than plain metal. If you’re left-handed, there are left-handed scissors with special grips to accommodate you, as well as ambidextrous scissors for households with both right- and left-handed people that have their own special grip as well.
What’s the difference between scissors and shears?
Scissors and shears are two of those words that many people use interchangeably. They are very similar items with similar shapes used to cut or trim various items, and their uses may overlap. However, there are a few differences between them.
Shears are larger on average than scissors—as mentioned, scissors usually have a blade length of fewer than 6 inches, while shears tend to have blades longer than 6 inches. Scissors also have smaller, more symmetrical finger holes. Your thumb is meant to fit in one and another finger in the other. Shears, on the other hand, have one small finger hole for your thumb and a second larger finger hole that you can slip three or four fingers into at a time for better leverage. This is the easiest way to tell scissors and shears apart at a glance. If the finger holes are symmetrical, they’re scissors. If one hole is larger than the other, they’re shears.
The size difference, especially in the grip, gives shears superior, more heavy-duty cutting power compared to scissors. On the flip side, scissors are better for more delicate or precise tasks. That’s why you use scissors for crafting, sewing, and cutting hair, while shears are used to prune plants in the garden or trim meats in the kitchen.
Our Picks for the Best Scissors
KitchenAid All Purpose Shears
Designed to handle most tasks, the sharp tip, soft grip, and protective sheath on the stainless steel blades are the perfect addition to any household.
Pros: Coming in six possible colors, these all-purpose scissors feature a sharp tip and comfortable ergonomic handles that make them easier on your hands even when operating them for heavy-duty tasks. They are lightweight (less than 5 ounces) with a protective sheath for the stainless steel blades and are great for just about any household task, from arts and craft projects to opening packages to cutting food. Thanks to their micro-serrated blades, these scissors are great for cutting burlap and fabric to tape and cardstock. As a bonus, they’re comfortable for both left- and right-handed users and offer a sturdy grip that is convenient in just about every area of the house or office.
Cons: Even though the blades are made of stainless steel, the scissors as a whole aren’t rustproof. Though they’re theoretically dishwasher safe, hand washing and immediately drying them after is recommended to help prevent rusting.
Bottom Line: Every household, no matter the size, needs at least one pair of good all-purpose scissors for those dozens of little daily and weekly tasks involving snipping, cutting, or trimming something. They’ll be your new go-to pair for opening boxes and packaging since they’re sharp and durable.
Beaditive High Precision Detail Scissors Set
If you're after crafting scissors for sewing or scrapbooking, you can't go wrong with this pair of precision scissors.
Pros: These tiny scissors are ideal for detail and precision work like embroidery, cross-stitching, beadwork, collaging, scrapbooking, or snipping stray threads on clothes or other fabrics. Small but sharp and pointy, the blades will cut pretty much any type of thread and most types of paper. The tiny size also makes these scissors extremely compact and portable, especially since both pairs come with a protective cover that helps prevent the stainless steel blades from taking damage or losing their sharpness. Two different color sets are also available for purchase.
Cons: As is the case with all smaller scissors, this set isn’t meant for heavy-duty cutting. Even materials like twine may be beyond their capabilities. Both scissors also have a straight rather than a curved blade, which many crafters find useful for some sewing tasks and cutting certain smaller threads.
Bottom Line: Scissors are necessary for any sewing or arts and crafts kits, and the smaller, the better. If you’re looking for new scissors to add to your own home set, these two pairs of miniature scissors were designed specifically for precision and detail work in sewing, scrapbooking, and the like.
Refine Nail Scissors
These little scissors were designed specifically to trim your nails as smoothly and cleanly as possible.
Pros: Made from tough carbon steel and plated with nickel for extra durability and some extra rust resistance, these small specialty scissors were made to cut and trim fingernails and toenails as a gentler (but still effective) alternative to nail clippers. They’re specifically made to cut and slice through nails as smoothly and cleanly as possible without leaving any ragged edges behind. You’re much less likely to need to file your nails after trimming them with these. The blades are shaped to perfectly follow the curves of nails, which further aid in the smoothness of the cut. They’re compact enough for easy storage and portability and suitable for all nail types. The carbon steel build is plenty strong enough to cut through thicker nails but is gentle enough that they won’t harm thinner or damaged nails.
Cons: These are nail scissors only, so they’re only designed to trim fingernails and toenails. They shouldn’t be used to cut anything else, especially since this may dull or ruin the blades. You’ll also have to disinfect them with rubbing alcohol rather than wash or submerge them in any sort of liquid—any other cleaning method will cause the oil to rub off and make them less effective.
Bottom Line: Nail clippers aren’t the best or preferred choice for all home grooming or manicures, especially if you have thinner or damaged nails. These specialty nail scissors are an excellent alternative in such cases, though they’re equally suitable for thicker nails as well.
iBayam Heavy Duty Kitchen Scissors
These heavy-duty scissors are designed to handle all kitchen-related tasks from opening food packaging to cutting meat.
Pros: These two pairs of scissors were made specifically for kitchen use; they’re suitable for any kitchen-related task you might have, on both food and food packaging alike. Made from stainless steel, they’re heavy-duty enough to cut through even fish scales, lobster shells, meat, tough vegetables, and poultry wings. Since you get good value with two pairs of scissors and their covers per purchase, you can even reserve one set for synthetic kitchen materials and one for food, or one for meat and fish and one for veggies and fruits. The comfortable ergonomic grip makes them easier to use even for heavy-duty tasks that require more force, and they’re totally dishwasher safe for convenient and easy cleaning.
Cons: These scissors will require re-sharpening fairly frequently, especially if you use them daily and/or for tougher tasks, even with the protective covers they come with. If you have smaller hands or mobility issues, they may also be a bit too bulky for you to use comfortably.
Bottom Line: Kitchen scissors are useful for opening packaging and plastic wrap on food, but they can be used for much more than that as well, including on the food itself. And these heavy-duty scissors are strong enough to cut poultry, shrimp tail shells, and pizza crusts.
Equinox International Professional Hair Scissors
Whether you're a professional hairdresser or you've learned to cut your own hair at home, these scissors will make it easier.
Pros: These stainless steel scissors aren’t just made to cut hair; they’re made to do so in the most professional manner possible, without leaving any split ends behind. You’ve probably seen a pair just like them in your local salon or barbershop. No matter how thin, thick, fine, smooth, or coarse your hair might be, these scissors will snip them all without issue. You can even use it on beards or give your pet’s fur a trim as needed. They feature an adjustable tension screw that allows you to set these scissors to your desired tension for the task at hand and two finger rests for your comfort. They also come coated in lubricating oil to protect against stains and rust.
Cons: As is sometimes the case with specialty scissors, you should only use these scissors on hair, nothing else; they won’t be effective on much else. They’re also a bit heavy compared to other scissors or shears designed to cut hair, and they’re only really designed for right-handed users.
Bottom Line: Whether you’re a professional hairdresser or looking for a pair of scissors to trim or cut your hair at home, you can’t go wrong with this pair. They work for men and women, kids and adults, and human or pet hair.
Crayola My First Safety Scissors
An option that's great for toddlers and won't cut skin or hair.
Pros: This set of scissors is just about the safest you’ll be able to find for your little one’s use. Safe even for toddlers and preschoolers to operate, these plastic scissors are designed to only cut paper, not skin or hair. They feature rounded tips and three fun blade designs (cutting straight, wavy, and zigzag patterns, respectively) and help promote safe learning and motor control while doing arts and crafts. Despite their blunted edges, these scissors are still strong enough to cut through construction paper. And they’re extremely affordable to boot, even by scissor standards. You can even buy them alongside a larger crafting kit to keep your child(ren) occupied for longer.
Cons: These scissors will only cut paper; they’re too dull and blunt for anything else. Due to their inexpensive plastic make, they’re also not the most durable scissors on the market.
Bottom Line: Made specifically with young kids in mind, these scissors allow them to enjoy their favorite paper crafting activities without you needing to worry about them cutting or harming themselves by mistake.
Every household, office, and classroom should have at least one pair of scissors on hand, preferably more—they’re one of those items that you never really think of until you need them, so it’s best to be prepared. And buying the right type of scissors for different rooms or scenarios can go a long way toward making certain tasks much easier to accomplish.