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What's the Difference Between Scissors and Shears?

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Shears and Scissors

Shears and Scissors

Photo © Mifflin
Question: What's the Difference Between Scissors and Shears?
What's the difference between scissors and shears, or are they the same? Do scissors and shears have the same use?
Answer: Though they may seem to have the same use and their names are often used interchangeably, scissors and shears are two distinct cutting tools used for different applications. Many homes have both of these handy household cutters.

Scissors are generally multi-purpose and have similar small 'handles' with sharp blades that are riveted together. Scissors come in various sizes, quality and price ranges as well as with some design enhancements for specific tasks, such as for cutting hair, embroidery threads or crafts. You would use a pair of household scissors to cut parcel twine, paper, light card stock or food packages. Scissors are essential cutting tools and considered basic housewares.

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Shears on the other hand have a noticeable design difference - one side (or both) has a larger handle to accommodate a couple of fingers (thumb in the top and fingers in the bottom). The handles are often attached with an adjustable screw for precision cutting (especially dressmaker's shears).

Dressmaker's shears are generally longer and their bent shape facilitates easier cutting of fabrics, while utility shears with both large handles have a heavier construction and a wider range of cutting applications. Another type, pinking shears are a fabric trimming and cutting tool.

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Though they may appear similar, scissors or utility shears should be used for cutting paper and dressmaker's shears should be kept solely for fabrics, as paper can quickly dull the cutting blades. Most scissors and shears are designed for right-handed consumers, though there are some left-handed models available.

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