MAU Art & Design Glossary




Scissors are the implements we use to cut (shear) paper, cloth, soft plastic and leather, etc. by pinching the material between the upper and lower blades. Unlike cutters and other bladed instruments where the material is sliced by applying pressure to a blade, scissors can be used on objects ranging from soft, thin materials such as cloth to relatively hard, thick materials, and are relatively safe to use.

To use them safely, it is best to hold the scissors directly in front of you under your line of sight and move the object (paper, etc.) into a position where cutting is easy rather than move the scissors in the direction you wish to cut. When cutting complex shapes, it is better to make a series of cuts rather than try to cut in a single continuous line.

Scissors come in a range of shapes and materials depending on the material to be cut and the purpose. The most commonly used office scissors are mainly for cutting paper and small enough to be used easily. They are generally made of rust-resistant stainless steel or other metal. Modern scissors are more lightweight, shaped to reduce user fatigue over long periods of use, and fluorine coated so that even glue can be easily wiped off. School craft scissors have rounded points on the blades for safety. Tailoring shears for cutting cloth have sharper edges than normal scissors and are large enough to cut wide areas. Incidentally, it is important to note that cutting paper with tailoring shears will dull the blades. Other types of scissors include specially shaped tin snips with short blades for cutting tin and other types of thin metal; carbon steel multi-purpose scissors for cutting anything from metal, rubber and plastic to paper; hand-held sewing shears; left-handed scissors; serrated pinking shears; and multi-blade shredding scissors capable of shredding into fine pieces.

When handing scissors to someone else, it is safer to pass them handle first. When storing, place a cover over the blades.
Standard scissors can be purchased at office supply and stationery stores. Multi-purpose and specialized scissors can be purchased at hardware stores.