What is the difference between scissors and shears?

Scissors and shears are different tools designed for different applications, but are often thought to be the same thing. For a better understanding, in this article, we highlight the main differences between these two via a shears vs. scissors comparison.

What are scissors?

Scissors are multipurpose cutting tools that are found in almost all homes, kitchens and workplaces. They are characterised by two small blades (less than 6 inches long), which are riveted together. The blades are brought together or separated with the help of handles in order to cut through various materials.

While scissors are typically used as multi-utility cutting tools, some are designed specifically for certain unique applications such as kitchen scissors. They are distinguished based on their size, quality, cost, and design modifications. For example handforged Japanese scissors are known to be extremely sharp and durable as their blades are often forged the very same way as the katana ones.

Another example, a hairdresser’s scissors usually have sharper blades and a finger rest protruding from one handle. This construction allows for a clean and precise cut. Or, when it comes to the kid’s scissors, such tools have a plastic safety coating over the blades, and are made to be less sharp to ensure that they are safe in the inexperienced hands of children.

Applications of scissors

What is the difference between scissors and shears
Scissors can be found in every kitchen. They are used for variety of jobs, ranging from cutting herbs to preparing other small tasks.
  1. Scissors are used at homes, schools, or offices for applications such as cutting parcel twine, embroidery threads, paper crafts, etc.
  2. Often are used for kitchen jobs, such as cutting herbs.
  3. Modified scissors are used for cutting and thinning hair, trimming nails, eyebrows, and other grooming and beautification applications.
  4. Specially designed scissors are used in medical applications, such as for surgeries.

What are Shears?

The term shears is used to describe scissors that more than 6 inches long. Shears can therefore be thought of as large scissors, which are designed for specific applications. One common design difference between a scissor and a shear is that, typically, a shear has a larger handle on either one side. This is so that the user can accommodate more fingers into it, and apply more force needed to cut harder materials.
Some shears, such as gardening shears, have large handles that can be gripped with the entire palm, making it possible to gain a greater amount of cutting force.
Dressmaker shears usually have handles attached with adjustable screws for precision cutting. They may even have a bent beak type shape, making the task of shearing fabric easier.

Applications of Shears

  1. Shears are used for trimming hedges, grass, and other gardening activities.
  2. They used in dressmaking for cutting fabrics.
  3. They are used for cutting animal’s fleece to make wool. Some shears are also used to cut cooked poultry.
  4. Larger, sharper, and specially designed shears are used in industries for cutting wires and metals sheets.
Thus, scissors and shears, though appearance-wise may look similar in many cases, are actually two distinct types of tools meant for different applications. Hence, one must choose the correct instrument that is most appropriate for a particular application.