scissors vs shears difference
25 May

Scissors and shears may seem like two interchangeable tools on the surface, but look a bit deeper, and you’ll find several functional differences between them. Scissors and shears are not used for the same purposes, and knowing the distinction makes or breaks a project. Understanding their purposes helps you to keep your scissors and your shears in top working order without damaging the tools themselves, or your work.

On the most basic level, scissors have blades of equal length, less than 6 inches long, with symmetrical, equally sized finger holes. On the other hand, Shears have edges over six inches in length, with one large finger hole and one small finger hole.

However, the differences can go deeper, especially when you consider specific craft tools used in tailoring, hairdressing, and food preparation. Anyone interested in these professions and crafts needs to understand these differences well.

scissors vs shears

Scissors vs Shears

Scissors Vs. Shears: The In-Depth Differences

Scissors are everyday household objects that you can easily find. Shears are tools designed for a specific purpose. However, shears are frequently more durable and of better quality than most household scissors.

The main difference between them is power. Scissors use one thumb and one finger to lightly cut through paper. Shears use one thumb and multiple fingers to allow more force when cutting, meaning shears can cut much tougher materials than scissors. There are shears that can even cut metal.

Moreover, you cannot use these tools interchangeably. If you try to use scissors for a tough job, they’re likely to get dull blades, resulting in tearing and ripping the material you’re trying to cut.

On the other hand, shears can be unwieldy and may not have the same precision scissors do when cutting. So each tool has its own time and place for use.

Scissors and Shears in Crafts: Different Uses and Tools

Scissors and shears come in many different forms, from the most oversized shears meant for cutting branches to the smallest pair of scissors for detail work in tailoring clothes. Using the right tool is essential for craftspeople, from hairdressers to tailors.

tailoring shears

Tailoring Shears


When it comes to tailoring and sewing, there are four kinds of shears and two kinds of scissors in a tailor’s toolkit:

  • Dressmaking Shears
  • Paper Shears
  • Pinking Shears
  • Tailor’s Shears
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Small Snip Scissors

Each has its unique design and function, such as cutting fabrics, cutting patterns from paper, trimming edges, and ease of use.

Dressmaking shears are smaller and lighter than tailor’s shears, making them easier to work with if you have small hands. While they’re great for cutting more delicate fabrics, you’ll want the more heavy-duty tailor’s shears for tougher materials like denim.

Paper shears are meant for cutting out clothes plans from paper. It’s thin, even cuts make it easy to cut whatever pattern you need, from a simple t-shirt to overalls. These shears have much shorter blades than most other shears, but it still earns the name with their handle design, which improves stability.

Pinking shears are unique to this type of craft. It cuts fabric in a zigzag pattern that assists in sewing and hemming edges. It can be easily identified by its distinctive blade shape and cut pattern.

Tailor’s shears are meant for cutting heavy fabrics that otherwise couldn’t be cut. While the large blades can be difficult for those with small hands to handle, it offers a lot more cutting power with their long blades, large handle, and sharp edges.

Fabric scissors share a similar purpose with dressmaking shears and tailor’s shears. They’re meant for cutting fabric, but they don’t offer the same power as the other two. But these scissors shine when it comes to detail work.

Small snip scissors are meant for clipping stray threads from clothing and generally tidy them up. The short blades and grip make it easy to handle, so the tailor can focus on the detailed work needed to make the clothes shine.

Tailoring tools, particularly scissors and shears, need to stay sharp and ready for duty. Dull blades rip and tear clothes, resulting in ruined patterns and fabrics. Therefore, having the right tool for the job is essential.

hairdressing shears

Hairdressing Shears


Hairdressing is a unique profession that’s been around for centuries. And much like tailoring, it has many tools that all serve different functions in their craft. From the discussion between long layers vs short layers to Hollywood waves to the perfect Shakira hair, scissors and shears play an important role. The types of scissors and shears used in hairdressing are particularly prolific:

  • Texturizing Shears
  • Styling Shears
  • Razor Shears
  • Swivel Scissors
  • Thinning Scissors
  • Long-bladed Scissors
  • Short-bladed Scissors
  • Offset Handle Scissors

Texturizing shears, like most haircutting shears, are meant to get rid of a lot of hair quickly. These shears help texturize hair, giving it more volume. While thinning scissors are used to remove excess hair, these shears are used for volume and fixing bad haircuts.

Styling shears, also known as haircutting/hairdressing/barber shears, are essential tools in a hairdresser’s kit. They cut large amounts of hair without putting too much strain on the hairdresser.

Razor shears are different from either scissors or regular shears. These shears have a jagged line to make a hairstyle look and feel more natural. The hairdresser uses all one blade to texturize hair, but not the same way texturizing shears do.

Swivel scissors are another primary tool in a hairdresser’s tool kit and are used for cutting hair in comfort. The handle has several rests and makes it easy to cut hair at awkward angles. Hairdressers have to stand and hold scissors for hours on end, meaning comfort and ease of use are the number one priorities in this type of scissors.

Thinning scissors are used to remove excess hair. While smaller than shears, it does a great job of thinning out thick hair quickly, which is needed in some hairstyles. The teeth on the blades ensure it cuts the hair to the desired length. However, they should be used with caution, as they take more hair than you think.

Long-bladed scissors are another standard tool. These scissors go for the surface area rather than detail, making them perfect for more straightforward methods of cutting hair, such as the scissors over comb haircutting method.

Short-bladed scissors are meant for detail work, such as small trims and bangs, making it easy for the hairdresser to cut where they need.

Offset handle scissors make it perfect for hairdressers to cut hair in comfort. Their unique handle design allows the palm of your hand to stay open while the scissors are closed, ideal for comfort, making them perfect for hairdressers.

When hairdressers have to stand for hours and cut hair, the comfort and usability of their tools become the priority. This is why most of these tools have finger rests and maximize comfort for their users.

The durability and quality of the tool are also important, as dull blades and misaligned handles can lead to damaged hair and bad haircuts. Shears are used for getting rid of a large amount of hair, scissors are mostly used for smaller details.

gardening shears

Gardening Shears

Gardening and Kitchen

Garden shears and kitchen shears are everyday household objects that you should use for their specific functions.

Garden shears are typically larger, meant for cutting hedges or snipping branches. They’re large, and the handles require two hands to operate, making them the most heavy-duty shear you can find.

Kitchen shears, on the other hand, are often confused for scissors but can handle everything from opening packages to cutting paper. They’re used for various tasks around the house, but their primary purpose is to assist in food preparation.

Related Questions

Need some additional information? Check below for frequently asked questions.

What is the difference between kitchen scissors and shears?

Back to the original difference between scissors and shears, it’s all in the handle.

If they’re kitchen scissors, the blades will be less than six inches, and the handles will be symmetrical, meant to accommodate one thumb and one finger.

If they’re kitchen shears, they’ll be longer than six inches, with one handle larger than the other so that you can use multiple fingers for more leverage.

Can normal scissors cut fabric?

That’s a bad idea. Most scissors aren’t meant to cut heavy-duty materials like fabrics. Doing so dulls their blades and ends up ruining them. If you want to cut heavy-duty material, you need the right tools for the job.

For example, if you plan on cutting fabric, you first need to see what type of fabric and select the right tool. For most types of material, fabric scissors will do just fine. But heavier fabrics will require a pair of tailor’s shears to cut swiftly and efficiently without damaging the fabric.

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