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In this section we look at Professional Salon Barber Shears or Hair Cutting Scissors. We will look into what is a shear, how to choose a shear, Shear care and maintenance and other relevant topics that might crop up in the world of Professional Salon Barber Shears – Hair Cutting Scissors.
The difference between a shear and a scissor can be seen as the scissors having one edge cutting surface and shorter in length, whilst a shear can be described as having two ground edges on the cutting surface. A shear is also usually longer, yet the two definitions these days for all intents and purpose have become interchangeable and the overall important factor is the quality of the instrument and its ability to perform its function in relation to you the industry professional. .Below is a diagram of a hair scissors or shears.
Whether you are a veteran barber, hair stylist - or a student, apprentice - just coming into the field, the basic concept is the same when it comes to choosing your barber shears or hair cutting scissors. Please see our special students finance program for those just starting out in the industry.
There are three basic steps to choosing a barber shear or hair cutting scissors. What type of blade you want, what type of handle to select and the length of the blade.
Step 1 - Choose Blade
Choose the type of blade you want according to the performance you are looking for. Now adays blades fall in two category types. Your classic bevel edge blade renown by the Germans which is usually a much harder blade and longer lasting but requires more effort and strain when cutting as opposed to the latest type the Convex blade renown by the Japanese which is used for precision cutting and is a much softer blade and cut - requiring less effort and strain with less bending of the hair giving a more crisp and clean cut but usually needs more frequent sharpening and is more prone to nicks or damage.
(Picture of Bevel Edge) The Bevel Edge blade was made popular by the Germans. Because these blades are not as sharply angled as convex blades, one edge is usually serrated to keep hair from sliding forward. These edges are also very nick resistant. These are best for layer and taper cutting or Scissor over Comb as some know it, this type of technique was most predominate before section cutting. It is now largely used as a barbering technique and can most widely be found amongst such establishments.
(Picture of Convex Edge) The Convex Edge blade was made famous by the Japanese. The edges are ground to a razor sharp angle. The blades are usually triple honed to make the scissor run very smoothly and quietly. Because of its sharp edges, a convex blade can cut through hair with less force. A must for slide cutting, these hair scissors or shears are harder and more expensive to make.
Step 2 - Select Handle
Select what handle gives you more comfort and less strain to your wrist and shoulder according to the particular style or technique which you use. Over the course of the Professional Barber’s or hair stylist career the amount of repetitive cutting strokes one will perform mount up and it is a good idea to start with a handle design which will give you the most comfort and put the least strain on your wrist and shoulder.
There are three main types of handle design which we will look at and then we will have a closer look at the thumb design in more detail.
(Picture of Opposing Grip) Opposing Grip or Symmetrical Handle: the handles are both the same length and are symmetrically positioned from the center screw. The oldest design this classic handle grip is still widely used throughout Europe and is good for those industry professionals who cut with the thumb and middle finger.
(Picture of Offset Grip) Offset Grip is a newer design. The thumb handle is shorter then the finger handle putting less extension upon the thumb allowing a more open hand cut and natural movement of the thumb and finger. This is good for the industry professionals who use the thumb and ring finger.
(Picture of Crane Grip) Crane Grip has offset handles to allow for a more open hand cut, the angel of the handle is not symmetrical, the longer finger handle is perpendicular to the blades whiles the thumb handle is angled so the elbow can be dropped and therefore puts less strain upon the wrist as well as the shoulder. It is the latest and most modern design giving the most comprehensive benefits ergonomically to the industry professional.
(Picture of Standard Thumb) The Standard Thumb type comes with a removable and reversible feature allowing the finger rest (or trumpet rest) to be attached to either the left or right giving it versatility for either left or right hand use. Although it can be interchanged, it is not necessarily a true Lefty Shear, those have to be specially made and designed.
(Picture of Cutaway Thumb) The Cutaway Thumb allows for greater comfort for the industry professional although it does not have the same interchangeability as the Standard Thumb.
(Picture of Anatomic Thumb) The Anatomic Thumb gives much greater comfort and freedom of movement then the other earlier designs. It is anatomically curved allowing for more radial movement.
(Picture of Rotating Thumb) The Rotating Thumb or Swivel Thumb is the latest most advanced thumb design. Its Rotating or Swivel features reduces wrist and hand strain helping to avoid or relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome problems. It s open hand grip design reduces thumb travel and although it might take some getting use to at first, most industry professionals once tried can never go back to other designs.
Step 3 - Blade Length
Choose what blade length you will need based not just on the size of your hand, but also just as importantly - the techniques which you will be using. The length of a hair scissors or shear is measured from the tip to the finger hole, not the finger rest.
Some techniques which you might find easier using a longer blade are Slide Cutting, Scissor over Comb, Cutting Bob Lines, Cutting around the face and Cutting against the skin. Especially when dealing with thick hair and heavy slide cutting or when section cutting is going to be done a longer blade comes in handy allowing for a much more cleaner cut.
However, on the other hand if you are intending to do some detailed, finishing work like cutting around the parameters, around the ears or even close to skin and touch ups beneath the bob you may find a shorter blade is useful – it is a good idea to have fine tip cutting shears for such detailed oriented and finishing work and the length of the blade on your shorter fine cutting shear should not really be longer then 5.5 inches and usually half or one inch shorter then your usual blade.
As you’ve probably gleamed already at the end of the day it all depends on the individual, techniques and what you are more comfortable using. But fundamentally depending upon the certain technique incorporated a blade which is too long for the task will be awkward, take longer and run the danger of cutting yourself especially if you are not used to it. Whilst having a blade too short might feel your hand is getting tangled or your client is uncomfortable with the Hair Scissors or Shear being too close to the face.
Three Steps Further
From the basic three step principle discussed above, we’ve gone three steps further – in an effort to better inform and enable you to make a more informed choice when it comes to choosing the right Hair Scissors or Shears for you. In our Three Steps Further we will have a look at the tension system, material and production method used.
There are five basic types of tension system so to speak. The Coin Adjustable, Round Click Dial Adjustable, Leaf Spring Assembly, Rotating Thumb Ball Bearing and Ball Bearing Pivot System.
(Picture of Coin Adjustable) The Coin Adjustable Tension System is the classic industry standard Tension System. It is a solid and dependable system which has been tried and tested over the years.
(Picture of Round Click Dial) The Round Click Dial Adjustable Tension System enables one to click adjust the tension of the shears by turning it with the thumb and finger, therefore giving easy and flexible advantage to adjust the tension accordingly.
(Picture of Leaf Spring) The Leaf Spring Tension System in an innovation from the standard Coin Adjustable and a step up from the Round Click Dial Adjustable, as well as its easy and flexible tension adjusting feature – it also allows for a greater more evenly distributed balance of tension along the length of the shear which in turn results in a longer lasting shear and a more finely balanced cutting instrument.
(Picture of Rotating Thumb Ball Bearing) The Rotating Thumb Ball Bearing System has a ball bearing system incorporated into its design allowing for a smoother and freer-cut and movement of the thumb with industrial strength endurance and resilience to add.
(Picture of Ball Bearing Pivot System) The Ball Bearing Pivot System gives you industrial machine precision stability over many many years of use. Its industrial based precision design and endurance make it a very desirable feature to have indeed.
Points of Interest:
(Picture of Silencer) A Silencer or Stopper, helps keep away metal on metal contact and makes for a smoother more softer - quieter stroke.
(Picture of Teflon Ride) The Teflon Ride is the key pivot point of wear. It is this ride area where the Teflon Channels remove the metal on metal wear and allow the smoothest most durable stroke action for the shear.
(Picture of Finger Inserts) Finger Inserts allow for more comfort and fit for the industry professional.
(Picture of Finger Rest) The Finger Rest or Trumpet Rest gives support and rest as well as being removable and interchangeable in some cases.
(Picture of Cobalt/Molybdenum Alloy)Cobalt/Molybdenum Alloy
(Picture of Molybdenum Alloy) Molybdenum Alloy
(Picture of Triple Tempered SuS) Triple Tempered 440 Stainless Steel.
(Picture of Cobalt Alloy) Cobalt Alloy
Picture of One Piece Riveted Hair Scissors - Shears) One Piece Riveted type shears are the cheaper mass production class of shears. Once the shears become loose or slack it is just a downhill process from there and not long before you notice the adverse effects when styling or cutting hair.
(Picture of Two Piece Wielded Hair Scissors - Shears) The two piece wielded shear is the superior type of shear in that when becoming loose or slack its tension can be adjusted due to its Tension System which holds the shears together and therefore can be readjusted fairly easily as well as being able to detach the separate blades for sharpening.
(Picture of Stamped Hair Scissors - Shears) The Stamped Method of Production is when strips of metal are stamped out into the required shape of the shears. They are then squeezed into shape in a press or ground into their final form. The end result method of production usually means that the cutting edge of the shears will last longer due to the compression of the steel near its edge.
(Picture of Forged Hair Scissors - Shears) The Forged Method of Production entails a huge ram pounding down upon an anvil below, forging the hot poured steel in the die which is fastened half to the ram and half to the anvil. Due to the huge size and weight of the Ram which hurtles and smashes down into the anvil, the end result is that you have a more compact, more uniform shear overall, generally with a denser and stronger metal. The hot steel ‘forges’ are then cooled off, tempered and trimmed into their final state This Forging method is generally superior to Stamping if high standards of forging are kept and adhered to.
(Picture of Ice Tempering) Ice Tempering is the process of rapid cooling when the steel reaches its optimum heated temperature above 2000 degrees F. The harder the Steel the more increased chance there is of the blades being nicked or snapping. To maintain this optimum structure the steel is rapidly cooled and tempered at around 450 degrees F. The steel is then ice tempered to temperatures below 100 degrees F below zero. The end result and benefit is that the cutting edge lasts longer without increasing the hardness of the steel.
Looking after your Hair Scissors or Shears is just as important as choosing the right Shears. Proper care and maintenance can mean the difference between having a high performance long life cutting edge or not. Using hair scissors or shears which are dirty or dull deteriorates the condition of your hair scissors and shears and reduces its over all life span.
When looking at Hair Scissors Shears Care we will highlight the Do’s and Don’ts of handling your barber shears and salon style hair scissors as well as storage of them.
For maintenance we will look at Cleaning, Lubrication, Tension Adjustment and Sharpening – How and Why.
Hair Scissors & Shears Care:
Below is a Six step guide of Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to Caring and handling of your barber shears and salon hair scissors and some storage tips.
Hair Scissors & Shears Storage:
It’s a good idea to store your hair scissors and shears in a leather case as it allows your shears to breath and dries and stops any build up of moisture - not to mention leather being a good added protection against nicks or accidental damage. Make sure the case is made of real 100% leather otherwise the material won’t allow the shears to ‘breath’ properly and any moisture or build of it will only attract dust and dirt and expose the shears to rust deterioration. Never leave your hair scissors or shears or ‘throw’ them in a draw loose or discarded on a table or open surface. Always return them to their original case or a leather pouch and store in a dry and protected place.
Hair Scissors & Shears Maintenance:
Hair Scissors and Shears maintenance is an important aspect to ensuring the long life cutting edge and high performance of your shears. It comes in four parts, Cleaning, Lubrication, Balance (Tension Adjustment) and Sharpening. Regular cleaning and lubrication helps protect hair scissors and shears from rust and deterioration from chemicals, moisture and bacteria. Well balanced and sharpened hair scissors and shears allows you to get the best results and avoids hair folding from loose tension or excess wear and strain if too tight. The sharpened edges avoids ‘blade torque’ and keeps the cut fresh and crisp.
Hair Scissors & Shears Cleaning:
It is a good idea, between every client, to wipe away any excess hair on the blades by using a soft towel or cloth. At the end of each working day use clean soapy water to thoroughly clean the shears. Dry them with a soft cloth or towel – being careful not to cut yourself. When you are sure they are thoroughly dry they are ready for ‘Lubrication'.
Hair Scissors & Shears Lubrication:
It’s the end of the working day, your shears have been cleaned and dried, now its time to ensure they are properly lubricated. Use a top quality scissors lubricant as oil attracts dust, lint and hair. Add a drop of lubrication to the screw with the shears in the closed position. Then open the shears to a ninety degree angel and add a drop to each inner blade and two or three drops to the pivot point – opening and closing the blades several times to wash out any dirt and debris from underneath the pivot area, wiping off any excess lubricant to leave a wax like coating.
Balance (Tension Adjustment):
It is wise to test the tension at the beginning of each work day and at the end. If your hair scissors or shears is out of balance it can cause hair to bend if the tension is too loose, or if too tight it will cause unnecessary wear and strain. A well balanced hair scissors and shears gives the best results, to test for tension hold the tips pointing upwards – towards the ceiling. With one hand lift the one handle (thumb ring) to a ninety degree angel and let the blade drop. If it doesn’t come down or barely moves then the tension is too tight. If it comes down and closes completely then the tension is too loose. Adjust tension accordingly; it should only close about two thirds of the way.
Hair Scissors & Shears Sharpening:
A sharp cutting edge gives a fresh and crisp cut and allows for best performance of your hair scissors or shears. It is important you sharpen you shears accordingly and never cut with a dull blade edge as this will lead to ‘blade torque’ and reduce the life span of your hair scissors and shears not to mention the quality of your cut. The number of haircuts before you hair scissors or shears needs sharpening varies widely as it depends on the quality of steel, care and maintenance and the number of times it is exposed to dry, dirty or chemically treated hair. Each will reduce the number of cuts before your hair scissors and shears need sharpening. Never, ever use your shears for anything else except for cutting hair.
Good quality steel, well cared, maintained and used hair scissors and shears - should be good for about roughly 700 – 800 hair cuts, depending on the above factors mentioned. Note, some superb high quality much softer shears, give a much softer feel and cut and therefore will need more regular sharpening. Depending on the actual type of hair scissors or shears it is not always necessarily poor quality if it needs sharpening more often – important thing here is to know your hair scissors or shears, know its material, type and characteristics. Always know your shears, and always use the appropriate hair scissors and shears for each technique you use, this will ensure a longer life and sharper lasting cutting edge.
A good quality and properly sharpened hair scissors and shears can last for many years and can be sharpened many times. Unless there is some serious nick or bending of the blades or shears, then most can be and should be readjusted to ensure the tips meet and cut properly. Shears damaged beyond repair or usage, are usually clearly visible and you should always ask to be shown why your shears can’t be serviced.
As a rule of thumb it is wise to sharpen and service your shears every 3 – 6 months, the latter being the longest you should probably leave between services.
A lot of times it is a question of cost, and if finances allow - tt is a good idea to have a two pairs of hair scissors or shears for the following reasons. Makes your shears last long, Saves you money, Unforeseen Accidents don’t stop your work or inconvenience your clients, and last but not least having the flexibility to vary your technique.
Buying a good quality hair scissors or shear will save you money in the long run and also give you better performance and cut. The same goes for having a spare pair of Shears, you need to keep your regular scissors keen to prolong it lifespan and saves you money by not having to replace them too soon with a new pair.
Also when sending your hair scissors or shears out for servicing you usually have to pay a small fee to use a replacement shear which costs you more money and also having the added disadvantage of using a pair of hair scissors you might not be used to or comfortable with. If you have a spare pair of shears, you save on the cost of the borrowed shear and also have the advantage of using a familiar pair of hair scissors.
In a busy Barber Salon environment unforeseen accidents or incidents can always crop up and can happen out of the blue, a spare pair of hair scissors or shears means your work doesn’t stop and your clients are not inconvenienced.
Finally, for precision cutting sections or detail work, a 4.5" to 5.0" hair scissors or shear is good. For shear over comb, slide cutting, and more, a 5.5" or longer shear offers better overall efficiency. Thus it’s a good idea to have two pairs of hair scissors or shears – one shorter and one longer to giving you the flexibility to vary your technique accordingly.