Hair cutting shears and scissors are usually made out of steel. But those scissors which are for more specific purposes are made from other metal alloys as well. For example, scissors meant to cut the explosive substance cordite cannot produce sparks. Along the same lines, scissors meant to cut magnetic tape cannot interfere with the tape’s magnetism.
Types of Steel Scissors
Steel scissors can be divided into two basic groups.
- Stainless steel scissors usually have a plastic handle fitted to the metal blades. This plastic handle is generally made from a strong and lightweight material such as ABS plastic. Stainless steel is manufactured using iron, about 1% carbon, and at least 10% chromium. Stainless steel is lightweight and rustproof.
- Carbon steel is used to make scissors in which the handle and the blade form one piece. Carbon steel is manufactured using iron and about 1% carbon. Carbon steel is strong and long-lasting. Carbon steel scissors are usually chromium- or nickel-plated to keep them from rusting.
The Manufacturing Process
1. To make hair cutting shears, the first step is to make the blanks. The blanks are the two halves of a pair of scissors. Blanks may include the blade and handle or just the blade. If there is a handle and a blade, the metal handle is welded to the blade or the plastic handle is attached to the blade. Some scissors made from blanks are formed by using cold stamping or molding. Quality scissors generally are made from blanks, formed by drop forging.
2. When the blanks of the scissors are ready, they are then trimmed to the proper shape by cutting away any excess material. Trimmed blanks are then hardened by heating and rapid cooling in cold air, water, oil, or some other substance. The heating and cooling temperatures vary depending on the type of steel and the desired features of the blade. A hole, which will allow the two separate blades to be attached to each other, is drilled through the blank.
Note: The Rockwell Hardness Scale (HRC) is used to measure the hardness of the scissors. The higher the number, the harder the metal. Usually, hair scissors should have a minimum of 56 HRC while the ideal would be around 60 to 64 HRC.
3. After the initial heating and cooling come a second heating and cooling, known as tempering. Tempering gives a uniform hardness to blanks which improve their durability and longevity. This repeating heating and cooling cause the blanks to warp. For that reason, the blanks are peened, meaning that they are straightened by light tapping with a hammer.
4. The blank is ground into a blade, with a rapidly moving sanding belt or abrasive wheel used to apply its edge. This belt of wheel grinds away the excess steel, forming the sharp edge of the blade. During grinding, the blade is cooled with different liquids. These fluids keep the blade from overheating or warping. After grinding, finer belts and/or wheels are then used for polishing.
5. The handles are made along with the blades. As mentioned before, handles generally form part of the blank but are quite often made from a metal alloy or plastic as well. Metal handles are welded to the blades. Plastic handles are simply attached to the blades by inserting the ends of the blanks into the hollow slots in the handle.
6. Polished blades are attached to each other with a screw or a rivet inserted through the drilled holes. Screws and rivets are usually lubricated to ensure flow and silent cutting. Screws ensure the possibility of tension adjustment possibilities. Rivets do not allow for adjustment, which is why rivets are used for less expensive scissors.
7. In the end, the scissors may be painted, plated with chrome, or plated with nickel to make them rustproof.
8. Some manufacturers of high-quality shears perform quality control to ensure that there is the proper alignment of both blades to provide a smooth cut. Scissors are tested on tough synthetic fabrics for sharpness and strength.
In the end, the consumer is responsible for maintaining the quality of their shears. Only use them to cut appropriate materials. Oil and sharpen them regularly. Store them in a closed position. This will ensure that your shears remain fit for use for a long time.
Types of Blades
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing your hair cutting shears is the blade type. This is especially true for professional use because the blade will have a direct effect on your performance and ability to cut hair. Innovative manufacturing techniques have resulted in new types of blades. There is now a great variety of types of hair cutting shears with different blades on the market.
The three most common blades used by professional hairdressers are:
- Serrated or corrugated beveled edge blades. These blades have fine grooves or lines on the surface of the beveled edge. The purpose of the lines is to stop the hair from slipping on the edge. Shears with serrated blades are typically inexpensive. They are meant for cutting straight lines. These blades maintain their function for a long time but require much more force and pressure during cutting. They can also cause damage to hair ends. This happens when the hair is torn by the serration when it meets the opposite blade.
- Beveled or sword edge blades. These are one of the oldest and the most widespread types of blade used for hair shears today. Sometimes called German scissors, beveled edge blades cut the hair well. But when compared with other types of blades, they require more pressure and force during the haircut. So, if you are a professional who works long, intensive hours, perhaps you should think about buying another type of blade. Beveled edge blades cannot be used for advanced haircutting techniques such as slide cutting. But they are a great choice for blunt, layer, and dry cutting as well as for cutting coarse and synthetic hair. These blades are also the least expensive.
- Convex edge blades are extremely powerful, providing smooth and precise cuts. Sometimes called Japanese style, the outer surface of these blades is slightly curved. This makes convex edge blades perfectly suited for slide cutting, wisping, and other more advanced hair cutting techniques. These cuts are very important for professional hairstylists. The sharper angle of the cutting edge ensures a smooth and accurate cut. While they will stay sharp for a long time, when compared with beveled edge blades, convex edge blades dull faster. Due to the fact they are harder to make, they are usually more expensive than other, more ordinary blades.