The simple cutting tools that we take for granted, likely have around the house in large numbers and for various different sizes and purposes were once handmade and forged tools, treasured and passed down through the generations.
Scissors date from before the first century A.D. They can be seen in various forms in Egyptian art and have been the tools for tailors and barbers for at least 2,000 years.
In Greek mythology, when Atropos of the Three Fates cut the thread of a life, she did it with "shears" or scissors.
In general, shears have blades longer than 6" and scissor blades are less than 6". The finger holes on scissors will only accommodate one finger in the hole for thumb and finger, while shears will have holes in the handle that fit two or more fingers for applying more force.
The earliest scissors appeared in the middle east about 4,000 years ago and were spring scissors, two bronze blades connected at the handles by a curved, very thin strip of bronze that caused the blades to come together when squeezed and go apart when released. This style of shears is still used to shear sheep wool. Spring scissors were used in Europe until the 16th century, although pivoted scissors of iron or bronze were used in Rome, China, Japan and Korea.
Pivoted steel scissors like the ones we know today weren't manufactured in large numbers until 1761 in Sheffield, England when cast steel was used to make them by melting steel in clay crucibles and pouring into molds, making a uniform strong steel with few impurities.
Now that you know a little of the history of scissors, here are some tips and hints for keeping scissors safe and sharp:
1. Dust, fluff and the remains of cutting material should be wiped off the cutting edges and blades. The scissors should be stored in a dry place. This applies particularly to nickel-plated, carbon steel scissors and shears because the unprotected areas of the surface can be prone to corrosion.
2. Now and then the screw slot and the joint area between should be oiled with a drop of fine oil. Thus the easy closing force of the scissors will be maintained.
3. To make them last longer and stay sharper, store scissors in a closed position to prevent dulling the blades.
4. Run a small bead of oil up each blade, open and close the scissors several times. Wipe any excess oil off the scissors with a soft, dry cotton cloth. This allows your scissors ride to be free of any debris, thus keeping your scissors sharper longer!
5. Fabric scissors are extremely sharp and should not be used for anything but cutting cloth, since cutting paper will quickly dull a pair of fabric scissors.
6. Use tin snips to cut sheet metal, pulling the bottom blade up instead of pushing the top blade down and keeping the top blade aligned over the metal sheet. If you are using a thin gauge of copper or brass such as 30 and 36 gauge, use a dedicated set of standard scissors that you don't use for cutting fabric or paper. And remember that cut metal edges can be very sharp - protect your skin so you don't get cut!
(Believe me, it happens, I did it myself over the weekend - much worse than a paper cut)
If you are interested in more history and mystery about shears and scissors, how are scissors made? - What is their history through time? be sure to check it out, it's facinating.
I usually don't think about it, but now when I pick up a pair, I'll think about their long journey.