Commentary by Tom Columbia

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Chapter Two - A Scissors Handle
A Stylist’s Desire to create the perfect haircut is highly motivating. 

A conversation with stylists is a fascinating method to discover their opinion on how well their scissors are functioning.  Usually I hear that they are good, they bend hair, a little heavy, exactly right, or they are fine, but I did not pay much for them.  Even if they say, this is the greatest scissor I have ever used, or my scissors work perfectly, every response is an open-ended opportunity, because I really needed to know why they felt that way.  Haircutting is not only a technical process, but it is also a serious business and they want to talk about it with someone that is well-informed and cares.

When a scissor malfunctions, it is right up there with a flat tire, the electricity is down, or your gun jambs in the middle of a fire fight, they are all equally important.  The topics I cover are what stylist want and need to know so that their scissors work perfectly on every haircut.  Sharing your knowledge can initiate preemptive upkeep and a reliable performing scissor, as opposed to an inevitable breakdown, getting involved will verify your credibility.

Reading my previous article in this publication adds context to the many components that coordinates the scissors genuine capabilities.  Believing that stylist fully recognize the impact of these options on a scissors ease of use is a miscalculation. 


First let us review Chapter One, as it examined the intricacies of the scissors handle width, finger ring size, finger rest, and the tension, as these are features with interlinking functions that enables it to be user-friendly.  I also advocated to reject the obsolete approach of limiting the length of a scissor that stylists can safely use, it was significant, and it requires a fundamental change to appropriately size a scissors handle to the width of the hand.  The outdated method of measuring a blade’s reach to the tip of the middle finger when the scissor is placed on the hands palm establishes a presumed limitation.  You must avoid unnecessarily placing false constrains that could hamper numerous conventional cutting techniques.

A scissors handle and blade work as a team, however, it is the handle that ultimately defines the efficiency of the blade. Once choosing a suitable handle design, refer to the selection of the blade’s length as a separate option. Proposing various blade choices that can support multiple cutting methods, is an intriguing proposition to a motivated stylist.  Discussing a scissors many features as individual options with unique benefits, each deserving consideration, for many stylists this could be an epiphany to boost their technical and creative proficiencies.

The reputation of being a preferred vendor is consummated when presenting information that is valuable and useful to the customer.  Such as, candidly discussing the way that scissors with an ergonomically designed handle enhances its anatomical benefit, this valuable option is only useful when the stylist habitually adheres to the universally accepted method of use.

Ergonomics implies maximizing methods or tools for comfort, function, and to minimize muscular stress or fatigue. 


Anatomical refers to how the natural stance of the body physically interlinks with each process or a tool’s ergonomic features.

This is a good time to renew your appreciation of Basic Career Discipline’s as they are the fundamental’s necessary to confirm which handle design is most suitable. By now it is obvious that everyone involved with scissors has to have a mutual understanding of upper hand control, correct tension settings, and a proper edge.

Opposing Handle
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The Opposing or Straight Handle is the original and most classic design where both finger rings are side by side and flat. Yes, your elbow will be raised, and the wrist has a slight bend when using it, but there will always be stylist that will never release their grip on this model.  Why is that possible when there are ergonomic handles available?  The word “classic” is key, the world’s prominent cutting educators used them, and they developed the precision techniques that still dominate the industry to this day. They had indisputable recognition of performance and were used with the universally accepted handling method.

At all times I offered a selection of opposing handle scissors at the good, better, and best levels since this group of buyers retained high standards and were disciplined artist. They also reinforced my existing belief in Basic Career Disciplines to be most critical for producing a perfect haircut.  Despite the fact that this handle is not as fashionable right now, the top manufacturers continue its production, and many specialty scissors employ the opposing handle as it offers incredible creative advantages.  Do not dismiss this classic as only historical.

Butterfly Handle
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[1] The Butterfly Handle is a sculpted design advancement of the opposing or eyeglass handle.  Injuries from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that are related to using scissors, evolves from the haircutter applying thumb pressure, overextending, and bending the wrist, again and again, in an unnatural way.  The butterfly handle is anatomically fitting to the hand, as the ergonomic bend of both the finger and thumb rings allows directional and radial movement of the blade, without overextending the wrist.  The added option of the dual finger rests makes turning or flipping the scissor in your palm effortless when modifying cutting techniques.

This handle design will satisfy any creative cutting method, take moment to look at the four universally accepted hand positions at There are three photos of the Natural Grip, four of the Thumb Grip, five more of the Point Cut Grip, and finally two unique pictures of the Back Stroke Grip.

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 “Acquiring knowledge about ergonomics and then utilizing them as the manufacturer recommends, you will achieve the best performance from your scissor.  The reward will be the benefit of a healthier career and a better performing scissor. When cutting, position your hands right in front of the chest, hands and fingers should be relaxed, and adjust your body alignment when necessary.  Research suggest that these practices will be significant in avoiding wrist, neck, and shoulder complications”.

Ole Larson, Yamamoto Scissors

Offset Handle
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The Offset Handle is a colossal ergonomic development in the scissors industry. It is without a doubt the most common handle with endless variations to choose.  The innovation of shortening the length of the thumb ring handle triggers a natural drop of the elbow which prompted a flatter wrist.  As this design evolved, the thumb ring position was placed even closer to the pivot, dropping the elbow tighter to the side of the body, delivering a more anatomical hand position.

Ok, change is good, right? Actually, chaos and confusion on how to hold scissors became a debatable topic, and it exist in cutting education classes and sales presentations even today.


The short story is that disciplined cutters position their elbow methodically as they were taught.  Stylists accustomed to using an opposing handle attempting to change to the offset were still using their systematic high elbow posture.  Visually they saw the blade at a down angle versus the normal level position. To realign the scissors to their customary posture, they would raise the blade and then bend the wrist to compensate. Within one or two haircuts they experienced stress from resisting the ergonomics that allowed the repositioning of the elbow and the wrist, it rapidly became uncomfortable and intolerable.

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Within this chaos there is opportunity.  Avoiding this is simple, demonstrate and compare the benefits of new features against existing ones prior to handing the scissors to stylist.  I learned early on, that offering any new idea or feature is usually received unfavorably if it is not first explained. If the stylist does not know what to expect, they will probably perceive it as “wrong” or not what they are accustomed.  Following this viewpoint with any unique differences in a scissor during a sales presentation will over come most underlying objections before they even arise.

Originally the offset handle rings were flat, now there are more ergonomic options and variations than can be discussed logically in this article.  Some designs are not what they claim, the ones that actually are ergonomically sound will be placed prominently alongside the original classics.  The rest are for show.

Crane Handle
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The Crane Handle was yet another breakthrough design.  Positioning the height of the finger ring handle to be level or slightly lower than the blade offered another ergonomic option that instinctively lowered the elbow, permitting a leveled stress-free wrist. The appearance is remarkably similar to the offset handle; however, it has a uniqueness that requires at least a smidgen of discussion when it is being demonstrated.  Stylists are receptive to new ideas when the benefits are an enhancement to what they are already doing.

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When the elbow is lower it levels the wrist when holding scissors in the horizontal cutting position, it also impacts the body posture when cutting steep angles.  In other words, not having to raise your arm higher than your shoulder produces less fatigue.  To a haircutter this makes total sense, to everyone else it is not even obvious.  Being in the scissors business requires that you become informed on the subject.  This does not mean learning to cut hair, get a mannequin and at least familiarize yourself with the body positions necessary when holding scissors.  It is simply not difficult to experiment.

While we are on the subject of understanding what stylist experience, how are your Basic Career Disciplines.  When you pick up a scissor your abilities need to be exemplary if you want to be considered an authority on your product. When sales coaching and team calling on accounts, I worked with many non-haircutting salespeople that learned to expertly handle any scissor.  This not only astonished many stylists, but it also added tremendous credibility to their talking points.  Especially when they said, “will you allow me to demonstrate what I am talking about.”

Swivel Revolving Handle
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Handles with a Rotating or Swivel Thumb ring on an offset handle.  This is a game changing design with a 360-degree rotating thumb ring.  Brilliant ergonomics with anatomical benefits that allows a healthy leveling of the wrist, drops the elbow to the side of the body, and opens the hands palm, expanding the distance between the thumb and fingers.  This feature on the handle is enormously comfortable and allows the thumb to easily open and close the blades with just slight movements.  The exceptional mobility of the swivel allows the upper hand (fingers) to enhance the directional and radial blade movements, without over-extending (bending) the wrist.  

As with all scissors, only the tip of the thumb enters the handle ring without holding the scissors weight.  The thumb should not control the direction of the blade, as this requires bending the wrist.  This would defeat the objective of the design that encourages a flatter, stable wrist, while reducing stress.


The swivel turns naturally back and forth as the thumb opens and closes the blade; it is the stabilizing pivoting base; the fingers balance the scissors weight (upper hand control) and effortlessly directs any blade movement.  If the thumb excessively penetrates the ring, all the anatomical benefits dissolve.


Only stylists using proper upper hand control that also maintain a correct tension setting, will continuously benefit from the anatomical genius of this handle design.  An abbreviated discussion about Basic Career Disciplines, with any of the tens of thousands of stylists using a swivel thumb scissor, will easily cultivate countless loyal customers.

Nothing Is More Invisible

Than The


Now, to state the obvious; a preponderance of stylist using swivel thumb scissors receive little to no anatomical benefits from this design.  The scissors industry has positioned it as a carefree, any hand grip works, and just let the creativity flow type of scissor, and this is appealing to stylist that dismiss Basic Career Disciplines as optional.

 The overwhelming failure of the screw system on the swivel thumb is ample proof that this design has been misunderstood and abused.  The rocking back and forth of the swivel caused by overly inserting the thumb, in an attempt to force directional movements, initiate damaging pressure, this guarantees its inevitable breakdown.  Sharing this type of information will benefit the stylist and exemplify your position as a qualified adviser on how scissors function.

In Chapter Three I will share additional comments on blade length as an option within itself, separate from the edge that it bears. 


I continue to endorse “The New Conceptual Selling”, by Robert Miller & Stephen Heiman.  Face to face selling is a conversation that follows the buyers natural buying process.  It will be your guide to successful selling.


[1] Ole Larson, Yamamoto Scissors owns Butterfly Handle pictures and provided some of the material in this portion of the article.

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