‘A bad workman always blames his tools’, but what if the tools are actually to blame? If you were a left-handed child in kindergarten and the only one that experienced blunt cuts while cutting shapes, chances are you were using the wrong pair of scissors. Ordinary household tools, such as scissors, are often designed with right-handed users in mind, ignoring the needs of a small yet significant portion of users. Over the years, left-handed scissors have entered the market; however, they are not as prevalent as they should be. For this purpose, this article answers common questions regarding left-handed scissors and explains the difference between left-handed scissors vs right-handed scissors.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Don’t Scissors Work Left-handed?
- 2 Are There Left Handed Scissors?
- 3 What is the Difference Between Left Handed and Right Handed Scissors?
- 4 True Left Handed Scissors
- 5 How to Use Right-handed Scissors with your Left Hand
- 6 FAQs
Why Don’t Scissors Work Left-handed?
One of the biggest reasons why right-handed scissors don’t work for left-handed individuals is the lack of a clear view of the cut. A traditional pair of scissors is designed in a way that allows a right-handed person to clearly see the cutting line. Therefore, no matter how you flip the tool in your left hand, the cutting line faces away from you, and you are forced to lean outwards to be able to see your cut.
Another major reason is the difference in the pressure exerted. In a right-handed pair of scissors, the side facing you slides down, and the other slides up. It favors the natural tendencies and movements of a right-handed person, and with minimal pressure, they are able to make a clean cut. Cutting with the same pair in your left hand becomes a more challenging affair. The way the blades are aligned compels the user to apply more pressure to laterally force them closer together to avoid blunt or irregular cuts. Add the prolonged use of the wrong pair into the mix, and using this simple household tool becomes both painful and unnecessarily inconvenient.
It is similar to cutting with a knife that only has a single bevel, like a Japanese chef’s knife. A double bevel knife is better for left-handers as long as it also has a symmetrical handle. Left handed garden tools are another example.
This is why left handers often prefer to use right-handed scissors with their non-dominant hand. It can be incredibly demoralizing to have an awful experience using scissors while your peers use them with ease. Therefore, genuine left-handed scissors should become more widely available and accessible.
Are There Left Handed Scissors?
The world is designed and optimized for the majority, which in this case are individuals whose dominant hand is their right hand. Even daily use items are more suited to them. They are conditioned to ignore the inconveniences experienced by the minority, especially when it comes to matters that seem trivial, such as using a pair of scissors.
Right-handed scissors of every size, shape, and color imaginable are available from small stationery shops to big-box retail stores. On the flip side, those who favor their left hand often go on using the wrong scissors without knowing that there is such a thing as left-handed scissors. While not nearly as prevalent, such a product does exist in the market. Some brands ensure that their design is optimized for their target audience, but they need to be made more widely available and accessible. Additionally, when buying your own scissors, do remember to focus on blades and distinguish between an actual pair of left-handed scissors and a pair that is falsely advertised as one owing to its symmetrical handles.
The other thing you would need to be aware of is the task at hand. Some types of scissors are more easily available in left handed versions than others. For example, you can find some of the best left handed tailoring scissors that cut fabric but lefty pinking shears are not available for retail. Left handed hair cutting scissors are available but not in all sizes. Same with dog grooming shears for lefties and pruning shears. If you’re looking for left-handed kitchen shears, there are very few, but you will find very good ambidextrous kitchen shears that are designed to be easy to use by lefties as well.
What is the Difference Between Left Handed and Right Handed Scissors?
At first glance, you might not spot the difference between the two pairs of scissors. It comes down to the most essential part of the scissors – its blades. Simply put, if you hold the scissors in your left hand in front of you with the tip of the blades pointing to your right, the outer blade’s tip should move upwards as you open the scissors and the handle through which you have your index, middle, ring and little fingers, moves downwards. The blade tip connected to the thumbhole moves downwards.
The handles don’t really contribute to the differentiation between left and right-handed scissors regardless if each handle is a different size since it’s only the way the blades are held together that matters. Different sized handles are helpful when you want a better grip; however, sellers often use this feature to falsely market a pair of scissors as left-handed when they are actually a right-handed pair with flipped handles.
The same tactic is used for ambidextrous scissors, which are, more often than not, just right-handed scissors with handles that are the same size. Even double loop scissors that teachers use to help train children to cut are not ambidextrous. The only way to truly spot a left-handed scissor is if the outer scissor blade tip moves upwards and the inner one moves downwards as you open the scissors. So the next time you see a pair of scissors, look past the handles and check the blades to identify the type of scissors correctly.
True Left Handed Scissors
An authentic pair of left-handed scissors is a mirror image of a right-handed pair. It is not just a scissor with the blades of a right-handed pair and the handles of a left-handed one. The outer blade tip of proper left-handed scissors slides upward while the inner blade tip slides downwards. This design enables you to see where exactly you are cutting the paper, fabric, or object. The right scissors also allow you to cut without exerting too much pressure since the blades work according to the natural movements of your left hand as opposed to against them.
Say you are cutting a piece of fabric with your left, and all you have is a pair of right-handed shears. You try to make the uncomfortable cut by putting extra pressure for the blades to stay tight together, and unfortunately, instead of cutting through, the fabric bends. You try to cut again, and you are forced to peer over the scissors to see where you’re making the cut; there is still a lot of tension, and those minor deviations while cutting start to add up. All in all, it is an uncomfortable experience. You can avoid this by buying true lefthanded scissors, which ensure that the material you are cutting doesn’t fold or bend and can instead be cut with precision without leaving your hand sore in the end.
Don’t fall for the ambidextrous marketing ploy that many manufacturers use by either just switching out the handles of a right-handed pair of scissors or by making both handles of equal size. Unless the blades are fixed together as a mirror image of right handed ones, they are not meant for left handers. If kids are just starting out with learning to cut, then kids left handed scissors are especially important.
How to Use Right-handed Scissors with your Left Hand
Can you use right handed scissors with your left hand? As covered before, left-handed scissors are not as available as one could ideally hope for. Sure, you can buy a pair to keep at home but what if you need to cut something somewhere else? You are left with no option but to use right-handed scissors. However, all hope is not lost since left-handed people have come up with clever tricks to use right-handed scissors with their left hand.
Regardless of one’s dominant hands, most people tend to cut just outside the line so that it’s always visible to ensure a precise cut. Cut line visibility is also quite important when using a circular saw for wood or a rotary cutter for sewing and crafting. Right-handed individuals tend to cut anti-clockwise and left-handed users, clockwise. So for the first trick, as a leftie using right-handed scissors, you should cut anti-clockwise which may feel unnatural, but it allows you to see your cutting line. Additionally, rely on your right hand to hold and move your material for better control over the cut, especially around curves.
Instead of holding the material flat, tilt it so that you can see over the top of the blade. Also angle the scissors so that the blades are at right angles to the material. This also gives you a direct line of sight to the line you’re cutting on.
Another trick for left-handed people is to hold your scissors horizontally and cut across your body instead of directing the blades away from you. When cutting consecutive lines, cut from left to right rather than right to left. Finally, open your scissor wider and do not press down entirely in order to lessen the tension applied.
It is important to note that these tips and tricks are not meant for regular use, and in no way are they a perfect substitute for a genuine pair of left-handed scissors. So do not hesitate to spoil yourself with a good pair of left-handed scissors!
Do left handed scissors make a difference?
Absolutely yes, lefty scissors make a real difference to left-handed people! The blades are positioned for the convenience and practicality of a left-handed individual. They are crafted to suit your natural hand movements so that minimal hand tension is required to use these scissors. You are also able to clearly view where exactly you are making the cut without having to peer over the scissors. There’s less chance of bending the material, making blunt or crooked cuts, and it is overall better for prolonged use.
Are scissors ambidextrous?
The concept of ambidextrous scissors exists, and a patent for the design of such a scissor which involves double-edged blades and a rotating handle was granted back in 1976 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scissors#Right-handed_and_left-handed_scissors). However, more than four decades later, ambidextrous scissors do not exist in the market. Other than the misleading promotion of particular scissors as ambidextrous when they are actually just right-handed scissors with identically shaped handles, of course.
When were left-handed scissors invented?
While scissors, in general, were first invented in Egypt in approximately 1500 B.C., the first genuine pair of left-handed scissors was designed only in 1967. This was primarily because products such as scissors were manufactured to appeal to the majority, and the concerns of left-handed people were severely underplayed.