Here's where I answer your questions about hairdressing scissors and the industry. Frankly my industry is a mine field of dishonest misrepresentation when it comes to claims about scissor quality, sharpening, metals, technology etc. My name is Adrian Schlemmer and I was the first manufacturer of quality hairdressing scissors in Australia. I have trained over 50 sharpeners worldwide and I know just about everybody thats anybody in the manufacturing side of hairdressing scissors. If you would like to know details read my Resume here.
These days I am semi-retired, I write answers to Frequently Asked Questions on this website for other scissor specialists and the professional hairdressers who are very serious about using the world's finest hairdressing scissors and have a passion for true excellence. I now live in both Kawagoe near Tokyo in Japan and Sydney Australia where I still look after some of my old friends and local customers who love and own great scissors. If you want me to answer a question just email me, visit my Contact page. This is a "No B.S." zone, I answer questions truthfully and to the best of my knowledge from the last 25 years of my experience. If you have been told different by some scissor salesman, you may refer that person to me for my professional opinion.
COMMON QUESTIONS I'VE BEEN ASKED OVER THE LAST 25 YEARS, RESPONSES TO EMAILS NOTED
Q: Aaron from Mr. Scissors asked me about the benefits of DLC or Diamond Like Carbon Coating - 26.6.14
A: Some 15 years ago I experimented with this coating. There is no doubt that it will make a scissor last much longer but only if "the wearing faces" on the inside of the blades, along the edges has the coating. Here is a Wikipedia article on DLC . The industry standard Titanium Nitride gold coloured coating will also do the same thing and some Jaguar models have the inside of the blades coated as described on the wearing faces. That is all great but it has disadvantages too. The first being that if you make a convex edge on the blade and remove the coating on the upper blade surface, the coating tends to micro fracture and chip away which destroys the edge. The second being that to apply the coating needs about 500degrees Celcius and this process seriously softens the underlying stainless steel this also makes it easier for the coating to flake off. Thirdly, a damaged scissor becomes difficult to sharpen without removing the coating from the wear faces, thus defeating the purpose. To overcome these problems scissor manufacturers have sharpened these scissors with a "bevel edge" , which effects how the scissor cuts and feels. These coated scissors cut with a hard feel and do not slide cut well. There is little advantage to make a Premium scissor that cuts like a cheap barber scissor even if it lasts a long time. For these reasons I rejected this coating and discontinued development of a DLC Sharpline Scissor model. I see many cheaper coated scissors where the coating is actually removed from the inner blade wear faces during sharpening when new. This means the coating has no practical use as far as edge retention and performance is concerned, although it has some advatages for hairdressers who have skin allergies or like pretty scissors.
Q: Are hand made scissors better?
A: No, just cheaper. The highest quality scissors are super accurately precision ground by Computer Numerically Controled machines accurate to the 1/1000 mm. The blade shape, hollowgrind, volume and taper is exact and identical in every scissor blade. There must be no confusion between hand made and hand finished. All scissors are hand finished and sharpened, this involves finishing and polishing all surfaces includeing in some cases the hollowgrind. Some Japanese factories also call this hand crafted. Sometimes with great skill and experience like many Japanese factories, hand finishing fine tunes the CNC precision ground scissor, and in the case of cheaper scissors, hand finished is done on hand made scissors with less skill. Hand made scissors where the hollowgrinding and shaping processes are done by hand, commonly from China and Pakistan are less accurately made, inconsistant and often have many defects.
Q: "Are Japanese scissors the best?"
A: The quality of a scissor has nothing to do with the nationality of who made it. It comes down to the quality, durability and edge holding properties of the materials, the technical brilliance of the design, the quality and technology of the hardening, the precision of the manufacturing process, the skill of the bladesmith and the quality control of the factory. The answer is... the best hairdressing scissors are made in Japan and they are made of Swedish, American and maybe Japanese powder steel alloys (no not samurai sword steel!). Recently the Japanese steel makers have been offering their own powder steel products although I feel that with a small market it is likely that the Japanese products are "re-branded" Swedish and American powder steels particularly as the chemical compositions are identical.
Q: "So many companies claim to be the best and sell the best scissors, who can I trust?"
A: Trust nobody! Do your own research and buy quality scissors with real guarantees from well known companies in the industry. The longer they have been in business the better, and ask for a trial period! There are plenty of good scissors on the market that are quite adequate for the average or even the better hairdresser. The difference is matching the scissor to the techniques you use most and your cutting style. High quality scissors tend to be more specialised suitable for more demanding work. For example scissors designed purposely for dry cutting will do a better job dry cutting and last longer than other scissors. My success has been to design scissors to match the techniques used by western hairdressers and then do a proper and detailed consultation with the hairdresser so they are choosing the right tool. It is common for me to ask up to 30 questions to get the right information and help the hairdresser make the right decision. To have "the best" scissors, you need to have a big big variety of high quality scissors to suit all hairdressers, all techniques in all situations.
Q: " Damascus scissor are so expensive, what makes them so good?"
A: To my knowledge I was the first scissor maker in the world to use Stainless Steel Damascus to make a hairdressing scissor. I have trialed and thouroughly tested 3 different types and came to the same conclusion. It is important to note that hairdressing scissor Damascus is only made to "look like" real Damascus (Wikipedia), which is a hand made steel which rusts very easily so is unsuitable for hairdressing scissors. My conclusion was that the Damascus Stainlesses available have no advantage over the high quality stainless steel equivelent and are not as good as some special alloy powder steels which are not available as a Damascus steel. Basically you are paying double to have a pretty pattern on your scissor. If that is you, thats cool, but thats not what I'm into. I think you are better off spending money on the right high quality scissor for your cutting style and techniques you prefer.
Q: " The guy who sold me my scissor told me it is made like a Samurai sword, is that true"
A: Complete rubbish!! Firstly, you are asking the right guy as I am an acknoweged world expert on Japanese swords and have an extensive collection with many of my pieces being displayed in major museums in Japan and around the world. Samurai sword steel is a hand made steel (called tamahagane, Wikipedia ) which is made in an ancient and traditional way in Japan. Stainless steels used for hairdressing scissors are completely different mass produced mill steels. This little "story" about scissors being made like samurai swords boils my blood and anybody who uses this line to sell is a complete phoney and a liar, not to be trusted! Samurai swords are sharp, but no sharper than a good kitchen knife, they are famous because they are virtually indistructable in battle against other swords and armour! The rest is all hollywood make believe. Now here's the truth, in 1876 the Samurai class was abolished in Japan and the swordsmiths no longer had an income (Wikipedia), many turned their talents to making tools, knives and scissors, this was a time when western steel was still virtually unknown in Japan. After WW2 Japan developed a thriving steel and stainless steel manufacturing industry, the manufacture of hand made steel, tamahagane ceased. ( it was restarted in 1972 but only to supply Japanese swordsmiths, nothing to do with scissors). I know of three famous scissor factories that are family owned by the descendants of Japanese swordsmiths. The "spirit" of the Japanese swordsmith lives on, but nobody used tamahagane or anything like it to make scissors.
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