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A number of years ago, I was told by the plant foreman to order some "good scissors." He needed them for cutting aluminum honeycomb for clean room panels, and they were going through a pair of scissors monthly. (Dull after a week or two, and broken after four or five weeks)

After doing an hour or so of research, I decided to order Wiss 1DS 8" shears. This particular model is often used in the poultry industry for cutting bones. It is also used by aircraft manufacturers. Two of the ones I purchased from eBay were from Boeing.

My foreman was irate when he learned I spent $50 on two pair, though he later admitted that I had chosen well, and they were both still in use, one sharpening and three years later, when I left the company. I dropped in for a visit several years later, and they were still being used.

I decided to purchase several pairs for myself, about five years ago. I ended up with four pairs, all used, all from eBay. The prices ranged from $8-$15. One of those I gave to my mother, and the other three sit in my silverware drawer. All get daily use, from cutting wrapping paper to cutting up a chicken, they’ve handled every task I’ve thrown at them. These are "buy it for life" products, and I own no other scissors (except for a very nice pair of barber’s shears, which only get used on hair).

So, what makes these scissors so good? It is the difference between a utensil and a tool. Most scissors are utensils, suitable for light duty at best. These shears, made by Wiss, are a tool. Like any quality tool, they are designed to last a lifetime of average use.

No plastic handles here. Most of the readers here will be familiar with the Fiskars brand orange handled office scissors. The blades are at least twice as thick as those, so no flexing, warping, etc. Most scissors are made of stainless steel these days. Wiss shears are not.

The 1DS scissors are marked "inlaid," so I looked up what that meant in regards to Wiss products. They take a carbon steel blade and weld it to a steel frame, then it is ground and polished, so no seam or join is seen. It is then nickel plated for corrosion resistance. The oldest pair I have is missing the nickel plating at the tips, but is otherwise in remarkably good condition. At some point, the "Wiss 1DS" and "inlaid" markings on the blade were changed from stamped/engraved to etched markings, though the overall quality between the two styles is the same. Engraving was used until at least 1975, and probably later, judging from catalogs and brochures of that time period. As you can see from the photos at the top of this post, there are some subtle differences between early and late model 1DS shears. The older shears have a more pronounced curvature in the handle, the grind on the blade is shorter and ends with a curve where it meets the frame of the handles. The more modern version has a flatter grind that is squared off, and the handles are not curved off of the pivot point. The tip of the older shears is rounded to a point, and the newer shears are much straighter, showing no such curvature. The older shears are more polished than the newer shears, though that is more of an aesthetic thing than a functional one. The screw sticks out much further on the older one as well, whereas it is almost flush on newer models.

The screw joining the two halves of the scissors is made in house by Wiss, and uses their patented SET-EASY® pivot. Wiss claims that their screws are accurate to 1/1000th of an inch. I have no reason to doubt that claim. Once set, I rarely have to readjust it, and when I do, it is mostly on the oldest and most worn pair I own. This is likely due to the fact that Richard J. Wiss invented an improved pivot point screw design (Pat. No. 3,672,053) in 1972, and I believe the oldest pair I have dates from before that point.

Each pair of Wiss blades are paired, from beginning to end. As soon as the raw blade blanks are made they are mated, and remain together though each of the approximately 150 processes required to make a single pair of shears until they are finally "wedded" by the pivot screw. Wiss claims that at least 75% of the manufacturing process is done by hand.