An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Midwives, Scissoroos and Sandpaper - tips for choosing and using beading thread cutters

At present I seem to have more blunt instruments for cutting thread than I do sharp ones. My current count of blunt instruments is two pairs of thread nippers, one pair of traditional embroidery scissors, one pair of nail scissors and one daisy wheel cutter. It’s clearly time to either get them sharpened or buy a new thread cutter. I’ve also decided its time to buy my first thread burner. Faced with decisions about what to buy I’ve been doing some research about the pros and cons of different thread cutters and reflecting on my own experiences with them.

As in all things, different thread cutters do different jobs. Here’s what I have found works for me.

General cutting of beading threads (So-No, Silamide, Nylon, etc)

  • Embroidery scissors
  • Thread nippers

Cutting Fireline and other fishing line threads

  • Craft scissors or special thread nippers as it blunts good scissors very quickly.

Getting into tight spots to cleanly cut thread

  • Embroidery scissors - the point needs to be very fine and sharp
  • Thread nippers - they seem to work well for me to do this job
  • Havel's Snip-Ez cutter. This is a new tool I am just about to try – our local Lyncraft shop stocks them.
  • Battery powered thread burner or zapper. This is another new tool for me but it apparently cuts the thread and melts the end into the bead so that it is like having a knot to secure the thread and it creates a very neat finish. I’ve been told it’s great to use on small stray bits of thread that poke through your beadwork.

Beading on planes

  • A daisy wheel thread cutter. It’s hard to make close cuts to the thread using a daisy wheel cutter so I tend to finish off the cuts once I am back on the ground. You can use your favourite close cut thread tool or a thread burner to do this.

Keeping the cutting tools happy for clean thread cuts

  • sharpen or replace cutters when they are blunt (see below on hints for sharpening yourself)
  • cut your thread on an angle so it’s easier to thread
  • use cheap scissors for Fireline (or similar) to avoid blunting your favourite more expensive cutters or keep a special pair of thread nippers
  • throw out your daisy wheel thread cutter once it goes blunt – the blade can’t be accessed to sharpen or replace it.

Sharpening your cutters

eHow has a great post on how to sharpen your cutters - Two of their tips are remarkably low tech, cheap and easy to follow - I am off to try them after this post.

  • cut through fine grit sandpaper several times until they sharpen
  • wipe the blades with Isopropyl alcohol and then cut through aluminium foil several times until they are sharp.

A little bit of scissor trivia

My favourite find in researching thread cutters to buy was the Australian made Scissoroo embroidery scissors that have a kangaroo rather than the more traditional stork on the handle (see image above). Apparently the stork on embroidery scissors was first found on a set of clamps used by midwives in Europe in the 1800s to clamp the umbilical cord after birth. The stork beaks formed the clam (see the photo which I found on a Medical Antiques site -

Many midwives did needlework in their spare time and kept their medical tools, including the stork clamp, close at hand in their sewing basket. For some reason the stork design and decorations from these clamps were then placed on embroidery scissors.

For some fantastic images of scissors in times past and a short history of the scissor visit the links below.



Christine's Beadworks said...

I haven't used all these different scissors, I use fireline a lot so I use whatever I have handy in a small scissor from the pair I got free with an order to the pair my mom's doctor gave her when he cut off something (probably unmentionable) and gave her the used pair destined for the trash. The only other thing I use is cuticle scissors (cheaper than applique scissors) for cutting around my cabochons. I also used them for cutting fireline so, oops time for a new pair.

Norma Jean said...

I like my small beading scissors, but I love my thread burner!!!!

KRDesigns11 said...

I have a smallish Fiskars scissors for sewing that I use to cut thread. For ending in beadwork, I love my Perfect End thread burner. It uses a AA battery. As a girl I was taught to keep the very best pair of scissors you could afford for your fabric cutting, a separate little scissors for snipping threads. Definitely do not cut paper with your good sewing scissors.

Ruthie said...

I use embroidery scissors and love them :) Going to be buying a daisy cutter soon because we are headed on a trip to Arizona soon.

Mortira said...

Thank you for sharing these tips and finds! I do need to invest in some good cutters as well.

I'd like to invite you to play the 6th Photo game with me:

Marsha Wiest-Hines said...

I have always wanted a pair os stork scissors but never owned them. Time to put them on my bucket list. Nice post!

albern williams said...

This is a nice blog. your posts are really helpful. thanks for posting.quality hairdressing Scissors

Glenda of Dax Designs said...

Albern glad the post was helpful and that you enjoyed the post. Cheers Glenda

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