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 - http://www.ehow.com/how_4540603_instructions-sharpening-scissors.html. 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 - http://www.phisick.com/)
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.