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I’ve wanted to make scissors for a while. Recently I’ve been getting into propagating plants from cuttings, so I figured I would make a set of scissors/shears meant for that. 


The design is based on Japanese bonsai shears, since I figure those are meant for an analogous task. I may regret not doing “recurve” shears if I end up wanting to do any hardwood cuttings, but it’s a while before things go dormant. The drawing is a bit asymmetric, but just like with tongs, both sides are actually the same exact piece, so I can mark the halves against each other. 


Math suggested that I would need 4” of 5/8” round to get enough mass. I plan on grinding the scale off of these, so I planned for some extra bulk on the handles. The body is 1018 with a white steel #1 edge welded on. 



Here the two halves are side by side and then stacked on top of each other. Pretty happy with my matching job!



Here they are in an approximation of the closed position. The “shelf” by the pivot on these guys goes the opposite way it does on other scissors, so the handles will have a subtle dog-leg so they sit flat and don’t do horrible things to the user’s fingers on closing. The astute observer will note that the handles are not the right shape yet. My plan is to grind off the scale and do the bending cold. I did some of the adjustments cold and it worked pretty well. My hope is that this will make it easier to fine tune things, and will also let me do a cleaner looking oxide finish, either forge scale, rust-bluing, or both. 

Thanks for looking!

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I think your doing great! 

Years ago, BTW……was told in sharpening shears/scissors…. get the spark on top of the flat. (proper cutting angle). Cut on brown paper first to get the burr off. Works.

Looking forward to see the rest of the project.

Gary LT

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Looking good indeed!  And if cold-bending is too annoying, try a very low red heat.  What scale forms won't leave pits and such.  

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the tip, Gary, I’ll have to try that. I do all of my beard trimming with scissors, so I’ve done a good bit of sharpening, but have always deburred on a stone. 


I wanted to drill the pivot early so I could use it for layout. It turned out this position was not great for the edge profile (big tip overlap and having to open very wide for the root of the cut). A bit of grinding made it somewhat better. 



I buddied two sides up for profile grinding. This is why I wanted the pivot drilled early. 


A steel rivet and brass washers in the works. 


Cold bending was in fact too annoying. I think I didn’t forge and grind the handles down thin enough at the tight part of the curve. I was able to bend the thin parts cold and make serviceable handles, but for this blade length and thickness I didn’t want that much leverage. Probably will make a bigger pair with handles like that though! I’ve enjoyed this a lot so far. 

Now I just need to finish grind, adjust the blades bend (I pre-bent them, but they need a tune up), sharpen, and rivet. I was looking at a pair of loppers, and noticed they have a more acute edge than scissors for hair or paper. It seems like that might but a

good approach on these ones, but I don’t know for sure. 


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Unfortunately these ones are going to the scrap bin. I opened up a hairline crack in one of the blades trying to back off the bend a hair and broke the tip off of another. Another pair will be on the way soon though

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Definitely a number, but nothing to do but forge on! And also try out the cracked ones on every weed I can get my hands on. 


This aspen sucker never stood a chance...


I started a new pair, here is a more in-depth look at the forging process:


Setting the edge steel on a flattened piece of 5/8” round 1018. It overhangs a bit on the left and top which keeps the mild from wrapping around it. It is also scarfed much more acutely than for a weld of like materials to keep it from digging in at the toe of the weld. 


The weld 90% there, just lacking a bit of blending in the toe. 


Both are drawn out using the horn. 


Bending the last ones was super annoying! This quick and dirty fork helped a lot. 


Bend one way...



Then the other. I’m not 100% happy with this shape, but I’m gonna roll with it for now and do handles that don’t go  up as close to the blade, as I found that narrow space somewhat uncomfortable. I think in the future I will make cardstock templates to check the action and transfer it to sheet metal to check the forgings against. 


Where they stand now. Two main improvements over the first ones: the closed position puts the blades at a better angle, and the part I will be bending is all round and small. Might actually be able to do this cold, especially with the fork. Also, it pains me, but I’m going to harden these in oil. There’s something I like about the possibility for failure in a water quench, but maybe that’s better done the line. It also is a more dimensionally stable process. Also, seeing how brittle the last ones were, I may temper these back a bit more (425-50 instead of 400F), they aren’t thin edges after all. 

Also, would hollow grinding be worth it? I had a lot of trouble getting the base of the blades to meet and I think it was partly because I had a crowned surface at the pivot. 


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Got the second pair hardened and in for tempering. 



After all the grinding. It’s covered in layout fluid, but the inner sides of both of the blades are hollow ground on a 10” wheel. This seems to help making sure that one of the three points of contact is the crossing of the two edges, if that makes sense. I think on the last pair the slight crown of the surface meant that the bearing surface included the steel around the pivot and not the edge when the scissors were mostly open. 


The thinner handles bend more easily, especially with the fork. This was all with a hard mallet. 


The loops on the last one were too big. These are a lot more comfortable. A subtle dog leg “into the page” made with the fork and mallet means that the handles meet instead of crossing over each other. A slight belly in the edge by the tip leaves less of the inside of the blade showing when closed. 


If I liked these more, I would have developed a more involved patina, and maybe done some light ornamentation, but for these I just heat blacked them and quenched the handles too so they have some polymerized oil coating them. I have a feeling I’m gonna have to make a lot of these!


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I must say that your constant efforts at trying new forms is very inspiring sir. These are all very good. Anxious to see your next effort.


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Very nice!  If you think you're gonna be making a lot of them and you don't like to, be sure to charge for that. ;)

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Those are very nice.


What is the purpose of cold bending the loops?

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Thank you Joshua! I definitely aim to have some range. I keep a rolling list of all of the stuff I want to try out and I’ve built up quite the backlog of new things to try. 

Alan, my pricing model has for a long time been 2x materials + labor + pain and suffering :D. Unfortunately, these are for me (my worst customer and has never paid me a dime!). They’re one of those things where I think it’s going to take a lot of tries to get a pair I’m satisfied with. 

Don, the loops could be hot bent too, I chose to do it cold to minimize scaling and to have an easier time comparing the halves to each other, my drawing, and general fiddling. The first pair was done hot, but with all the fiddling they definitely developed some scale. 

I did end up finishing the second pair:



Making the washers. Not the fastest way, but I need to do more sawing and filing practice for a big inlay project, so I did it this way. Textured with a hammer and also raised a rim. Not sure if it will do much, but I was hoping the rim would make the “diaphragm” in the middle act like a spring when I pein the rivet. 


Here they are! I’m reasonably happy with the form, but the action leaves some to be desired. I started the riveting with the blades closed which I think caused some funky bending of the rivet. They worked great with a tightens screw, So I can’t imagine it’s the surfaces being out of wack and they worked great with just the pin, so I’m pretty sure the holes are aligned. 


Here’s a picture trying to show the problem. The blades don’t touch until they’re 50% closed. When they are wide open, the action is stiff, but the two blade surfaces have no contact anywhere, which leads me to think bent rivet. They cut ok, but are stiff. If they don’t loosen up, I’ll grind off the rivet. 

I imagine I’ll make more of these, but might take a break. These things are hard!

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I like that stump anvil! Now I think I need a pair of decent shears for the garden.........

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Well, they look great!  I too suspect a bent rivet.  Next time try not whacking it as hard.  Hundreds of tiny taps to expand the ends without upsetting the center.

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great fortitude man. They look good but I realize it is tricky to get them just right. making scissors and the like is a zen thing, I think.

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I’ve really enjoyed that stump anvil, it’s a polished (could use a

touch up) 12lb sledge hammer head set in an Aspen stump (not the best wood for this, but it’s pretty and was free!). I primarily use it to thin, shape, and texture ingots for kinko work. I think part of the problem is that I started the rivet with my 18Oz cold forging hammer because it was already polished. I realized that might be a bad idea and polished a much smaller hammer to continue, but at that point it was too late. 

Kevin, I think you’re onto something about it being a zen thing. There are some styles I make once or twice and forget about, some I make on the regular for sale or use, and some I make as a way to reflect on form and technique with repetition and iterative improvements. These definitely fall into that last category. 

That video is actually one of the things that prompted me to make these in the first place! I wish I could find a more detailed documentation of the process as it is very tricky and somewhat different that general scissor making (though learning more about that will help as well I’m sure). I’ll keep looking, with some persistence I’ve been able to find a decent amount of Japanese forging content. 

I was furniture shopping recently and actually happened across a pair of these shears. The furniture was a bit too fancy for me, but these little guys were much more affordable: 



They have a couple of helpful lessons. First, my handles have too long of a flat section and are too thin before the loops. This checks out with pictures of other shears as well and it makes sense. A thin rectangle is very stiff to bending one way, but not so much the other. The handles on my shears will cross over if you cut something too thick because of this. The second is the type of edge. These lack a secondary bevel. There is a tiny bit of convexity by the edge, but it is minimal. I tried these out and they cut with less resistance than mine, which makes sense given the geometry. 

Already putting them to work, lots of shrub pruning and I’ve also been taking a number of cuttings for propagation. This incidental plumb seedling is my favorite so far. Probably a few years old, and had been casually pruned the whole time. If it survives my inexpert repotting it may be a nice container tree or bonsai some day. 


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I'm glad to see this post. When I started making scissors a few years ago, the internet failed me. I was surprised and disappointed to find almost nothing to answer my many questions. I'm glad to have someone to learn with.


This is the video I studied. The first scissors I made were spring scissors like this. I now make all my scissors this way, with the cutting edge welded on just the edge, not the whole inner face. I will post the bonsai scissors I made.


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The artisan in the DICTUM video reminds me of Sheffield blade forger Wes Craven - they make it look so easy. In this last video it's amazing how simple it appears to forge weld on a piece of high carbon steel for the cutting edge - all by hand.



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8 hours ago, JDWare said:

Wes Craven

I thought he did horror movies

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