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Tips for choosing scissors & paper trimmers

Although a pair of scissors and paper trimmers can be versatile, it's important to choose the right product type so you can get the most mileage out of your purchase. Learn more about the different features of these cutting tools so you can make an informed decision based on your classroom, home, crafting or office needs.

What's the difference between various cutting tools?

Whether you're helping kids cut out shapes from a worksheet or trying to make sure the edges on your DIY wedding invitations are presentable, it's best to choose the right cutting tool for a given job. That means you should understand the functional and structural differences between the various types of cutting tools so you can avoid issues while completing a project.

Scissors: As handheld cutting tools with two blades, scissors are meant to be manipulated with one hand using the thumb and fingers. In many cases, scissors are designed to be used while being held up rather than being held against a table. Their handheld design means you can use scissors to cut curves and a variety of other shapes, though larger blades may make it difficult to achieve a great level of detail. It can also be challenging to cut a perfectly straight line using a pair of scissors.

Paper trimmers: These tabletop cutting tools are the opposite of scissors in many ways. They typically use a single blade that moves upward and downward only, which makes them ideal for cutting a precise, straight line. However, that does mean that paper trimmers usually aren't suitable for cutting curves or other shapes that aren't straight lines. They generally consist of a large platform with an attached blade that's designed to sit on a tabletop. Paper trimmers may have limits on how many sheets of paper they can fit, so if you generally need to cut straight lines in large stacks of paper, you should look for a model that's designed for higher volume.

Craft knives: While not the most common cutting tool when looking for scissors and paper trimmers, you may see some craft knives bundled with other products, such as scissors. These knives usually have very sharp blades and thin handles that allow for precision cutting. This cutting typically takes place on a flat surface, and you may want to use a thick barrier like cardboard or a self-healing mat between what you're cutting and your work surface to avoid scratches from the knife pushing through the paper. The fact that craft knives are so sharp generally means they're not suitable for children to use.

Differences between adult and kid scissors

You may notice that some scissors are specifically labeled as adult or kids scissors. While older kids can use adult scissors, it's generally best for younger kids who are developing their hand-eye coordination to use scissors that are specifically made for them. This avoids frustration and helps them develop cutting skills properly.

  • Size: Adult scissors are made for larger hands and typically are scaled larger overall. Kid scissors have smaller handles that make it easier for little hands to control the blades without fatigue or slip-ups.
  • Safety: The blades on adult scissors are generally longer, thicker and sharper than those on kid scissors. This is an important safety consideration; when working with adults who have coordination or hand mobility issues, it may be safer to use child scissors.
  • Blade shape: Adult scissors usually have slightly pointed ends, while kid scissors are often rounded at the tip. Some child scissors have pointed tips, though, so pay close attention to this part of a product description when you're working primarily with younger children and want to avoid pointy tips.

Scissor purchase options

There are a few different options for purchasing scissors. Make sure to read product descriptions carefully so you understand what you're buying.

  • Single scissors: If you only need one pair of scissors, look for product options that are sold as a single unit.
  • Single-scissor multipacks: Bundles of multiple scissors in the same style are one option for buying scissors in bulk. When you need scissors for a class or other group activity, this can be a good purchase choice. Some multipack scissor bundles come with storage caddies or other accessory equipment.
  • Mixed multipacks: These are a smart option for frequent crafters, or people who often find they need scissors in different shapes and sizes. These multipacks each contain several different scissor or craft knife styles, which means they generally aren't suitable for classroom use on their own.