Shear Education Booklet Online - Perfect Handle

Section 4: Selecting Your Perfect Handle

By now if you’ve been following this guide correctly you should have decided on the edge sytle and material of your blade, leaving you ready to make the next big decision — your scissor handle.

When choosing the handle type of your scissors there are a two things that you will need to consider:

  • Overall Hand Position
  • Thumb Interface

It is important that you find a combination of the two attributes above that will provide you with maximum comfort, maximum ease of use and most importantly maximum effectiveness. Below is a brief guide explaining the basics of the most common scissor handle characteristics in the industry to date:


Handle Position

Symmetric Handle or Opposing Grip

Opposing GripOpposing Grip

This style of handle is the oldest and least ergonomic and features handles of the same length that are symmetrical to the center screw. These shears force a stylist to raise their elbow to a horizontal position for many techniques. They might be suited for those who cut with the thumb and middle finger. They are however the most likely style to cause RSI (Repetitive Stain Injury) and CTS (Carpel Tunnel Syndrome).
Offset Handle

Offset GripOffset Handle

An offset handle pair of shears feature a short thumb handle and a longer finger handle. They were the first attempt to make shears more comfortable and healthy for hairstylists. By having a shorter thumb handle, they put less stress on the thumb tendon and therefore can help reduce the risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrom (CTS). They still however, require a raised elbow position for many techniques.
Crane Handle

Crane HandleCrane Handle

The crane handle is also offset but it has one significant difference. If you hold the blades of crane shear horizontally, the handle will angle downward instead of being centered on the blades. This dramatically improves the ergonomics because it relieves and prevents stress on the thumb, arm and shoulder by allowing the hairdresser to cut with their elbow in a lower position. The same angle of the handle also moves the stylists hand away from the body when cutting on the skin allowing for a freer more open cut. For most stylists, a crane handle shear is recommended to relieve stress and minimize risk of RSI.


Extended Crane or Neutral Grip

Neutral GripNeutral Grip

This describes recently designed shears where the thumb handle is much shorter and the thumb hole is farther offset from the finger hole. In the case of Neutral Grip shears the thumb hole is actually in a neutral position for the thumb, across from the index finger position like a resting hand. The hand remains in a open configuration minimizing stress on the tendons of the hand. These designs can go a long way to reducing the risk of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

Handle Thumb Treatments

Now you’ve chosen your handle its time to decide which thumb treatment will be right for you and your style of cutting. Since your thumb is doing most of the work of cutting, a lot of thought has gone into designs to make the thumb more comfortable and reduce the work the thumb has to do.

Standard Flat Thumb
Flat thumb

Standard flat thumb ring has been around for many years. Sometimes lefties who use right handed shears will prefer a flat thumb because they can use it in the left hand easily. If on the other hand they are using true left handed shears they is no need to be forced to use the standard thumb ring. This style affords no special ergonomic benefit.

Cut Away Thumb Handle
cutaway thumb

This style of thumb grip has an indentation cut out at the back of the ring. It also allows the side of the thumb to be used to open the shear, affording the option of lowering the elbow when cutting the length.

Anatomic Thumb
anatomic thumb

Shears designed with an anatomic thumb grip allow for even greater radial movement which translates into more freedom of motion for the stylist. It also allows the side of the thumb to be used to open the shear to lower the elbow when cutting the length.

Rotating Thumb Handle
rotating thumb

This style of thumb grip is a recent innovative advancement to the hair industry. When properly used, a rotating thumb handle will allow an entire cut to be done with the elbow down. At the same time, the open grip keeps the hand relaxed as it would be in the above mentioned extended and neutral grips. Rotating handles have been shown to reduce repetitive stress injuries and are even recommended by doctors and hand therapists.