High Carbon Steel versus Stainless Steel

We handcraft our scissors from two kinds of metal: high carbon steel and stainless steel. The differences between the two steels is one of our most frequently asked questions, and a topic we love to talk about because of how differently they can affect a scissor. Read below to learn about the key differences and which kind of scissor is best for you!

High Carbon Steel

A well-known metal in the scissor industry, carbon steel is a type of steel that has a percentage of carbon mixed into the metal, which varies by manufacturer. In general, it is a tougher metal than stainless steel. Our high carbon steel is neither too soft or brittle, but perfectly flexible due to the addition of manganese and a carbon content of roughly about 0.65%.

When it comes to cutting tools - such as knives, scissors, and blades - high carbon steel is usually the better choice. Here are some of the advantages:

  1. A super tough metal, but also softer than stainless steel. This means that it can be sharpened to a finer edge and is easier to sharpen. 
  1. It is less prone to chipping than stainless steel. However, we advise everyone to keep an eye on their scissors. DO NOT drop them on the ground. This is one reason why we provide boxes for the scissors. 
  1. It is a lighter metal, so if you need lighter scissors due to arthritis, nerve, or wrist issues, high carbon steel will suit you best!

One key point to note about high carbon steel is that, unless treated with an anti-rust coating (like our Midnight Edition Fabric Shears are!), it is prone to rusting. What this means is that you need to ensure that the blades of your scissors are kept dry, not only from water, but from humidity in the air, similar to a cast iron pan! If you aren’t going to be using your scissors for a couple of weeks or longer, we recommend storing them in their box, with the blades coated in oil - such as sewing machine oil - to keep your scissors smooth and healthy!

Our iconic Midnight Edition line of fabric shears are handcrafted from high carbon steel, as are our Traditional line of fabric shears and the blades of our Professional snips. The newest addition to our scissor family, our Midnight Edition 45mm rotary cutter uses our high carbon steel rotary blades, which we have tested with local fabric shops for durability.

Our high carbon steel scissors are the sharpest, and lightest shears that we make! 


Stainless Steel

Perhaps the most well-known type of steel in the world, stainless steel is a modern invention, having been first industrialized in 1912! It has a maximum 1.2% carbon by mass, and a minimum chromium content of 10.5%, which is what gives stainless steel it’s superior rust-resistant quality.

Stainless steel is 100% recyclable, and an average stainless steel object is composed of about 60% recycled material. 

If you are concerned about having to maintain your scissors, stainless steel is the metal for you, and here’s why:

  1. It’s highly rust-resistant. Stainless steel can stand up to humidity better than high carbon steel. However, contrary to popular belief, stainless steel is not rust-proof. But unless you are storing your scissors in a pool of water, rust should be a no-show!
  1. It’s more wear resistant. This is why your grandma's shears are probably stainless steel! 
  1. Stainless steel will technically stay sharper (this also depends on the angle of the cutting edge). However, it is more difficult to sharpen because it is a harder metal. 
  1. The extra weight of stainless steel may make the scissor feel easier to control.

Our Classic line of fabric shears, pinking shears, as well as our one piece and ring-grip thread snips, and embroidery scissors are handcrafted from stainless steel. 

If you have any questions about maintenance, weight, or any of the points listed above, send us an email and leave a comment!

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