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Scissoring With Mario


Proper care will extend the life of your shears.
At the end of each day's use, wipe the blades clean with a soft cloth. Oil the screw area and the blades with a light-weight shear oil.



Exceptional groomings are the results of two things : the creative and artistic skill of the groomer, and the equipment that will execute that skill on your clients animal.
As with any artist, really fine work is the result of a lot of small things done very well. Since the groomer must be able to focus on the result they want to achieve, the cutting tool must be able to respond effortlessly to every whim.
A fine, properly sized and maintained scissor in a skilled hand will produce exceptional results. Exceptional results produce happy, loyal clients. Happy loyal clients produce refferals, full appointment books, larger fees, professional pride, and, ultimately more income.
A poor or dull scissor limits the creative expression and speed of any groomer. It also limits their income. You can't "outcut" your scissor. Remember : The edge on your scissor could be the edge on your competition.


With proper care and maintenance, quality shears will last for many thousands of haircuts. Listed below are some suggestions to help you get the longest life and the maximum benefit from your investment.


Imagine how frustrating it would be if you are in the middle of a cut and your scissors get knocked off of your table. When you pick them up, they won't even close. It can and does happen. Most professionals not only have several pairs of scissors, but, they "retire" aging scissors while they still have useful life left. Therefore, they always have top quality back up equipment.


Oil at least every other day. Open the shear fully (X-shaped) and place a drop or two of lightweight shear oil around the screw. Move the blades so that the oil will work into the hinge and on the blades, then wipe off the excess. Store them in leather cases or sleeves, which absorb any moisture, unlike plastic cases, which can produce more moisture.


Bumpers or silencers, the little pieces of rubber or plastic that keep your scissors from clattering in the dog's ear, can occasionally fall out When this happens the blades will also cross when closed. This is a dangerous condition, with the blades exposed to you and the pet. Send the shear in for service. Bad haircuts can be fixed because hair grows back; bad sharpening is forever. Most street "grinders" remove exces metal which shortens the scissor's life. Grinding also overheats the blades which causes them to loose their temper or hardness. bad sharpening is expensive at any price. Precision honing (one of many steps used to sharpen a scissor), is a very exacting water cooled process that removes only a small amount of metal while restoring the edge to factory or better condition.

With the many considerations in purchasing shears, price, style, design, etc. always purchase shears from someone who REALLY knows scissors. Consider shears an investment, and always put quality before quantity in starting or adding to a collection. Don't purchase because of looks or packaging; some inferior shears look great, but their edges won't last like quality shears.

As Our Tools Have Improved So Have our Techniques

Scissors and Scissoring: The Art and Science

Now that shears are available in a wide variety of styles and sizes in many price ranges, every groomer should be able to find models to enhance his or her productivity, pride and performance. Of course, there's no telling what might be available tomorrow because manufacturers are improving their shears almost as rapidly as groomers are raising their standards. During this session, we'll consider the physical aspects of shears as well as the art of scissoring.

Technological Advances

Many manufacturers have made important technological advances that have fostered the development of state-of-the-art shears. One such improvement involves the use of higher quality materials in manufacturing. Of course, the type of steel used determines to a great extent how long the shears will last and how often they will need sharpening. Harder, more durable metals - which are more expensive - ensure longer life for the shears and their cutting hlades. Stainless steel/ cobalt alloys seem to keep an edge longer, yet they aren't much heavier than other metals.

Manufacturers also have improved the types of edges given to cutting blades. Hollow-ground blades are carved out on the inside, reducing the shears' weight and creating a thinner,angled edge that cuts more smoothly Honed edges, found on many hand-crafted shears, are razor sharp. Serrated edges are designed to catch and hold the hair during scissoring, but they have become less popular since the development of the smoother cutting edges.

An important improvement in the design of modem shears is the shortening of the shanks. With a shorter shank you can achieve a more comfortable grip with the index and middle fingers. Also, you do not have to move your thumb as far to open the shears fully. That, in turn, reduces stress on the thumb muscles and wrist tendons. Raised thumb holes (rings) further reduce the distance you must move the thumb to operate the shears. Adjustable tension knobs are becoming a familiar sight on new shears. These dial-like devices allow you to fine-tune the feel of your shears without using shears, pliers or screw- drivers. For example, you might tighten the tension to work on thicker, plush coats and loosen it slightly to work on thinner, wispier coats. When the tension is set correctly, the shears cut smoothly and quietly. To check the tension, hold the shears open as far as your thumb allows. Take your thumb out of the thumb hole and allow the shears to close. When set correctly, the tips of the blades should just barely meet.

A Variety of Shears

Every professional groomer needs a collection of shears to execute various grooming styles easily and quickly. A well-rounded collection would include l0-inch shears for larger breeds, 8.5-inch shears for general purpose scissoring, 7-inch shears for smaller breeds, curved shears, bent-shank shears, and two thinning shears - one for finish work and one for bulk hair removal.

Thinning shears, in various lengths and styles, constitute "the shears of the '90s" - and they are a necessary part of any groomer's collection. Thinning shears with a 50-tooth blade (or finer) are excellent for finish work and blending. They give coats a soft-edged appearance and produce Schnauzer and Terrier furnishings that look natural. Used to thin over scissored Lhasas and similar breeds with silky, flowing coats, these shears blend in and remove blunt ends.

Thinning shears with a 35-to-40 tooth blade give breeds such as Scotties and Westies a hand-stripped look. They also give trimmed ears and bangs a natural, smooth appearance. They even thin out heavy coats and help to prevent matting in breeds such as Cockers, Afghans, etc,

Curved shears let you cut corners - literally. They are real time-savers. And, considering that most scissoring is supposed to achieve round or curved surfaces, it seems only natural to use curved shears on dogs ranging from Bichons to Bouviers. Gain experience with these shears by rounding off feet, topknots and tails. Experiment with them in reverse to create angulation above the hock joint. You might even use them to create the arch on some Terriers' eyebrows. Many groomers who have had difficulty shaping round and curved edges seem to have more success when they are using curved shears.

Bent-shank shears appear to be out of line, but they actually help you achieve a straighter line because they keep your hand and fingers away from the coat. Not only do they make it easy to scissor toplines and legs, they also allow you to scissor Bichon-type feet without hitting your fingers on the table.

Tips on Scissoring

At most of the scissoring seminars I give, groomers have questions about rounding top- knots Here's one method I teach frequently: cut each side of the topknot from the outside corner of the eye to the back of the head. Scissor a very fine line over the ear to separate it from the head. Cut over the eyes, angling your shears forward to create a slight visor effect. Cut the back of the topknot up just below the occiput bone. The head should look square or rectangular. Go over all the square edges with curved shears to achieve a round look. Take the top down to balance the head. Be sure to view each profile while you are scissoring the head.

Directional body scissoring is another area of concern to many groomers. Generally, you want to hold the shears in a horizontal position over most of the dog's body. However, you should scissor in a downward position in the chest, shoulder and hip areas, flowing with the shape of the dog's body. Scissor in a vertical position, pointing your shears up or down, on the legs. Before you lift a dog's leg to scissor, be sure top cut in guidelines with the dog standing in a natural position.

A Fine Art

The art of scissoring could be defined as "using shears as an extension of your individual artistic ability." As a scissoring artist, you must translate the visual information of what you see into the action of scissoring to create something you have visualized in your mind. The actual scissoring motion is quite simple and it is possible to develop speed and dexterity over time. However, achieving balance, proportion and symmetry requires knowledge, practice and confidence.



The most convetional way to hold a pair of shears is to put your ring finger no more than halfway into the lower hole and rest your little finger on the finger rest hook (tang). Wrap the index and middle fingers around the lower shank. Insert only the tip of your thumb into the thumb hole. To open and close the shears, move only your thumb.
To develop horizontal cutting control, practice the scissor motion while gliding your wrist back and forth across the edge of a table. To work on vertical cutting control, practice scissoring while raising and lowering your arm against the side of a doorway.

Mario DiFante & Co.
1270 Mineral Spring Ave.
No. Prov. RI 02904
PH: 401-726-2554
Fax: 401-726-0979

Copyright© 1996,1997 Mario DiFante, All Rights Reserved
No reproduction without specific permission.