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Whether you’re right or left-handed, you know when you’re using the wrong scissors. It could be because the plastic handle is formed to fit the grip of the other hand.

However, even if the scissor handles are perfectly uniform, the main difference is in how the blades are configured.

Left vs Right Scissors

As mentioned, the configuration of the blades determines whether the scissors are right or left-handed.

  • When you open the scissors, if the blade on the right side is up, then the scissors are right-handed.
  • When you open the scissors, if the blade on the left is up, then the scissors are left-handed.

The following video provides a great explanation of left vs right-handed scissors.

Follow the Cut

When a right-handed person uses a pair of right-handed scissors, the inside or left blade sits below the material you’re cutting.

Whether it’s fabric or paper, you can see where the cut line will be because the slice of the top blade will come down on the outer edge of where you intend to make the cut.

Using the wrong scissor style will not only make it harder to get a good grip, but you will lose your sightline and your accuracy will be impaired.

Early Challenges

A left-handed child, trying to function in a mostly right-handed world, is at a special disadvantage with the wrong scissors. Even in kindergarten, accuracy counts.

If you can’t easily see where the cut will fall because the bottom blade is on the outside, you can’t safely follow a cutting line.

Flipping the scissors over can work, but if the scissors are shaped specifically for a small right hand, the loss of dexterity can be quite frustrating.

child cutting with scissors

Fabric Vs. Paper

If you sew, you know that you have a pair of scissors that should never be used on paper. For left-handed stitchers, this pair of fabric scissors is probably even more closely guarded.

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One of the hazards that those who work with fabric risk is the bunching up of fabric and the jagged cuts that can follow.

With the right pair of scissors, you can avoid jagged cuts; you can see where the fabric is bunching up against the bottom blade and pull it smooth before you continue the cut.

However, a left-handed cutter may miss this problem because the top blade is blocking their view.

Remember, the action of the scissors will be most accurate when the blade that is closest to you is on the bottom of the cut.

The inside blade should be below the fabric as you slice through it and the top blade should be easy to watch as it makes the cut.

man cutting fabric with scissors

A Word About Bulk

Whether you’re a rightie or a leftie, there will come a time when you have to try to cut through something that pushes back. For a child, this may be cardboard or a stack of construction.

For a stitcher, this may be denim or upholstery fabric.

When you try to cut through something that is too bulky, the blades will not make a cut when they meet. Instead, they will just fold whatever you’re trying to cut over the bottom blade.

If you’re a left-handed person trying to use a right-handed pair of scissors, you may not see the fold until you’ve got the scissors jammed or locked.

Just because the scissors can’t cut what’s stuck in the blade doesn’t mean they won’t do a number on your skin.

For young children trying to manage their first pair of scissors, the rounded tips generally reduce the risk of a poking injury.

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However, a pair of scissors that is tightly wrapped around folded construction paper can lead to frustration, which can lead to improper handling, which can lead to a cut.

If your little one informed you that they were a leftie the first time they reached for a slice of banana on their high chair tray, make sure they have a pair of left-handed scissors to learn with.

It will increase their confidence, their accuracy, and their safety.

Final Considerations

To determine the real difference between left and right scissors, take your junk drawer scissors in your dominant hand. Open them up and notice which blade rises.

It should be the outside blade, or the one that is on the outside edge of your dominant hand. The bottom blade should be close to your body and easy to sight along as you cut.

If it’s not, it’s probably a pair for a rightie and you’re a leftie. Invest in scissors that will provide you with a safe line of sight.

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