Product Design

Why Your Best Pair of Scissors Should Be Yours Alone—*Hands Off, Chicken-Carver!*

October 19, 2016

The junk drawer of my childhood kitchen in Texas held many things: batteries with unknown amounts of juice that my brother and I would dare each other to lick, keys to dwellings far in my parent’s past (including an apartment in Germany), ten thousand rubber bands, five unused airline headsets, and one crummy pair of dull scissors.

Using those scissors for their intended purpose (actually cutting something) was an exercise in futility. You were better off pressing your teeth into service whenever you needed to open a package or snip an errant thread. We mostly used our junk drawer scissors to pry open stuck peanut butter jar lids.

Photo by James Ransom

If you actually needed to cut anything of any importance, your best bet was going to the lady of the house: my mother. She held within her top dresser drawer a beautiful pair of pristine silver scissors, unsullied and un-dulled by anyone else’s hands but her own. They were HER scissors—not anyone else’s.

They were always sharp, never sticky or dirty, and most importantly: She always knew right where they were when she needed them.

In order to be granted the right to use her personal scissors, you needed to present your case carefully. If she deemed your usage acceptable, you had to then solemnly swear to return them to her in exactly the same condition you found them. It may sound silly, but those scissors were a little something that was hers and hers alone in a house with two greedy monkey-children who were capable of ruining pretty much anything they could get their mitts on.

Getting to use my mom’s fancy lady scissors to do something (like slicing up a t-shirt to make it cooler) always seemed like a special treat.

That was well over 20 years ago, but my mom still has those fancy silver scissors; they are stored right where they were back when I was a kid. And now I have my own perfect pair of scissors that nobody in my house is allowed to lay their hands on but me.

My mom had to hide hers deep within a drawer to keep them from us sticky-fingered kids, but I keep mine on top of my dresser—because a beautiful pair of glittering scissors displayed in a pretty vase, antique canning jar, or vintage etched glass ice bucket from the flea market can totally elevate them from boring everyday object into functional art.

Photo by Alison Freer

Whenever I need to cut the scratchy tag out of a dress or give my split ends a quick trim, my very own scissors are right where I left them—and in pristine condition. Having my own pair of scissors is also a relationship-saver, as I know that they are never being used for nefarious purposes like cutting metal, opening paint cans, or snipping the backbone of a whole chicken.

After a few such 'incidents’, I broke down and bought these bad-to-the-bone stainless steel kitchen shears for the rogue chicken-snipper in my household to call his own—and we all lived happily ever after.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • FrugalCat
  • bellw67
  • Alison Freer
    Alison Freer
I am a costume designer from Texas living and working in Hollywood, California. I'm also the author of 'How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing'. This means that I shop A LOT and probably dressed one of your favorite celebs up like a carrot.


FrugalCat October 19, 2016
I bought a bunch of scissors on clearance at Office Depot a few years ago. I put a pair in each room, even the bathroom. No more looking around or misplacing. They are nothing special or fancy, but they work- and are there when you need them
bellw67 October 19, 2016
There's nothing worse than trying to cut cloth after someone has used your good scissors for cardboard or paper. I keep my sewing scissors hidden. I had 2 pairs of good kitchen shears which hubs kept snagging so I bought him another pair of his own. The scissors I use for paper are Scotch brand from the dollar store. They seem to work pretty well and I don't mind tossing them when they get dull.
Alison F. October 19, 2016
So true, my good sewing shears that I use on set are kept under lock and key!