Lifestyle: Wiss, scissors to last a lifetime

Discussion in 'Articles' started by PLANofMAN, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Above Photo: modern(ish) shears top, vintage bottom.
    Bottom Photo: modern shears on left, vintage on right.

    "The Recollection of Quality remains long after the price is forgotten."

    These words hung on the wall in the office of Frederick Charles Wiss, son of Jacob Wiss, who founded J. Wiss and Sons in Newark N.J. in 1848. The company has lived by those words for over 150 years.

    A number of years ago, I was told by the plant foreman to order some "good scissors." He needed them for cutting aluminum honeycomb for clean room panels, and they were going through a pair of scissors monthly. (Dull after a week or two, and broken after four or five weeks)

    After doing an hour or so of research, I decided to order Wiss 1DS 8" shears. This particular model is often used in the poultry industry for cutting bones. It is also used by aircraft manufacturers. Two of the ones I purchased from eBay were from Boeing.

    *Note: the 1DS model has been replaced by the 1DSN model, which has a larger handle, adding 1/2" to the overall length.

    My foreman was irate when he learned I spent $50 on two pair, though he later admitted that I had chosen well, and they were both still in use, one sharpening and three years later, when I left the company. I dropped in for a visit several years later, and they were still being used.

    I decided to purchase several pairs for myself, about five years ago. I ended up with four pairs, all used, all from eBay. The prices ranged from $8-$15. One of those I gave to my mother, and the other three sit in my silverware drawer. All get daily use, from cutting wrapping paper to cutting up a chicken, they've handled every task I've thrown at them. These are "buy it for life" products, and I own no other scissors (except for a very nice pair of barber's shears, which only get used on hair).

    So, what makes these scissors so good? It is the difference between a utensil and a tool. Most scissors are utensils, suitable for light duty at best. These shears, made by Wiss, are a tool. Like any quality tool, they are designed to last a lifetime of average use.

    No plastic handles here. Most of the readers here will be familiar with the Fiskars brand orange handled office scissors. The blades are at least twice as thick as those, so no flexing, warping, etc. Most scissors are made of stainless steel these days. Wiss shears are not.

    The 1DS scissors are marked "inlaid," so I looked up what that meant in regards to Wiss products. They take a carbon steel blade and weld it to a steel frame, then it is ground and polished, so no seam or join is seen. It is then nickel plated for corrosion resistance. The oldest pair I have is missing the nickel plating at the tips, but is otherwise in remarkably good condition. At some point, the "Wiss 1DS" and "inlaid" markings on the blade were changed from stamped/engraved to etched markings, though the overall quality between the two styles is the same. Engraving was used until at least 1975, and probably later, judging from catalogs and brochures of that time period. As you can see from the photos at the top of this post, there are some subtle differences between early and late model 1DS shears. The older shears have a more pronounced curvature in the handle, the grind on the blade is shorter and ends with a curve where it meets the frame of the handles. The more modern version has a flatter grind that is squared off, and the handles are not curved off of the pivot point. The tip of the older shears is rounded to a point, and the newer shears are much straighter, showing no such curvature. The older shears are more polished than the newer shears, though that is more of an aesthetic thing than a functional one. The screw sticks out much further on the older one as well, whereas it is almost flush on newer models.

    The screw joining the two halves of the scissors is made in house by Wiss, and uses their patented SET-EASY® pivot. Wiss claims that their screws are accurate to 1/1000th of an inch. I have no reason to doubt that claim. Once set, I rarely have to readjust it, and when I do, it is mostly on the oldest and most worn pair I own. This is likely due to the fact that Richard J. Wiss invented an improved pivot point screw design (Pat. No. 3,672,053) in 1972, and I believe the oldest pair I have dates from before that point.

    Each pair of Wiss blades are paired, from beginning to end. As soon as the raw blade blanks are made they are mated, and remain together though each of the approximately 150 processes required to make a single pair of shears until they are finally "wedded" by the pivot screw. Wiss claims that at least 75% of the manufacturing process is done by hand.

    Wiss shears are made in the U.S.A., and carry a lifetime warranty.

    For you straight razor fans out there, Wiss also made straight razors until 1924, and some of their blades were welded to Wade & Butcher tangs and other European (German) tangs. Surprisingly, Wiss razors are relatively inexpensive on eBay. Since this is not an article on Wiss Razors, further reading on them can be done here:
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
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  2. BamaT

    BamaT Well-Known Member

    Good article! In today's world of cheaply made disposable goods, it's nice to read about real quality. I like the quote, "The Recollection of Quality remains long after the price is forgotten." So true.
  3. jimjo1031

    jimjo1031 never bloomed myself

    I have a pair of Claus 6" scissors, #3216, made in the US that have been in the family for a very long time. Still use them and has never been sharpened.
    BamaT, Queen of Blades and PLANofMAN like this.
  4. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    I had written my article differently, but when I read that, I knew I had to start the article with that quote. :)

    There are many other good brands of shears, American and German, out there. Wiss is just the one I've had experience with since childhood, so that's the one I wrote about.

    I probably should have put this in the article, but forgot:

    When I was little, perhaps ten, my father told me that if I ever needed to cut metal, Wiss made the best metal cutting shears out there.

    I remembered that when I was looking for scissors for my boss to cut aluminum with.

    (Edit: the Claus shears look very similar to the Wiss ones, but are a bit smaller. It's nice not having to replace scissors every couple of years, isn't it?)
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
  5. Keithmax

    Keithmax Breeds Pet Rocks

    :signs021: Great article :smiley respect:
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  6. Enrico

    Enrico Popcorn

    My mother has had her Wiss scissors for nearly 50 years.:D

    I've been using their tin snips over 40 years.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
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  7. Enrico

    Enrico Popcorn

  8. RaZorBurn123

    RaZorBurn123 waiting hardily...............

    Great read. My parents used to tell me you get what you pay for. I still live by those words, something's you just can't go cheap.
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  9. Enrico

    Enrico Popcorn

    My boys are realizing that my words of wisdom are ringing true "Buy the best quality you can afford and sometimes (many times) that means buying vintage."

    My son and his wife were looking for a food mill, so I found a NOS 1950's Foley food mill (broke me for ~$5). Needless to say they were very happy.
  10. Ijustmissedthe50s

    Ijustmissedthe50s The Warnee

    Thanks for a well written and very interesting article! I love stuff like thos.
    PLANofMAN likes this.
  11. stingraysrock

    stingraysrock PIF'd away his custom title

    Great article! I don't know what brand they were, but my grandfather used the same pair of shears in his upholstery job for as long as I can remember. I know they looked very similar to the pictures you posted, although I think they may have been longer.
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  12. TitanTTB

    TitanTTB Well-Known Member

    Nice article and good to know there is still an American made pair of quality scissors currently available.
    I have a pair of Carvel-Hall scissors of similar build quality from the 60's but I think the company was shuttered some time ago.
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  13. 178-bplatoon

    178-bplatoon Well-Known Member

    Well written, inspiring article as usual @PLANofMAN and of course it cost me a tiny bit of money :) After reading the article I began recalling the scissors my mom owned in my youth and how they lasted and lasted until her stupid kids lost or ruined them and then I began thinking of how many pairs of scissors I've bought in the last 40 years of my adulthood and how terrible they all have been, dulling with the first couple of uses and then needing constant resharpening. They are cheap and useless pieces of crap.
    So the search began and I now have two vintage pairs of 8" wiss 1DS inlaid heavy duty aircraft composite scissors on the way. I paid a total of $13.95 shipped for them. I'm looking to get a pair of wiss electricians scissors and kitchen scissors also. They should certainly last the rest of my life and can be passed on to my son.:happy088:
  14. Enrico

    Enrico Popcorn

    I saw those and I'm glad I didn't bid against you; very nice choice!
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  15. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    My dad uses Wiss electrician's shears to trim his beard. Has for at least 30 years. I thought about doing the same, but since I have a nice pair of Fromm barber scissors, I use those instead.

    In my opinion, you won't need the kitchen scissors once you get the 1DS shears. I have a pair of vintage kitchen scissors and I don't think I've ever used them. I'm not even sure what brand they are. I just know they are not Wiss.

    Three of my 1DS shears are ex aircraft composite shears. They didn't need honing when I got them. I touched them up anyways. Five minutes worth of honing on a barber hone between all three of them.

    Edit: I checked for a brand name or country of manufacture on the kitchen shears. There wasn't one. The scissors are pinned together, rather than having a screw. Just because something is vintage, doesn't automatically mean it's good quality.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
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  16. BamaT

    BamaT Well-Known Member

    Guess what I found in my basement? A set of Wiss hedge trimmers! I had a set that my son lost in his early teenage years during some of his bicycle trail building/treehouse building days. They're somewhere within a 1/4 mile of my house in some woods rusting away.... So in going through some things Imgot from my dad' house after he passed away, I found an old set of trimmers, kind of rusted up and grungy looking. I have some electric trimmers, but we needed to trim just a couple of bushes of bushes and didn't want to drag out the cords for that, so I looked this morning for the old ones, and saw they were Wiss! I'll post some before and after pictures of the cleanup when I have some time.

    Edit: I just found out Wiss refers to them as garden shears. Also, my original shears were not Wiss, just some generic hardware store brand.
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  17. 178-bplatoon

    178-bplatoon Well-Known Member

    Hi @PLANofMAN I recieved my wiss 1DS shears yesterday they look indentical to yours. Still sharp even though one had some kind of tar or tarpaper residue on the blade, on that one the threads on either the male or female are a bit buggered up and it won't completely unscrew. However I stropped both blades and the scissors both razor sharp. They cut/feel just like I remember my moms scissors cutting. Thank for writing the article. I've decided to get the electrician shears next.:happy088:

    UPDATE 10/21/17 I just got my electricians scissors...SWEET!!
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
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  18. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    The adhesive will come off with nail polish remover or acetone. Glad you like them as much as I like mine. I'm sorry to hear about the buggered up threads.
    Enrico likes this.
  19. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Nice! If I remember right, they feel kind of like an adult version of the old pointy grade school craft scissors.
  20. 178-bplatoon

    178-bplatoon Well-Known Member

    I'd agree with that. In fact while the blade length is fine, I wish the finger holes were a bit bigger.:)
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