SENSEi SHEAR SYSTEMS started 40 years ago with the idea of making scissors healthier to use. We had started a sharpening business called Precision Edge, shortly after graduating from college. Stylists were handing us shears every day to sharpen. I had taken some ergonomics classes in college, which is a science that looks at the interface of humans and tools in order to optimize human well-being and performance when using those tools. As I worked on the scissors, I kept thinking to myself that the design of hair shears in 1980 was very unhealthy. They were all opposing grip scissors that had equal length handles, and yet stylists were taught to use their ring finger and thumb to use them. That meant reaching your thumb all the way back to your ring finger in order to open and close them.
I knew from my ergonomic training that this was unhealthy and would cause too much strain on the thumb tendon. When I learned from my clients that many of them were having hand and wrist issues, I knew what I needed to do. So I sat down and designed an offset scissor which we called the SENSEi Genesis Offset or GO. By not having to reach back so far with the thumb it made stylists more comfortable and reduced stress for them.
Then I noticed how stylists were holding their elbows up at a horizontal position when they were cutting palm to palm. This was because both the opposing grip and the new offset shears we were making, still required the user to elevate their elbow to achieve a horizontal cutting position.
Around the same time a man in Japan created a scissor he called the crane because the shape of it reminded him of the head of the water bird, and the Crane was a popular symbol in Japanese art.
I was in Japan when he first did this and I saw this design. I thought the way the handle angled downward when the blades were horizontal would allow a stylist to keep their elbow lower while still achieving a horizontal cutting position. We took the GO shear and bent the handle down and called the new model the GENESIS SENSEi CRANE or GSC. That is still one of the most popular shears ever made.
Not long after that, I thought if we made the thumb rotate so it would follow you as you worked around the head it would be even healthier. So we cut the thumb hole off one pair and attached to another that we had cut the top part of the thumb hole off and we made the first rotating thumb shear which we called RSC or Rotating SENSEi Crane. This allowed you to keep your elbow down in almost every cutting position. Because it created a wider spacing between the thumb and finger holes, it allowed you to work with your hand more open which further reduces the stretching of the thumb tendon. Starting with the thumb higher and more forward also reduced how far your thumb had to move to fully open and close the shear. Less Work! These together with the non-rotating version were what we called neutral grip shears. By that we mean you can hold them with your hand in a neutral resting position without stress.
So in terms of handle design and how it can keep your hand and wrist healthy, it all starts with the offset Crane design. Among Crane scissors , the rotating or fixed neutral grip design is best because it is more offset and keeps your hand in a resting position and minimizes the thumb movement required to open and close the scissor. Stylists using these shears really don't experience the hand and wrist issues or elbow shoulder issues that stylists using older style shears expectance. The rotating version is the ideal because it allows the widest array of approach angles for your thumb. That means instead of you conforming your thumb and hand position to match the shear, the shear tends to better allow you to choose the thumb position that is comfortable, and it conforms by rotating to match the position your thumb wants to be in. Because the rotating handle lets you move more naturally with your scissors, most people find it very easy to get used to.
What else about scissors, besides the handle design, can help you reduce the stress and effort of cutting hair?
In addition to the handle, it is important to think about the techniques that require you to do more actual work. So first off think about the length of shears you are using. A shorter 5.5" or 5. 75" might be all you need for your palm to palm cutting, where you are holding the hair between your fingers. You only need that much blade to cut to your second knuckle. But what about all the techniques you do where you are not holding the hair in your other hand. Shear over comb, cutting on the skin, deep point cutting, face framing to name a few. These techniques are easier and faster to do with longer blades, and you must open and close a longer blade fewer times to cut in these circumstances. Therefore, having a second pair of longer shears and using them as much as you can, will further reduce cutting effort and save you time. You need a second pair anyway in case something happens to your main pair. It will cost you no more to make that second pair a 6. 5 or 7". You will be glad you did.
Techniques like point cutting can add a lot of wear and tear to both your hand and the tips of your shears. Now that SENSEi is making texture tools that create separation without you seeing the point of origin of the negative space, it is possible to minimize the point cutting you do. Point cut where it really matters, in the fringe areas where the placement of each bit of texture is visible and important. Then use a PointCut Texture shear to create the rest of the texture in your cut. This will not only save you thousands and thousands of extra openings and closings of your scissors, but it will save the tips of your blades from becoming dull so quickly.
Finally, it really helps if all your scissors have essentially the same handle design. That way you can set one down and pick the other up without changing your hand position. This is why we call our company SENSEi Shear Systems. We build systematic series of shears where within one design series you can get cutting shears of different lengths and texture, blending and dry slide shears that all feel the same.
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