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Shear Wisdom

Posted by Gary Newbold on 1st Oct 2020

Behind every good jacket or coat is the quality of the tailors shears that cut it.

I have been cutting by hand for 25 years and last year I decided that due to the fact we were now designing, pattern making, cutting and making here in our own workshop in York, it was time to upgrade the tools of my trade.

In the same way that a professional racing cyclist will feel the slightest difference in a saddle or a pedal, any professional cutter will tell you that there are dozens of sensitivities that will affect the quality of your work at the cutting table.

I can use my shears for up to 8 hours a day and they have to be ergonomically perfect for the task. Your thumb positioning is so important for guidance and stability and the handle must be shaped so that the shears rarely if ever leave the surface of the cutting table.

Maybe it isn't textbook but when I was taught to cut and hone my skills over several years, the old boys that taught me always advocated using the biggest shears that your hands would allow you to use. Who knows whether that's true or whether it's just old school but it works for me and that's how I was taught.

Anyone that appreciates just how critical it is to follow the fine lines of the chalk mark on your made-to-measure coat, knowing that the slightest deviation can throw out the whole balance of it, will know that a blade that cuts to its very tip will produce a finer product. It is the literal definition of clean cut.

For our work as artisanal coatmakers there is really only one choice of tailors shears on the market that achieves everything we want to in terms of making something truly beautiful.

Everybody in the UK knows that the home of steel manufacturing is Sheffield. The maker of my shears, Ernest Wright Ltd, are in the heart of the city, proudly producing the best shears in the world.

I took a trip to see them today, which is why I am writing this now. The number of processes the commitment to quality control and the quality of their raw materials is impressive, but it's always admiring the skill of their workforce which impresses most.

I used their flagship model, the 13" professional shear. When I bought my first pair over a year ago, I can honestly say that using them made me smile. Accuracy and efficiency improved and when handing out cut work to our machinists, their appreciation of the finer work made a difference to their jobs too.

It's when working with companies like Ernest Wright that you truly understand why buying an artisanal product is so special and can bring so much pleasure. If you know anything about music, it's like the difference between the analogue and digital world.