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December 12, 2005 12:03 AM

Broken: Chicago Cutlery scissors

ScissorsIan Shook writes:

I recently picked up a pair of "Chicago Cutlery" brand scissors. I don't know if it was an intended feature to make the blades separate for easy cleaning, but they tend to separate while in use.

When opened up close to all the way, the lock keeping the blades together disengages. I've cut myself twice. Fortunately, I was wearing shoes the third time they fell apart.


Literally. Broken. I say it's time to call the company and ask if this is reason for a notice to customers, as this is potentially quite dangerous. Imagine if one's small child was standing below when the scissors fell apart.


Posted by: Renga at December 12, 2005 12:26 AM

you have it all wrong. those are obviously throwing knives DISGUISED as scissors.

Posted by: gmangw at December 12, 2005 12:27 AM

It's definitely useful to be able to take apart culinary scissors for cleaning; you don't want to be cutting food with scissors which have crap and rust and so on caught between the blades.

However, most culinary scissors require being opened up all the way, such that the blades are basically facing in opposite directions, which is impossible to do by accident. It looks like these separate within the normal working range, which is definitely broken.

Posted by: fluffy at December 12, 2005 12:52 AM

I smell a safety recall in the works....

Posted by: Josh Z. at December 12, 2005 01:10 AM

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." What does one say for fool me three times? Why did you continue to use the scissors after they fell apart TWICE, and cut you both times?

Posted by: Dan C at December 12, 2005 07:17 AM

Chicago Cutlery makes kitchen knives.

Kitchen shears are indeed designed to come apart like that; every pair I've ever owned has done so.

It may be that the concept is broken (I don't think so; after using the shears to cut raw chicken, I want to be able to be sure ALL the chicken is cleaned off), but don't blame this particular manufacturer.

Posted by: Erik at December 12, 2005 07:18 AM

I haven't worked with the scissors in question, so *maybe* they really do come apart so easily. But there are two other problems here:

1). The photo does not show "normal working range". If Ian would put his second, third and fourth fingers through the lower handle instead of his third, fourth and fifth, the scissors would not open so far during use and I suspect would not come apart.

2). As pointed out previously, one would hope that one would learn after the second time.

Posted by: Stoo at December 12, 2005 07:46 AM

Be careful with those things, or YOU will end up broken.

Posted by: Michael McWatters at December 12, 2005 08:58 AM

"The photo does not show "normal working range"."

Says you. I'll bet you'd need to poen them like that to get good leverage on the breast bone.

"As pointed out previously, one would hope that one would learn after the second time."

Well-made devices do not force users to change their methods. Well-made devices fit users' behaviour.

We "learned" how to operate a pair of scissors in kindergarten. Apparently, this company feels that's just not good enough, and we should relearn it.

Posted by: DaveC426913 at December 12, 2005 09:20 AM

To Dan C.:

So that's how it goes!


The Prez

Posted by: Dubya at December 12, 2005 09:41 AM

Definitely not broken.

They're supposed to come apart for easy cleaning.

Regular kitchen shears/scissors will get crud stuck in between the blades. That can be a health hazard.

I have a similar pair of shears for my kitchen and have never had a problem with them unintentionally coming apart. I use mine all the time and find it difficult to come up with a set of circumstances where I'd have to open them to the point where they'd fall apart.

What seems to be broken about these is the silly bottle opener on the handle. That's just absurd.

Posted by: Steve at December 12, 2005 09:58 AM

Look, Ian gave us the answer. Wear shoes. But I'm puzzled...Ian, are your shoes narrow enough to fit into the scissors? Perhaps they were babies' shoes. Do you wear one shoe on the thumb and the other on the fingers like a mitten? Wouldn't metal mesh gloves work be more flexible and efficient? Just curious.

Posted by: dan at December 12, 2005 10:02 AM

Does the bottle-opener thingy on the end work ok?

Posted by: jackson at December 12, 2005 10:20 AM

Does the bottle-opener thingy on the end work ok?

Posted by: jackson at December 12, 2005 10:21 AM

I have these, too (except in black) and they only come apart if you try to open them wide like the photos. I've yet to have them fall apart while using them (over six years). Not many people open scissors that wide to make the cut. They're excellent quality and work well. Since they're made for cooking -- it's important to clean them well to avoid contamination.

Posted by: meryl at December 12, 2005 10:29 AM

Let's straighten this out: Ian is NOT opening it "too wide." It is a design flaw in these shears that the handles must be spread so far apart to open the blades up to 60-degrees (normal operating range). Clearly a broken design for kitchen shears.

Posted by: Dukerino at December 12, 2005 11:22 AM

I have a pair of these scissors, although they are several years old. I'm wondering if this is a different design or a manufacuring flaw. Mine have never come apart while I was using them.

Check with the company...Chicago Cutlery is one of those 'satisfaction guaranteed' companies and will usually work with you to resolve the problem.

Posted by: Kathy at December 12, 2005 12:19 PM

Not "all" kitchen shears come apart for cleaning. I have a pair made by Fiskars. They are not made to come apart. Hence, I do not use them for things like cutting raw chicken.

Posted by: Kissa at December 12, 2005 02:23 PM

"If Ian would put his second, third and fourth fingers through the lower handle instead of his third, fourth and fifth, the scissors would not open so far during use and I suspect would not come apart."

This is how I ALWAYS hold my scissors. Then the 'pointer' finger can *carefully* help guide them. Maybe I'm broken?

Posted by: ambrocked at December 12, 2005 02:29 PM

My kitchen shears do not come apart either, but I do use them for cutting chicken. I throws 'em in the dishwasher and takes my chances.

Posted by: Pat at December 12, 2005 02:31 PM

As noted, yes, they're supposed to come apart. The photo isn't quite showing you, Dukerino, but it's not 60 degrees to open them -- it's NINETY. I have two pair of CC shears and have never had them accidentally open. Either you have freaky big hands, or you're really using them for the wrong application; if you have to open them that far to cut something, it's time for a proper knife. Or a bone saw.

Posted by: Miriam at December 12, 2005 03:02 PM


Posted by: noob at December 12, 2005 03:05 PM

i think that the brokeness comes from the fact that the scissors come apart within normal operating range. we can all agree that the scissors should come apart, but i think that these scissors come apart in a very dangerous way. i would think, however, that being chopped twice should mean that he will never use them again.

Posted by: atmyhappyplace at December 12, 2005 04:11 PM

Cutco has the best scissors that come apart. Look at this page.

They only come apart at their widest spread, won't fall apart even then, and the widest spread is well beyond the extension of most human hands (maybe except pianists and b'ball players.) Terrific.

Posted by: dan at December 12, 2005 04:35 PM

Not broken. I've had a pair of those scissors for several years and they have yet to come unintentionally.

Posted by: Michael at December 12, 2005 11:45 PM

"Not broken. I've had a pair of those scissors for several years and they have yet to come unintentionally."

There's your answer interface designers! There's nothing like

- anecdotal evidence,

- for a test sample size of n=1,

- consisting entirely of inside-industry users,

to test the design of your products!

(Pointy-haired boss: "Look, Dilbert down in the product-design dept. says he didn't have them fall apart. That's all the user testing we need.")

Posted by: DaveC426913 at December 13, 2005 09:50 AM

I have the same problem with my Wusthof scissors. At 90 degrees, they fall apart, and I've cut myself several times. They easily come apart within the normal range of motion for those with large hands.

Luckily, it's not a problem for my wife with her smaller hands.

I try to use our other kitchen shears when possible, but if I pick up the Wusthofs by mistake, I risk getting a painful demonstration of why a pair of scissors is a "pair."

Posted by: Sherrod Segraves at December 14, 2005 02:51 PM

They're kitchen shears. They come apart for easy cleaning. Forks are dangerous if you poke yourself in the tongue with them.

Posted by: chef atlanta at December 14, 2005 09:26 PM

My wife and I have owned a pair of Chicago Cutlery scissors that separate in this same manner for 12 years (?) without incident. In fact, I love them. They are awesome scissors and easy to clean and dry thoroughly. Maybe they changed the design for the worse?

Posted by: Weston at December 17, 2005 12:04 AM

Hey Everybody, thanks for the comments. Almost everybody had a good point. I still use the scissors, i'm just more careful. I don't know what normal operating range is, one mentioned 60 degrees, I just know that they opened up a couple of times on me. See the bone cutter part of the scissors? Sometimes I have to open them up past that so I can get a good start of a cut on something that isn't bone.

The bottle opener is just rediculous. It implies that the blade is now a handle. If somebody buys specialty scissors, i'm sure they have a decent bottle opener somewhere.

And yes, I always hold scissors like that.

Thanks again,


Posted by: Ian Shook at January 3, 2006 01:55 PM

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