Choosing the Right Shear

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome affect haircutters more than any other repetitive motion diseases.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Constant flexing and over-extension of the thumb and fingers can cause irritation of the tendons in the wrist which can cause them to swell and put pressure on the nerve going to the hand resulting in numbness, tingling and pain.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Repeated lifting of the arm and shoulder can cause compression of the neurovascular bundle which provides blood circulation for the arm and hand. The symptoms are similar to carpal tunnel, including numbness in the arm and the feeling of the arm "going to sleep."

To remain healthy, we need to cut as much as possible with: Back straight, shoulders square, elbows down, cutting hand open and relaxed.

Handle Design

The handle design is the most important element of the shear for promoting good cutting position. There are five common handle designs:

1) Opposing Grip - The oldest handle design. Works best when cutting with the thumb and second finger.

2) Offset Handle - Puts the thumb and the third finger in a more natural position. Requires cutting with the elbow raised.

3) Crane Handle - Offset with handle tilted downward allows cutting with elbow lowered.

4) Crane Handle with Expanded Grip - Similar to #3 Crane Handle, but allows the shear to be closed and still leaves the cutting hand slightly open and relaxed.

5) Crane Handle with Expanded Grip and Rotating Thumb - Similar to #4 Crane Handle with Expanded Grip, but allows more natural movement of the body.

The three crane handle designs allow you to cut with your elbow down which promotes freer blood flow and nerve energy. It also minimizes the risk of thoracic outlet syndrome and bursitis in the shoulder.

Body position with standard handle.
Body position with crane handle.

The three crane handle designs allow you to cut with your hand open and relaxed which reduces stress on the carpal tendons.

Hand position with standard handle. Wrist bent upward, thumb and finger collapsed together.
Hand position with crane handle. Wrist in 'neutral' position. Thumb and finger 'open', thumb travel reduced.

Edge Design

There are only two edge designs:

1) Beveled Edge - The oldest edge design. Requires more effort to cut and does not slide cut as well. A thick, visible edge.

2) Convex or Hamaguri Edge - Concentrates more power on a narrower, more highly polished edge, requiring less effort and providing the best slide cutting.


A shear that can't be adjusted (tightened or loosened) by the stylist gets dull faster. Every shear we sell can be adjusted by the stylist one of four ways:

Adjustable Screw
Can be tightened or loosened with a standard screwdriver.
Coin Adjustable Screw
Can be tightened or loosened with a coin.
Locking Adjuster
Simply turning the dial tightens or loosens the shear.
Locking Internal Adjuster
Turning the adjuster with the key tightens or loosens the shear.


Most shears are available in lengths from 5 to 7 inches (designating the overall length of the shear), with the most popular lengths being from 5 to 6 inches. Choose the longest shear you are comfortable with. Not sure which length? See "What length shear should I buy?" in our FAQ.

Thinning & Texturizing Shears

All stylists need thinning and texturizing shears to achieve special effects, from the blending of lines in a man's haircut (thinning or blending shears) to radical spiking and movement (coarse texturizing shears). The more teeth, the more subtle the texture--the fewer teeth, the more noticeable the texture. The following illustrations show how these shears cut the hair.

Classes For Your Salon

"Hands On" classes in Ergonomics, choosing the right shear, and caring for your shears are available for your local Colorado salon or school. Please contact us for scheduling.