Sometimes semi-disposable items are a better choice than those designed to last a lifetime.
Take scissors, for example. I have several really nice, high-quality, pricey, and definitely not semi-disposable scissors from Klein Tools and Engineer. But if you abuse them by cutting things that you shouldn’t, then your really nice pair of scissors are quickly transformed into not-so-nice scissors.
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Ask me how I know. It brings back memories of my grandmother yelling at me for using her best scissors; scissors she’d use for dressmaking, to cut things like wire and metal.
A few years ago, someone suggested that I get some medical shears, and I bought a few pairs. I’ve used these tools in the past for first-aid purposes, but didn’t think they’d be up to the the rigors of workshop use and abuse.
I was wrong.
- Length: 7.25-inch
- Weight: 2.7 oz
- Blade material: Surgical-grade stainless steel
- Blade hardness: Rockwell hardness of C56
- Handle material: Polypropylene
- Tip style: Stainless-steel safety bandage tip
- Autoclavable: Yes, to 143ºC (290ºF)
Medical shears have a lot of advantages over scissors.
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The first advantage is price. You can easily find really high-quality medical shears for about $7, which puts them in the Bic pen-pricing category. In short, it’s something you can use without worrying too much about trashing it.
They’re also tough, and feature hardened, micro-serrated, stainless steel blades, and are secured together using a strong rivet. Combine these features with the comfortable polypropylene handles and you can put a lot of pressure on these shears without having to worry about the blade being damaged or the rivet giving way.
Speaking of the handles, they come in a range of colors, from black to neon yellow. I prefer brighter colors because they stand out on my workbench from all the other clutter, but some might prefer more subdued colors.
Another thing I like is the tip. There are no sharp points to accidentally poke into people, making them much safer than traditional scissors.
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The shears can be put through an autoclave for sterilization, and while most of us won’t have an autoclave handy, it does mean that they can be safely thrown in a pan of boiling water for cleaning.
I also have a pair of pricey — and definitely not semi-disposable — medical shears, in form of the Leatherman Raptor. These take the concept of medical shears and add features such as a carbide glass breaker, ring cutter, and oxygen tank wrench. I like everything about the Raptor shears apart from the the sheath that came with them, so made a custom sheath out of kydex and a belt clip.
At $100, you could buy over a dozen of the cheaper medical shears for the same money, but I’ve had these on my belt or backpack when venturing into the wilds for over a decade, and they’ve cut all sorts of materials that would normally blunt a pair of scissors — and they’re still going strong.
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But for general workshop or around-the-home use, you can’t fault medical shears. They’re cheap, tough, long-lasting, yet the blunt tips make them safe around kids and others who might injure themselves with pointy things.