Sally’s Blog: Special Hammers for Making Scissors.
*the blade curve in this image has been accentuated for demonstration purposes
Shaping Scissors with Precision and Purpose
Scissors aren’t just two flat steel blades. The cutting action happens at the point where the blades meet, and as the scissors close, this point moves along the blades. Initially, this shape is created by grinding the inside of the blade. The edges are then ground, and the scissors are assembled by screwing them together.
Next, it’s important to ensure the perfect shaping and apply the correct curvature, and this is where the hammers come into play*! Each craftsman has their own requirement for hammers and their own unique way of using them. Different hammers are used at various stages of assembling and finishing of the scissor. Some hammers are passed down to future generations of assemblers, and some craftsmen even have specially made replicas of old ones.
The number of people who make custom hammers for specific tasks is small, and these hammers and their makers are highly sought after by specialist craftsmen.
Stiddies: The Foundation for Hammering Precision
When the blades are hammered, they are typically held on a “stiddy” (steady), which is a solid concrete cylinder that reaches waist height. It has a metal anvil set into the concrete, serving as a very solid base to place the scissors on while they are shaped by tapping.
The stiddies used here are very old, many have moved from old Whiteley premises which grew in size as the sales grew.
The hammers used on the shop floor today are a mixture of old and new with some dating back over 100 years!
Pictured on the left of image one, Andrew’s large hammer was handed down to him in 1982 (41 years ago!) and is estimated to be at least 60 years old.
In the centre is one of the “newer” hammers made especially for Andrew 30 years ago while we were still at our Garden Street factory.
On the right we have the oldest of them all! Estimated to be over 100 years old with the original owners initials still visibly stamped into the head (image two). This hammers wooden handle has been used so much it has worn away creating a perfect thumb sized nook (image three).
The hammer to the left of the image is estimated to be over 50 years old. It was left behind by a retired employee and picked up again by Steve 15 years ago after a previous one broke.
To the right is a hammer which was handed down to Steve 18 years ago and is around 40-50 years old, this is Steve’s staple tool and is used daily.
The Next Generation
All of the hammers at William Whiteley’s will likely be passed down to future generations for many years to come but as each hammers size, shape and weight play such a huge role in scissor making the time arose to source a new hammer for our craftsman, Pete! Pete has now been with us for 5 years learning the trade from both Andrew and Steve and it is with great honour we presented him with his very own.