As you may have noticed, this week is a little heavy on Ease of Use review. I made a commitment to post these before the end of the month and miscellaneous life events got in the way of a more even distribution. Hang in there. We return to your regularly scheduled program on Friday.
The Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation recognizes products proven to make life easier for people who have arthritis and other physical limitations. These products are independently tested by experts and evaluated by people with arthritis. I have been asked to review a number of Ease-of-Use products during May, Arthritis Awareness Month in the US. My mother, who has osteoarthritis in her hands, is helping by testing some of these products, as well.
When I first started the background research for the scissors, I found this on the Fiskars website:
"The Original Orange-Handled Scissors. Introduced to the world first as a quality fabric scissors, the scissors caused quite a stir. Not only was the design radical compared to forged scissors, but also much lighter and more comfortable. The cutting performance was so good forced many of home seamstress to declare the scissors off-limits - the same still holds true today."
Instant flashback! My mother used to sew and she was good at it - in fact, she used to sew her own clothes, as well as mine when I was little (by the time my sister came along, life prevented too much sewing). And I remember the orange-handled scissors - they were an integral part of my childhood. In fact, I don't remember any other scissors, other than my own stunted baby scissors. They may even have been involved in one of the most embarrassing stories that exists about my childhood. My mother had bought a beautiful, expensive piece of fabric for a suit and was halfway done. In those days, we lived in a tiny little house. My room was adjacent to the living/dining room and right outside my door was our dining room table, which served as my mother's sewing table after dinner. One day when I was about four years old, I got up before everyone else and apparently decided to be helpful. When my mother got up, her beautiful half-done suit was cut to pieces and the way she tells the story, I was very proud about helping her make her suit. The only thing I remember about this incident is sitting underneath the dining room table, being very upset because I had done something bad while my mother stood in front of it, no doubt weeping.
Anyway! The Fiskars EasyAction Scissors are a new generation of scissors, made especially for fabric. They have what's called a "spring assist," which automatically opens up the blades, designed to make cutting easier. You only have to squeeze the scissors shut and they open themselves. The Softgrip® handle is designed to reduce hand fatigue and the bent handle design is supposed to keep materials flat while cutting, improving accuracy. The website says that the scissors can cut a wide variety of materials, including denim, silk and multiple layers of fabric. They have a lifetime warranty.
Both my mother and I love these scissors! They are incredibly well thought out, both as a tool and (mostly) as a tool for people with arthritis. They are sharp as anything - we didn't have any fabric around, but tested them on paper compared to regular pair of scissors and they cut like a dream. Very sharp, very accurate - something in the design clearly lived up to the goal of cutting accuracy, because even though I had some trouble using them (see below for details), I could still cut in a straight line. That was quite something.
The handle is amazing. There is room for four fingers on one handle and the other rests in the space in your palm between your thumb and the knuckles of your other fingers. This means that when you squeeze the scissors shot, you are doing so with four fingers placed comfortably on one side, easing the strain on each individual finger. On the other side, you're using your palm, instead of your thumb joint. I don't uses scissors much anymore, but I remember that one of the most difficult things about it was the way my thumb, especially the base joint, always hurt afterwards.
Another thing that protects your fingers from strain is the spring-action. Granted, it takes a bit of getting used to this having the scissors opening on their own, but not long and when you do, it was very, very good. One of those "why didn't anyone think of this before?" moments mixed with "I'm so glad someone finally did!" I have a pair of scissors that I use for pretty much everything, but which are usually limited in my using them for things that only need one cut. If it needs more than one cut, I have to squeeze the blade shut with my right hand, then use both hands to open them and repeat as necessary. It's a pain in the arse and I usually save cutting for my attendants or The Boy. I am completely in love with the spring-action invention. We need more scissors with this design! Hurrah for independent cutting!
My mother and I had two concerns specifically related to hands that have moderate to severe arthritis. The first is the lock that holds the scissors closed. We both really liked that you have to disengage the lock on each side of the scissor, which increases safety around small hands that might potentially want to assist with making a new suit. A-hem. However, it was very tight - again excellent preventative strategy for wee ones who shouldn't play with something this sharp, but also a barrier for fingers that hurt.
Secondly, they are a large pair of scissors. My mother has fairly large hands and used them comfortably. I, on the other hand, have small hands and did not. I could barely get my hand around them – partly due to my hand size, partly due to deformities. However, I do want to point out that when I did use them (not as open as they could get because my hand/grip is too small), I could use them to cut because of the spring-action. That was pretty amazing. There are a number of other scissors in this design, but I don’t know if any of them are smaller. If not, I’d like to suggest to Fiskars that they make two or three of these scissors in different sizes. Because I'd very much like a pair.
Bottom line? A solid A. Make some in different sizes and find a way to deal with the lock issue and they’ll get an A+.
Other bloggers involved in reviewing Ease-of-Use products are Felicia Fibro, Peachy Pains and Dog in the Dorm: Life with Holden.