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Forged high-carbon stainless steel blades hold sharp and durable edges.
Solid steel handles are the strongest, but many plastic handles work nicely.
Longer handles mean more powerful shears, so you should consider your intentions.
Shears that can be taken apart are the only shears sanitary enough for butchering.
Kitchen shears are essentially identical to regular scissors except that the fulcrum in a pair of shears is located further away from the handle to provide greater leverage and power. Useful for a variety of light butchering needs, a good pair of kitchen shears can cut cleanly through joints and smaller bones. Shears are also ideal for snipping fresh herbs as well as cutting cheesecloth, parchment paper and butchers twine. Many shears feature accessories like can and bottle openers, but we do not believe that these extras give any pair of shears an advantage over a simple, solid pair of forged shears.
The blades of the best kitchen shears are forged from high-carbon stainless steel. High-carbon stainless steel sharpens easily, takes and retains a sharp edge for long periods of time, and does not rust, pit, or react with acidic food. A solid pair of forged shears will last you a lifetime.
Many less expensive shears are made with blades stamped from sheets of rolled steel and are generally inferior to forged shears. Stamped steel is softer than forged steel, does not sharpen as easily and dulls more quickly. However, unless your shears will encounter heavy use in the kitchen, pairs made from stamped steel are acceptable.
Some manufactures also produce shears with curved, rather than straight blades. While these shears are exceptionally suited to butchering, they are a little more clumsy when it comes to other tasks. We do not see them as necessary for a person in need of an everyday all-purpose pair of shears.
Although the handles of the best kitchen shears are forged from the same piece of high-carbon stainless steel blanks as the blades, many shears featuring rugged modern plastic handles permanently bonded to stainless steel blades are sufficiently durable for regular everyday kitchen use. In our opinion, the construction a pair of shears is not nearly as important as whether or not the shears can be taken apart. Shears with handles that are permanently fastened together can harbor dangerous bacteria and should never be used for butchering.
There are a number of shears on the market featuring spring loaded handles that only need to be squeezed to be used. Some chefs find these models extremely efficient and others find them difficult to use. We feel quality here is a matter of personal opinion, but we would like to note that springs wear out over time and will eventually need to be replaced.
Kitchen shears, like all knives, should be well maintained. They should be cleaned after use, dried thoroughly, and kept sharp. While the edges on a pair of kitchen shears will last longer than the edge on a knife, they will eventually grow dull and need to be sharpened. Because the edges on your shear's blades are ground on one side only, they must be sharpened differently than the blades of normal knives. You should never try to hone the blades on your shears with a sharpening steel and should only resharpen them when necessary. It may be easier to have this done by a professional, especially if your shears feature serrated edges.