What’s the difference between German & Japanese-style scissors?

Scissor types

The most commonly used scissors are the German and Japanese-style scissors. But what’s the difference between the two? Here we discuss the major distinctions so that you can decide which style is best for you.

Facing Side
Unlike the flat, German-style scissors, the facing sides of Japanese-style scissors have a small hollow ground area behind the cutting edge. This leaves a thin, smooth spot called the “hone line.” The scissor’s blades glide along the “hone line,” and the edge cuts the hair. Properly sharpened, the cutting edges do not come into contact or dull each other. Instead, the hollow area prevents hair from slipping between the blades and pushing them apart.

Sharpened Edge
The sharpened edge of Japanese-style scissors is made much sharper (and more acute) than the German-style scissor. The Japanese-style scissor cuts like a razor, while the German-style scissor cuts in a chopping motion. Many barbers prefer the German-style for scissor over comb cutting. However, for slide cutting or precision cutting, a Japanese-style scissor’s sharp, razor edge is preferred.

Beveled Edge
At the cutting edge of the blade, there is a distinct bevel (angled line). All German-style scissors have a beveled edge, as do some (but not all) Japanese-style scissors.

Convex Edge
At the cutting edge, there is no distinct bevel. Instead, the outside of the scissor blade slopes smoothly into the cutting edge. This gives the edge more strength, but it adds a cosmetic quality as well. When you create a sharp angle, it makes a wide bevel, but it looks much better if you smooth it out.

Corrugated Edge
Corrugated edges keep the hair from sliding out of the blade. They are normally associated with German-style scissors, but they can also be put on Japanese-style scissors. Stylists who do a lot of tip cutting should put the corrugation only at the tip of the blade for slide cutting.

At Sidney’s Expert Scissor Sharpening, I have sharpened German and Japanese style scissors for over 30 years. To learn more about my services, contact me today.