One of the most popular questions I get from other groomers is, "What type of shears do you like?". But shears are different for every groomer; just because I love a particular pair of shears doesn’t mean it will be right for you. Having a proper fitting shear will eliminate extra stress put on your hands and wrist. Shears should feel relaxed in your hand.

A lot of factors come into consideration when finding shears, including the size and width of your hand, the weight of the shears, the materials they are made of, the length of the blades, the edge on the blade and the fit of the shear to your hand. Below, I will demonstrate how to fit shears to your hand, properly hold your shears and exercises that will help improve your scissoring skills.   

Step 1: Quick Fit

A quick way to see if shears will be a comfortable fit for your hand is to hold hand flat, palm up. Lay the shear flat on your hand, placing the pivot between the ring finger and the middle finger. The thumb hole should fall between the love line on the hand and the meaty part of the thumb.

The Proper Way to Use Grooming Shears

Step 2: Finding the Balance Point

A more involved way to fit shears properly is to find the balance point. Do this by holding your hand flat perpendicular to the ground. Place the shear flat with the tightening screw on the top side and finger holes towards the palm.

The Proper Way to Use Grooming Shears

Step 3: A Balanced Hold

Turn the shears on their side keeping your forefinger at the balance point. If you hold a shear too far up or back, it will cause unnecessary stress to your muscles and inhibit the correct scissoring motion. Place your ring finger in the finger hole, resting between the first joint and fingernail. These fingers stabilize the shears.

The Proper Way to Use Grooming Shears

Step 4: Placing Thumb

Once you have the shears cradled with your other fingers, place your thumb slightly into the other finger hole. The thumb does all the work when scissoring. If you have to shift your thumb forward or backwards to reach the finger rest, the shears are not a good fit. The thumb should naturally align inside the finger rest. If either finger hole is too big, use inserts.

The Proper Way to Use Grooming Shears

Step 5: Open & Close

The thumb is the only thing moving on your hand when scissoring. Using a slight forward pressure on the thumb will open the blades wide and close. You will notice one blade stays stationary and the other blade is operated by the thumb.

The Proper Way to Use Grooming Shears

Step 6: Wrist Position

Keep your wrist straight and your shears at a right angle to your hand.

The Proper Way to Use Grooming Shears

Step 7: Practice Hold

Practice makes perfect, so I recommend sitting with your shears—no dog involved—with your bottom fingers resting on your lap or armrest. Practice only moving your thumb up and down.  This trains your hand to stay stationary.

The Proper Way to Use Grooming Shears

Step 8: Practice Movement

Next, rest the bottom fingers against a surface and move along the edge of the surface keeping your scissors level. This teaches you to keep your shears at a right angle to your hand and helps reduce bouncing your hand, which creates a choppy look.

The Proper Way to Use Grooming Shears

Step 9: Practice Control

Use the tines of your grooming comb to scissor in between. This helps you learn to control your shears and learn precise placement of shears.

The Proper Way to Use Grooming Shears

Professional groomer Anne Francis, CMG, is a grooming competitor, speaker and Andis educator. She works at The Village Groomer in Walpole, Mass. Is there a breed or cut that you’d like to see featured in the Grooming Table? Send your suggestions to mkalaygian@petbusiness.com.