By the Yard: Cutting Paper with Fabric Scissors, Explained!

By the Yard: Cutting Paper with Fabric Scissors, Explained!

Posted by Jen Lopez on Apr 17th 2019

There are many hilarious memes all over the internet decrying the use of a quilter’s scissors on anything other than fabric… especially paper. Quilters vociferously proclaim that paper dulls fabric scissors, whereas the snip-happy scissors-stealers dismiss this notion as total nonsense. Is there any merit to the concerned quilters’ claims? Let’s find out!

According to the good folks at, the main ingredient in paper is (no surprise) plant material; however, there are as many as 3,000 other ingredients that can be found in paper. Among the most common are clay, kaolinite, calcium carbonite (commonly known as limestone), and titanium dioxide. These additives serve numerous purposes, including increasing the brightness and printability of the paper.

So, what does this mean? Think back to high school chemistry. Remember the Mohs Hardness Scale? It’s a scale from 1 to 10 which quantifies the hardness of a material, with 10 (i.e. diamond) being the hardest. Kaolinite has a hardness of 2.5; so does aluminum and gold. Limestone has a hardness of 3; so does copper. And titanium dioxide has a hardness of 6. To put that into a frame of reference, an iron nail has a hardness of 4.5 and a steel nail is 6.5.

You wouldn’t dream of hacking your scissors through an aluminum can, Grandma’s gold necklace, a copper penny, or any kind of nail! In conclusion, if paper is permeated with ground-up bits of all those materials, it would follow that cutting paper must dull scissors at a faster rate than cutting fabric.

Asked and answered. Now, don’t touch my scissors.

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