Ernest Wright Scissors Workshop Tour and Interview 2023
The artisan scissors-makers (known as ‘putters’) at Ernest Wright, Sheffield, explain some of the physical qualities, characteristics and crafting processes that go into a fine pair of handmade scissors – as well as providing some background on Sheffield’s steel and cutlery heritage. This short film by Toby Essex follows putters Jonathan, Neil, Sam, James and Tony on a scissors workshop tour, as they carry out scissors-making processes including inside bow grinding on flexible belts, putting-together, flat-grinding, and grinding blades using a stone grinding wheel mounted on a saddle grinder. Learn how scissors are made, and find out more about the history of scissors-making!
The difference between RIGHT-handed and left-handed scissors
The arrangement of right-handed and left-handed scissors’ blades takes into account the mechanics of the hand’s grip to optimize cutting and allow the user to see what they’re cutting clearly. When you use a pair of scissors, as well as a vertical motion your hand creates a lateral squeeze, with the thumb pushing slightly away from the palm. Right-handed scissors are engineered to harness this motion to push the blades together, but when used in the left hand, the blades are pushed apart. To create the same effect, left-handed scissors are a mirror image of right-handed ones.
SCISSORS FROM SHEFFIELD – TRADITIONAL CRAFTSMANSHIP
Life is about trying your best. At Ernest Wright, we always strive for perfection. From the masterputters, like Cliff and Eric, to our Dutch businessmen, Paul and Jan-Bart, who saved the workshop from bankruptcy. Mercedes heard about our hard work and the revitalisation of a 116-year old family business. They visited us in Sheffield and produced this wonderful little documentary. Watching it makes us so proud of everything at Ernest Wright.
Cliff Denton is “The Putter,” or more specifically he’s a ‘putter-togetherer of scissors.’ As the modern world has moved toward machine-made goods, Denton and his unique skills are working diligently at Ernest Wright of Sheffield, the last remaining hand manufacturer of scissors. Filmmaker Shaun Bloodworth captures the story of how these household tools are put together and perfected in this beautiful, wordless short film. Shaun was interested in the “tiny little movements and millions of adjustments” they made to produce scissors. The film features a soundtrack by The Black Dog.
We owe a lot to Shaun, who sadly passed away in 2016. We cherish the little masterpiece he made about Ernest Wright.
HAND-MAKING SCISSORS @ERNEST WRIGHT
“We had a great day working with the team at Ernest Wright. It was fascinating learning about the process and watching the attention to detail. I liked them so much I even bought a pair. Places like Ernest Wright are a rarity in the automated throw away world we live in” – Chris Leah, photographer (& video)
THE DISAPPEARING ART OF MAKING SCISSORS BY HAND
The disappearing art of making scissors by hand’ is a BBC film by Susannah Reid in which Eric Stones, one of the two “Master Putter-togetherers” at the factory, spoke to BBC News about his disappearing craft. His saying ‘Every pair a jewel’ is on our new packaging, as it captures the art and dedication that goes into making the perfect pair of scissors.
MAKING SHEFFIELD SCISSORS – PAUL MARTIN’S HANDMADE REVOLUTION
In August 2012, Paul Martin and his ‘Handmade Revolution’ team visited our highly skilled craftsmen at the Ernest Wright scissor workshop in Sheffield. This is the resulting segment from the show, aired 19th October 2012.
Another short documentary about Sheffield based Ernest Wright. A video about a family owned business, where the filmer was impressed by the ‘inspiring team that have trained for years in order to become putter-togetherers of scissors’.
Directed, filmed and edited by Hen Pritchard-Barrett
Music by The Books
SCISSORS – BBC Look North
Covering South Yorkshire for BBC Look North , Mark Ansell noted ‘a very enjoyable story about the resurrection of a traditional Sheffield business thanks to the internet’.
It tells the story about how the company was saved from closure thanks to the video on the internet that’s spread around the world (See ‘The Putter’ above). As Ernest Wright was on the verge of closure after a hundred and twelve years in business due to a lack of orders, everything changed when Shaun Bloodworth created a short film of what we do and posted it online.