The HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts


Scissor making


The making of scissors.


Status Critically endangered
Craft category Metal
Historic area of significance Sheffield
Area currently practised Sheffield
Origin in the UK 18th century
Current no. of professionals (main income) 6-10 (in two businesses)
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
Current no. of trainees
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers
Minimum no. of craftspeople required








Local forms






Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Market issues: Globalisation of the cutlery and steel industries has reduced the size of the craft. About 20-30 years ago there were approximately twenty companies in Sheffield making scissors but they have gradually closed.
  • Training issues: It takes up to five years to learn scissor making.
    Market issues: Have to rely on making a high-end/niche product – the market just isn’t there if you rely on volume
  • Training issues: There is no formal training – all training must be done in-house, which has both pros and cons
  • Training issues/recruitment issues: It is very difficult to find apprentices – very hard to find suitable people with the right work ethic. The ‘craftsman’ mindset is disappearing – no one wants to spend all day making things.
  • Training issues/recruitment issues: It is very difficult to retain apprentices – you lose a lot of money if you take on apprentice, pay them, take the time away from the master and then the apprentice leaves.
  • Business issues: Increasing bureaucracy for small businesses such as insurance, health and safety, pensions, electrical certificates etc. take up the time of the limited number of staff in a small business, and take their time away from making or from business development.
  • Business issues: The market is there for handmade scissors and is looking to move away from disposable items and towards products for life, but it can be hard to find the time to develop new products and markets.


Support organisations



Craftspeople currently known

Businesses employing two or more individuals:

  • Ernest Wright & Son – based in Sheffield. Family-owned business founded in 1902 went into liquidation in 2018 following the death of Nick Wright. All assets including the Ernest Wright and Kutrite brand names, the original machinery, tools and stock have been bought from the Receiver by new investors. The original personnel have been offered their jobs back and the old factory and workshop have been leased again from the landlord.
  • William Whiteley & Sons – based in Sheffield. Have been in business since 1760. Have a workforce of twelve, four of whom have unique skills. Make scissors for industry and retail and for highly specialised/bespoke uses, and make for their own and other brands.

Individual makers:


Other information