Fishing Scissors




I had a need. I wanted something to cut fishing line, unceremoniously cut worms in half and capable of pinching split shot type sinkers. I wanted something small, about 3 inches or less. An extra bonus would be something light enough to hang on a retracting lanyard and blunt so I wouldn't accidentally stab myself.

I scoured the local stores and the internet hoping for a small multi-tool which had some small pliers and a small pair of scissors. I found none to my liking. Both Gerber and Leatherman make such a tool, but I didn't want to spend the money.

Having given up on the multi-tool, I set my sights on modifying a pair of scissors by grinding the pointy tips down and pinching the split shot behind the pivot. I still was unable to find something I liked. Either the scissors were huge, had plastic handles unsuitable for the split shot, or were rather dear.

What to do? Well, make something of course!

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Step 1: Prototype

I started with a prototype. I sketched out what I wanted on a piece of plastic, comparing the sketch to a small pair of my wife's sewing scissors. Once I got something I thought would work, I cut it out of the plastic with some... scissors - NOT my wife's sewing scissors though. I then traced around it and cut a second one. I stacked them, drilled the pivot hole and put a piece of copper wire through.

At this point, it looked good, time to proceed with the real deal!

Step 2: Tools & Materials

Hacksaw with fine tooth blade
Flat metal file
Rat tail file
1/8" drill bit
3/8" drill bit
Very small drill bit for lanyard hole
Sharpie marker
Utility knife
150 grit sandpaper

Old circular saw blade
6-32 machine screw

Step 3: Trace Prototype

Trace the prototype onto the old circular saw blade. In order to get clean, crisp visible lines, I scribbled on the blade with a sharpie marker and then traced with a utility knife. The utility knife scratches through the sharpie leaving very narrow silver colored lines on a black background. I traced the half which looked 'cleaner' twice rather than each one once.

Step 4: Cut Out Pieces

The circular saw blade is hard steel, but not too hard. I was able to cut it with a fine tooth hacksaw. After placing the blade in the vise, I rough cut around the perimeter of each piece, then used the flat file to clean them up to the lines. I then used the 1/8" drill bit to drill a pilot hole for the finger holes. After, I followed it with the 3/8" drill bit and used the rat tail file to give the hole its shape. I picked the smallest drill bit out of my set and used that to drill a small hole in one half for attaching a lanyard. After I had sanded both halves smooth to remove burrs, I stacked them together as I had with the prototype and drilled the pivot hole with the 1/8" drill bit. Of course, that necessitated more sanding.

Step 5: Sharpening and Assembly

I sharpened the blades prior to assembly thinking it would be easier. Once again, I examined my wife's sewing scissors. They appeared to be sharpened at about a 45 degree angle. I simply used the flat file to file approximately a 45 degree angle on the portion in front of the pivot. Is it perfect? Probably not, but close enough; worms and fishing line aren't incredibly tough.

For assembly, I screwed the 6-32 machine screw through. There must have been a burr preventing it from sliding through. That burr turned out to be convenient as it allowed me to adjust the tightness of the joint until it felt about right. At this point I tried cutting a piece of paper; hot knife/butter, awesome!  So, I cut off the machine screw so 1/16 or 1/8 inch protruded from the other side. Then I placed the head of the machine screw on a hard surface (back of vice) and peened the cut side with the hammer. This will keep the screw from backing out. If the hinge gets loose with time, a bit more careful peening will tighten it up.

One last thing. Go back to step 3. See all that rust on the saw blade. Carbon steel rusts. To attempt to prevent or at least slow the rust, I coated them with candle wax. I simply rubbed it all over, then used a heat gun to gently melt the wax. The wax shouldn't rub or wash off easily like oil would, hopefully it works to keep them rust free-ish.

Step 6: Use!

I had a chance to go fishing and try out my new fishing scissors the morning after finishing them. First I had to attach the retractable lanyard. I bought mine at Home Depot, in the tools section, with a carpenter's pencil attached for something like $2. It has a belt clip that I clip to my life jacket. It is spring loaded so it pulls the scissors up next to my chest and out of the way.

The scissors performed admirably. Sharp enough to easily snip line and cut worms. The worms do try to slide out of the jaws, a hook shaped blade might prevent that. The notch is perfect for the split shot. They don't slide out and I'm able to easily apply enough pressure to pinch them open or closed. 

One complaint/possibility for improvement is that the handles tend to slip past each other. I'm thinking another small hole with another machine screw or bit of wire peened in will provide a stop to prevent that.

Another complaint/possibility for improvement is that they sometimes open up when not in use. I could install another stop to keep them from opening too far, but they'd still be able to open some. What I want to try first is running the lanyard through one finger hole, then attaching it. That way, when not in use, the lanyard would keep them closed. I'm not sure if that would be annoying for opening and using though. I'll update if/when I figure out a solution.

Step 7: Update

2 days of fishing in, still working just as planned... almost. When pinching a split shot sinker yesterday, I slipped and accidentally clipped the line - doh!

I drilled a hole through one piece, put a piece of copper wire through and peened it in place to act as a stop to preven them from closing too far. Seems to be working well.

I also tried out running the lanyard line through one finger hole, then tying off to the other in order to keep them closed when not in use. I don't like that, inhibits function and it is not being kind to the lanyard line.

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    14 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I assume you're just cutting monofilament line with these, have you tried them on braided or fused superlines?

    1 reply

    To prevent the blades from opening, you could place the blades into a piece of rubber tubing acting as a sheath. Bonus: You are less likely to hurt yourself on the tip.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That is a good idea, but would require two hands to prepare for use. Some sort of sheath attached to my life vest though... That would keep them from opening, cover the blades and keep them from being caught on things. Having it attached to the vest means one could pull them out with one hand.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I suspect the steel would be too hard to fold/bend, but that might be all it needs to stop the slide-past.

    Or put another bolt/screw through, or weld a blob in place, on one side so it acts as a stop.


    7 years ago on Step 6

    for the worm sliding problem, you could file very small teeth one one blade to give it grip. to keep them closed, you might want to see about the hook and post on a pair of wiss snips. although i'm not sure how well it'd work since snips are spring loaded, but i'm sure you could figure a way to modify it.

    like mabey riveting a thin spring to the top blade with a hole that'd slip over the top of the post. to open them it'd be a matter of lifting the spring enough to clear the post and if you turned up the end, when you close them it may slide up and fall onto the post end by itself.


    7 years ago on Step 5

    on your next one, if indeed there *is* a next one, try heating up a small section of 3mm (1/8 in) mild steel rod with a propane torch until it's bright red to anneal it. then let it air cool and snip off a length that is the thickness of your scissors plus a couple mm for a rivet. using a 340 g (appr 12 oz) ball peen hammer and some careful peening and checking, you'll be able to get the joint tight to suit your taste and it will never come loose. plus it'd look a lot cleaner then a screw.


    7 years ago on Step 3

    haha, pretty much you made you own layout fluid with the sharpie. capitol idea mate.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That is a great idea, only I'd have to buy some rubber dip stuff... I'm sure if I searched hard enough I could come up with several other things to dip too though.

    *applause" as a fisherwoman i understand how darn annoying normal scissors are..well done on this creation