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011 Tool Review: Engineer PH 55 Scissors GT

I’ve been following New York-based I Heart Engineering pretty closely since it first appeared on my radar back in 2009. One of a growing number of indie e-merchants who support and promote their retail operations with an online publishing outlet (a la adafruit), I Heart Engineering’s affiliated I Heart Robotics blog posts great original content that we’ve featured here a number of times over the past couple of years:

The last time I posted their stuff, founder Bill Morris sent me a nice thank-you note, together with a polite request that I stop using his name, alone, to refer to the work that’s going on over there, but rather “credit the team at I Heart Engineering.” Two positive signs, in that: 1) Bill’s a modest guy, and 2) their business has grown enough to maintain a staff.

004 Tool Review: Engineer PH 55 Scissors GT

Besides some top-notch bloggin’, the team at I Heart Engineering maintains a great catalog of interesting and hard-to-find tools, kits, parts, and other gear for makers. When these crazy-looking heavy-duty scissors by trending Japanese toolmongers Engineer Inc. first caught my eye, a few weeks back, I was not at all surprised to find that I Heart Engineering was the only place in the U.S. I could find them.

013 Tool Review: Engineer PH 55 Scissors GT

package insert features detail e1350425245931 Tool Review: Engineer PH 55 Scissors GT

Unsurprisingly, the first thing that struck me about the PH-55 “Tetsuwan” scissors, as they’re known, was their heavily stylized appearance.  I have written before about the sexification of relatively humdrum tools with fantasy and/or sci-fi elements intended to appeal to the World of Warcraft generation, and there’s no denying that Engineer, Inc. (which has an established line of rather more straight-laced professional tools) has fully embraced that philosophy in the PH-55. These things have more greebles than the south end of a northbound star destroyer.

But, thankfully, that’s not the whole story.

The scissors come with a plastic safety sheath that snaps onto the rivet-nut.  With this sheath attached, they measure 6.25″ long and weigh 3.70 oz. Removing the sheath shaves 0.25″ and 0.5 oz. from those figures, respectively. The blade stock, at 0.110″, is considerably thicker than any of the other four scissors I measured against, the nearest runner-up being a pair of paramedic’s shears—remember those penny-cutting infomercials?—that sport 0.10″ blades.  The PH-55 blades measure 2 5/8″ from rivet to tip, and present 2.3″ of cutting edge when fully open. The upper blade is finely serrated over 1.25″ of its edge, nearest the rivet where cutting forces are greatest, and features a half-sharpened false edge, at the nose, that works well as a box cutter when the scissors are closed.  An integral wire breaker notch behind the rivet comfortably shears soft steel up to 3/32″ in diameter.

008 Tool Review: Engineer PH 55 Scissors GT

The handles are designed with an integral wrap-around guard, on each side, that effectively protects against pinching skin or fingers as they close, and include molded-in lanyard-eyes at each pommel in case, like me, you prefer to hang your tools up for storage.   The finger loops are rather shorter than most Western-style scissors, and some folks in our office found the two-finger grip they’re designed for a bit unnatural.  I rather prefer it, myself, but the truth is that the PH-55 is as much light-duty shear as it is heavy-duty scissor, and rather more at home in the shop than the sewing room.  If you’re trying to trim ’round the nooks and crannies of a complex fabric pattern, you may have to work pretty slowly.  If, on the other hand, you’re looking to hack off a length of 1/2″ manilla rope, chop through some heavy gauge 3-conductor electrical cable, then finish up by salvaging a bunch of tinplate from soup cans, you will not be disappointed.

005 Tool Review: Engineer PH 55 Scissors GT

As for the greebly sci-fi design, I must admit I’m a bit of a sucker for it.  Sacrificing performance for aesthetics is always a bad trade, when it comes to tools, but if it can work well and look good?  Well, that’s a different story.  No, pretty tools don’t perform any better than ugly tools, but the pleasure of using, owning, and displaying them is worth something, in and of itself.  On a good day, I might splurge on a pair of these to treat myself, and on a bad day…well, receiving them as a gift might be enough to turn it around.

I Heart Engineering — Engineer Inc. Engineer PH-55 Tetsuwan Scissors GT

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


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