The Cutting Edge Recipe

Just like seasonings alter the taste of food, the characteristics of steel can be altered by the addition of different chemical elements and compounds.  This "recipe" allows for the production of different steel alloys.  The effects that an element produces can vary significantly depending on which other elements are included.

When researching what shears to purchase, some of the wording may be confusing and misleading.  The materials or elements used and what their characteristics are can be overwhelming.

Although the science of metallurgy is complex, I hope that this helps.  Here is a short list of some of the elements used and their characteristics.

Carbon (C)

Increases edge retention, tensile strength, and the hardness which is attainable.

Chromium (Cr)

Increases hardness, tensile strength, and toughness.  Improves resistance to corrosion. Can also improve wear resistance in complex steel alloys.

Cobalt (Co) 

Increases strength and hardness.  Corrosion resistant.  Intensifies the individual effects of other elements in more complex steels.

Molybdenum (Mo)

Increases strength, hardness, hardenability, and toughness.  Improves machinability and resistance to corrosion. 

Vanadium (Va)

Increases strength, wear resistance, and toughness.  Smaller grain size.


The secret of the high cutting performance and quality of Japanese scissors correlates to the fine steel alloy used.  The foundation of the high quality shear is stainless steel.  This is an iron alloy which contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium.  Chromium produces a thin layer of oxide on the surface of the steel which prevents the corrosion of the surface.

Following is a list of popular alloys used and the details of each.


This steel alloy is only produced in Japan by Hitachi.  The recipe is a trade secret and nobody is allowed to produce it.  This proprietary steel has a high content of both Carbon and Cobalt making it extremely durable and costly!  Because of its toughness and edge retention, this steel is arguably the best scissor material in the world.


The G stands for “gold," which refers to the “gold standard” that this level of stainless steel is considered to have met. 

VG 10 stainless steel is a mixture that contains roughly 1% carbon, 1% molybednum, 15% chromium, .2% vanadium and 1.5% cobalt.  All of these relatively small amounts of elements give the VG 10 steel its unusual properties.

The addition of vanadium and cobalt make it tough and durable.  This fine grained alloy holds an edge better than other alloys. This Japanese alloy is prized among high quality shear manufacturers. 


Once considered the high-end in scissor steels, 440C is a good all-round steel that has now been overshadowed by many of the newer super-steels on the block.  This is a stainless steel commonly used and represents a solid affordable all-round choice.  It’s reasonably tough and wear resistant but it really excels at stain resistance.  The 440C blades can be sharpened relatively easily.  It has a high level of carbon and chromium. 

BEWARE: Most scissor companies are not transparent with the materials that are included in their scissors.  The primary reason for doing so is to sell an inferior quality scissor at a high price.  Good for them, bad for you.  If you see slogans like "The finest Japanese Steel", "High Carbon Stainless Steel", "Special Steel Alloy", yet they don't provide the main ingredient, be wary.  Inochi Shears strives for transparency with our scissors.  Our Premium Line Shears are made from 440C, while our Platinum Line is made from VG-10.