Having recently moved into a new apartment, I needed some tools this weekend for some home projects, so I stopped by Hida Tool, a shop well known in my area for Japanese hardware. The store is probably no bigger than a small living room, and it’s so cramped with stuff that it’s hard to get around when there are more than three or four customers inside. On one side of the shop there are specialized Japanese kitchen knives, neatly lined up and organized, but displayed no more pretentiously than what you’d find at any small hardware store. On the other side is an array of woodworking and gardening tools, including many more specialty knives, as well as hammers, axes, and saws.
In browsing around, I found these Japanese thread cutters, which I think I might have first seen on Ethan Newton’s blog, Rugged Old Salt. They’re made with a high-carbon steel inner core and feature a thin black coating to help protect the surface from rusting. The little inscription you see on the blade reads “Yujiro” (the manufacturer’s name) and “handmade.” I don’t know how much stock I would put in the handmade claim, as everything nowadays seems to be advertised as handmade, but it does add to the romance.
Thread cutters are really handy for sewing on buttons or mending tears, but even if you don’t do at-home repairs, they can be useful for cutting the loose threads you sometimes find on garments (so long as you’re not cutting anything that can unravel on you). Of course, you can find perfectly good snippers for much cheaper. My old one looks something like this, and I think I paid no more than one or two bucks for it at a local sewing supplies shop. The only advantage I can see in these Yujiros is that they’re much prettier.
If you’re interested in buying one, Hida Tool has a sale right now for 10% off all purchases (and 15% off Japanese knives). Their listed price of $22.90 is already cheaper than the $38 you’d pay at Amazon or Etsy, and they also have a cheaper model for $14 if you want something more affordable (though, I’d recommend ponying up for these $23 ones, personally). To take advantage of the sale, you’ll have to call them directly, however, as their website isn’t current set up for the discount. A ~$20 pair of thread cutters is about the silliest purchase I can think of, but … they do look great.