As the oldest scissor manufacturer in the western world, we have combined our unique British heritage with state of the art tooling technology, to create a groundbreaking new scissor range.
Twelve generations of our Whiteley scissor-making craftsmanship has culminated in a product fit for the 21st century. We're excited to introduce you to our EXO range, which brings together the ergonomics of a heritage product with a stylish and technologically advanced finish.
EXO was conceived in 2015 by our lifelong scissorsmiths and company directors Jeremy and Sally Ward (née Whiteley). Inspired by a visit to the Advanced Manufacturing Show in Birmingham UK, they envisaged an innovative new way to manufacture scissors.
The design started with some scribbles on a piece of paper, and very nearly ended there due to Jeremy’s unintelligible handwriting. Luckily, we have the world-renowned Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) on our doorstep here in Sheffield, and with the help of their engineers we were able to develop our ideas and sketches into professional computer aided design (CAD) drawings.
The initial inspiration came from our Wilkinson tailors’ shear range, the original design patented by our very own ‘Master Cutler’ Thomas Wilkinson in 1800. This has evolved and developed over the years as we have honed our craft; EXO pays homage to this design.
From the top: EXO evolution from the early 1800s!
As you can see we also incorporated the ‘bolt’ element of our professional shear range, which allows for a speedy and smooth ‘pick up’ and ‘put down’ motion - as well as adding an eye-catching styling cue. (We can also offer you your EXO with a standard flat screw and nut instead, for those of you who would prefer to store the scissors horizontally in a tray or drawer.)
We spent a long time ensuring the handle shape was the most ergonomic and comfortable it could possibly be, with 3D-printed components generated from the digital data.
Using new pre-production tooling techniques, the data was also used to produce a handful of fully functioning prototypes which have spent the last few months being tested on a wide range of materials, to back up our belief that these will be the best and most comfortable pair of scissors you will ever own.
This is the fun bit! Here you can see our prototypes making short work of all the materials we threw at them; from chiffon to rope, and leather to carpet.
Such was the detail and accuracy of the initial design stage, we were able to confirm that these first examples exceeded our expectations in both performance and finish. The scissors had beautiful balance and cut like a professional shear should.
Here you can see them cutting through up to 16 layers of fabric simultaneously:
To make sure we weren’t biased, we decided to put our prototypes in the hands of the professionals. A visit to London’s famous Savile Row allowed us to show EXO to award-winning master tailor Andrew Ramroop OBE, director of Maurice Sedwell.
Here you can see him putting them to the test as he cuts out the fabric for one of his spectacular suits - he declared them to be "light, precise and comfortable".
Andrew is also the founder of the Savile Row Academy, where young tailoring talent train to become some of the best bespoke tailors in the world. We invited his staff to test our prototypes in their cutting room, and the feedback was unanimously positive; not only do EXO cut through fabric beautifully, but their lighter design and comfortable handles meant that they could use them all day with ease.
As a result, we are certain that EXO would be the perfect addition to the toolkit of home crafters, makers, sewers, dressmakers and hobbyists around the world - but we also found them to be a great all-purpose household scissor!
We did a survey across our friends, family and customers, to ask what they usually use scissors for at home. The responses fell into numerous categories including stationary needs (paper and card), DIY needs (rope, carpet, insulation, rubber), craft needs (upholstery, sewing, boat repair) and more.
Thanks to our extensive testing, we’re confident that EXO can handle the vast majority of cutting tasks with ease. We also believe they’ll make your life so much easier; many people put up with cheap imported scissors that are much harder to use, putting far more strain on your hands and wrists. EXO make daily tasks effortless, and we like to think they’re pretty great to look at too...
We believe we can now offer you the perfect combination of style and performance. The EXO range will come in a selection of three finishes for you to chose from: stylish Stainless Steel, sleek black Teflon, or sophisticated gold Ceramic.
Whiteley’s has historically been a trade supplier, providing scissors for a variety of highly specialised industries - from Kevlar in bullet-proof vests for the Ministry Of Defence, to carbon fibre in Formula 1 racing cars! However, we often give our scissors as gifts to friends and family, especially when they have a specific cutting need. Their response has always been surprise and joy at how good our products are, compared to what they were using before.
We’ve also seen an increasing demand from home-crafting, DIY and design-conscious communities, who are looking for professional/industrial quality scissors which actually do the job. This got us thinking, and we realized there was a great opportunity for us to design something very special that we could provide directly to customers - by craftsmen, for craftsmen.
This is where you come in! As Kickstarter project backers ourselves, we’ve seen first-hand how the Kickstarter community embraces innovation and technology, and also supports heritage brands. We think it’s a perfect match to help launch our new range directly to you, for the first time in our history.
To bring EXO to market, we need to invest in new “state-of-the-art” high quality tooling, some new machinery and implement new material finishing processes at our Sheffield factory. Once the campaign is funded it will also allow us to explore other ways we can expand the EXO range, so we can maintain our reputation as industry innovators.
With your help, we can ensure our talented team of craftsmen here at Whiteley’s can continue making the highest quality scissors here in Sheffield for many generations to come, and proudly remain the best scissor-makers in the world!
William Whiteley & Sons has been around for a long time – 257 years to be exact. We were founded in 1760, at the forefront of the industrial revolution, and since then we’ve made scissors through storms, floods, strikes, world wars, depressions, recessions, and more. We’ve never stopped making scissors because people have never stopped needing them!
Whiteley’s incorporated the firm of Thomas Wilkinson & Son in 1875, which was appointed ‘Manufacturers of Scissors in Ordinary to her Majesty Queen Victoria and Cutlers to H.R.H. Prince Albert’. Thomas Wilkinson was a Master Cutler, and we like to pay homage to him by using his name to represent our premium brand – which EXO falls under.
Whilst we’re proud of our heritage, we don’t rest on our laurels - we’ve also developed a reputation for never compromising on quality, and for sticking to our guns when now-defunct competitors cut prices and outsourced cheap products.
Our secret is simple; we follow the materials markets. Innovation in materials means innovation in their cutting requirements, which is why we were one of the first scissor companies in the world to develop scissors that cut Kevlar and other advanced composites. We are often approached by companies to design and manufacture bespoke products; more recently high street designer brands, museums and others have also sought our expertise.
Cutting Edge: A day in the life of the William Whiteley factory
Two of our current management team are direct descendants of the original William Whiteley, and are the 11th and 12th generations of Whiteley to dedicate their lives to making scissors. We’ve been globally recognized over the years for our manufacturing excellence, endorsed by quality assurances and recommendations from organizations such as the Ministry of Defence, the German "T.U.V. Rheinland Product Safety GmbH" and RoSPA, amongst others.
Pledge £8 to support our campaign and we'll publish your name on our website as a contributor; we'll also send you this high quality EXO engraved key ring as a gesture of our appreciation.
We're also offering a limited edition A3 print of an original early 19th century illustrated leaflet from Thomas Wilkinson & Son, recently restored and exclusively available to our Kickstarter backers.
There are 200 prints available, numbered and signed by Sally - a current director and 11th generation Whiteley.
We are currently offering our Kickstarter backers a choice of three different finishes. If you’d like more than one type of EXO, please pledge the combined costs of the EXOs you would like, and send us a direct message to confirm your preference.
And now - choose your EXO!
Our classic iteration of the EXO, made of 100% surgical-grade stainless steel with a striking matte finish, state-of-the-art investment-cast handles, industrial grade precision ground blades and a CNC machined screw or bolt - all assembled by our master craftsmen at our facility in Sheffield, using techniques and skills developed over 257 years.
Stainless steel EXO scissors, but with the addition of a strikingly original fully matt-black finish. For those of who you prefer the sleeker things in life, the Teflon coating offers a great non-stick surface - perfect for cutting things that may be covered in adhesive.
Using high-tech vapor deposition to offer a single layer of ceramic coating, these scissors feature a surface harder than tungsten carbide, which in itself is twice as tough as steel, with the added bonus of being seriously bling. Ceramic coating is regularly used to extend the life of drill bits, but for our scissors it has the added benefit of a stunning gold-coloured finish that will never wear away.
All our products are covered by a lifetime warranty against faulty materials and workmanship.
December 18th update: After some extensive testing, we decided to bring one final addition to the EXO campaign. We are seriously excited to introduce you to EXO Spectrum!
Finished with another high-tech vapor disposition hard coating; the same ceramic contained in sapphires, rubies and emeralds. This helps to protect the blades and also provides a stunning refractive and iridescent surface.
The coating process also means that each pair will be unique, with no two looking quite the same.
Due to the extra production processes involved, our EXO Spectrum edition may not be available after this Kickstarter campaign, so if you'd like to own a pair then this might be your only chance!
We've now added EXO Spectrum to the rewards list - if you've already pledged for a different EXO and would like to upgrade to Spectrum, you can simply switch rewards.
However, if you managed to snabble one of our early bird offers and would like to upgrade to Spectrum, please just adjust your pledge total to reflect the price difference (EXO Spectrum are £185), and send us a message to confirm - then you don't lose your special offer!
The laser marking machines at Whiteley’s are everyone’s favourite toy! If you’re buying a pair to treat yourself then we’ll use it to customize your EXO purchase by engraving your name directly into the back blade (to a maximum of 28 characters), to ensure no-one ever steals your iconic new household purchase. If you’re buying an EXO for someone else, just tell us their name to add extra oomph to your gift - because who doesn’t love personalized stationery?
For those requiring a slimmer design, we can provide a CNC machined screw and nut to replace the bolt - just confirm in the survey sent at the end of the campaign.
Each EXO weighs 14.1 oz (400g)
(Please note that dimensions may vary slightly due to the hand-crafted nature of our product)
As a mark of gratitude to our Kickstarter backers, we're subsidizing the shipping costs - so you'll pay less than half of the full shipping price.
EXO will be shipped in a custom-made box with a dense foam insert, to ensure your scissors reach you in perfect condition.
(Final color and design of box may vary slightly from above prototype)
December 14th update: since successfully hitting our initial target, we are delighted to announce some add-ons!
(Available only as an add-on to backers who have purchased an EXO )
These gold-plated 4 inch embroidery scissors are currently exclusively available through our Kickstarter!
Since launching our campaign, several crafters and tailors have reached out to us asking if we'd consider offering an ‘add-on’ of some smaller, more delicate scissors to use for fine stitching and finishing.
We thought this was a great idea, so as a thank you we’ve decided to do a special run of these gold-plated scissors exclusively for our Kickstarter backers. The perfect accompaniment to your EXOs, they’re ideal for very fine work as they’re small, precise and seriously sharp.
(Available only as an add-on to backers who have purchased an EXO)
We've also had some great feedback from discerning backers who have purchased a pair of EXOs as a beautiful, hand-crafted and unique addition to their desk or worktop. They wanted a case or sheath that would compliment the EXOs, and help store them safely whilst also looking equally stylish.
After some careful research, we discovered a great local company practically on our doorstep - only 10 miles from our factory – who make beautiful, bespoke leather products to order, and who relished the challenge of creating a sheath for EXO.
We felt this was a great opportunity to further support independent local makers, as Sheffield has both a historic and global reputation for being a city of craftspeople. We’re proud to align ourselves with other small businesses that retain and renew traditional skills, whilst promoting hand-made luxury items that last a lifetime.
We’re very excited to offer these as an EXO add-on - with three different leathers available, so you can mix and match to suit your EXO:
Oiled brown – full grain oiled pull-up leather with a waxy drag feel
Chestnut brown - vegetable-tanned cowhide shoulder
Black - vegetable-tanned cowhide shoulder
Each sheath is completely hand-made using traditional techniques, so no two will be quite the same.
Risks and challenges
257 years of experience in manufacturing scissors has taught us a thing or two, and we’re confident that the risks in backing our project are minimal. However we’ve also learnt not to assume anything without checking first, which is why we’ve spent months vigorously testing our working prototypes before bringing production-ready designs to Kickstarter.
We are confident that we can meet our projected delivery dates, as we have in place robust production governance, quality control, and a committed and experienced team to deliver this project.
In producing full working prototypes we have already identified any problems and are working with our tool makers to eliminate a couple of small issues in the final production tools. This is the beauty of modern prototyping technology; we can ensure all gremlins are eliminated prior to going to full production tooling, which circumvents any major delays or serious design issues. The final product will be identical to our prototypes, just even higher quality!
You have our assurance that we will keep you fully updated through every step of the process. We will respond promptly to your email requests should you wish for direct contact with us (firstname.lastname@example.org).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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