Board Shears

A board shear is a massive paper cutter made of cast iron that also cuts board, cloth, and other materials. One blade stays stationary at the edge of the cutting table, the other blade forms the slicing arm, which is raised and lowered by hand. Board shears have a counterweight attached to the cutting arm so that the arm cannot fall by itself—the reasons for this should be obvious! 

Many board shears, like the ones in Preservation Services (above right) and at the Dell Conservation Lab (at right), are very old. With regular care, a board shear made of cast-iron and wood can last hundreds of years. The board shear at the Dell was made about a hundred years ago by a Worcester, Mass., box-making company called John Jacques and Sons. Many conservators prize a Jacques board shear above all others.