Though you will, at some point, need sharpening services, you can reduce the frequency of sharpening. Doing these simple things will keep your tools in good working shape longer and save you money. But before we start, I want to reiterate that having sharp tools is imperative to the quality of your work, be it on human hair or on pet hair. Cutting with dull blades results in (at best) split ends, and (at worst) injury to your client, with a myriad of possibilities in between. Cutting with dull blades or those that are not aligned properly can exacerbate issues in your wrist, arm, shoulder, and neck. Okay, let’s get into it!
Clipper Blade Care
- Keep your blades clean. Use a brush to get the hair and dander from those hidden spaces. A toothbrush will usually work. Wipe them down, but make sure you dry them well. Maybe that should be the next one…
- Keep your blades dry. Your beautiful stainless steel will rust if you let them stay wet. Water helps to oxidize the metal and once the rust creates the pitting in the metal, it’s very difficult to stop it. So make sure that they are very dry after you clean them.
- Oil your blades. With the clipper on, put 2-3 drops of clipper blade oil on the teeth. Let it run for a minute or so. At some point you may get too much oil in there, so just use a towel to wipe up any overage. The oil lubricates the moving parts which keeps them cooler and doesn’t force the motor to work harder than it needs to. The oil also helps to keep water out of those moving parts, so it’s doing triple duty. Oil = good.
- Disinfect your blades. Check out your cooling spray! Most of them not only cool the blades when they get hot, but they kill gross germs and add some lubrication. Always disinfect in between clients.
- Store your blades safely. Want to know how broken teeth happen? It happens when the metal hits something hard, like the floor or other metal. Throwing your blades in a box or drawer where they grind on each other is a bad idea. Buy yourself a blade caddy to keep them separated and organized. If you’re storing them for a long period of time, a good idea is to put a couple of them in a small ziploc bag with a couple of drops of oil to help keep water out of them.
- Keep them clean. Again, be sure to remove hair and dander from your last client.
- Keep them dry. For the same reason as for clipper blades, you want to keep rust away from your steel.
- Lubricate! You can add a drop of oil to the pivot area, in between the blades close to the screw. This usually doesn’t need to be done as often as for clipper blades because there isn’t as much friction being produced. Once per week should be enough as long as you’re not using something that eats oil, like Barbicide.
- Store your shears safely. Do not store your shears in a drawer on top of other shears. Cases are a not expensive. There are also caddies for shears. If your shears get hit by something hard like another metal (shears or clipper blades or even a comb on the wrong day), they won’t cut at all. Nicks are easy to get on that preciously sharp edge of your shears. Take very good care of them.
- Keep the proper tension. Shears should be neither too loose nor too tight. Too loose and they will only fold hair unless you use your hand to apply side pressure. Doing that risks nicking the blades and causes undue stress in your hands, forearms, shoulders, and neck. You’re constantly stabilizing the two blades and that will tire you out quick! Shears that are too tight also risks nicking the blades and again causes you to overwork your hands just to make them work. Stress in your hands moves all the way up to your neck. Both of these situations are not only harmful to your body, but they do not give you a consistent cut.
- Never use your shears to cut anything other than hair! I know they’re super sharp, but don’t use your shears to cut paper, cardboard, plastic wrapping, wires, the tips of your oil bottles, or anything that isn’t hair. Use household scissors for those types of things.
- Get sharpening services regularly. You know when your shears aren’t cutting right. You can feel it at the end of the day when you are having to use your hands differently to get the same job done. When they start feeling off, it’s time to get sharpened. If the tips aren’t cutting, it’s time. If it’s folding hair, you know what time it is.
Okay, so how often SHOULD you get your tools sharpened? There’s no direct answer to that. It depends on how many clients you have, what kind of hair your cutting, if you’re cutting dirty hair, and how well you maintain your equipment. Thicker hair or coats are harder on shears and clipper blades. Dirty hair will dull your blades. Rust will ruin the cutting edge. It also depends on the quality of steel that your shears are made out of, which is a different post. Suffice it to say that higher quality steel will keep its edge longer than the cheaper steels. Cheaper shears can be as sharp as any other shear! But they won’t hold their edge as long as a better quality steel. A lot of my clients get serviced about once every 3 months. Some of them have some nice shears that may only need to be sharpened every 6-9 months, if not longer. Some of the busier salons need service more often than that, so I may see them every 2 months. It just depends on your situation.
If you don’t take care of your equipment, you’ll see me more often. Not that I mind, but I’ll bet that you do!