How To Sharpen Clipper Blades: A Step-by-step Guide

This post was most recently updated on August 18th, 2019

Dull hair clipper blades are not much of a problem until you use them. 

What if one day, you’ll find even your best hair clipper’s blades dull right when you needed a haircut? How would you feel?

Frustrating. I can hear your sighs. 

It would even get more frustrating if you can’t get the tools to work right. At one point, you’ll then come to unnecessary regrets.

“If only I sharpened the blades earlier”…

“How could I have missed it?”

It never ends!              

Ugh…

Enough with the drama already. I say– get up with your feet and sharpen those tools now!

Fortunately, we’ve got it all laid down for you. And, as you go further, you’ll come across, how to sharpen clipper blades, the whys and wherefores of maintaining hair clippers (and its blades)—when do blades need sharpening, what tools to use when sharpening, and lots more.
So, up with your tools, and master the ultimate hair clipper blades sharpening tips!

When Do Hair Clipper Blades Need Sharpening?

Hair clippers (both electric and manual) are built for speed and convenience. Clippers cut hair with satisfying accuracy under a short period of time.

The core running device of the clipper is its motor. The motor positions many small-toothed blades that run horizontally all over and across the hair.

Beyond what makes it run are the clippers and blades. These basic parts of the tool ensure accurate and deep cutting of the hair.

These parts are positioned to complement each other during the function. Accordingly, one feeds the hair, and the other cuts it. Both mechanisms work on a balanced, complementary action. Meanwhile, the motor gives both lives. 

So, if you look closely into the tool, you’ll see that the main mechanisms are both the clipper and clipper blades.                                                 

Clipper blades need sharpening whenever they dull out.

It seems simple, right? But, no. It isn’t, actually.

Hair clipper blades are difficult to check just by seeing and feeling because they’re hidden. Literally situated behind the clippers, the blades hardly stand out due to their thin design.

This factor alone, makes hair clipper a high maintenance. As such, its blades easily dull out. Ironically too, we always tend to miss the blades in tending the tool.

Hair clippers, with their high-performance capacity require constant maintenance—cleaning and sharpening.

But, how do we exactly know if the blades have dulled out?

When do hair clipper blades need sharpening?

There are ways to finding out which don’t require disassembling the tool.

The best way is to determine which portion of the clipper is not properly cutting the hair. It’s technically easy, though.

  • Let it run over your hair.
  • Determine which area of the clipper cuts unevenly.
  • Let it go over the hair again (at least 2 times) to be extra sure.

There are cases wherein hair clumps block the clipper teeth. Such cases merely require cleaning. In this line, it’s also very important to note that if the blade needn’t be sharpened, don’t sharpen it at all. 

If you forcibly sharpen conditioned blades, you’ll only end up breaking them.

Properly identifying the source of the lackluster hair clipper performance strikes similar chords with properly diagnosing a disease.

Just think of your hair clipper as a human body. You’ll pay it a good cost by doing so.

Now, here’s another defining factor to either sharpening your blades, or replacing them entirely:

  • Entire blades eaten by rust
  • Chipped blade sidings
  • Folding in the blades
  • Discolored blades as early sign of rusting
  • Stubborn rusting (or even colors that can’t be removed by the toughest solutions)
  • Low blade quality

What to Use When Sharpening Hand Clipper Blades?

Hand clippers, in all their wonder and glory, still benefit from a few basic sharpening tips. The sharpening tips fairly remain as they are to date.

The need for sharpening tools may have updated recently, but only slightly. The rest of the tools, you might be surprised, are still the same old tools used before.

Apparently, nothing beats the basic.

Here are important tools to use when sharpening hand clipper blades (I’ve also included a brief rundown of corresponding high-quality brands):

Oil Stone

Oil stone proves to be the most basic of sharpening tools used by men even in the early times. It has worked and still continues to effectively sharpen blades of all types.

Since it’s basic, using the oil stone can be a very manual labor. It will surely cost you a few drops of sweat before finally turning that blade cut-sharp.

Oil stones can either be manufactured or propped directly from source material. Most models resemble a flat surface, while some appear graded.

Oil stones have been updated through the years to achieve better results. Consequently, the more recent oil stones appear to be heavily manufactured.

The best brands stand out for one thing: its basic, most essential functions are boosted up for utter convenience and effectivity.

Here are some of the most trusted brands:

Note: If you plan to purchase a stone, find the brand with the highest grit.

Dry & Clean Cloth

Dry and clean cloth—or even rags, come in handy especially during the post-sharpening phase. Residues are expected to come out of the stone’s melted surface.

Whether you’re sharpening wet or dry, you’re bound to use cloth for wiping the blade clean. 

Screw Driver

The screwdriver is necessary for disassembling the clipper.

Here are some durable screwdriver brands I can recommend:

Brush (hard-bristled for cleaning)

Make sure to acquire the hard-bristled and bigger brush for intensive cleaning on the blade’s surface.

In some cases, a hard-bristled brush can even remove rust.

Blade Oils

Blade oils appear to be of high necessity in the entire post-sharpening effort. Besides securing a well-functioning balde in the long un, it protects the blade from future rusting.

Easy Tips on How to Sharpen Hair Clipper Blades

If you’re curious on how sharpening hair clipper blades figures: it’s pretty meticulous!

As I mentioned earlier, clipper blades are hidden behind its structure. Sharpening them can be quite tedious and downright meticulous.

Technically, you’ll have to manually remove them from the structure to get a good look and hold of them. 

Now, to best help you with it, here the easy tips on how to sharpen hair clipper blades (in order):

  1. Prepare all sharpening tools.

Gather and prepare all the necessary tools at hand. It is crucial at this point that you have identified each tool to the last count. It would help you avoid further delays during the effort.

Keep in mind that when you proceed with the very first step, you’ll have to push through right there and then. Blades are generally sensitive to exposure—humidity and shifting temperature.

Quoting a famous line, “It’s always now, or never.”

      2. Dismantle the clippers.

Carefully disassemble the clippers and the blades from the structure using the screwdriver.

Note that each set of clippers hold 2 blades. Some advanced clippers may have 2 blades and more than 2 combs. For you to identify the number of combs beforehand, determine the brand.

Philips, Norelco and Panasonic are the top brands with intact number of combs (2).

Once the clippers and the blades have been parted, clean them with the brush. This would be your high opportunity of cleaning the entire tool.

     3. Proceed with sharpening the blades.

The blades are designed to complement with the stone’s flat surface, regardless of grade. This also applies to both lapping and grinding wheels.

Most users fail in sharpening the blades because they tend to miss meet both flat surfaces during friction. Most of the time, they tend to put too much pressure on the blade.

Here are simple easy-to-remember tips:

  • High-grit oil stone quality

Secure a high-grit oil stone quality for guaranteed effect. A 1,000-grit stone will do.

  • Flat on flat

Make sure the flat portion of the blade touches the flat top of the stone.

Some blades may appear with irregular surfaces. Such designs require to be hand-held and placed flat on the surface. Use the thumb and the index fingers in doing so. Once, you have firmly placed the fingers on top side of the blade, let the blade slide. 

To avoid cuts, put any thimble-like protection on the fingers. 

  • Magnet handles for shaky hands

We may not recommend this, but it sure guarantees accurate results.

The magnet handles make sure the fingers don’t move across the blade’s shiny surface. 

  • Easy pressure

For crying out loud—don’t be too harsh on the blade. Note that most blade products easily chip and crack.

A light, sensitive pressure will do. But, if you aren’t really sure on the right pressure to exert, resort to magnet handles.

  • Not more than 12 brushes

10 brushes on each surface works well enough. But, 12 works like magic, especially when you’re dealing with rusty blade surfaces.

      4. Wash the blades.

Sufficiently wash the blades with clean water.

Here’s a quick hack: let it stay (soak) in hot water for 10 minutes.

When done, wipe the blades with cloth to dry.

      5.  Apply oil on them.

Once the blades are wrapped with blade oil, leave them on top of the cloth for 5 minutes.

While waiting, brush the clippers separately. Wipe them dry and gather them all together with the blades.

      6. Reconstruct the clippers.

Once assembled, reconstruct all the pieces together to their original clipper structure.

How to Effectively Clean Hair Clippers?

The clippers and the blades are almost inseparable from each other until you’re manually separate them. For that reason, the clippers deem special attention in terms of cleaning. 

So, here are easy tips on how to effectively clean hair clippers:

  1. Separate clippers from blades. 

Once you have dismantled the clipper structure, separate the clippers from the blades. 

Regardless of which you are treating first, set one part (the blade for instance) aside to the corner. Place it on top of cloth or tissue to protect its surface (that applies for both clipper and blade). 

      2. Remove hair and other dirt from the clippers using the brush. 

  • Brush of any clumped hair in between the clipper teeth. 
  • Now, focus on the head plate. Brush it with right tension. Not too soft, not too hard. 
  • Proceed to the inside of the upper portion of the clipper. Check out openings where you can insert the brush. Stroke the brush inside the upper portion 10 times. 
  • For tough rust and other discoloration, brush it with a solution consisting of water and vinegar. 
  • Soak the clippers together with the blades in hot water for 10 minutes. 
  • Let the clippers dry on their own before dabbing them with cloth.

Top FAQs About Sharpening Hair Clipper Blades

How do I sharpen hair-cutting blades?

Sharpening the hair-cutting blades involve manually disassembling the whole cutting tool using screwdriver, and then separating the clippers from the blades. 

Once done, you proceed by sharpening the blades using oil stone, or lapping/grinding wheels. Brush both surfaces on flat motion for not more than 12 times. 

Finally, soak the clippers and blades in hot water for 10 minutes, before applying oil on the blades. Lastly, reassemble them altogether.

Can I clean the clippers with rubbing alcohol?

Yes, you can. Rubbing alcohol won’t hurt your clippers. In fact, it’ll even shimmy out your clippers double the standard.

What types of oil can I apply on the clippers?

You can best use Olive oil, Vegetable oil and other low-viscosity oils on the clippers.

How do I best lubricate the clippers?

Lubricate the clippers using blade/clipper oil. Pour the right amount of oil into both clipper and blade after cleaning and sharpening them. Let the oil wrap them in 5-10 minutes.

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