How to Sharpen Clipper Blades: A Step-by-Step Guide

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How to Sharpen Clipper Blades

There are so many self-sharpening blades available and circulating around the market. These are nothing but a sales gimmick. A blade must always be sharpened to maintain its edge.

Clipper blade sharpening can also be done by professionals. But the thing is you’ll be left with a hefty price tag which is often more than the price of the blade or clipper itself. That is because they charge you not only for sharpening the blade but also for cleaning it beforehand and maintenance afterwards.

But today is your lucky day because we got you covered. Today we are gonna talk about how to sharpen clipper blades. As a bonus, we will also touch down on all the different sharpening tools and devices you can use to achieve this.

So don’t worry about not having a stone for sharpening because in this article we will help you to sharpen your clipper blades with wire and grinder too. So without further ado lets dive in.

How to Know if Your Blade Needs Sharpening

The number 1  indicator that a blade or clipper needs sharpening is that it starts to pull your hair instead of cutting it. If your blade has the following symptoms you can conclude that it needs sharpening:

  • Doesn’t cut anymore
  • Eaten by rust
  • Folding in the blades
  • Chipped blade sidings
  • Low blade quality
  • Discoloured blades 
  • When the colour doesn’t go away despite soaking in solutions

How to Sharpen Clipper Blades

Self-sharpening claims are a sales gimmick. Every blade must be sharpened to maintain its edge. You could take them to a professional. But often they charge you more than your clippers are worth. Instead, I recommend you sharpen your own clipper blades.

Step 1: Disassemble the Blades

The first step is to extract the blades from the clipper by using a screwdriver. There are normally two screws that need to be fully withdrawn in order to mount the blades. Blades often don’t come off easily, so you may need a pair of tweezers to remove them from the foundation.

Step 2: Clean the Blade

The problem is sometimes your blade might just be dirty and unclean. Many people, however, mistake a dirty clipper with a blunt clipper and a blunt clipper with a spoiled one. So our first recommended step to you would be to clean your blades and get rid of all the dirt and dust and turn it on again to see if the problem still persists. Often times, doing this will solve the problem, but if the problem still persists you need to sharpen it.

Grab your toothbrush and clean off all the pieces. Then put the blades in a bowl of water and vinegar solution. Allow the blades to soak for five minutes. Use a paper towel to clean off the oil on the edge. Dry them completely.

Step 3: Hold the Blade 

After cleaning the blades, either hold the blade steadily in your hand or use a magnet to hold it for you. Place the base of the blade in the slit of a magnetic holder, so the sharp edge of the blade extends past the magnet edge. This will make it easier to sharpen the blade without cutting yourself or dropping the blade.

Sharpening Stone

Step 4: Use the Right Sharpening Stone

The major reason why most people end up their sharpening process in a mess is simply that they choose a wrong sharpening device for a wrong type of blade. There are a lot of sharpening stones you can use to sharpen your blade. However not all stone is applicable for all sorts of sharpening. Depending on the blade it varies. Following is a guide of what stone to use for what kind of blades.

  • Use Coarse Whetstone or Ceramic Sharpening Stone for standard steel blades
  • Use a Diamond Sharpening Stone for ceramic blades

Step 5: Follow the Right Techniques

The process of sharpening is straightforward. 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 and techniques to ensure it:

  1. Flat on Flat

Make sure that the flat blade portion touches the flat top of the stone. There might sometimes be cases of blades with uneven surfaces. These designs demand that they be hand-held and put flat on the floor. Remember, the teeth must point towards the close edge, not down toward the long edge of the stone.

Use your thumb and index fingers to do this. Once you’ve firmly placed your fingers on the top of your blade, let the blade slide. Put some thimble-like cover on your fingertips to prevent cuts.

  1. Easy pressure

Don’t put too much pressure and go overboard with this. Remember that most blade products easily chip and crack. So apply a light-sensitive pressure. You can always resort to magnetic handles if you don’t know the right type of pressure to apply.

  1. Not more than 12 brushes

10 brushes on each surface are optimum. However, 12 works like magic, especially when you’re dealing with rusty blade surfaces. But we do not recommend more than 12 brushes on each surface. Make sure to move it back and forth on each surface not more than 12 times.

Step 6: Repeat with a Fine Honing Stone 

Your blade should now look quite even, but to create a sharper, fine edge, follow up the initial sharpening with a fine honing stone, about 6000-8000 grit. 

Repeat and follow all the processes mentioned in Step 3 but this time only with a maximum of 10 passes in each surface. This will hone the sharpness of the blade and polish it along with cleaning it. You can always skip this step if you don’t have one fine stone.

Step 7: Observe Your Blades 

Once you’ve followed all the above steps stop for a while and observe your blades, and run your finger across the edge. A clipper blade usually shines after being sharpened. It also becomes flat.

Observe if it cuts smoothly and easily, or if it is still choppy and rough? If it’s the latter, do another 10 passes and check again.

Step 8: Dry it and Reassemble

Wipe the blade off on a towel or sandpaper to collect residue. You can get away without the washing in this step as you’ve already done that in step 2. Just wiping it off will do. Make sure you leave it out for an hour or two to dry. 

After drying it’s time to reassemble the blade. Caution should be kept in mind that there’s no dirt or impurities while reassembling. A quick scrape with a toothbrush would do.s

Oil the Blade

Step 9: Oil the Blade

Lubrication is necessary to ensure that your blades stay sharp in the long run. If you don’t have clipper oil which usually ships with clipper blades, opt for baby oil. Add a few drops of oil to the blades, to prevent overheating and reduce friction that can wear down the blade. Don’t oil it too much.

Step 10: Turn On the Device & Run for a Couple of Minutes

Turn the clippers on and let the blades rub together for a couple of minutes.  Let the oil get into the running mechanism. This step is recommended after every two or three uses, but especially after the blades have just been sharpened. This will hone the blades further. Your clippers should now be ready to use on hair, hopefully with a noticeably sharper, easier to use cutting edge. Wipe away any excess oil before using the clippers again.

How to Sharpen Clipper Blades Without a Stone

For instances that you don’t have a stone, you can sharpen your blades with wire or aluminium foil or even sandpaper. The steps are actually the same as the above. The only key difference is now you’ll be using a different tool to sharpen it.

How to Sharpen Clipper Blades With Wire Brush

Following are the step by step process to sharpen clipper blades using wire brush:

  1. Disassemble the blades from the clipper
  2. Clean the blades
  3. Dry the blades with a towel.
  4. Place aluminium foil on a surface.
  5. Move the blade from one side to another for like 10 times without stopping. After doing this, the blade should be looking sharpened and shiny.
  6. Clean away particles.
  7. You may repeat the process again if you want.
  8. Reassemble the clipper
How to Sharpen Clipper Blades with Grinder

How to Sharpen Clipper Blades With Grinder

In order to sharpen blades with a grinder, following these next few steps:

  1. Unscrew the blades
  2. Clean the blades
  3. Place the blades on the grinding wheel
  4. Use hand gloves for safety and masks to protect yourself from any flying metal or sparks.
  5. Turn on the grinder and put the blades at the correct angle and move the blade back and forth against the grinding wheel. 
  6. Keep the blade cool while grinding as it might overheat. Overheating might bend it
  7. Do not change the angle during sharpening
  8. Repeat the process to have a fair balance 
  9. Put the blades back in the clipper

Sharpening your blades requires your time commitment and investment. It might seem like a drag at first but once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier. Besides, it’s not like you have to sharpen your blade every now and then. We already discussed when is the right time and how to find you when you should sharpen your blades.

We believe this article will serve you well. We hope not having a sharpening stone won’t be a hurdle for you to sharpen clipper blades as we discussed the various other ways in which you can achieve that without having a stone, to begin with. Have you ever sharpened blades before? Would you do it yourself or opt for a professional? Do you have any sharpening devices available? Please let us know in the comments below.

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