6 Reasons Why My Clipper Blades Won’t Cut

When grooming your pet, have you ever noticed the clippers tugging on or pulling the hair instead of cutting? Not only is your furry friend not enjoying their experience, it can be painful for them. It can be a stressful time for you as well if you’re unsure why your clipper blades are pulling instead of cutting. We’ve all had this experience if we’re honest. So, what can you do?

In the moment, probably nothing, unless you have a spare clipper on hand that has been serviced recently. You may have to resort to scissoring which will not only slow you down, but also not give you the result you’re looking for.

This post will help you understand the reasons it may be happening and offer solutions so that the next time you use your clippers, both you and your pet can enjoy the grooming session.

But First!

Is your pet’s hair freshly washed? Dirty hair on animals can drastically reduce the life of the sharpened edge due to dirt, grime and dander buildup. When clippering dirty hair the blade has to work harder and this could compromise not only the cutting edge of the cutter blade but also the integrity of the hardware on your blade.

Now that we’ve covered this and you know how detrimental dirt and grime can be to the sharpness of your clipper blades, let’s move on to the real reason I’m writing this post for you. Enough said!

Are they just dull?

Nine times out of ten, if a client contacts us about their blades not cutting after being sharpened, the problem generally lies with the condition of the actual clipper. I should mention that these clients come to us from other sharpeners. No blade or clipper leaves our shop without being fully inspected, repaired and parts replaced when needed. But let’s move on.

6 Reasons Why My Clipper Blades Won’t Cut

  1. Worn out or broken socket
  2. Loss of tension in the blade
  3. Incorrect setback of cutter
  4. Worn out blade drive/lever on the clipper
  5. Worn out hinge on clipper
  6. Broken latch on clipper
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The hardware of the clipper blade consists of the socket, tension spring and screws.

The socket is the piece of clipper blade hardware that sits onto the drive/lever of your clipper and drives your cutter back and forth evenly along the deck. Sockets have to have a certain amount of “tension” to fit snuggly on the drive/lever of your clipper.

The tension spring is the clipper blade hardware that maintains tension to ensure the cutter sits just snug enough to slide evenly along the deck but not too tight where the cutter has a hard time moving.

Depending on the type of clipper blade you have we generally set the tension anywhere between 3-4lbs of pressure. If there is not sufficient tension the clipper blade will not cut properly even on freshly sharpened blades.

Setback is another consideration for why clipper blades won’t cut hair. The setback of the blade is basically the amount of space the cutter is placed back from the teeth of the deck. The amount of setback is determined by the length of the clipper blade. The higher the clipper blade number (#10, #15, #30) the closer the cutter needs to be to the edge of the teeth on the deck.

If the setback is incorrect and the cutter sits slightly beyond the edge of the teeth of the deck your clipper blade will not cut hair and you can very easily cut the skin on the animal you’re grooming. This is another reason why we suggest you leaving your blades intact to avoid incorrect reassembly of your clipper blades.

Refer to the blog on What is the best way to clean my clipper blades for more information on cleaning and maintaining your clipper blades.

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Now we move onto possible issues with the actual clipper. If the clipper blade has been correctly sharpened, the hardware of the clipper blade is in good condition, and the blade has proper tension, the issue is most likely the actual clipper itself. Clippers have moving parts that are considered wearable parts that need replacing over time.

The most common parts to wear out is the blade drive/lever, hinge, latch.

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The blade drive is generally the biggest culprit in why freshly sharpened blades won’t cut. The blade drive holds the socket in place to drive the cutter evenly along the deck of the blade. Over time the drive/lever edges wear down and become rounded or worn which affects the performance of the clipper blade.

The cutter blade won’t run smoothly if this happens and along the deck the clipper blade and may begin to get louder (like a rattling noise) when running.

The blade may also begin to “pull” hair rather than cut hair. Sometimes clients think their blades are either dull or suspect that their blades were not sharpened properly by the sharpener when the actual clipper requires servicing.

How often should I clean and service my clipper blades?

We suggest clippers be regularly cleaned and inspected a minimum once per year for the “do it yourself” pet groomer or twice per year at the minimum for the busy salon groomer. Regular maintenance of your clippers will help to ensure everything is running efficiently and properly.

Another reason why your clipper blade may not be cutting could be the hinge or latch on your clipper. The hinge is the part the clipper blade slides onto. It has small springs which anchor the latch that locks your clipper blade down once the clipper is turned on.

A good indication that your hinge springs are becoming weak is if your clipper blade keeps popping up away from the clipper when there is any resistance while clippering your pet.

If the clipper blade does not remain locked down in place while the clipper is operating then you might require a new hinge.

The latch fits onto the bottom of the hinge and is secured by the hinge springs. The top part of the latch also helps to lock down the clipper blade securely to the clipper. Generally the latch will have a bit of a “hook” on the top end (depending on the type of clipper you have) which locks the clipper blade in place when the clipper is running.

If the “hook” on the latch is broken there’s nothing to secure the clipper blade to clipper. Installing a new latch is an easy fix for us at the shop.

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All the parts mentioned above are generally quite inexpensive and readily available (depending on the model) for most clippers. Sharpeners who who service clipper blades and clippers will generally stock these parts.

I hope that this post was helpful for you and you learned how important it is to clean and service your clippers. Please reach out to me if you have any questions.


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