Customers often ask if clipper blades can be sharpened or is it best to buy new ones? The answer is yes, and maybe!
We see a lot of clipper blades in various states of repair and can often sharpen them to restore their longevity but sometimes it’s best to replace them. I’ll get into more detail about how to take proper care of your clipper blades so you can avoid costly replacement but first, let’s talk blade types.
Clipper Blade Sizes & Types
There are many types of dog grooming clipper blades. The most common size or type is A5 which comes in various lengths anywhere from a #3 down to a #50 (surgical blade).
Generally the higher the “number” of the blade the more hair it will remove. For example the #4 blade will leave the hair about 1/2” long whereas the #7 blade will leave the hair about 1/8” long.
Other A5 blades that are available are a 5/8” and a 3/4” blade. These blades will leave the hair longer than the aforementioned blades. All of these A5 blades can be interchanged with common A5 clippers such as Andis, Wahl, and Oster clippers.
Ceramic blades are exactly like regular A5 blades except instead of a metal cutter it has a ceramic cutter. Ceramic blades are popular as they don’t tend to heat up like metal blades can however ceramic cutters can be quite fragile and break if the blade is dropped. Replacement ceramic cutters are also more expensive than metal cutters.
Wide Blades are generally A5 compatible and as the description so aptly states, they are a wider blade 🙂 The wide blade makes it easier to work on larger areas and larger dogs.
Another type of blade is the adjustable 5in1 blade by Wahl which has settings ranging from a #9 down to a #40 blade. These clipper blades are NOT interchangeable with any A5 clipper.
The 5in1 blades are generally used for the face and feet as they generally don’t have the power to manage a lot of body clipping. Many groomers prefer these blades and clippers however as they are quiet and easy to manage due to their size although they don’t have longevity of A5 blades.
How often can clipper blades be sharpened?
Both A5 (metal and ceramic) and 5in1 blades can be serviced/sharpened on a regular basis. A5 blades will take more sharpenings than 5in1 blades because A5 blades have more metal on the cutter than the 5in1 blades.
Not all professionally trained sharpeners will take on 5in1 blades or ceramic blades though so it’s best to ask your them if they offer this service.
Let’s move onto the care for clipper blades.
Taking proper care of clipper blades is critical to your success as a groomer. If you read this post about scissor care maintenance you’ll know how important maintenance is for all your grooming tools.
It’s important to ensure blades are primarily used on clean hair. This isn’t always possibly especially if a dogs coat is matted but whenever possible the life of the blade will be extended when used on clean hair. It’s imperative that blades are cleaned and free of hair in both the comb (deck) as well the cutter after each use and often during the grooming session. I find the best way to ensure these areas are clear of hair is to use a toothbrush to clear hair out between the teeth of both comb and cutters.
Another thing to remember is moisture is not gonna be friends with your blades so make sure blades are kept dry and free of any moisture.
Avoid the rust
We get a lot of blades in for servicing that are covered in rust. Most of the time it’s only surface rust but if left too long it will penetrate the blade and cause pitting. Oftentimes we can still sharpen rusted blades but because metal is removed from the clipper blade during the sharpening process it may require more metal to be removed and affect our ability to get a clean, sharpened surface.
Keep blades free of moisture
There are a couple really effective ways to remove moisture from clipper blades that you might not be able to see but will rust your blades over time if not removed.
Use an air compressor or blaster
Use an air compressor to blow any excess moisture off the blade. If you do not have an air compressor you can also use your high velocity blaster.
Apply clipper blade oil
One of the easiest ways to protect the blades and ensure optimal performance is thorough cleaning and oiling. There are six areas on clipper blades that need oiling once the blade is cleaned and free from moisture. The image below show exactly where to apply oil.
Make sure to apply blade oil along the top of the blade where the cutter meets the teeth of the comb. Also ensure you oil the “rails” of the blade as well.
Parts of a Clipper Blade
One last thing to go over is to show you all the parts that make up a clipper blade, including the hardware.
Not only is the deck and cutter important to maintain but the actual hardware that assists with the proficiency of your blade is important also. The hardware includes the tension spring, socket, blade guide and blade screws.
It is imperative that the tension spring is adjusted properly. If there isn’t enough tension on the tension spring then the cutter will not cut hair. If the tension spring is too tight it will create heat and can cause the cutter to seize against the comb. (Below is a detailed picture of the parts of a clipper blade)
Have you heard this rattling noise from your clippers?
A customer sent me in some blades for sharpening because she said two of them were making a loud “rattling” noise and not performing as well as they should. Upon inspection I found that she had replaced the regular coarse cutter blades her clippers required with surgical quality cutters instead.
This explains the rattling noise she was hearing. Some groomers will switch out cutters as their blades begin to dull but if they don’t have the specific cutter they need on hand, they’ll switch them out.
Before you make the same mistake keep in mind that both the cutter and deck require sharpening…not just the cutter. The other thing to remember is if you are going switch out cutters it’s important to ensure you are switching out the same type of cutter blade.
Note in the picture the two types of cutters for A5 grooming blades
The top blade is a ceramic coarse blade and is a little wider than the fine blade. Both types of blades come in steel and ceramic.
Coarse cutters are used in 3/4”, 5/8”, #3 -#30 blades. The bottom cutter is a fine surgical blade which is a little narrower than the coarse blades. Surgical blades are #40 & #50 blades. Even with such a small difference in size the result of using the wrong cutting blade can lead to that rattling sound or worse.
Bring your clipper blades in for sharpening
When you bring your clipper blades in to the shop I will be able to tell you if they need sharpening or it is best to replace them.
If you would like to know more about our sharpening services including pricing please check out the sharpening list for groomers.