Hair trimmers are one of the handiest grooming tools for any man’s arsenal. However, this range of men’s hair cutting devices isn’t exactly maintenance free, because they do need to be oiled periodically to run efficiently. Moreover, their blades need to be sharpened for smooth trims each time.
Before learning how to sharpen hair clippers, here’s what happens when using a pair with dull blades. Hair trimmers with dull blades tend to yank the hair as they cut, resulting in jagged and uneven lines, and discomfort in even the most carefully done haircuts.
While maintaining your trimmer regularly does enhance its service life, it is a great idea to wash your hair before you trim, and always follow the owner’s manual when trimming. Blades, being at the center of the action do take the biggest toll, and tend to become dull over time.
But you don’t need to toss them out just yet, because clippers can be sharpened easily, and right in the comfort of your home. Some of the best hair clippers are fitted with self-sharpening blades, which require less attention, but aren’t 100 percent maintenance free.
When is the Right Time to Sharpen Hair Clipper Blades?
Once sharpened properly, hair clippers tend to render excellent cuts for months on end depending on use, but it is important to know when they’ve gone blunt so you can sharpen before your next hair trimming session.
The first sign of dull hair clipper blades is that they start to act strange and cut unevenly, making you run a few more strokes over the same area. Next, if your hair trimmer is doing more pulling and less cutting, it’s a good time to give the blades the attention they need.
But just like most other metal objects, hair clipper blades can break or even rust, in which case they will need to be replaced completely with new ones, as sharpening them will not fix the issue.
Apart from sharpening hair trimmer blades, it is great to remove any clogged hair by unscrewing the blades and dusting the inside with a soft cloth to remove all the debris and hair from the assembly,
How to Sharpen Hair Clippers?
Getting back to the big question of how to sharpen hair trimmer blades, there are several ways to go about it, but here are the five most common techniques to get them running like brand new.
Sharpening Hair Clipper Blades with Oil Stone
Stones have been used for centuries to sharpen any type of blades and edge tools. Sharpening stones used to sharpen hair clippers can either be quarried or man-made, and typically feature a top, flat surface and may vary in the level of grades.
Sharpening stones aren’t what they used to be centuries ago, but today are much more improved to be highly effective. These stones could have resin plate, steel, plastic with a fine diamond grit coating to finish off the stone or diamond plated. Grits are available across a spectrum of sizes, where each one defines how coarse or smooth the finish will be.
Sharpening stones are easy to use, and if you’ve even used them to sharpen knives or even hatchets, then you’ll be sharpening clipper blades like a pro. To get started, detach the blades from the trimmer, which is generally just a matter of unscrewing a few screws.
With the clipper blades in your hands, use a steel wool, wire brush, or toothbrush to eliminate the hair and dirt stuck in the teeth. If you notice any rust accumulation or if brushing them doesn’t get rid of the gunk, soak the blades in a small bowl with some blade wash or other cleaning product such as strong isopropyl alcohol.
After soaking the trimmer blades in the cleaning solution for roughly two minutes, use a clean towel to remove the leftover debris and dust, or use the cleaning solution if you notice any rust. At this point, you should test the blades for sharpness as it’s possible that only cleaning them was needed, especially if they’re a self-sharpening model.
If they need to be sharpened, you can either use a magnet to pick up the blade or with your hand, and place it with the sharp edge facing outwards to easily sharpen the blade. With the 4000 grit surface of the sharpening stone, set the blade at a 30 to 45º angle, and move it forward only.
You will need to continue this motion on the stone approximately 5 to 10 times or until it looks shiny and even. Next, grab a dry towel and wipe away the ground-off metal powder, turn the blade over, and repeat the process for the other side of the blade.
If your trimmer came with a ceramic blade, you’ll need to use a diamond sharpening stone to do the job right. After the blades are sharpened, reinstall them in the trimmer and screw them in tightly. It is recommended that you apply hair clipper oil to the blades after they’ve been sharpened to prevent overheating and reduce friction.
Sharpening Hair Clippers with Grinding Wheel
A grinding wheel, just as the name suggests, is a circular shaped wheel that’s made from aluminum, and features tiny ridges and pits that can measure anywhere between 12” to 15” in diameter.
The wheel part carries the abrasive, which can be a wet or dry diamond solution, or a paste made of fat and graded sand (silicon dioxide). Once you apply the abrasive on the wheel, work the trimmer blade back and forth across the radius of the wheel, resulting on a sharp trimmer blade.
Sharpening Hair Trimmer Blade with Toothpaste
Believe it or not, you can use regular toothpaste to effectively and efficiently sharpen trimmer blades. You will need baby oil, toothpaste, water and a small brush. Start by clearing the teeth of the blades with the toothbrush, apply the toothpaste to the blades generously, remove the blades and wash them well, apply the baby oil and reinstall into the trimmer. And voila! Your trimmer is ready to render a sharp cut!
Trimmer blades do experience wear and tear, especially the blades, because they are the part that cuts the hair. If the trimmer isn’t working the way it used to, it’s possible that the blades need to be buffed to deliver the same performance. Using a stone or even toothpaste are two of the most common ways to sharpen trimmer blades and increase their longevity.