What You Need To Know About Sharpening Your Hair Cutting Shears

sharpening a shear

A well made scissor can last as much as 20 years or more with proper maintenance.  The original edge however may only last for a year or less. Therefore, who sharpens your scissors matters even more than what scissor you buy.  Assuming you have bought from a good manufacturer, the next thing to take care of is finding the right place to sharpen them.

What are the signs that shears need sharpening?

Stylists will notice various performance issues when they are cutting.  A shear can fold or bend the hair between the blades. A shear might push the hair away from the edge.  Or you might notice a ruff spot or even a point in the blades where the two edges hang up when closing.

  • If your hair shears are bending or folding hair then this could be the result of the shears tension being too loose. Adjust them and if the issue is resolved then loose tension was the only issue.. If after adjustment they are pushing hair off the end of the blade, they are most likely dull.
  • If hair looks like it’s being pinched or pulled then there could be a nick on the edge caused by something like dropping the shears or some impact, even minor, to the edge.
  • If you can “hear” the blade, or if the blade bumps or hangs up as you close it, you most likely have a nick or nicks in the edge.

You can damage your shears with improper sharpening

You may have heard of a few different methods you can use to sharpen your shears or worse you could have already tried them. Unfortunately, the following methods people commonly try will damage your shears and some can make them impossible to fix:

  1. Aluminium foil – folding over the foil and cutting through it several times. Don’t do this!  It will severely round the cutting edge requiring more metal to be removed to repair them.
  2. Sandpaper – Cutting through sandpaper and using it to smooth the nicks or indents on the shear.  Don’t do this either! This can cause irreparable damage to the edge and inside of the blades.
  3. Home sharpening equipment.  This will not work! Proper sharpening of high quality shears requires many steps with multiple abrasives and polishing steps.  No home equipment will give you the right results and most ‘sharpening’ equipment you can buy will ruin your high quality shears.

When the time comes to sharpen your shears…

How long your shear will last before they need service depends on a variety of factors. The number of haircuts you do each day. Are you cutting clean hair?  How often do you drop your shears? What material they are made from, and who made them? Keeping the tension properly adjusted and oiling/cleaning them can also make them last longer between service. It’s time to sharpen them when they push hair away even when properly adjusted, or when you feel any nick or damage in the edge. Continuing to cut with a dull shear and especially with a damaged edge, can cause further damage to the blades and it is also hard on your hand because you have to work harder to cut.  We recommend using the manufacturer or a certified service center to do all sharpening. If someone claims to be certified, it is best to check first with the manufacturer to make sure they are being honest with you.

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