A Guide To Sharpening Your Hair Cutting Shears

Shear sharpening is an essential part of the professional routine for stylists, hairdressers and barbers all over the world. It’s not enough to buy a fantastic pair of shears, it’s also crucial to look after them too. Properly sharpened shears ensure that you can get the performance that you want every time. In this guide we’ll look at how to sharpen your shears, why it’s a good idea, as well as how to get the very best sharpening results.

If shears aren’t sharpened properly then unfortunately this can do irreparable damage to the overall performance of the tool. Hair cutting shears come in different shapes and sizes but there are two general types of edges – beveled edges have a blade that angles down at one angle and then changes to a blunter angle near the edge forming a bevel. Convex shears and a blade design that is shaped like the shell of a clam, curving in a convex shape to the cutting edge.  They end up with a sharper angled cutting edge that allows them to cut smoother and more softly. They also last longer between sharpening.

Take a look at these sections to find out more

Where you are going wrong with sharpening your shears

Here are a few things you could be getting wrong when it comes to sharpening your shears.

  • An edge that cuts well but doesn’t stay sharp very long. This happens as a result of the wrong sharpening materials and methods being used. Using too corse of an abrasive and then over polishing. It can also happen if a burr is left on the edge due to incomplete technique.
  • Shears that are duller after each sharpening because of exposure to the heat that can be generated from polishing or sharpening without a constant flow of lubrication.
  • Poor performing shears - if the inside blade surface is altered as a result of bad sharpening then there is no way to reverse this and the shears just don’t perform.
  • Shears cut more harshly than when new. This can be result of someone grinding a bevel onto a convex shear. Many sharpeners do not have the right equipment to properly sharpen convex shears.

What you need to know about sharpening

Sharpening shears is a multi step process when carried out by true professionals – it is about more than just producing a better edge on the blade. Here's what you need to know:

  • The shear is taken apart and cleaned with a solution that is designed to remove any build up and give the shears an attractive sheen.
  • Shears are inspected for damage and excessive wear and tear and, if necessary, parts are replaced.
  • The blade is sharpened with methods that are specific to the type of shears, whether they are convex or beveled edge.
  • Blades are then polished – this achieves an attractive aesthetic finish but is also important to make blades cut smoothly again and that they will be free of burr or sharpening residue.
  • The shears are then put back together and lubricant is applied to the parts of the shears that are required to do a lot of movement.
  • The cut of the newly sharpened shears is tested to ensure that the desired results have been achieved.
  • Quality control checks are carried out to make sure the shears are performing like new.

How to know if your shears need sharpening

Is there something wrong with your shears? If you’ve got a feeling that your hair cutting shears just aren’t performing like they used to then they either need to be adjusted or they need to be sharpened. The signs to look for are:

  • The shears pull and tug at the hair when you go to cut it. This could be due to loose tension. Adjust them and if the tugging persists, then it is time to sharpen them.
  • Your client is obviously in discomfort when you use your shears on their hair. If shears are not sharp enough then the cutting action will feel rough to a client.
  • You’re getting some hand or wrist pain. Hair cutting shears can become difficult to work with as the blade gets duller and it requires more effort to do the job – which can cause pain and strains.
  • Cutting sounds “crunchy.” This is usually the result of tiny nicks on the blade that are preventing it from delivering a smooth and silent cut. Getting your shears sharpened will solve this problem.
  • When you’re trying to cut blunt or straight, the hair just pushes away. This often means that the shear needs sharpening but may also be an indication that last time they were sharpened it wasn’t done very well.

Take a look at our blog 6 Signs Your Hair Cutting Shears Need Sharpening, for more information

Why it’s important to maintain your shears and ways to look after them

Hair cutting shears are an investment and a crucial tool to your career so it is important  to look after them well. The more you care for your hair cutting shears, the longer they will last and the less you will have to spend buying replacements.

The quality and cut of your hair cutting shears will also have a considerable impact on the way you perform as a professional. It’s difficult to achieve the results that you’re looking for if your shears are dull and haven’t been properly sharpened, especially if those results involve a precision cut. Shears that are dull or badly maintained can damage client’s hair and will also make the cutting experience far less pleasant for them.

So, how do you look after your shears?

  • Clean your shears after every cut. Wipe the blades clean and if you sanitise them, oil them afterwards.
  • Lubricate your shears roughly once a day so that you can ensure the performance is smooth and uninterrupted.
  • Don’t use your shears to cut anything other than hair. Not paper or material and especially not perm bottles, as this will ruin the edge and the chemicals will corrode your shears.
  • Never put your shears away wet. To keep the shears in good working order and avoid rust you’ll need to dry your shears when they’re wet and keep them away from chemicals.

What a shear sharpening service can do for you

Using a professional sharpening service is a sure fire way to get the best results when the time comes to sharpen your shears. Professional sharpeners can:

  • Fix the issues that arise when shears have been dropped
  • Remove nicks and solve blade problems that could be causing cutting problems
  • Restore dull shears back to their factory brilliance, in terms of both aesthetics and performance
  • Carry out quality control checks and replace any parts of your shears that have seen better days
  • Play a key role in helping you to look after your shears properly and give you tips on how to ensure you don’t run into problems
  • Help to direct you as to what tools you need to add to your toolkit. Keeping on top of new developments in shear design, they can pass that info on to the benefit of the stylists they work with.
  • Help to prolong the life of your shears by sharpening with professional skill and precision
  • Ensure that your shears get exactly the right kind of sharpening – so that you see fantastic results and don’t end up with an edge that has been damaged beyond repair because the wrong methods have been used
  • Provide a swift and timely service that ensures your shears are back with you in no time

When it comes to ensuring you get the best from your shears – and to help fix most issues – there’s no substitute for a professional hair cutting shears sharpening service. In general, using only the shear manufacturer’s recommended service providers is the best way to protect your investment. Using a third party sharpener can cause your warranty to be voided.  Shear sharpeners do not need to have formal training or licensing in order to start to offer services, so many of them are not really as qualified as they say they are.

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