If you’ve owned a set of hair clippers, chances are that you’ve wondered how to sharpen clipper blades at home. And, indeed, clipper blade sharpening is a crucial skill if you want to give yourself adequate haircuts or beard trims at home without having to make regular trips to the barber.
So, how to sharpen hair clippers blades? There are multiple steps that go into the whole process which turns a lot of people away from even attempting it. However, it’s really quite simple. Here’s what to do, we’ll divide the process into two larger steps:
How to clean hair clippers
Very often when we think we need to sharpen our clipper’s blades we actually just need to clean them. But even if we do need to sharpen them, cleaning them first is still a good thing to do. So, how do you do that?
- Remove the blades from the hair clippers. The blades of your clippers are likely attached with just a couple of screws at the bottom of the device. Just locate them and unscrew them – removing the blades should be easy after that. You might need to use a pair of tweezers if they don’t come out easily.
- Brush out the debris and hair from the blades. Here you can use a simple toothbrush or a wire brush to remove most of the trash that’s remained attach to the blades. This alone will drastically improve their performance even if they still need sharpening.
- Wash the rust out of the blades. Hair clipper blades can rust pretty easily which can be detrimental both for their work and their longevity. To properly wash the rust off of them you can dip them in a small bowl of blade wash or another blade cleaning product. Alternatively, you can scrub them with a cotton ball that’s been dipped in blade wash.
- Dry the blades and reattach them to test them out. A simple clean towel can be enough to properly dry the blades as long as you are thorough. From there, before you go the sharpening the blades, you might want to put them back in the hair clippers and test them out. If all they needed was a good cleaning they may work well without needing to be sharpened.
How to sharpen hair clippers
Now, the actual sharpening can begin. All you need is a single item and 5 minutes, so let’s get into it:
- Grip the blades securely. You can use a powerful flat magnet to help you hold the blades or just a piece of cloth. Either way, it’s important to be careful not to cut yourself as you’ll be exerting a fair bit of pressure on the blades while sharpening them.
- Run the blades along the sharpening device of your choice. There are several tools you can use for this but more often than not you’ll likely use a coarse whetstone for standard steel blades, a diamond sharpening stone for ceramic blades, a ceramic sharpening stone, or, maybe, sandpaper or emery cloth. If you’ve wondered how to sharpen clipper blades with sandpaper, the process is exactly the same as with whetstones – just press the blade at about a 30–45º angle to the sharpening tool and move the blades 5-10 times forward across its surface. Then turn the blade upside down and repeat the process.
With sandpaper or emery cloth it’s important to lay it on a flat surface. It’s also important that it’s of an extra fine grit.
With whetstones, a 4,000 grit surface will usually suffice.
The most common mistake when choosing a sharpening device for your hair clipper blades is mistaking a ceramic sharpening stone with one that is made to sharpen ceramic (diamond sharpening stones) as the two are often not the same.
- Repeat with a fine honing/sharpening stone if necessary. A standard 4,000 grit whetstone should be enough for most blades but if you want to be thorough you can also get an 8,000 grit stone for a second pass. The sharpening process is exactly the same – run the blade 5-10 times forward on the stone’s surface, then turn it upside down and do it again. Fine whetstones can be found in most home improvement or hardware stores, just like standard whetstones, diamond and ceramic sharpening stones, and sandpaper.
- Wipe the blade clean. You probably don’t need to wash the blade again but a simple and thorough wipe with a piece of cloth is a good idea to remove all left-over pieces from the sharpening.
- Reattach the blade again. Simply put the hair clippers back together in their original state. Screw them up lightly.
- Don’t forget to apply hair clipper oil. This is a vital last step and it’s something that also should be done after every several uses of the hair clippers. Several simple drops of hair clipper oil are enough to reduce friction, prevent overheating, and reduce the rate at which the blades get worn down.
- Run the clippers for a minute or two. Before you use the clippers and just after applying the hair clipper oil, leave them running for a while. This will help the oil do its job and it will further hone the clipper blades. After that, they will be ready to use for a long time.
As you can see, sharpening hair clipper blades is not that complicated. The materials can be found at most hardware stores, and the whole process takes 5 minutes tops. Yet, it’s peculiar while a lot of people choose not to do it at all and instead let their clippers break down. All that’s achieved this way is that you’ll use sub-par quality clippers for most of the time and you’ll have to buy new hair clippers more frequently. A simple whetstone and a tube of hair clipper oil can easily fix that problem for you.