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This post came out of a desire to solve my own problem. I have some Oster Fast Feed hair clippers, and the blades became dull after a while. I spent $50+ on these clippers, so I wasn’t about to throw them away. They sell replacement blades, but at almost $20 they seemed awful expensive. I wanted to figure out how to sharpen the existing blades.
After spending half an hour combing through the dregs of YouTube and Google I had yet to find a simple, no B.S. article on how to sharpen hair clippers written by someone who actually knew what they were talking about. Plenty of shill sites were willing to serenade you with articles barely written in English, and plenty of people on YouTube were willing to fumble around for 10-20 minutes trying to explain this simple process. Neither of those experiences left me feeling good.
Eventually I was able to figure it out, and I wanted to pay it forward by putting together this quick guide.
So I apologize to my regular readers if this is outside our normal programming, but the article does involve sharpening things, and Japanese water stones, so it sort of fits the theme of the site. Maybe you will find it useful or mildly entertaining. And don’t worry, I won’t be reviewing hair clippers any time soon…
Without further adieu, I present my no-nonsense guide to sharpening hair clippers:
What You Will Need
You won’t need much to sharpen your clippers. Here’s a bulleted list so you don’t forget anything:
- Some Dull Hair Clippers; (In this article I sharpen a set of Oster Fast Feed clippers.)
- A Phillips Screw Driver;
- A Cleaning Brush;
- A Bench Stone; (I use King Whetstones, but any set will do.)
- Clipper Oil; and
- A Rag.
The most important piece of equipment will be your sharpening stone. I used Japanese water stones, because those are the bench stones I have, but you could easily substitute in a diamond stone or Arkansas stone. Heck, you may even be able to use super fine wet sandpaper.
I will say that the water stones work great for this. I have a set of King 1000 grit and 6000 grit stones and they are perfect for the job. If you use water stones like I did, you obviously need to soak them before you start. If you have a diamond or Arkansas stone you may want to hit them up with a little lubricant before starting.
Disassemble Your Clippers
Now that you have everything you need to get the job done, carefully take your clippers apart with a Phillips screw driver. There are 2 blades to a set of clippers, so pull those both off and clean them. Now would also be a great time to clean out your clippers with a brush.
Sharpen the Blades
You will want to sharpen the flats of both the top and bottom blade. This is easy to do, and is much easier than sharpening a knife. The arrows in this picture point to the flats I am talking about:
The trick is to lay the blade flat on the stone, and run the blades back and forth along the stone with gentle pressure. It should not take much to sharpen your blades. I would suggest 10 passes along the stone.
Make sure you keep the flats of the blades flat on the stone. The only way to screw this up is if you don’t keep the blades flat. Some people use a magnet as a handle. That’s a next level clipper sharpening move. I’m not that sophisticated. Thankfully if you don’t have a special magnet your thumbs and index fingers will work fine.
I sharpened my blades on my 1000 grit stone, and then polished them on the 6000 grit stone because I had it handy. I don’t think you need a super fine stone to get a decent result, but it doesn’t hurt.
It should take only a minute or 2 to sharpen the blades. I ended up taking 5 minutes because I was trying to snap some pictures while I sharpened. The actual sharpening is super easy.
Clean and Oil the Blades
Once you have sharpened your blades you will want to clean and oil them prior to reassembly. I used a little soap and water to clean my blades, but rubbing alcohol wouldn’t hurt. I then oiled my blades down to prevent rust, and blotted away the excess oil.
Reassemble Your Clippers
This is probably the trickiest part of the process. When you reassemble your clippers you will want to take the time to make sure you have the blades lined up properly. The blades are sharp so be careful.
I don’t tighten the blades down all the way until I am sure I have everything adjusted the way I want. Once you have your blades dialed in add a drop of oil to the blades, and then fire up your clippers before you start cutting hair to make sure everything was put back together properly.
Sharpening Hair Clippers – Final Thoughts
Cutting hair with dull clipper blades is no fun. They don’t cut cleanly, and will sometimes pull hair. It’s just like trying to use a dull knife. I use my clippers once a week or so, and end up sharpening about once a year. I’d be curious to hear how often professional barbers sharpen their clippers.
I hope this article helps some people. Don’t be intimidated by this if you are new to sharpening things. Sharpening clippers is easy to do and you will immediately be able to tell the difference after sharpening.
A good bench stone will make a big difference here. You want something that won’t move while you are trying to sharpen, and a stone that is wide enough to accommodate your clippers. If you don’t already have a good bench stone, I’d recommend the investment. The King stones I used in this article are inexpensive, and they will last most people a lifetime. Plus, if you learn how to freehand sharpen you can also use the stones for your kitchen and pocket knives.