It’s important that dog clippers are sharp, both for ease of use and the safety of your furry companion. Here’s a guide to sharpening clippers, so they cut smoothly and without pulling hair.
- Things You’ll Need
- Step One: Remove the Blades
- Step Two: Brush Hair Out of the Blades
- Step Three: Use a Cleaning Solution to Clean the Blades
- Step Four: Prepare Your Whetstones
- Step Five: Sharpen the Blades Using the Coarse Stone
- Step Six: Oil the Clipper Blades
- Step Seven: Reassemble the Clippers and Test
While proper maintenance can keep your clippers working for quite a while, eventually you’re going to need to sharpen the blades. Here’s how to do just that.
Things You’ll Need
- Clippers: First, you’ll need your clippers, and their instructions, or at least the knowledge of how to remove the blades from the body of the clippers.
- Screwdriver: Most clipper blades are held with one or two Phillips head screws.
- Whetstones: You’ll need two stones, one of a coarse grit in the 3000-4000 grit range, and a finer grit stone around 8000 grit. You can commonly find these online, or at your local hardware store. Some will have a coarse and a fine side so you only need to buy one stone. If you have ceramic clipper blades, you’ll need diamond coated stones.
- Spray bottle of water: The most common sharpening stones are “water stones” that need to be wet in order to work properly.
- Soft cloth: This is useful for removing bits of metal taken off by the sharpening stones.
- Clipper cleaning solution: Solution is used for cleaning and derusting the clipper blades. Use a cleaning solution from any of the major clipper manufacturers (Oster, Wahl, Andis etc) that is designed specifically for cleaning clippers.
- Clipper oil: Oil is vital, as it lubricates the blades and helps prevent rust.
Step One: Remove the Blades
First, make sure the clippers are unplugged, or powered off if you have a cordless model. Then, remove the blades.
Typically, this is done by removing one to two screws holding the clippers down. Don’t lose these! I find it easiest to place them in a small bowl or something similar so they don’t roll off the counter and disappear forever.
Other clippers may have a simple latch with a button to push, or a catch to flip open. Once you’ve removed the blades, set your clippers aside for the time being.
You should now have one larger set of stationary blades, and a smaller set of reciprocating blades that sit inside the exterior blades.
Step Two: Brush Hair Out of the Blades
Using either the supplied brush or other small brush (such as a toothbrush or cheap paint brush,) remove all the little pieces of fur from the nooks and crannies of the blades. You can also brush hair out of the head of the clippers.
It’s very important that the blades remain clean and dry during the sharpening process so that they sharpen evenly.
Step Three: Use a Cleaning Solution to Clean the Blades
Rust, hair, and other gunk can build up on your clipper blades and make them difficult to use.
For mildly dirty blades, a simple scrub with a rag or cotton ball soaked in cleaning solution should be perfectly adequate. For more severely dirty blades that have been neglected, or just seen hard use, you may want to soak the blades in a small container of cleaning solution for a few hours.
Gently pat the blades dry, leaving some of the solution on the blades to air dry.
If you want to do this the quick way, you can simply leave the clipper blades attached and then submerge them in cleaning solution and turn them on for twenty or so seconds, but this may not get all the rust off. You should also check this is safe for the model of clipper you’re using.
Step Four: Prepare Your Whetstones
Both stones should be allowed to soak for several minutes to absorb water. This lubricates the stone and allows it to function properly. You should be able to spray water onto the stone and be left with a thin sheen of water on top.
Now it’s time to begin sharpening.
Step Five: Sharpen the Blades Using the Coarse Stone
Place one of the blades flat against the coarser 4000 grit stone, with the edge of the blades on the stone.
If you chose to use a magnet, you can use it to hold the blades, otherwise hold the blade down with your fingers. Try to keep an even pressure.
Maintain that even pressure as you slide the blade from one end of the stone to the other, lengthwise. Once you get to the end of the stone, pick the blade up and start over at the opposite end where you started. Repeat this procedure 10-15 times, or until the blade tips are shiny and you can see newly exposed metal.
Spray the stone with more water as it becomes dry. You should see the blades pushing a thin layer of water from one end of the stone to the other.
Once you’ve done this, use a soft cloth to wipe the loose metal from the blades and dry them. Now repeat with the polishing stone.
After you’ve finished with both stones, repeat the entire process with the other set of blades. When you do this, make sure you aren’t bearing down too hard on the blade as this can remove too much material.
Step Six: Oil the Clipper Blades
Apply oil to the clipper blades according to the directions on the bottle and rub it in with a paper towel or cotton ball. Make sure the blades are evenly coated but not dripping with oil, as this can cause lint, dirt, and other debris to stick to them.
You want to aim for a light sheen that’s almost unnoticeable – unless you know to look for it. This will help to keep the blades lubricated and free of rust.
Step Seven: Reassemble the Clippers and Test
Your clipper blades should now be sharpened, oiled, and ready to go. Simply attach them to the clipper head and you’re in business.
If you still have problems with the blades, sharpen them again, this time using about five passes back and forth on each stone. If they still pull hair or won’t cut properly after that, it might be time to get replacement blades, or new clippers entirely.
Thankfully, clippers that are that far gone are very rare and you should be able to sort out any issues with the procedure laid out here.
Dull, rusty clippers are a pain to use, and can even rip hair out if they get bad enough. Cleaning and oiling the blades, while important, isn’t enough to keep them functioning properly. Sharp blades are, perhaps counter intuitively, safer blades, and they certainly work better.
Fortunately, you can easily sharpen the blades yourself. All you need are some sharpening stones, clipper oil and the method outlined in this article.
Remember, dull clippers can hurt your dog. Keep your clippers sharp, and your pet will thank you for it.