Pet grooming is the most aggressive form of hair care in the world, and it takes a toll on our equipment as well as our bodies. If your an "Old School" groomer like me, your use to equipment that lasted years and not months. With this in mind, we can't take anything for granted anymore, we may have to work hard at grooming and equipment care equally.
I don't want to sound repetitive "Blade Care, Blade Care, Blade Care", because it sounds like a broken record. And most importantly, I don't want to make anyone feel stupid, thats not the case and I apologize if I did. But equipment care will really save you money on sharpening and clipper repair. Some folks are doing a great job maintaining their equipment, and I believe that ANY maintenance is better than not doing anything at all. But some folks have no idea where to start, or why is their equipment is breaking down, and why blades stop cutting so quickly. Its an area of grooming they probably never had schooling on and had to wing it themselves. These are the groomers my video's and articles are provided for, and I will help them win the battle of equipment care once and for all. They will be more happy with the operation of their tools, and have one less thing to worry about.
What exactly is an "Old School" groomer?
I have been making reference to this term for many years and when you break it down to understand it the term makes sense. You may be an Old School groomer and not even know it.
To start off lets go way back in time, to a time when pet grooming started its mechanical innovations, probably in the late 1960's and 1970's. This was the time when the Oster clipper was the undisputed king of the clippers. Double Ducks, Monks, Gators, Fromm, and last but not least, Oster shears were the back bone of the scissor specialists. There were very few styles offered from these shear companies, and everything was very basic. Clipper blades purchased were mainly Oster, and they had the name "Oster" engraved on the blade, and not inked on like it is today. The blades seem to tarnish somewhat, but when they were sharpened we could count on the edge lasting many months with proper care.
Old Schooler's didn't have the luxury of having a mobile sharpener stopping by every month, or doing all the clipper repair they needed. When things got dull everyone mailed out to Oster or Andis to have their stuff sharpened. In time, several other mail-in sharpening services started to open up because the demand was there, and no one wanted to wait 2 or 3 months to get blades back. When you mailed out equipment you knew it wouldn't be back for some time, so you were forced to learn how to take care of the equipment you kept to work with. You cleaned blades every night so the edge would last, sometimes a couple times a day depending on how nasty the dogs were. Shears were wiped clean between dogs and NEVER set in the way where a dog could kick them off the table. Every groomer was more aware of the condition of their equipment, and they had to learn how to fix anything that went bad or you didn't work.
This was what an "Old School" groomer was all about, and they are still out there working in shops everywhere. They are easy to spot also, when every other groomer in the shop gives the mobile sharpener 10 blades and 3 pairs of shears, this groomer will only give 3 blades, one shear, and will ask for the parts to fix the minor things wrong with their clipper. Are you an Old School groomer? Old habits are hard to break!
The grooming business is getting bigger.
Today we all see the progress our industry has made over the last twenty years. It has gone from a 2 million dollar a year business, to a 2 BILLION dollar a year business and that number may be higher yet. More families who have pets are going out and getting a second and even a third pet, plus buying all the accessories. New grooming schools have been started all over the country in hopes of turning out new groomers to meet the need. Corporations have got into the business of pets with the introduction of the "Pet-Somethings" through the 80's, 90's, and 00's.
Now that the industry has more pets to groom, everything has gone from a normal pace to a fast pace. That means more pets to groom and less time to groom them in. No one has the time anymore or can make time for this very important part of grooming, equipment care. I feel the clippers and blades are not made as well as they were only a few years ago, and equipment care should be in there someplace everyday just to keep them working.
Going Back To Basics.
Today we have faster clippers, faster grooms, cheaply made tools, and more dogs then we ever had in the shop at one time, this means our awareness of everything has to be heightened. I'll help you with the information you need about your equipment care, thats my job. Remember how I described an Old School groomer?, we have to be headed back that way when it comes to our blades, shears and clippers or they just wont last.
Years ago I wrote and article about blade care basics and it surprised everyone that read it because it was filled with "Old School" techniques. These concepts were never mentioned or taught by any grooming school anyone had ever attended that I interviewed. Equipment care was dropped from the schools or time drastically reduced covering it to keep costs down. Read the article and see if it sounds like a good idea to you and if you may want to start a basic program like it mentions. Some care is better than no care.
Be aware of clipper problems.
Our clippers are 50% of our cutting system, its not just the blades. If blades don't cut when you get them back from sharpening, its not always the sharpening that caused the failures. So, I've made video's for popular clipper models that will allow you to follow along and check the parts on your clipper at the same time. These video's have helped many groomers who received blades back from a sharpener (me included), when some of the blades didn't cut very well or just dragged through the coat. The size of blades that bring out clipper problems after they get sharpened are #10 blades and #7 blades. If there is anything loose or worn out in your clipper, blades will not cut properly. Just because your clipper isn't that old don't assume everything is OK with it. Clippers are not made the same way they were even 5 years ago. A good rule of thumb is to change your blade drive when you get your blades sharpened. The link below will take you to the video page on my website, once there scroll down to the video that checks your brand of clipper. Get your clipper and follow along with the video and check each component along with it. The files are named :"What to check on your (brand name) clipper if the blades don't cut after they get sharpened". These video's helped many groomers indentify and replace worn clipper parts and made their blades start cutting immediately.
Again, I'm don't want to make you feel bad if your equipment care isn't what it should be, and I apologize if I come across that way. If you feel your doing OK with equipment care thats fine, you have a system that works for you. But if your having all sorts of problems and don't know where to start, then my website is a good place to begin. Using one or two of my suggestions could possibly stop needless sharpening and most clipper problems. With my help you can get 3, 6, 9, or even a year out of a sharpening. Those are real numbers and sometimes it takes a workstyle change to accomplish what many are doing already. I get emails regularly thanking me for having such an informative website available. You NOW have a better choice!
Be safe, have fun, and read those labels :)