Jeff Andrews is "One of America's Favorite Sharpeners." Along with his years of grooming experience in two of his own shops, he is a "World Class Sharpener" that can sharpen all grooming equipment to better than new condition. Jeff is an author and pioneer of many maintenance and grooming video's and articles. They are for groomers who want to make their equipment last longer and save money on their sharpening costs. These videos and articles are on his website free to download and keep for reference. Along with his mobile route along the Gulf coast, and the extensive mail-in business from all over the world, Jeff lectures at private grooming schools, corporate grooming schools, and veterinary colleges all over the south. He definitely lives up to his motto "You NOW have a better choice." Jeff is also a member of the National Dog Groomers Association of America, and is still a part-time groomer in Mobile, Alabama.
All the Wahl trimmers (Bravura, Chromado, and Arco) use the 5-N-1 blade. It is durable, quiet running, and can be resharpened successfully. It does have a drawback, if it isn’t cleaned properly it can seem like it dulls out very quickly. These suggestions will help.
To start, take the blade off the trimmer and clean the hair out of the “spring deck”. Use your HV or vacuum, but don’t submerse it in blade wash because it will turn messy.
Many styles of trimmer blades, as well as the 5-N-1, use a wire spring to put tension on the cutter to hold it against the comb (bottom blade). These springs can trap hair between the cutter and comb. When the hair collects enough, it pushes the cutter up just enough to make the blade snag or drag. At this point you will think the blade is dull. Check for hair by looking at the blade from the side. If you can’t see all the way through the blade halves, it is packed with hair as shown. You need to clean the blade.
Before sending this blade off to the sharpener, clean any hair trapped under the cutter first. Its simple and could save you the expense of sharpening, or worse yet, throwing the blade away and buying a new one.
Figure 1. Get a small Zip-Tie, or a pipe cleaner, or even a broom straw, Take the Zip-Tie and align it up on either side of the blade at the space between the blade halves. Now get ready to push it through and in-between the blade halves.
Figure 2. Pushing the Zip-Tie through the blade halves will force hair out the other side. This could be a mixture of hair, pet dander, or a solid form of hair that was melted by either heat or solvents. Cat hair melts at a lower temp than dog hair, so this can clump up real quick under the cutter. Keep plunging the Zip-Tie between the blade halves until your satisfied all the material out from there.
When your done cleaning the blade this way, look at it from the side again. You should see a clean space between the blade halves now. Put the blade back on the trimmer again and try using it at the fine or medium setting. If it cuts normally again your finished and you’ll know what to do next time it stops cutting. If the blade continues to snag or drag through the coat it may actually be dull. Send it out for sharpening. Several sharpeners around the country do sharpen the Wahl 5-N-1 trimmer blade along with other popular trimmer blades.
Another way to clean the blade during a groom is to dip it in blade wash and run it a few seconds or until you feel its clean.
Cat hair tends to melt and cause buildup at a very low temp, you see this on #10 blades if your using one of those to shave a cat. When the 5-N-1 blade starts to snag or drag during a groom, follow these few steps.
Step 1. Brush or blow the obvious hair from the front of the blade, it will just float in the blade wash and cause a mess. Turn the trimmer on and gently stick just the tips of blade into the wash. Don’t submerge more than the tips of the blade because its just the tip that does the cutting and gets hot enough to melt the dander on the cutting surfaces. I suggest doing this in the #40 or fine position, this will clean most of the cutting surfaces. Run it until you think its clean or you hear the rpm’s go up a little.
Step 2. After cleaning, stop the trimmer motor. Bring the trimmer out of the wash and make sure its pointed DOWN. If you tilt it up to take the blade off to clean it off, the wash will run down inside your trimmer and cause problems. While holding the trimmer pointed DOWN, take the blade off with a rag in your hand and wipe it dry. Put a drop of blade oil on the front teeth and try it. If it still doesn’t work make sure there isn’t any hair between the blade halves. If there is, clean it out as previously explained.
Bent socket ears can come from several reasons. The most common is after sharpening when the socket is adjusted, trying to push it on the hinge may bend the ears. The ears are adjusted so the blade fits snug the first time on the hinge. If the blade is slightly crooked when you put it on the hinge, the ears may bend as you try to force it on.
To start, take a pair of pliers and bend the socket back down level with the bottom of the blade. It’s probably bent from you trying to push the blade on and failing because of the bent socket ears that won’t let the blade lock on. The blade will feel like it’s pushing away from the clipper.
Take the pliers and grab the socket ear as shown. Ever so gently, slightly twist the ear outward as illustrated by the arrow in the picture. Bend it too much and it will break off so be careful. Bend the other ear in the other direction outward.
If your successful, the socket ears will look normal and the blade will lock on the clipper. These ears can bend in a number of ways, but this procedure is to help you fix the problem and use the blade.
We have see this happen several times where a groomer will get a blade and this prevents the blade from locking on the hinge. It's OK to fix this yourself, it will save time and get you working again. One thing to remember, don't try and force any blade on your clipper until you find out what the problem is. This problem is simple and easy to fix, but you have to know what the problem is.