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August 2012
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October 2012

September 2012

My Take On Ceramic Blades.

When ceramic blades come from the factory they are perfect. As they are used, the sides of the teeth of the ceramic cutter will get imperfections along the cutting edges. These imperfections tend to create a “saw tooth” on the sides of the ceramic teeth and this causes dragging, snagging, or dullness. If something like a tiny piece of sand, or a knot of hair gets in the teeth of the ceramic cutter it may cause “fragmentation” to the sides of the cutter teeth. This is harder fix. Also, if the ceramic cutter is damaged too much it may never cut properly again and may need replaced, like the tips of the teeth broken off. The best advice is to use ceramic blades on clean combed out dogs, never rough-in dirty dogs using them. The pads of a dogs feet can hold alot of dirt even after a bath, so I suggest using a #40 with a steel cutter. It only takes one grain of sand to cause problems so the blade doesn’t cut right anymore. Oil is also very important with ceramic blades. Remember, ceramic sharpens steel, so letting the ceramic cutter dry out by either not oiling or spraying coolants, will dull the cutting edges of the bottom blade. We all know they run cooler, but oiling is still very very important.

Keeping the ceramic blade clean is also very important. The ceramic cutter is designed different than steel cutters underneath. Get a ceramic blade and slide your ceramic cutter half way out to one side, then turn it over to look at the bottom. You will see behind every tooth there is a "divot", this divot can hold crud. Sometimes when the ceramic blade starts to drag its because there is a buidup of crud in these divots that push the cutter up off the bottom blade. When this happens the blade drags. A good blade care program of oiling and cleaning blades will prevent this from happening, or allow you to fix the problem when it does. Simply scrubbing these divots with a toothbrush in blade cleaner sometimes fixes the problem. There are videos on my website that will show you how to clean blades properly.

To resharpen a ceramic cutter, we have to take enough ceramic material off the bottom of the cutter and get past these imperfections and fragmentations to get the cutter to slice the hair again rather that ripping it. This is done by hand on a diamond surface, and most sharpeners charge a little extra for sharpening ceramic blades for this reason. If the fragmentation of the cutter teeth is too extreme, or the tips of the cutter teeth are broken, trying to resharpen the cutter may be useless and it will have to be replaced. Again, ceramic material is used to sharpen metals, and the ceramic cutter on your blade is no different. As it passes back and forth across the lower blade (metal), it “seats” itself to that metal blade and gets rid of any imperfections. Tension is also very important. Ceramic material is just like glass, so the tension must between 2 ½ to 3# side pressure. Any tighter and the ceramic cutter could shatter just by dropping the blade on your grooming table. We've all done that a time or two. 

Here is a suggestion to try when you get your freshly sharpened ceramic blades back from sharpening or even a new blade out of the package. Instead of running them through fur right away, oil and let them run on the clipper for 30 seconds before the first use. As the ceramic cutter moves back and forth across the metal comb I believe it gets rid of the imperfections of the blade, and the ceramic cutter will “seat” itself to the metal blade below it. Blades seem to cut perfectly when this small break–in period is done. Remember that ceramic blades will need just as much oil, or more oil than steel blades. I know most of you don't have any problems with ceramic blades, but I also know many have nothing but problems with them. So maybe this information can help some of you prevent these problems your having. 

If your having a terrible time keeping your ceramic blades running, why not change them over to steel? You don't need to buy new blades, a steel cutter can replace the ceramic cutter on the same blade no problem. They are alot cheaper than ceramic cutters. and now you will have a blade you can rough in dirty dogs with again.

I hope I didn't make this too complicated, but my audience this time is not only groomers, but a few sharpeners as well. I get many calls from sharpeners around the country who visited my website and ask questions about sharpening blades and shears for groomers. Most times new sharpeners don't have the answers to tell thier customers when ceramic blades fail too quickly. They don't have the experience yet and most have never groomed a dog with one. So maybe with this information they can help thier customers prevent problems with ceramic blades and keep them happy customers. I learned this the hard way, and I want to help so someone else doesn't learn it that way. Confusus said  "Preventing a mess, is better than fixing a mess".

Have a great day grooming, and read those labels!