Equipment Care


There a misconception about D series blades cutting for 6 months no matter how you take care of them...WRONG! The D series blades are no different than your regular A series blades that fit your regular clipper, if you don’t clean and oil them properly they will dull prematurely.

The biggest problem with D series blades not cutting is the clipper themselves and you don’t even realize it. There are D series cordless clippers on the market that use NiCAD/NiMH batteries as a power source. These batteries could be questionable batteries to use in a cordless clipper for several reasons.

1. These batteries could get a power memory very easy. Once this memory is reached, the power starts to go down in the battery quickly. The torque could go down as well, torque is what holds speed up.

2. Keeping the clipper with these batteries in the charger when not in use could damage the cells of the battery. Its best to use the clipper until the battery depletes all the power, then put it in the charger, and take it out when fully charged. WHY? Because some can’t take continuous charging, it can melt the cell membranes and lower the life of the battery. This is how the memory is put in these types of batteries.

The best rule of thumb is, no matter what your manual says, if its a NiCAD or NiMH battery don’t leave it cooking in the charger all the time when your not using it. Don’t use it for a short time and put it back in the charger, charge it only when its goes dead and don’t overcharge.  Some chargers for these batteries are very cheap and most only have a red and green light on them. When the green light comes on it may not shut the charging completely off, current can still trickle into the battery causing cell wall damage.

When the power in the battery starts to go down, the speed of some clippers goes down. This can cause problems with the blades cutting. They can go through coat fine for a short time and then start to drag or snag.  With cordless clippers using NiCad/NiMH batteries, the speed  and torque of the clipper could slow down ever so slowly that you may never notice it until blades start having issues. You may have sent blades off for sharpening because you thought they were dull or dulling, but it could have been the clipper.

How do we fix this problem?

Most problems with batteries are caused by the customer overcharging them. They can last years if charged properly, but most manuals do not cover good charging practices. In my opinion, Lithium batteries should follow good charging practices also.

You can also buy a corded D series clipper. Northern Tails sells a corded D series clipper.

If your set on a cordless D series clipper, our advice is to wait until a Lithium based unit is available. Lithium batteries are more forgiving and usually can power the cordless clipper longer before recharging is needed.

Here at Northern Tails Sharpening, we have been resharpening D series blades since the late 90’s when they were first introduced. We test each blade on actual fur to make sure it cuts, and we use a CORDED D series clipper. WHY? Because the speed is steady and doesn’t fluctuate like it does on some cordless models.

So, if you just got D series blades back from us and they drag or snag, the problem most likely is on your end because they cut on our corded clipper through fur.  They may keep having issues until you get new batteries or a new charger for them. Remember there are corded models that run so much better.

This is just our opinion from years of dealing with D series equipment.

We also have a YouTube page with video's on how to take care of your D series equipment and many other video's on equipment care. Click on or copy/paste this link:…/UCo7huJ-_v8TkAzxeklk-YtQ/videos 

Have a great day grooming and stay healthy

How To Prevent Cord Problems on Clippers With Voltage Converters

Some groomers have been experiencing cord problems with clippers having voltage converters on the end of the cord. These converters convert 120 volts AC to DC current that runs your clipper. DC motors have more torque and seem to hold speed better in tough coat. Because of the extra weight of some of these cords, they break and short out right behind the clipper. If the converter is pulled from the wall socket and hits the floor, components inside can break and cause the cord to fail as well. You can prevent these situations from happening with a few modifications you can do yourself.

The Cord

The cord can short where the thick part goes into the clipper. This thick part of the cord is called the “Stress Relief”. It is suppose to be stiff and make the cord do the bending out past the stress relief where the cord is thinner. But with the twisting and turning groomers do these days, that can cause this cord to start shorting right behind the clipper. I have found by using a “zip-tie”, and zip-tying the cord to the hanger in the back, it keeps the cord from twisting behind the clipper. Doing this makes the cord twist and bend out where the cord is smaller, and that’s what it was designed to do. Look at the example in the picture, and zip-tie your cord the same way. If you need the hanger to hang your clipper, get a key ring and run it through the hanger and hang your clipper from it.



The Converter

Another issue with this cord, and any other clipper having a voltage converter on the end where you plug it in, is the cord becoming “Dead”. These converters, even though they are small, are packed with components. If you accidently pull this converter out of the wall and it hits the floor, the chances of one of these components breaking is great, thus the cord will become dead, and no electricity will go to the clipper. Below is a picture of the inside of the voltage converter.



As you can see, there is quite a bit of electronics packed into this small box, and it doesn’t take that big of a whack to break something inside if its pulled from the wall socket and it hits the leg on your grooming table. The solution? Get a power strip, and set it on the floor, then plug your cord with the converter into the power strip. It can’t fall from the floor, and you just saved yourself the expense of a new cord and sending it off for repairs.
In conclusion, if you zip-tie your cord now before it starts to short out, and get a power strip to plug it into and set it on the floor, I think your problems will be over.

As always, read all your labels and manuals, and have a safe day grooming!


Scissor Care That Every Groomer Can Do

When you get new shears, or shears back from the sharpener, they are adjusted to cut. We at Northern Tails service Pet Groomers only, and we adjust shears they way we want them to cut focusing on the tips and the front end of the shear.

The adjustment for tension (or balance as some call it), is a screw or thumb wheel on the pivot of the shears. Beveled edge shears are adjusted to where the blades grab about ¾ an inch from the tip. This enables the blades to slice from the pivot all the way to the tips. If tension isn’t set like this on beveled 10” shears, the blades may push apart from one another in thicker coat and fold at the tips. There is a space between the blades of beveled shears that has to be there, this gives this shear the “slicing” action it needs to get through tough coat with ease. This type of edge is the workhorse of the grooming industry and can be used on any type of coat. This edge lasts for months unless you drop them or hit something in the coat and create a nick.

Convex shears have a different edge all together. This edge is a razor, and is also sharpened differently. Convex edges are honed on both sides, first on the diamond wheel to create the edge, then honed on the interior of the blade to make that edge a razor. Convex shears have little or no space between the blades because they are so sharp they “chop” through hair rather than slicing to produce a beautiful cut used in finish work. Tension is adjusted to where the blades start to grab 1/3 to ½ way down from the tips keeping the blades as close as possible to each other. If the tension is too loose on a convex shear two things can happen: the blades may grab ¾ of an inch from the pivot creating a gouge, and they can fold hair at the tips.

Note: The tension adjustment is for adjusting the way the shear cuts, its not for the convenience or ease of the way the shear opens and closes. Tension can be adjusted a little, but if its adjusted so the shear feels loose to you because of hand or scissoring problems, thats not good because they may fold at the tips. There are shears available with ball bearings in the pivot. This type of shear feels loose no matter what the tension is adjusted at.


Cleaning shears

Clean your shears daily. Wipe all the hair from the inside of the blades, this attracts moisture which can rust your shears. If the blades have grime or hairspray on them, take a Handy Wipe and rub all this off. Never leave shears dirty because it will cause problems down the road.


Lubing shears

Lubricate shears with shear lube only, it contains silicon and a light solvent. Not lubricating can cause the screw to rust and not stay tight. There is moisture in your pivot from scissoring, lube gets rid of it. Not lubing can cause tiny pieces of hair and pet dander to remain in the pivot. This will tighten the tension, slow the shear down, and may cause a binding feel when scissoring. Lube the shear, then open and close them a few times to get the lube around the pivot good. Convex shears need to be lubed more than beveled shears. Never use blade oil on a shear, it will stiffen over time. Most beauty supply stores carry shear/scissor lube.

Have a great day grooming, and read those labels.


Spring Check-up For Your Equipment and Shop

Everyone is slow this time of year, and its a good time to go through your grooming equipment and shop equipment. This is the calm before the storm, the snowbirds are coming back and usually their pets are a mess, so our equipment has to be ready.

  • Blades – Even though your blades are cutting now, they may give out later. If you can afford it, get all your 7’s and 10’s sharpened now. Go through your drawers in the shop and look for blades you may have thrown in them for some reason or another, if they are still good get them sharpened. Start oiling them and washing them in blade wash to keep them cutting longer.
  • Clippers – Check every clipper you have for broken cords, worn hinges, and change the blade drive. Check all the screws to make sure they are tight. Now is the time to get them serviced so they don’t quit during shavedown. And don’t try to groom having  only one clipper, you need a backup. The money you loose because you can’t work may buy several clippers.
  • Shears – Same thing. If you can afford it, get them sharpened now. If you start a process of wiping them down and lubing them every night the edge will last longer. Scissor lube is very important, it lubes the pivot of your shears, and it also protects the screw so it doesnt start rusting and loosening up all the time. Shears will rust if you don’t wipe them down. You can get scissor lube from any grooming catalogue, or any beauty supply store.
  • Dryers – Some  groomers dont know how to maintain dryers properly. Dryers need to be cleaned out weekly and sometimes daily. Take the filters out and clean them by blowing them out with a second dryer, or washing the filter in warm soapy water and let dry overnight.  Another thing you can do to prevent the fusable link on the switch is to blow the dryer out. If its a canister dryer, you can take the front and back off and blow the hair out with a second dryer or an air hose. When too much hair accumulates on the inside of a dryer, the motors overheat and blow the fuse on the switch. Happened to me many times before I got smart and started to clean them out. Carbons should be changed yearly. I change them every spring whether they need it or not. Its simple to do if you follow the directions in your manual.
  • Bathing Room – This is usually a mess when I start on it. First I gather up all the nooses and get rid of the broken ones. Next, I go through the towels and toss the ones with holes or are all frayed up. We got our towels used from hospitals, yard sales, GoodWill, and flea markets.  Soaps and mixing bottles are next. I get rid of bad mixing bottles that lost their marks, and I combine soaps of the same kind so I can order new supplies. Check the tubs for leaks, and make sure the hair filters are good and still able to catch the hair. If your using fiberglass tub inserts for a bathing tub, check the bottom of the tub with your fingers and feel for holes caused by nail scratches. You can pick up fiberglass patches from a home improvement store. Fix them while they’re small or you’ll be replacing the tub.
  • Drawers & Cabinets – If you have any drawers or cabinets in your shop go through everyone and throw out stuff thats broken or unusable. If you have a box of clippers your saving for parts, remember that if they sit around in that humid environment for a year or two they may not run anymore. Moisture will ruin the armature, but cords and body parts should be OK.
  • Card Files – Most of us have regular customers that come routinely, so a large card file may be OK. If you have a big shop with multiple groomers you may want to go through the card file and see if the cards are current. If they haven’t been back in two or more years you may want to move that card out of your active files. We did that one year and got rid of 300 cards, some haven’t been back in over 5 years. A card file does need cleaned up once in a while. You can also make cold calls on the cards that are non- active and try to get their business back.
  • Mobile Groomers – You basically have the same chores to do but at a smaller scale. Vehicle maintenance, and generator maintenance are the big concerns for you. Time now to get everything checked before you get real busy.

I just wanted to get everyone aware of some things you can do to get you and your shop ready for spring and summer. You can use this list again after the kids go back to school this fall to get ready for the Christmas rush. Being proactive with your equipment and shop could prevent surprizes and untimely bills.

Hope this can help somebody. Be safe, and remember to read those labels.



Mobile Sharpeners: Can Their Sharpening Equipment Get Out Of Calibration Because They Are Mobile?

Yes it can, the calibration does get off when doing mobile sharpening.  I did mobile sharpening in 5 states down here in the south before I went strictly mail-in for 15 years. Even though your equipment is solid in your van or trailer, going over bumps, hitting pot holes,  and going over railroad tracks does vibrate the calibration off. I would check my calibration weekly on my automated blade machine,  and the arm position on my scissor sharpening machines. Most times they were still dead on, sometimes they were off just a couple thousands, but that little variation can cause a scissor to fold at the tips, and blades to fail the rub test (explained later on).

In my sharpening shop, the scissor machines never move, but when I roll my two automated blade machines around to clean or when I change the sharpening plate, I check the calibration of the automated arms. Once in a while I have to adjust, but its nothing like when I was on the road bouncing around all the time. Bad calibration can really shorten the life of the cutting surface of the blade because the hollow ground of the blade isn't centered correctly.

I've taught several sharpeners who purchased the same equipment I use the importance of getting the blade centered on the hollow grind of the plate, and not assume the factory marks on the automated arms were correct. And also to check the calibration weekly of their automated machine. Bumpy roads can be certain death to an automated blade machine, but taking the time to check calibration will prevent alot of very angry customers when the blades start to have issues.

Whats “Hollow Ground” on a blade?

Blades dont have flat surfaces like it seems when you look at them. The cutting surfaces are "Pitched" a few thousands so the tips of the cutter teeth, and the very rear of cutter touch the blade underneath it. This enables the blade teeth to cut like a tiny pair of scissors as the teeth go back and forth across each other. If they were flat, they would snag in the first inch of hair you tried to cut with them. Sharpening plates aren't flat either, they are pitched as well to grind this "hollow ground" as we call it to make the blade work. When the blade is put on the plate to be sharpened, the very center of the blade must be in the center of this pitch. If its past the center, or short of the center, cutting life is shortened.This is where calibration is so important.

 Hollow ground is checked by rubbing a freshly sharpened cutter blade on a flat steel plate (test plate), sharpeners  call this "rubbing the blade out". After you rub it on the plate and turn it over you can see a small shinny area across the very tips of all the teeth, and areas on both sides of the back rail, this shows pretty good hollow ground. If the entire tooth is shinny , its out of calibration too far. If the teeth are shinny on each side but not in the middle of the blade, the calibration is too short. Sharpeners who use a manual sharpening machine (one without automated arms),  have no calibration to check. Creating a good hollow ground depends on holding the blade in their hand with a magnet, and going back and forth across the plate trying to keep the blade as straight as they can. With a manual machine, every blade is sharpened differently, and the variation can be enormous.

Here is a question to ask the sharpener your currently using : "When was the last time you checked the calibration of your equipment"? or "Do you rub blades out to check the hollow ground"? If you get a "NO" for either of these questions, that sharpener has no idea what kind of work they are putting out. The blades may cut good now, but for how long? Another reason to rub blades out is to check if the machine is indeed grinding a hollow ground blade. Sharpening too many blades on a sharpening plate will decrease the hollow ground capability of it, and the blades will be sharpened flat and will not work long  if they work at all. If a sharpener rubs out blades religiously, and sees the shinny area on the tips of the cutter teeth start to come down the tooth, its a signal to change that sharpening plate.

I know this was kinda long, but Im hoping to have some sharpeners as part of my audience, as well as interested groomers. It may actually let a few sharpeners re-evaluate what they are doing to insure they are putting out good work for their customers. Those that are doing this already know what Im talking about and will agree "Its better for YOU to catch a potential problem, and not let your customer catch it for you". Calibration is an important part of the sharpening process, and the customer perspective of our work is something we never want to get tarnished.

Now everyone knows more than me about all this, and its good to know as a groomer what it takes to ensure your blades are sharpened correctly. Knowledge is power!

Have a great day grooming, and read those labels.


We all hold our breath when we drop a clipper because we hope it still runs when we pick it off the floor. Our clipper is the most important tool we have as a groomer, so we have to do our monthly maintenance, clean the hair from it, and make sure it doesn’t hit the floor.

All clippers have the same problems when they are dropped, but we will look at the Andis AGC Ultra Edge because its the most common clipper among most groomers.


When the clipper hits the floor, it jars the insides very much. The switch has a capacitor on it that can bust loose from the curcuit board. It has two small wires that are only soldered to the board, and when the clipper hits the floor they can break.

AGC Switch_capacitor

If just one of these wires is broken, you will loose your high speed. The switch is screwed into the rear motor mounts of the clipper. The motor mounts are just two plastic posts located on the bottom clipper body that holds the rear of your motor. If either of these mounts break off when the clipper is dropped, it can cause your clipper to get hot when running. The motor vibrates because nothing is holding it at the back thus causing the heat. This ever happen to you? Lower clipper bodies are about $10.00


This is a big thing that can short out your armature, blow your switch, and possibly cause smoke to come from the clipper. Figure about $90 to fix this if the damage is this extensive.

The motor field is a round steel tube lined with two curved magnets, your armature spins inside this tube. When your clipper is turned on, your brushes cause a negative polarity to the magnets and this causes the armature to spin, which moves your blade drive back and forth making the blade cut.

Broken magnet

If you drop your clipper, and it hits hard enough, you can crack these magnets. They can fragment causing shorts which can blow the armature and switch. Also, if one the the fragments is small enough, it can lodge against the aramture inside and pin it so it doesnt move. Usually when this happens you can hear the clipper “hum” when you turn it on, but it wont run. If you experience this, don’t try to use it anymore and send it in for repair. A new motor field can cost about $25.00, armatures are about $40.00, switches are about $15.00, plus the labor charge.

Since your clipper is so important to your working or not, you need to take care of it. I learned by experience a long time ago that setting a clipper under a dog on the table can really ruin your day. I use a small table next to my grooming table, and I set shears and clippers on it when not using them. It may be a lifestyle change for you to start doing that as well if your having your equipment kicked off the table on a regular basis.

Read those labels, and have fun grooming!


New things about the Wahl 5-N-1 blade


A customer sent me her Bravura and several blades and complained the clipper was burning up and vibrating during her last groom. On inspection of these items I discovered there was nothing wrong with the clipper, but the blades had been melting while on the clipper.

The cutter notches on both blades sent were melted and rounded out terribly.  I called and told her the clipper was fine (she was relieved), but I also fould out she cleaned the blades in soap and water. Washing them this way is fine, but most soaps will totally clean the blades of any oil and grease.

In the clipper head of your Wahl trimmer there is a round white cam with a silver post sticking out from it. This post sticks in the cutter notch, and as it spins it moves the cutter back and forth on the blade to make it cut. This silver post doesn't spin, its not on a bearing, it just pushes on the inside of that cutter notch and can create alot of friction if its not lubricated. This is what happened to these blades, the friction was so great from not greasing the cutter notch after washing that  the revolving post melted the insides of both cutter notches. Below is a picture of both cutter notches, look closely at the inside of the notches and you'll see how they are melted out.

5n1 cutter1


I received a different looking 5-N-1 blade recently. It had super fine teeth and had only one setting. The customer complained the blade never cut when brand new, and I could see by the tooth spacing it wouldn't go through the coat on many breeds. I called my factory rep and he said they did manufacture these blades for vets and they were for surgery.

I have a couple pictures of this blade below. You can see its not the blade you want to use in regular pet grooming. The first picture compares this vet blade to the fine blade that is commonly used. The second picture shows it has no adjustment lever, it has one setting.



I didn't do anything to this blade but test it. It went through my fine test hair but I had to go super slow, and it took the hair down past NOTHING LEFT! This is actually what a vet wants prior to surgery and this blade will do it no problem. If you happen to acquire one of these blades somehow, good luck, its not going to be what your used to using.

Not a long post this time but I wanted to share what can happen if you forget to grease the cutter notch. It can cause friction and hurt the cutter notch, or make you clipper run hot and vibrate. This information is also for sharpeners as well as groomers. Sharpeners can run across these problems from their customers, and now they have answers.

We have a lubrication guide for the 5-N-1 blade on our website, and we return a copy to customers who send us 5-N-1 blades for refurbishing. We refurbish these blades with new parts for $10 each, see the website for more details.

Have agreat day grooming, and please read those labels


Having trouble with cords shorting out all the time?

There seems to be alot of groomers with cord problems recently. Many think the cords are made of junk, but really they are not. All the twisting and pulling on the cords during a groom can break the wires on the cord right where the cord enters the clipper body. Then as you move the clipper around during a groom its starts to short out momentarily which can drive you insane. There is an "Old School" trick you can use that saved our cords from breaking and shorting out. In fact, once we did this little trick we never had a cord problem again unless a dog bit through it.

If your clipper has stiff a "hanger" on the back like Andis or Wahl your in luck. Swivel hangers like on LAube and Oster clippers aren't rigid enough to do this trick properly, but it can be done. All it takes is a zip-tie! You zip-tie your cord to your clipper hanger to prevent the cord from bending or twisting at the clipper and it won't break. Thats where the break in the cord is usually at....right where the cord enters the clipper. So when you prevent it from bending in the thick part of the cord where it goes in the clipper, and force it to bend where the cord is flexible, it won't break. We did this to all our Andis clippers a few years back and haven't had a cord problem since. Below is a picture of an Andis clipper, and a Wahl clipper with the cords "zip-tied" to the hanger.

Clipper hangers

Now your thinking "If I zip-tie the cord to my hanger, I won't be able to hang my clipper up anymore" Don't worry you still can. We use a "key ring" from the hardware store that cost less than a dollar. We thread it though the hanger like you would a key and it gives us a better hanger to hang the clipper up with. Below is a picture of a 1 1/2 inch key ring.

Key ring

Just attach this key ring on the hanger, either side of the cord that is zip-tied to it, and your good to go. Hope this helps with your breaking cords all the time.

Have a great day grooming and read those labels!

Cordless Clipper Battery Charging (Do's and Don'ts)

When we buy a new cordless clipper, most forget to read the fine print in the instruction manual, or forget to read the manual altogether. We look at the convenience of things we get for our shops and cordless clippers are at the top of the list. 

Even though the manual says you can leave the handset in the charging stand all the time, or the batteries never obtain a memory and can’t be over charged, don’t believe it!

We summerized what we’ve learned with external batteries, internal batteries, and charging techniques that saved us from experiencing dead batteries and burned up handsets over the years. Take caution over convenience and you’ll be OK. 

No matter what the manufacturer states, or what kind of battery you have, there is a chance you will have trouble with it if you over-cook the battery with charging. You will get a longer battery life and running time of your clipper by a simple technique change, It involves a little more work, but its worth it to have your clipper running when you need it.

This new technique can be applied to cordless trimmers, as well as A5 cordless clippers.


When you get your new cordless clipper chances are the batteries will have a charge in them. How much we don’t know, but I think the first initial charge of a battery is important to the life of the battery. So I ran the charge out of the battery by running the clipper until it was completely dead. You won’t hurt a thing by running your clipper without a blade on it. My clipper ran about 10 minutes and the motor slowly came to a stop. If you have external batteries, do this for each battery. Dont rely on a button on your charging stand that says it will deplete the charge in the battery. It most likely doesn’t drain it like running the clipper would. 

Now put the battery or clipper in the charging stand (or hook up the power cord) and start the intitial charging. This first charge is very important, only charge the battery(s) until the indicator says its fully charged, then stop charging the battery. Even though the manual says the charger will automatically stop charging when its fully charged, dont believe that. Take the battery completely out of the charger, you know that stops the charging. If charging continues, it can over-cook the battery causing cell damage and it may not hold a charge very long. With your batteries all charged up, your ready to start grooming. 

Running Your Clipper

You use your clipper now as you would any clipper. Lets say you’ve been running it for a while and your done with the job your using it for, What do you do now? You want to put it back on the charger like the manual says you can do, should you? I wouldn’t. Replacing the handset or battery back in the charger after short runs where the battery doesn’t have the charge depleted is what causes “memory” in your battery. That battery was designed to let that clipper run for a long time, but you can teach the battery that it only needs to run for short periods of time. I’m assuming the battery cells adjust themselves to run for short periods because they start to act that way.  This is why you think the batteries aren’t holding a charge very long or are bad. Once they get trained this way (memory), there is no training them to hold a charge longer, at least in my experience. 

Here is what I started to do with my cordless trimmer when I first got it. It has an internal battery, a charging stand, and a power cord that attaches to it so it can run on house current. In the five years I’ve used it before writing this article, I’ve have had no problems with battery life, charging, or any hot handset problems.  

•  I set up the intial charging like I stated above. I ran the clipper until the battery was dead then charged it until it was fully charged and stopped the charging process.
•  I ran the clipper for several grooms and never put it back in the charger. I wanted to run the clipper until there was no charge left in the battery. This actually took a long time to complete, I was surprised how long.
•  When the charge was gone and the clipper stopped during a groom, I hooked up the power cord and finished the job. If your using external batteries, change the battery and finish the job, then charge the dead battery. Keep the fresh battery in the clipper and use it until the charge is completely gone before changing that one.
•  I left the power cord hooked up to the clipper until it was completely charged, then disconnected it. I never leave the power cord hooked up, or the handset in the charging base when I’m not using it. I only charge the battery when there is no charge left in it, then only charge it long enought to get it fully charged again.

If you change what your doing now, and do what Im doing, you may not have battery problems anymore.

Have a great day grooming, and read those labels!


Why is there a space between the blades of my shears?

On some shears there is suppose to be a noticable space, this is called the "Set". On beveled edge shears, it enables the shear to "Slice" the hair. Without it the hair may fold. As you open and close a beveled edge shear, you can look down through this space and see the blades only touch in one place along the blade as the shear blades open and close. This gives the beveled edge shear that powerfull slicing ability which is what most groomers want. The beveled edge is the work horse of the grooming industry, you use this edge to rough in dirty dogs or general grooming. It costs less to sharpen shears with this edge. Below is a picture of the space between the blades of a beveled edge shear. Note the small angle on the cutting edge?

Bevelled gap

The next type of shear to talk about is the Convex Shear. These shears still have a space or "set", but its very very small. It would be difficult to get a piece of paper to slide between the blades.

The convex shear cuts hair completely different than the beveled edge shear, it chops rather than slices. Why? Because the convex shear edge is a razor rather than a slicing bevel. The edge is so sharp it doesnt have time to slice, so it takes all the hair off with one wack. You shouldn't feel hair cut with a convex edge its that sharp, when you do, and it starts to push the hair, its time for resharpening. Groomers get the best finish using convex shears, and you use them on clean combed out dogs only. Any dirt or knots in the coat can cause the convex shear to dull or pit the edge, then they fold.

One note about convex shears, just because they have the convex edge doesn't mean its good. Today many manufacturers are putting the convex edge on low grade cheaper shears, to me the metal isnt hard enough to hold this edge over time. Example, if you buy a shear for $50 and it has a convex edge, chances are that edge will round out in two weeks because the metal of the shear isn't top quality. A top quality shear you'll spend some good money on and the metal is good enough to hold this edge for months. I recommend that if you having trouble keeping a convex edge cutting on your $60 shears, why not have the sharpener put a small beveled edge on it next time. That edge will cut for months on these cheaper shears. Replacing a convex edge on a shear can range from $10 to $25 becuase they are honed to sharpeness rather than ground to an edge.

Below is a view of the space between the blades of a convex shear, there is barely a space. The only space it needs is for the blades to pass each other without binding, they need to be close together. If you loosen the tension of a convex shear or thinner too much, the blades will grab each other about an inch from the pivot screw. If this happens, dont keep using it, it needs to be honed again.

Convex gap

I posted this information for groomers, as well as new sharpeners, so you know the characteristics of both styles of shears. Some folks buy shears and really don't know any more about them except they cut hair. There is a big difference, beveled edge shears are for general grooming, convex are mainly for finish work. Sharpeners sometimes get calls from very mad groomers after they get thier shears back from sharpening and say "When I got my shears back from you there was a space between the blades, it wasn't there when I sent them to you". Yes ,it was there when you sent them, you just didn't know why. So now everyone knows the space between the blades of a beveled edge shear is supposed to be there and why its important to the way it cuts.

I hope this helped you in some way make decisions on shear purchases and what you'll be using them for in your shop. Another question I get asked is "Whats a good lubricant for shears"? In my opinion, you don't have to get special lube for them, you can use something you may already have.....blade wash! Good blade wash has several good uses for shears. First, its a lube, most good blade washes have liquid silicon in them, so does spray coolants. Secondly, they have a solvent in them. This solvent can break down the pet dander and small hair that accumulates around the pivot screw in your shear that can tighten the tension over time. When a shear slows down try the blade wash before loosening the pivot screw. When you loosen the screw it changes the way the shear cuts. To apply blade wash to your shear pivot do this. Get a Q-tip and stick it in the blade wash to moisten. Point the tips of your shears up and open them enough to have one blade straight out to one side. Now take the Q-tip and press it against the blade still pointing up so the blade wash drips down into the pivot. Open and close the shear rapidly and you should feel it naturally loosen up for you. If you open them wide again you may see some dark stuff moving out of your pivot area, this is the stuff that collected there and tightened your tension.

Have a great day grooming, and please read those labels :)