To avoid having issues with putting blades on your clipper and not getting them locked on, you may be doing it improperly.
Every groomer does not read the clipper manual, usually somebody in the shop or in a grooming school shows them how to operate the equipment, this is bad.
Here is a link to a video we made and put on our company Facebook page. Follow the link and watch it, its good information and it could save a call to your sharpener when your having an issue. Here is the link:
To avoid having issues with putting blades on your clipper and not getting them locked on, you may be doing it improperly.
This blog is being updated once again. Northern Tails Sharpening continues in business as always and we still serve groomers looking for truly professional sharpening by groomers that understand the sharpening and maintenance needs unique to pet grooming tools.
Our website is still www.northerntails.com.
There are no maintenance-free clippers. All clipper require regular maintenance and inspection for parts wearing out. Whether you choose to do the maintenance or you use the services of a technician, it is best to know more about your clippers than they cut hair.
Regular maintenance will prevent failures that may happen during the work day when you depend on them the most. This advisory is for all brands of clippers. But this article will start with Andis because they are the most popular brand for American groomers, vets and trainers.
Andis clipper maintenance regardless of model is very straightforward. There is no such thing as a “tune-up.” Parts need to checked and changed along with a general cleaning. Many of the tasks can and should be done by the user. Without regular maintenance the performance of the clipper is significantly reduced. Start maintenance by inspecting the head of the clipper. Check to see if the latch has a hook on it.
Next check the hinge screws. If they are loose by even one-quarter turn it can cause drag and corn rows in the cut. Frequent use of comb attachment can loosen hinges. Continue your inspection by looking at the black part of the blade drive. Is it chewed up from being in the blades? If so, it can cause a loose fit of the top blade in the blade set. When this happens you might get drag and corn rows. Worse yet blades could snag when using comb attachments.
The Blade Drive
The blade drive is the most misunderstood part of an Andis clipper, and yet the heart of the clipper. When the blade drive is weak or bad the clipper will not perform correctly. The blade drive is made of plastic with scored ribs and connects to the tip which inserts into the top of your blade. Plastics fail with continued use and become soft. The blade drive shown in the picture is 4 weeks old, and it is completely worn out. This drive is discolored from spray coolants being sprayed on running blades. The metal bar across the front is lifting off the drive at the ends.
When a blade drive is worn out completely like this one, your clipper will not perform. The reason is simple. The plastic of the scored ribs is now so soft the drive bearing pushes the blade drive to one side of the clipper. It then hesitates before the drive bearing can pull it back the other direction. Thus you can have drag, corn rows, hair stuck in blades with combs and other issues.
Change the blade drive and symptoms should go away. Andis clipper instructions state that users need to routinely change blade drives. A bad blade drive makes the clipper useless, so you should always have extra blade drives on hand.
Hair is the enemy of any clipper. If it is not cleaned out there will be problems with the cutting system. The Andis clipper can have a big problem when hair is impacted around the drive bearing where it fits into the back of the blade drive. This can shorten the back and forth stroke of the blade considerably, which may cause performance problems with very thick coats or when using comb attachments.
When changing your blade drive dig out any impacted hair very carefully. Clear the impact from around the drive bearing and also behind the hinge. If there is hair impacted behind the hinge the blade will not lock on tight and the result is drag.
Andis clippers need to breathe. There is a hole that goes completely around the drive bearing. The airflow, even though it may look small, keeps the armature on the inside cool. It also provides a way for carbon dust from the brushes to get away from the commentator. It is extremely important to keep impacted hair from getting inside your blade drive and stopping its airflow. The clippers will get warm and copper windings of the armature could start to burn. Clipper life will shorten. Avoid spraying coolants on blades running on your clipper. I have seen this same warning on Andis operating instructions under DANGER heading #7.
Coolants are nothing more than alcohol and propane gas used as a propellant. They cool by evaporation only. Clipper instructions advise users not to use spray coolants for the purpose of lubrication because there is no lube in the spray. It lubes only while it is wet on the blade. This explains why blades heat faster when you use spray coolants in this manner.
Coolants pose serious health risks. The M.S.D.S. information warns of the potential dangers to body organs and respiratory systems. User instructions clearly state you should wear an appropriate safety mask when using them. Regular unprotected breathing of spray coolants can make you feel tired and give you headaches.
Andis uses two clipper body halves to hold the cord at the back of the clipper. As you walk around your grooming table the cord can bend in different directions. The body halves can bite down on the cord and over time it may short out.
You can help prevent this cord problem from happening with a simple “plastic zip tie.” Zip tie your cord to the hanger as shown. This will make the cord bend out away from the clipper and not cause wear and tear leading to shorts. Ultra Edge users need to to first straighten the bend in the hanger with pliers before attaching the zip tie. ▀
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 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.
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!
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 YOUR 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.
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.
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.
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.
Groomers all over the world are asking questions about the new product Clipp-Aid? Does Clipp-Aid bring dull blades back to life? Is it harmless when exposed to humans and pets? With all the chemicals groomers use, is Clipp-Aid safe to use in my salon? The answer to all these questions is “Yes”. In this article, I’ll share with you the breadth and thoroughness of my testing of Clipp-Aid over the last few months. My conclusion is that Clipp-Aid really is a fabulous new product for groomers!
Several months ago, there was a flurry of comments about Clipp-Aid on Facebook and groomer forums. In response, Clipp-Aid contacted me to try out their product in my shop to get a groomers perspective on the product. As an Organic Chemist, Blade Sharpener, and Pet Groomer for over 30 years, I was astounded by the results this small bag of crystals did at sharpening a blade well enough that I could continue grooming more dogs after using Clipp-Aid on my dull blades. It is something groomers need in their kit in case of emergencies.
Clipp-Aid is intended to bring a dull blade back to life again and can be used repeatedly as needed. Yet, at some point, I would suggest getting your blades professionally sharpened and adjusted by your local sharpener since using Clipp-Aid is not a substitute for professional sharpening.
One thing I noticed when I got the product is the instructions say to "Place the cutting point of the blade into the crystals" then "Move the blade through the crystals for 45 to 60 seconds". This tells me that you may not be using the product correctly, and you could get discouraged at the results. Don’t be discouraged! Clipp-Aid is now aware of this and have revised the instructions that now accompany the sale of its products. I fold the bag to make sure the depth of the crystals is sufficient to cover the cutter teeth during the sharpening process.
First off, you have to have the correct bag for the size blade you are going to sharpen. Thirty years ago, groomers used salt to get by with their dull blades. At that time, you had to push the blade into the salt (covering the cutter teeth) and let it sharpen until its looks like the salt is pulverized, then pick it out and push it into another part of the salt. The problem was that it took the whole container of salt to sharpen one blade. This was because as soon as you put the blade into the salt, the salt instantly pulverized. This resulted is a slight sharpen before large amounts of salt became useless. That's why we had to keep putting it in, and taking it out to get an edge back on the blade so we could do only a few more dogs. This was very tedious and far less effective as using Clipp-Aid.
I believe that Clipp-Aid is a form of concrete that has been crushed and sifted down to the correct size needed to sharpen dull blades. With Clipp-Aid, you do push the blade into the crystals (covering the cutter teeth), yet the crystals are designed not to pulverize so fast in contrast to salt. As a result, the dull blades are brought back to life in about one to two minutes with a small amount of Clipp-Aid crystals. For me, I was able to sharpen two blades twice using a single bag of Clipp-Aid.
Clipp-Aid is 100% safe to use in your salons. It is an inert compound that doesn't react with anything. I mixed it with every liquid in my shop looking for a reaction and got nothing. I even put it on a bad scrape that bled when a dog scratched me, and it didn't even burn like many medical products would. It was nice to see the product was completely safe and non-reactive.
Anyway, that's Clipp-Aid in a nutshell. It is very important to use this product correctly in order to get the best results. Getting the cutter deep enough in the crystals, and bringing it in and out of the crystals is the key to using it properly. Also, it is a good idea to have a dog standing by so that you can test the sharpness of your blade while using Clipp-Aid. Check out the 4 simple steps below that I would recommend to every groomer using Clipp-Aid.
Have a great day grooming, and read those labels.
Jeff’s Instructions For Using Clipp-Aid
- Get a dog to test your sharpness on. Its best to do it with a dog present so you can test for sharpness as you are running your blade in the crystals. If it isn't sharp on the first try, you run it again in the crystals and try it on the dog again.
- Get the bag and tip it on its side and get all the crystals to one side of the bag. You need the "depth" of the crystals. Now fold the bag in half, turn it right side up, and cut the top open.
- Get your clipper with the blade on it. Open the top of the package, and slide the folded part of the bag so the opening is large enough to get your blade into it. Hold the bag with one hand, and your clipper in the other.
- Make sure your blade is clean of hair or oil. Turn the clipper ON and stick the blade into the crystals making sure the cutter teeth are below the surface of the crystals. Hold it there 5 seconds, pull it out of the crystals slightly and stick it back in. Do this 5 times. (5 seconds - 5 times ). You should see the crystals turning lighter in color. You can slightly shake the bag to mix up the crystals getting more good stuff to the surface.
Have you ever had a blade dull out and you didn’t have another in the same size available? The sharpening hasn’t came back yet and purchasing a blade from a catalogue takes too much time. You start reverse cuts with other blades to accomplish the same cut, and it works but its still not the same as the right blade. There is help available in a place you would never think of and it may be only a ten minute drive from your shop....The Beauty/Barber supply store. The blades at the beauty supply store are actually the same blade your using except they have a different numbering system to their blades. They fit all the pet grooming clippers as well.
Pet Grooming Size Barber/Beauty Size
#30 #000 (Cuts like a 40)
#40 #0000 (Cuts like a 50)
#50 #00000 (For Bald Heads)
#8 ½ #1
#7F #1 ½
#4F #3 ½
There are no “Skip-tooth” blades with the Barber/Beauty blades, and your steel guard combs may not fit, but they should. Try them on first at the store to make sure. Their blades look just like ours except the numbers are different on the back. The barber/beauty blades have saved the groomers in our shop alot of frustration during shave down season.
Read Those Labels, anf have a great day grooming
One thing I won't tolerate is posting a comment that doesn't pertain to any blog, or your doing it to advertise your business in some way.
These blogs are important to groomers all over the world who seek advice on the topics we are trying to cover. If your comment is unrelated, spam, or written in a language other than English (if you can read English you can write English), it will be reported as spam and deleted.
I hope other bloggers will do the same, and keep this forum clean for the folks who appreciate it.
Read those labels, and have a great day grooming!!