Clipper blade sharpening has, since its inception, had problems with consistency. This has been true of manufacturers as well as sharpeners. This highly competitive product requires a degree of accuracy beyond its value. Nevertheless, a good cutting and long lasting clipper blade is a must in the hair industry.
The two primary elements required for good cutting and long service life of the clipper blade are:
All other considerations, though important, are secondary.
The inconsistencies that have plagued the industry are most often a result of:
To remove the dull tooth radius .001" or more of metal removal is necessary. Consistent metal removal of .001" or more requires knowing your grinding rate on fresh and ending charge. Inspection of cutting edge and teeth tips will determine if more than .001" of metal has to be removed to fully sharpen blade.
To know if you have achieved even and equal tooth contact the blade must be rubbed on an accurate test plate after grinding to display the areas of contact. Visual inspection of a freshly ground surface without rubbing on a test block is just guesswork. Test cutting does not reveal tooth contact.
The elements needed for even metal removal and tooth contact are:
What ensures these requirements?
The usual lapping disc honing area is 5" to 6" wide and lathe cut to a semi-precision plane. Varying surface finishes exist. The risk with this semi precision plane is that you do not know how good or bad it is. The showing of high or low spots (uneven wear of the surface) after some use indicates the original inaccuracy (a true surface always wears to an even curve with no high or low spots). This variance of accuracy has been a contributing factor to the inconsistency in sharpening clipper blades.
Three years ago The Shop, Inc. introduced a precision machine scraped disc surface that is verified, by the scraping process, a true plane, eliminating this risk. All other systems on the market use an unverified disc surface. We sell only verified disc surfaces. We season each disc, sharpen blades on it and then check the tooth contact pattern to be absolutely sure that the disc you receive is accurate and will make good blades immediately. No other manufacturers test their disc surfaces before shipping. We do not expect the customer to do our quality control for us.
A 5" to 6" honing band also makes it more challenging to produce the optimum straight tooth contact pattern. You must follow as straight as possible the hollow grinding ridge for a greater distance than on The Shop's 3 1/4" honing band. Fatigue has a definite effect on the quality of result when sharpening manually and the shorter stroking distance is a definite plus to lessen errors due to tiredness. A straighter, far less crescent pattern can be more easily achieved. The more even and equal the tooth contact, the better. The scraped 3 1/4" band also has a more efficient grinding rate than a 5" to 6" band on the same diameter disc due to a higher average surface speed and more grit grinding by sitting on a more accurate and solid surface.
What is tooth contact pattern?
We believe hand sharpening can be done skillfully most of the time, but all of the time is what is required. Precise control of the blade as far as placement on the disc and maintaining even pressure as the blade is being ground is imperative for an accurately sharpened clipper blade. We manufacture our automated mechanism to eliminate the inconsistency of doing blades manually. By traveling back and forth on the disc parallel to the center line of the disc with constant and equal pressure on the blade, the true profile of the hollow grind ridge is accurately ground into each and every blade. The result is superior cutting and maximum blade life.