Hair clippers are an easy way to trim your locks, especially if you’re at home and all the salons are closed.
But these clippers and their blades need regular maintenance to perform their function well.
Related: Best Vacuum Hair Clippers
Related: Best Clippers For Fade Haircuts
While most hair clippers come with an auto-sharpening feature, it’s still a good practice to clean and sharpen the blades to prevent uneven cuts and nicked skin.
In this article, I will talk about how to sharpen your clipper blades at home. It’s a simple process and will leave the blades sharper. This helps in giving you a more precise shave and prevents any cuts or nicks.
What Will You Need To Sharpen Hair Clipper Blades?
Before I get to how to sharpen hair clipper blades, let me tell you what all you need.
Given below are some items you need to keep handy.
- Screwdriver: You’ll firstly need a screwdriver to help you unscrew the blades from the clippers.
- Sharpening stone: The most important part of the process is this sharpening stone. I suggest getting either a 3000 and 8000 grit combo. Some people use sandpaper as well, but I strongly recommend a stone.
- Cleaning brush: You’ll need a cleaning brush to remove stray hairs, dirt, and other debris from the blades. I suggest using an old toothbrush instead of any special clipper brush as it’s way better at cleaning as it’s stiff.
- Marker: Sharpening the blades on a stone can take a few millimeters off the blades surface area. A marker comes handy to keep track of this loss.
- Microfiber cloth: A microfiber cloth helps thoroughly clean the specks of stone from your blades after the sharpening process.
- Clipper oil: This is also an essential part of the sharpening process as it keeps blades functioning well.
After you’ve gathered all these items, it’s time to get to work. Here’s how to sharpen hair clipper blades at home.
How To Sharpen Hair Clipper Blades
Step 1: Unscrew Hair Clippers
The first step to sharpen hair clipper blades is to unscrew the blades from the body of the clippers.
Doing so makes it easier to clean them. However, not all clipper blades are detachable.
You can look at your clippers where the blades are fixed to the body. There will be two screws attaching the blades.
What you need to do is remove these screws with the help of a screwdriver.
- Make a note of how the clippers are joined to the blades (positioning, etc.) as this makes reassembly easier.
- If you have difficulty removing the blades, pull them out using a pair of tweezers after you remove the screws.
Step 2: Clean Hair Clippers
Sometimes, when you’re not getting a good enough shave, the problem isn’t the blades.
I’ve found that a number of times, there is just dirt and stray hairs trapped in the clippers that prevent a clean shave.
So it’s good to try to clean out the clippers before you get to sharpening hair clipper blades.
Brush Out Dirt
The first thing you need to do to clean your clippers is to brush away any remains of hair or dust trapped between the blades.
I personally use a stiff, old toothbrush as it gives a better clean. But you can also use steel wool or toothpicks more stubborn or hard-to-reach dirt.
Some blades might accumulate rust if you’ve been using them in the shower or leaving them near a high moisture area.
These can still be reused. You just need to clean them with a good blade wash.
If you don’t have a beard wash handy, you can also use isopropyl alcohol. Just make sure the solution is the strong, 90% isopropyl alcohol. Anything less won’t remove the rust as well.
Dry and Test the Blades
The next step is to dry the blades thoroughly using a microfiber cloth. If you’re satisfied with the blades, you can test them to see if they work well.
If you still find rust on the blades, it might be time to replace them.
To test the blades you can run them on a small patch of hair. If the clippers are still dull or snag at your hair, it might need more than a cleaning.
However, most self-sharpening blades need only be cleaned. And it rarely requires manual sharpening at your end.
Sharpening Hair Clippers
If you still find that cleaning hasn’t helped or if you’re using a regular variety of clippers that are not self-sharpening, it’s time to sharpen hair clipper blades by yourself.
Here’s how you go about it.
Step 3: Run Blades Across Honing Stone
Now for the magic to happen!
Before you get to sharpening, mark the interior sides of the clipper blades with your marker. This will make it easier to see how much surface area you’ve shaved off while sharpening.
- Do not use your hands while sharpening the blades on the stone, you might hurt yourself.
- You can use a magnet holder and place the end of the blades in the middle with the sharp side extending outwards.
As I’ve mentioned before you need a honing stone or sharpening stone or whetstone in 3000 grits and 8000 grits. You can easily find these stones in any hardware store.
The second one is a finer stone and is optional. But I find it very useful to give your blades a fine edge.
You need to first run the blade at a 30-45 degree angle over the whetstone in only ONE direction till the blades appear shiny and sharp.
Keep running the blade forward for at least 5-10 times. Next, turn the blade over and repeat the same procedure. Then, wipe off the stone debris with a cloth.
You can leave it at that or use a 8000 grit whetstone and repeat the same procedure 5-10 times for better results.
Word of caution: You shouldn’t be using a sharpening stone made of ceramic on ceramic blades as this can destroy them. Use a diamond sharpening stone instead. Be careful while buying whetstone and do not confuse sharpening stones “for” ceramic blades with stones “made of” ceramic.
Step 4: Screw Hair Clipper Blades Back Into Place
Now that you’ve sharpened the hair clipper blades, it’s time to screw them back into their original place.
I usually wipe off any stone residue with a microfiber cloth before putting them back together.
When you’re screwing the blades back into position make sure you assemble them the right way up.
Also, make sure they are the same distance apart from the clipper as they originally were. Use a screwdriver to tighten the screws so there is no chance of them coming apart.
Step 5: Use Hair Clipper Oil
Using a hair clipper oil is recommended even if you’re not sharpening your blades.
You need to apply this oil to your clippers after every 3-4 uses. This oil keeps the blades functioning smoothly and reduces friction and overheating.
But hair clipper oil is very essential right after sharpening. Just 2-3 drops of this oil should be enough.
I always use a lightweight oil that can penetrate easily between the blades. Darker, heavier oils seem to clog the blades more than helping them move.
It’s best to ask your barber for options on hair clipper oils before making a purchase.
Step 6: Run Hair Clippers For Some Time
The last step is to run the clippers for a few minutes. No, this is not just for testing the blades if they work properly.
Running the blades this way hones them better and allows the oils to penetrate as well.
After all this, your hair clippers are fully sharpened and ready to use. All that’s left is to try them out on a patch of hair and see if you’re satisfied with the results.
FAQs on how to sharpen hair clipper blades
#1 – How many times can you sharpen clipper blades?
A bit of the surface area of the blades gets shaved off every time you sharpen it. So you can probably sharpen clipper blades just two or three times in their lifetime.
Yes, sharpen them for more times than that is technically possible. But it makes your balde width smaller and hampers the shaving process.
#2 – How do I know if my clipper blades are dull?
The easiest way to know if your clipper blades are dull is to see how your skin feels during and after a shave.
If you find that a few stray hairs remain and that the clippers haven’t got all the hair or that they have left the strands coarse and blunt, it might be time for a sharpening.
Clipper blades that are dull will also tug and pull at your skin when you are using them.
#3 – Can you use sandpaper to sharpen clipper blades?
Yes, you can use sandpaper to sharpen clipper blades. But it’s not as quick as using a whetstone.
Also there is no guarantee that you’ll get sharp, fine edged blades after using a sandpaper. With a whetstone, all you need to do is scrape them across a few times and you are all set. Sandpaper requires a lot of work.
To use sandpaper to sharpen clipper blades you need to place the blades on a flat surface and then rub the sandpaper over them in a back and forth motion.
And that was how to sharpen hair clipper blades at home. I hope you found this article informative.
I suggest giving your hair clipper blades a shave 3-4 months if you use it quite often. Or a good sharpening every six months also works.