You know it’s time to sharpen your hairdressing scissors but where do you start?
Well it isn’t a DIY job so don’t bother checking YouTube to fumble your way through. Forget about a knife/scissor blade sharpening gadget, they’re designed for cheap scissors you keep in the junk drawer at home.
If you bought a good pair of hairdressing scissors or barber scissors, you know they weren’t cheap and chances are you already know they deserve professional care. An experienced bladesmith can bring the scissors back to their former glory and you can concentrate on what you do best – great haircuts.
You can tell when you need to sharpen the scissors because the hair can bend or fold against the blade. The hair can also catch or push off the scissors. Blunt scissors can feel gritty or dull when it’s time for a service.
Generally it’s every 3-12 months that you should have your scissors professionally sharpened. For barbers and hairdressers who cut exclusively, it’s the lower end of the range while hairdressers who spend part of their day on colours and blow drying can go a year before sharpening their scissors.
Scissor sharpening is a double-edged sword. If it’s performed by a reputable bladesmith sharpener, they will extend the life of your scissors.
But if they’re inexperienced or don’t have the right equipment, they can destroy your scissors.
Check if they have a pair of loan scissors you can use while yours are out of service. Unless you can borrow a pair of scissors, you won’t do much work. Some hairdressers or barbers send their scissors off for sharpening while they’re on leave so they return to a perfect pair of scissors.
While it’s not common practice, some inexperienced (or just lazy) sharpeners won’t take apart the scissors. Sure disassembly is time consuming but it’s the only way to sharpen the length of the blade and to restore the original edge. By not taking them apart, a bladesmith can convert an expensive pair of convex blade scissors into a cheap thick bevel-edged pair.
If the bladesmith says it will only take 10 minutes, chances are they will use a grinding machine that isn’t water cooled and will take too much steel off the blade, reducing the life of the scissors.
Ask around for the name of a good sharpener rather than take the chance with your professional scissors.
It’s ideal for hairdressers and barbers to have an idea of what the sharpening process looks like even when they delegate the job. After all, you’re handing over your most expensive tool.
A bladesmith checks the baseline for how the scissors are working then takes the scissors apart. This allows the bladesmith to have a good look at the length of the blade for any sign of pitting (corrosion), little rust spots or nicks where the blade has been damaged.
Professional bladesmiths use expensive, custom-made hairdressing sharpening machines to make fine adjustments of half a degree to the current blade angle or they may change the angle completely. It can depend on what the scissor’s owner has requested. The scissors are inspected to make sure the blade is balanced before buffing and polishing.They also shape the tip of the scissors to keep them safe.
Once reassembled, the scissors are tested by cutting a piece of folded wet tissue to ensure the cut is a clean, straight line that doesn’t fray.
It’s not enough to hand over your scissors on a quarterly, six monthly or annual basis to the professionals. To keep them in top condition, you need to show your scissors a small amount of love each day. It doesn’t take long at the start and finish of the day to look after your scissors. It can determine the length of the relationship you have with your scissors. No one wants to break up with their scissors earlier than necessary!
Without proper daily cleaning of your scissors, you could shorten the life of your scissors. So make it a rule that you never leave the salon without giving your scissors a thorough clean. Use a clean, dry towel to remove all hair, moisture, chemical and product residue from the scissors. Leaving the scissors damp or dirty overnight is a sure way for spots of rust or corrosion to creep in. Once they are completely clean and dry, store them in their protective case rather than leaving them on the counter or loose in a drawer.
Before you cut each day, check the tension of your scissors. To do this hold the scissors by the thumb loop and lift the finger loop into the horizontal position. Move the blades against each other to check how much movement there is. When you let go of the finger loop, the blade should fall and close halfway up the other blade. If the blade doesn’t close at all, the tension is too tight and if they close completely, the tension is too loose.
If you use scissors when the tension is too tight, you can cause permanent wear on the blade edges. They can also cause fatigue or a sore hand if you’re having to work too hard to close them with each action. Our scissors come with a tension key so use it to move one click at a time. Remember to only adjust the tension when the scissors are closed to avoid nicks to the blade.
After cleaning your hairdressing scissors, it’s best to apply a thin coating of oil to keep the moisture out and feeling smooth. Don’t be tempted to use some clipper oil you might have lying around. It’s different to scissor oil and can damage the rubber or nylon parts of the pivot and attract dirt.
If you immerse or wipe your scissors with any kind of sterilising solution, be sure to oil them straight after. If you skimp on the oiling process, your scissors are at risk of rust or corrosion.
Attention to detail is everything when it comes to looking after hairdressing scissors. From their daily care and maintenance to the keen eye of the sharpener, your hairdressing scissors will serve you and your clients well with some attention.
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