You are a hard worker.. and so are you shears! Client after client, hair cut after hair cut your shears are right there with you grinding away. This is why they require specialized care to keep them going strong. You get your car serviced at least once a year, by a professional, so why not do the same for your hair cutting shears?
Let us help you understand the importance of a shear service.
Taking care of your shears on a regular basis will not only make your day to day cutting easier but hopefully help you require less work on your hair shears over time. As a hair stylist your day is most likely very busy, but is important to take a few minutes at the end of your day for some shear maintenance.
Every day we must remember to clean our shears. You can use a soft cloth to help remove any hair fragments left on your shears. Regularly wipe your blades from inside out as not to cut yourself. Using a few drops of rubbing alcohol wipe your blades clean. Regular cleaning with Rubbing alcohol will help sterilise your shears and prevent corrosion.
After making sure your shears are properly clean it is time to oil your blades. Open your shears and place a drop of shear oil at the pivot point of both blades. Gently open and close your blade to spread the oil and remove any hair fragments that have been trapped. Gently wipe your shear to remove excess oil. Remember there is such a thing as too much oil! So one or two drops at the center joint, should do the job.
You may feel your shears are folding or bending the hair over time. Usually this problem can be solved simply by adjusting your tension. You should check your tension at the end of your day, when cleaning your shears.
To check the tension open your shears to a 90 degree angle by the thumb hole. Simply let go of the thumb hole and see where the blade stops. If it does not close past 45 degrees your scissors are too tight. If it closes past 20 degrees your scissors are too loose. Use your tension adjuster to adjust accordingly. Proper tension of your shears is important to keep them in their best condition. Blades that are too tight or too loose can wear down quicker and be damaged easier. Too tight or too loose scissors can also effect your cutting ability. Scissors that are not properly tightened will push, bend or pull your clients hair. So check your shears!
It is important to store your shears correctly to prevent your blades from being damaged. At the end of your day make sure they are stored safely away in a protective case away from moisture and other damaging liquids ( like color or developer) and other environmental factors. Also making sure you store them safely away will prevent any accidents. Even a small bump on a hard surface can damage your blades, so storing them properly is a must.
Now that you've done your due diligence of cleaning, oiling, adjusting and storing your shears it is time to call in the professionals. But what exactly is a shear service?
You've noticed your shears seem to be cutting differently. Maybe they're pushing the hair, or bending it funny and you just can't seem to get that perfectly straight line you need. Well it is now time for a shear sharpener or bladesmith to be called. If you don't have a trusted sharpener it is best to ask around your salon. Most salons will have their trusted scissor guy (or girl ) who they either send their shears to, or who comes in to the salon to sharpen everyones shears. Let's break down their service for you!
Your sharpener will first have a close look at your scissors. If you've been complaining of hair being pulled or bent they will check the edge for any nicks or damage. If you've dropped your shears ( we all have at some point in our cutting career ) make sure you tell them!
Now that your sharpener has determined how much work they have ahead of them, its time for...
First things first, your sharpener will take apart your shears. A good scissor sharpener will not sharpen your shears still together. This makes it easier for them to get a more precise edge. Different sharpeners will have different ways to sharpen your shears, however it is important to pay attention to if they are taking your shears apart, if they are using a machine and hand honing and if they are checking the sett of the blades often. Sharpening a pair of hair cutting shears is an art, and a good sharpening service will take time and pay a lot of attention to detail. A good sharp edge can not be achieved in 10-15 minutes.
Your sharpener will then use their machine to adjust the angle of the blade. They can just move it slightly to keep the same edge but make it sharper, or they can change the angle for you if you are looking for a different edge ( convex, semi convex or beveled).
Once they've adjusted the angle of the blade and are happy with how it looks they will balance your shears. They will closely inspect each blade to ensure properbalancing.
After fixing the edge and balancing your shears it is time for buffing and polishing. They will use a different machine to buff and polish and make sure your shears are looking and feeling good. In the buffing and polishing stage they will also check the tip of your shears to make sure they are aligned correctly and then shape them. Shaping the tips helps to protect them from future damage.
Your shears will then be given another good cleaning, making sure to remove any debris. Your sharpener will again check the tension to make sure your shears are not too tight or too loose. Then they will lubricate them for you.
If your sharpener is sharpening shears at your salon they will test them in front of you, if not, here is how to test them yourself.
Now as hairstylists we are constantly told not to use our shears on anything other than hair. Well here is the only time when you can make an exception to the rule!
You will need a tissue, spray bottle and your shears.
First spray the tissue lightly. Make sure it is slightly damp. Then simply take your shears and cut the end of the tissue, using the whole blade. Close your shears completely and gently pull them down. If the shears catch the tissue and rip it, they have not been sharpened and balanced correctly. The shears should slide down perfectly leaving a straight cut in the tissue. Of course the next test will be when you use them on your client's hair. If they don't feel just right on your first try simply wipe the blades with your soft cloth and check the tension. Often most problems we may feel with our shears can be fixed by cleaning and adjusting the tension.
Now that you know all about a service, let's talk about...
Well let's be honest here if you had a Ferrari you wouldn't trust just any old run of the mill mechanic with your car maintenance, would you? Our shears may not be as expensive as a Ferrari ( Thank god !) But they are very important to us, so their maintenance should be as well.
If you have dropped or damaged your shears a good shear service can save them. Of course a not so good shear service can cause more damage, so please make sure you are careful with who you choose.
If your shears are sharpened incorrectly they may alter their cutting edge, and sometimes this can not be corrected. We would hate for you to buy a pair of shears and have this happen to them before their life span is up. If a sharpener removes too much metal from the blades this can shorten their life span as well. Most shears should last about 10-20 sharpens, depending on how you care for them. Remember it is important to have your shears sharpened and serviced at least once a year, twice if you are a barber or specialize in just cutting hair. Keeping your haircutting shears in tip top shape will also keep your hair cuts coming out perfect.
Daily cleaning and care will help you maintain your scissors. If you are diligent with their care they will last you longer and continue to perform their best well into their later years. Of course, your scissor sharpener is there for you to help maintain them and correct any mistakes. Remember quality shears take quality maintenance !