Shear Education

The most common question I am asked is: How long should my shears stay sharp? The price & quality of your shear is not the main determining factor.

To answer that question, take this simple and meaningful test and you may be surprised what variables can affect the frequency that your shears need sharpening and you could also find from your answers ways to extend the life of your shears and save money. Be honest with yourself and the test becomes meaningful. Choose the letter that best describes your current care of your shears.

  1. I wipe and clean my shears with a soft polishing cloth      or car chamois (a) Between every haircut (b) Every day (c) Occasionally      (d) I’m not a maid and I don’t clean my shears.
  2. I put a drop of oil on the pivot screw (a) Every day      (b) Every week (c) Occasionally (d) Am I supposed to oil my shears?
  3. I check and correct the adjustment and tension on my      shears (a) Every day (b) Every week (c) When they fold hair or cut      improperly (d) Never! I am a stylist, not a mechanic!
  4. I use the following shears for cutting hair on a      typical day (a) I am a tool junky! I use at least 4 or more shears      everyday (b) one cutting shear, one thinner plus a specialty shear (c) One      shear and thinner (d) only my one pair of shears.
  5. When I am not cutting hair, you can usually find my      shears (a) In a leather shear case, hard scissor box or leather holster      (b) Laying naked and exposed on top of my station on a towel (c) Thrown      into my drawer (d) In a plastic scissors sheath.
  6. When I slide cut or slither, I (a) Use a razor (b) A      razor and sometimes my shears (c) My shears and open and close them while      I am sliding (d) My shears in a fixed open position.
  7. Estimate the scissor cuts you perform each month (a) I      feel blessed if I do 50! (b) 51 to 100 (c) 101 to 150 heads(d) I’m      exhausted! I easily cut more than 151 clients.
  8. The condition of the hair of my average client is (a)      Freshly washed and damp (b) Clean but dry (c) Unwashed and dampened from a      spray bottle (d) I cut them like I find them!
  9. I use the following type of shears (a) A right handed      shear in my right hand (b) A left handed shear in my left hand (c) A right      handed swivel thumb shear in my left hand (d) A right handed shear in my      left hand.

Give yourself the following points:

A=0 points, B=2 points, C=3 points, D=5 points

Your score:

Under 7 points = 24 Month Service. You may be semi-retired with too many tools, and too few clients. Yes, you can get so picky over your shears that you can’t enjoy them. Loosen up. Do some slide cutting. Cut dry hair sometimes. Expand your business to include multicultural hair.

8 to 17 points = 12 Month Service. You are a stylist who loves and cares for your shears. You stay on top of your career and believe in having the best tools so you can produce the best work. Congratulate yourself! You take care of your tools but you have fun with them and use them, too. You should have your shears sharpened from 6 to 18 months.

18 to 25 points = 6 Months Service.

Your score puts you in the company of most stylist. You take care of your shears, but could probably clean and oil them more often. If you pay a little closer attention to the way your shears perform and take more steps to maintain them properly, you will find you can extend the space between sharpening and the life of your shears. Have your shears sharpened about 2 to 3 times yearly.

26 to 39 points = 3 Months Service.

You are giving your shears a hard life. Shears that take a beating in high traffic salons need a little extra TLC! See if you can treat your tools better or give them some relief by purchasing additional tools. If you are pushing the time between sharpening, you’ll find you are less tired at the end of the day and can cut faster and better if you keep your shears sharp on a regular basis.

40 points up = 6 Weeks Service.

What are you doing to your shears? You probably complain that your shears never stay sharp and there’s a reason for it! I would suggest marrying a scissor sharpener or take a little more control of the care and feeding of your shears. A little time spend cleaning, oiling and adjusting your shears can save you hundreds of dollars in sharpening and replacements.

Why would these factors affect the length of time you can go between sharpening? Here are the answers.

  1. Shears that are clear of chemicals and hair will stay      sharper longer. Debris traps in moisture which erodes steel.
  2. A shear that is oiled more frequently has less friction      at the screw, the oil blocks out moisture and there is less corrosion.
  3. A properly adjusted shear will last longer.      Loose shears will fold hair and cause you to use extra pressure. This      results in shears that do not come together properly and dull faster.
  4. The more shears you use, the less each individual tool      is used and the life expectancy increases.
  5. Storing your shears properly keeps them from getting      bumped or damaged. However, it’s even more important to keep your shears      dry. A plastic case can be worse than no storage at all if it traps in      moisture.
  6. Slide cutting requires a thin sharp edge. You will need      sharpening more when you use this technique. Alternating several tools      will spread the wear on your shears.
  7. It’s obvious, shears dull from use, not a passage of      time.
  8. Clean, wet hair causes the least stress on your shears.     
  9. Lefty’s tend to dull their shears faster, usually      because they do not hold their shears in the position they were designed      for optimum cutting.