Ryan Macpherson interview picture

My interview with a Blade Sharpener.

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By Nicola Kipling

They’re one of our most important pieces of equipment and imperative to our trade. We use them everyday and they sure take a battering in our salons. But how many of us know how to care for our blades correctly? Enough is enough! I want NEED to know how to care for my blades- PROPERLY. sharpener

I sat down (virtually via Zoom) with Whippet Media sponsor, accomplished engineer, sharpener extraordinaire and owner of Alpha Blade Sharpening- Ryan Macpherson. We talked about how, why and what we can use to make blade care part of a salon’s routine. 

What’s the worst thing groomers do to their blades or that you see as a sharpener?

“Poor maintenance all the way. Equipment is poorly maintained and pushed to it’s limits, I suspect it’s because they just don’t know what to do or the importance of blade care.” 

What causes problems for sharpeners?

“Our biggest headaches are when equipment goes back and fourth. We might send blades back and then a groomer puts them on clippers that aren’t running right and need servicing so they drag, then we get them back to test again- it can become quite stressful and time consuming!” 

Why do you think groomers don’t care for their blades as well as they should?sharpener

“I believe its lack of knowledge, its not something that is widely taught within training schools and then they don’t realise how important it is or if they do they don’t know what to actually do. Don’t get me wrong, I have some customers who look after their blades really well and it shows when we get them in. But also, these customers don’t need to send me their equipment as much as it lasts longer.” 

What are your top 3 reasons why we should keep our blades in good condition?

“Saves you money, a better quality groom, saves your expensive clippers. The better they are maintained, the more money the groomer will save on sharpening and replacing blades. Also, they will cut better and leave a better finish. By keeping your blades in good condition, it will help preserve the life of expensive clippers and their parts.”

We want quick, easy, effective and cost effective. We want it all! Is it possible?

What’s a quick, easy and cost effective way to clean blades between dogs?

“A decent blade wash spray that will clean and prevent the spread of bacteria between dogs. Preferably without water in- the water will rust your blades and non-aerosol is safer to the groomer.”

I currently use a cooling and disinfectant spray- is this no good then? sharpener

“Its not that it’s no good, but its water based so this will leave a residue on the blades. Have you seen the red residue on the backs of blades and on the blade drive? That’s the residue from these types of sprays burning off when the blades get hot. This then reduces the life of your blade and the blade drive on your clipper. 

What else will deteriorate our blades quickly? 

“Lack of cleaning, poor cleaning methods and humidity- which is obviously hard to control in a grooming salon.” 

How should we store our blades when closed or not in use?

“Firstly, make sure they are clean. There is no point leaving dirty blades overnight to then use the next day. Secondly, eliminate humidity. Some groomers like to put their blades into small bags or boxes, some lay greaseproof paper over them at night, others use the little silicone bags inside with their blades- you know the type that come in a shoe box or something. Blades are made of steel and steel’s worst enemy is water so it’s important to keep them dry when you’re not using them.” 

Ok, so we now know we need a good blade wash spray to use between dogs, but what should we do each night? sharpener

“It needs to be quick yet effective. We know by the end of a busy day groomers just want to get home, but you should be blasting out your clippers and blades that have been used; this will remove the excess dirt and hair. Make sure they’ve all been well cleaned and oiled and then store correctly. You should aim to deep clean your blades twice a week.” 

You know what my next question is going to be, how do we deep clean the blades? 

“Blast out, then you need to actually get to the bits you don’t see. You need to move the blade cutter across and brush out the hair and dander. I sell the Mac which is piece of equipment that exposes the cutting edges, easily and safely without the chance of sliding the cutter off the back rail. By moving the cutting edge across you can access the most important parts of the blades. I’ve also got a Mac wide blade version coming out soon- watch this space. 

Then you need to wash your blades with a good blade wash that is antibacterial and doesn’t contain water such as alcohol. You don’t need to put the whole blade in, its just the teeth that need to be dipped in. You should be able to get a good few months out of the blade wash, it certainly shouldn’t be a use once product. 

Dry them off, oil and store correctly. 

Can we use the ultrasonic UV machines? Sharpener

“Absolutely, but they will only work if the equipment has already been cleaned. They won’t clean the equipment for you.”

How do we oil? Where? How often? 

“So officially you should be oiling every 10 minutes! But that’s not always practical in a busy grooming salon so definitely between use. Once you’ve finished using a blade, oil it and go on to use another and leave the blade to cool down. 

You don’t need to use a lot, just 2-3 drops at a time and you should oil the parts of the blades that move. This means the plastic guide, the back rail and each side of the socket. Nothing needs to go on the actual teeth and not on the side of the blade that touches the dog- the parts that move are all on the inside. 

Should we also be oiling our scissors then?

“Yes, oil the pivot point where the pivot pin is and also the exposed meeting point.”

Finally, 5 must haves for caring for our blades?

  1. “A brush to clean blades and clippers 
  2. A brass brush- brass is softer than steel so won’t damage your blades but strong enough to get rid of that ‘white rubbish’ that gets stuck between blade and comb attachment teeth. 
  3. A good blade cleaner
  4. Oil
  5. The Mac of course!”

Right well that’s me off to completely over haul my blade care routine! It all makes sense… when a professional points out the obvious! 

The Mac and all of Alpha’s blade cleaning equipment can be found on Ryan’s website, there’s even a handy premade package with all the ultimate blade care products you will need.  

Ryan is in the NAKED GROOMING CALENDAR! Pick it up from our shop HERE