How to sharpen clipper blades on this wheel
After your wheel has been resurfaced by Ace Sharpening & Co the best way to sharpen blades on your new wheel is to start by placing the cutter on the outside of the wheel next to the outer rim (where the grit lasts the longest) and then move across the face of the wheel to 2” on the “outside” (Side closer to the outer rim) of the sweet spot, (marked on the wheel) then go back and forth on the left side of the sweet spot to do the rest of your metal removal. Don’t go all the way next to the hub area as the taper does get too steep there, instead after you get started, move the cutter back and forth from the outer rim to about 2” from the sweet spot and then back to the outer rim. Staying on the outside of the sweet spot will insure that your blades will not require too much spring tension to cut correctly. The deeper the hollow the more spring tension you will need to get the blade to cut.
The dead center of the sweet spot is marked by a groove on the face of your wheel. The sweet spot is a total 4” wide, (2” on each side of the dead center of the sweet spot) so to finish up sharpening a cutter after you have removed enough metal, center the cutter over the sweet spot (all without lifting the cutter from start to finish) and move it back and forth (over the sweet spot) about 1” each way several times, then move directly centered over the sweet spot and do the same, but only moving back and forth ¼” each way, then stop centered on the sweet spot for a second or two and check your parallel alignment with the centerline of the wheel, and also make sure you have a full spark pattern then lift the cutter straight up and the cutter should be perfect!
The reason I moved the sweet spot closer to the hub area is so you won’t sharpen too much on the inside area of the sweet spot where the hollow gets too steep. Again, too much hollow equals too much spring tension required to get your blades to cut.
Again the dead center of the 4” wide sweet spot is marked by a groove on the face of your wheel. The sweet spot is where you will get the factory hollow of 57 microns so if you do your finish sharpening there, (directly over the sweet spot,) your blades will always receive a factory perfect hollow of 57 microns.
This wheel is fully broken in and tested for a perfect pattern. This wheel is ready to sharpen clipper blades so no further breaking in of the wheel is necessary, but don’t take this to mean you don’t need to put grit on this wheel. Before sharpening always apply grit and oil to the wheel before you start. This wheel was broken in using 180 grit and I recommend that you continue to use 180 grit to sharpen all of your A-5 clipper blades except for #40 and #50 blades you can use 220 grit if you want, but personally I use 180 for all of my A-5 clipper blades, and they all work like they are supposed to. Always make sure you have rolling grit on your wheel. Never attempt to sharpen a blade unless you can feel (using your finger to feel it roll) rolling grit on your wheel. Rolling grit is what protects your wheel from wearing out prematurely. If you have any questions please call me on my cell at: 816-510-8744.
Logic of this configuration
In addition to ensuring that you don’t put too much hollow in your cutters, placing the sweet spot closer to the center of the wheel instead of near the outer rim will also prolong the life of your wheel by taking most of the pressure off the sweet spot. What I mean by this is that you will be removing the bulk of the metal from your cutter (1 ½ to 2 thousandths) on the left side of the sweet spot toward the outer edge of the wheel instead of directly on or across the sweet spot.
With the sweet spot near to the center of the wheel the only time you will be sharpening on the sweet spot is when you are doing your finish sharpening as described on the other page. This means by the time your wheel is worn out and ready for re-surfacing, you will have sharpened many more cutters than ever before, because you will have spent much less time sharpening on the sweet spot and not wearing it out, and because you know exactly where the sweet spot is located, your blades will come out sharper with exactly the right amount of hollow necessary for less spring tension, and less wear on the sweet spot.
I know this piece of advice is not for everyone meaning “successful sharpeners” who may already be doing this. I am posting it for those who may be struggling a bit getting good results on their clipper blade sharpening so here goes;
When sharpening I find it easier to watch the spark pattern than trying to place a certain amount of pressure on the cutter and magnet. (Using a scale to check your downward pressure) Instead look for a full spark pattern across the tips of the cutter. If the pattern is weak apply more pressure till it is strong and keep it that way. Do not use your muscles in any part of your body to apply pressure as this will interfere with the sharpening process. Instead do as Bruce Lee said” Be like water” relax every muscle in your body including in your hands, and arms. Stay in control but relax every muscle. Concentrate on “feeling” the grit rolling under the cutter (yes you can feel it rolling) there are two ways to get a strong spark pattern. The first way and also the wrong way is to press so hard on the cutter it has no choice but to produce a strong spark pattern (don’t do it!) Instead relax and let the cutter melt into your wheel letting the dead weight of your whole arm and torso control the spark pattern. This action removes tension on the cutter allowing it to relax onto the surface of the wheel allowing the cutter to lay perfectly flat and under no stress whatsoever. At this point instead of using muscle to produce a strong spark pattern use just a little more dead weight and you will have a strong (stress-less) spark pattern while at the same time using less downward pressure, I can't say it enough; feel the grit rolling under your cutter and on the face of the wheel, watch your spark pattern and keep it full and strong without pressing too hard and only using dead body weight. By letting the grit do the work you will produce just as strong of a spark pattern and doing it without pressing too hard with your muscles. Try it, it works! Try doing the same method of relaxing when sharpening your scissors and you will see a significant improvement in how your work turns out and also how you feel at the end of the day. Sharpening need not be stressful, but it takes a little determination and concentration (to stay relaxed) on your part to make it that way. After your blades are sharpened you may find that some will not cut? Why? The number one reason a clipper blade will not cut is not because it is not sharp, but rather because there is not enough spring tension, so if it will not cut increase the spring tension. NOTE: A word about spring tension, some of the cutters you sharpen will have a very sharp edge on each end of the Teflon groove. This sharp edge will cut into the Teflon guide as you try to measure the spring tension on a scale. I use a cheap chainsaw wheel 1/8" wide from Harbor Freight on a small grinder to round this sharp edge over. Once this step is done it lasts for the life of the cutter and will never again be the cause of a false reading on your spring tension scale. Once you are certain your scale is giving you a correct reading and the blade still will not cut, try putting in a new spring, even if the spring looks OK this will surprisingly fix the problem more times than you might think, if the blade still will not cut try using a different cutter. I have found especially on Butter cut and Furzone blades that the cutter may be case hardened, so once it has been sharpened a time or two the blade will not cut no matter how many times it is sharpened it will not cut until you install a different cutter. The cutter does not have to be new to fix this problem. If none of this works then resharpen both the cutter and the comb and if you did not remove enough metal to get rid of all the damage (1 1/2 thousandths to 2 thousandths metal) then the blade should cut, but if it doesn't try putting on a new (or used ceramic cutter) and this will usually work 100% of the time. I have reached this point a couple of times, but normally the blade is cutting like butter long before I reach this last step.
I would also like to point out; on this wheel you should be able to sharpen the adjustable lever barber blades at the ___” diameter of the wheel, which will also sharpen some of the large animal blades as well, as in, large horse blades. Sorry, Sheep blades require a totally different taper that is not found on this particular wheel. The Sheep taper also works even better on all the other large animal blades as well. I wish I could put every taper on one wheel, but unfortunately it is not possible.
With all that said there is one more thing that will make your blades even sharper, and that is this; “always finish sharpen with a light hand, and let the grit do the work.” Too much downward pressure during finish sharpening will result in blades that do not cut as well as they would have if less pressure had been used. For metal removal use more downward pressure, but when doing your finish sharpening only use enough downward pressure to let the grit do the work and still get a good spark pattern.
Using muscle to press the cutter down will result in tension that will transfer to the cutter and cause either a new face to be ground or at the least a cutter that is not ground to a perfect profile of your sweet spot taper. If the latter is achieved you will not be able to see it when you look at the grind lines, the grind lines will look just fine to the eye, but the blades will not cut as well as they would have if you had used a lighter touch for your finish sharpening on the sweet spot and a totally relaxed body.
Again, here is how to make it happen. Instead of trying to put say 3 pounds of downward pressure on a cutter or a comb, instead look at the spark pattern. There are two ways of getting a good spark pattern the first and least desirable is to use muscle to get lots of sparks. (This does not work) The way to get a good spark pattern while sharpening is to use the dead weight of your arm and if that is not enough then transfer more dead weight from your torso to your arm all without using muscle. Then watch the spark pattern, when it is a good strong even pattern all across the tips of the cutter then use as much pressure you feel is necessary to remove the damaged metal, then after you are done doing your metal removal, then lighten up on the dead weight and use as little weight to still get the same spark pattern. Yes, this works. Use as little dead weight pressure to get a good even spark pattern all across the tips of the cutter or comb. Do this when you are ready to do your finish sharpening on the sweet spot and you will find that not only do your normal A-5 blades cut better, but now all your Wahl Competition blades and your cat blades cut normal as well. The best part is now the grit stays on the wheel twice as long on the sweet spot so you get more blades sharpened per charge and your sweet spot will also last longer before it will need to be re surfaced. It really does not matter if the outer edge area of your wheel wears out first because when you do your final finish sharpening on the sweet spot the sweet spot will correct any problems the outer area may have caused and the hollow will be factory perfect.
Signs of too much downward pressure: Blades get too hot, the grit does not stay on the wheel very long so very few blades get sharpened per charge, and too much spring tension is required to get the blades to cut. Miss sharpened blades always require more spring tension to cut so get a good spark pattern, use a light touch, and ” let the grit do the work when doing your finish sharpening, but don’t go too light, you should always feel good contact with the clipper wheel. ”
A note about lard oil and grit; once the grit is rubbed into the wheel it should feel dry to the touch. If it is too wet the grit will not stay on the wheel very long. Once the grit is on the wheel correctly and dry to the touch, then the next thing is to always keep an eye out to make sure you always have rolling grit under your blades if you don’t have rolling grit under your blades then do not sharpen on the wheel. Rolling grit is your only protection between the super hard metal in the cutters and the relatively soft aluminum of your clipper wheel. If you continue to sharpen with no rolling grit between your cutters and your wheel, you will still get good blades, but you will also cause your clipper wheel to fail prematurely because when the hard metal of your cutter touches the soft aluminum of your clipper wheel the hard cutter will always win, and your soft aluminum clipper wheel will always lose, but the biggest loser in this scenario will be you, so always make sure you have rolling grit on your clipper wheel when sharpening any clipper blade.
Ace Sharpening & Co