Finding a good sharpener can be as difficult as finding the right shears. There is a dizzying array of information out there, and some of it is just plain false. You can’t sharpen shears by cutting aluminum foil. You can’t sharpen shears with a simple bench grinder or file. And you never want anyone to sharpen your shears who isn’t properly trained and educated. Many expensive shears have been permanently ruined by well-meaning people trying to sharpen shears after watching a You Tube video. The reality is that sharpening professional hair cutting shears is much more complicated and nuanced than sharpening knives or household scissors.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to find a great local sharpener. Most big urban areas have several full-time shear sharpeners. It can be much more challenging in less populated areas. Some sharpeners travel to smaller towns as part of their route and make regularly scheduled stops at salons in smaller towns. Whatever the case is, there are several ways to find good sharpeners and avoid the dreaded “guy with a grinder in his truck” who may damage your shears.
The easiest way to find a good sharpener is to ask other stylists. If there is a reliable, professional sharpener who regularly visits your salon, you are in luck! But as we all know, times change, and people come and go. If you’re not so lucky to have a good local shear sharpener, you might find yourself consulting the internet to find one. This can be a little trickier, but it may prove very fruitful. Reviews, professional websites, and convenience may lead you to a local sharpener who can give you great service. There are some things to look for on a website for a local sharpener. Is sharpening professional hair cutting shears mentioned prominently? Many sharpeners specialize, and if you don’t see shears listed in the items that they sharpen, you may want to move on. You don’t want to talk someone who specializes in sharpening saw blades into “giving it a try” with your expensive shears! If they do specifically list shears as something they sharpen, is pricing listed? There is a wide range of what people charge to sharpen beauty shears. However, a normal range is between $25 and $50 per shear. If someone is willing to do it for $10, that could be a red flag. If they want to charge $75, are you really getting a fair price?
Sometimes sharpeners will just visit salons to see if anyone needs sharpening. As with anyone selling something, it can be difficult to determine whether or not to trust the person. And just like with getting to know anyone, you don’t want to rush to judgement one way or another. There are definitely some questions that you can ask to help you decide if you want to try the sharpening service. How long have they been sharpening shears? Where did they train? What equipment do they use? Are they part of any guilds or professional sharpeners’ groups? Are they going to be sharpening in the salon or are they going to take the shears with them? Do they accept credit cards? What is the policy that they have if your shears are damaged? Do they carry repair parts (spare bumpers, finger inserts, finger rests, tension screws)? Do they sell shears? What brands?
While these simple questions may seem like you an interrogation, the answers can certainly help you determine whether to trust them with sharpening your shears. Look for clarity in the answers. Most reputable sharpeners would have no problem with these questions and will seek to put your mind at ease. After all, you are the one giving them business! Make sure that you have confidence before handing over your shears for sharpening. Listen for brand names you have heard of. Listen for competent answers that aren’t meandering or boastful. If the person is new, that’s not necessarily bad. We all have to start somewhere, but maybe you’ll want to try them with your less expensive shears first. Sometimes people are traveling through an area and will bring sharpening equipment. Some of those people are good sharpeners, and some of them may not be. But any reputable shear sharpening professional should be willing to spend a few minutes talking to you while you make your decision. If they seem overly anxious and hurried to separate you from your money, beware! Ultimately, you will have to trust somebody to sharpen your shears. It can be a long, dependable relationship and it’s important to find the right person.
Many scissor manufacturers and shear distributors offer mail-in shear sharpening as a service in addition to sales. This can be a reliable way to get your shears sharpened. If a sharpener has gone through the process of setting this up, there’s a good chance that they are professional and doing good work. The downside is that there are shipping costs and wait times while the shears travel back and forth. They can also be more at risk for damage if you don’t pack them carefully when you send them out. However, a few simple steps and having a back-up shear or two can easily help you overcome these drawbacks. And once you are used to a system, it may end up becoming a lot easier than waiting for someone to show up in person. Some mail in sharpening services offer free return shipping, or you can print a label from their website.
No matter how you find your shear sharpening professional, don’t procrastinate. Some shears stay sharp longer than others, but they all need regular service. Don’t let the quality of your work as a hair stylist suffer because it seems overwhelming to find a good sharpener.
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