By: Shannon Tupes, Andis Global Educator
Clipper blades play an integral part in each workday for the professional pet stylist. Deciding which blade to use in each situation depends on multiple factors: the type of coat; the condition of the coat; and the type of trim the client has requested for their dog. It is also helpful to first evaluate the bone and muscle structure of the dog to determine whether there are structural faults that need to be corrected by creating the appearance of more angulation in the cut of the coat. Choosing the right blade and attachment comb(s) for each job is also essential to meeting the client’s expectations and making sure every dog looks their best.
Ceramic vs. Steel Cutting Blades
Many professional groomers invest in ceramic and steel blades to ensure they have the right tools for all coat types. Both types of blades offer specific advantages. Ceramic blades stay sharper longer and do not rust. They also stay up to 75 percent cooler during use than steel blades. (A cooler cutting blade is especially helpful on grooms that take more time, such as when grooming larger dogs.) Steel blades are generally less expensive, more durable and easier to maintain, overall. In the end, most groomers develop a personal preference for one type or the other.
Clipper blades are available in a variety of different lengths and tooth patterns to achieve different trim styles and coat lengths. They are differentiated by blade numbers; blades with higher numbers actually cut the coat shorter, and blades with lower numbers leave the coat longer. For example, a #10 blade clips the coat shorter (to 1/16 of an inch); whereas, a #4 blade leaves the coat longer at 3/8 of an inch. A wide range of available clipper blades makes coat lengths from 1/125 of an inch to ¾ of an inch achievable: The Andis #50SS, used mainly by master groomers and veterinarians, clips the coat to 1/125 of an inch in length. The Andis UltraEdge HT ¾-inch detachable blade leaves the coat at a length of ¾ of an inch, providing the longest blade cut available. HT stands for high taper, which means the blade is ideal for blending different lengths of coat and leaves the coat longer than a standard blade.
Attachment combs can only be used on detachable blade clippers with #10, #15 or #30 blades (unless otherwise specified on the product package). Andis offers several attachment comb options, like the stainless steel, spring-loaded sets, which make it easy to add that “I just stepped out of the show ring” look to your everyday salon styles. These combs glide through a properly prepped coat and give a beautiful finish. Using attachment combs helps ensure that you groom safely—the risk of clipper burn is greatly decreased when you use combs—and achieve a smooth and even finish in less time than you would using a blade and shears for finish styling.
Clipping With or Against the Grain
Traditionally, groomers clip with the grain of the coat. Clipping against the grain leaves the coat up to two blade lengths shorter than clipping with the grain. However, clipping against the grain can be effective at eliminating clipper track marks. Additionally, if you want to show off angulation, create the look of greater angulation, or just add some pizzazz to a trim, clipping against the grain in key areas is a quick and easy way to do so. Whether you are clipping with or against the grain, always follow the natural lay of the coat—clip exactly with or exactly against the growth of the coat.
Maintaining Your Blades
Properly cleaning and lubricating your blades prolongs the life of your blades and clipper and keeps your blades cutting smoothly. To clean your blades, first remove any debris with a soft nylon bristle brush. Next, pour a capful of Andis Blade Care Plus into a shallow bowl, and with your clipper running, dip just the teeth of the blade into the solution for 8 to 10 seconds. Then, wipe with a clean cloth. This de-gunks the blade and helps keep it lubricated, disinfected, deodorized and rust-free. After cleaning, it is important to oil your blades. To optimize performance, use the five-point oiling system: With your clipper blade pointing down, apply three drops of Andis Clipper Blade Oil across the blade’s teeth and one drop at each back rail; let the clipper run for 10 seconds to help distribute oil throughout the blade. Wipe away any excess with a clean cloth. Cleaning and oiling your blades regularly extends the life of your blades. When a blade starts to drag and tug at the coat, it is time to call Andis, and send your blades in to be sharpened.
For more information, visit andis.com today.