A Guide to Snap-on clipper blades and how to care for them

A Guide to Snap-on clipper blades and how to care for them

A Guide to Snap-on clipper blades and how to care for them

This is the type used by professional Dog Groomers and is beginning to be seen in horse and cattle clipping circles. Generally this type of blade is fitted to the smaller clippers - either mains or cordless. In a clipper fitted with this type of blade, the clipper head is at an angle of around 45 degrees to the body. This is found by many to be a very acceptable way of clipping with many advantages over the traditional style parallel head. Laube however produce a range of shears (parallel head) which accept all the snap-on style blades and comes in corded or cordless versions, with the cordless version having a mains option.

The blade-set comprises of the lower comb and the upper cutter. The two parts of the blade are held in place by a tension spring with a socket, which connects to a hinge on the clipper or shear. The spring is factory-set to the correct tension and, to ease the smooth running of the cutter, the head of the spring is capped with a 'nylon' sleeve. The tension spring is fixed down to the bottom blade/comb by two screws, which should not be loosened.

The principle advantage of this type of blade for the equestrian and bovine user is that they eliminate the need to screw-on and align the comb with the cutter and also remove the need of constantly tensioning blades whilst clipping. 'Snap-on' or detachable type blades are not designed to be taken apart, nor is it recommended, as once unscrewed you end up with a collection of parts which initially you may find a little difficult to re-assemble! Whilst it may be necessary to remove the cutter blade to clean both blades and remove trapped hairs, it is not necessary to take the whole blade set apart!

There are two sizes of detachable blades, the wide blade (the type regularly fitted to clippers used for full body horse clipping) and the narrow blade (the traditional style of blade used for cat and dog grooming, as well as a number of veterinary tasks).

Even perfectly sharp blades can refuse to cut!

Three main things can cause this:

    Dirty blades
    Incorrect blade spring tension
    Improper adjustment of the blade-set

Dirty Blades

To deal with this, let's take a blade-set apart again. Look at the underside of both blades. The big blade (referred to as the comb) and the small blade (referred to as the cutter) have raised portions at the teeth and heel of both blades. The raised portions are where both blades come into contact with one another when the set is reassembled. The raised portions are actually bearings and like the bearings in your car, they must stay clean and lubricated.

If the blade is 'snagging' after cutting a few inches, rust is the number one culprit. Rust can become a problem in less than 30 minutes in a moist atmosphere. The cause can be due to cutting wet hair. The only cure for this is prevention. If the blades are rusty, they must be re-sharpened to remove the rust. If you cut wet hair, cleaning and lubricating during and after each grooming is essential to prevent rust.

It should be noted, that clipper grease supplied by some manufacturers is for lubricating the drive assemblies NOT TO BE USED FOR BLADE LUBRICATION, this will form a varnish and could cause damage to clipper and blades.

Oily residue and varnish can also cause sharp blades to cut poorly. The oily residue comes from grooming an unwashed animal. The natural lanolin in the animal’s coat can collect on the blades, building-up on the bearings and causing the blades to separate ever so slightly. Small hair clippings will get trapped between the blades. The heat from the blades will build up to turn this mess into varnish. It will continue to build up enough to prevent the blades from cutting. The solution to this is to clean the blades several times or as much as needed when grooming. It is extremely important to remember this. If these small hairs and body oil remain there, they will eventually melt and turn to a kind of varnish, which will slow down the blade action, even completely seize it up. This could even burn-out your clipper. A build-up of this varnish will separate the blades and more hair will become trapped, causing perfectly sharp blades to not cut and just 'munch up' and snag on the coat.

Washing the blades while grooming is very important to the maintenance of your blades, and will keep your blades cool and speed-up the grooming process. Don't forget to put a small drop of oil on both bearings (raised portion between blades) of the blades at the end of the day. You do this by pushing the small blade nearly half way to the side and oiling then doing the same to the other side.
Spring Tension

The blade springs are necessary to keep the proper tension of the two blades between one another in order to slice even the smallest hair. Spring tension is set at the factory on new blades. The proper tension on the spring is set on blades that have never been sharpened. As the blades get sharpened over a period of time, the spring tension becomes less and less due to the metal being ground away during the process of sharpening. At some time after several sharpenings, the spring tension will become so weak that hair will get between the blades and not be cut. This will cause the blades to 'bog down'. Setting the spring tension is a very precise operation and can't be done by just anyone. The spring has two legs that have to be set just alike. You need to know how much to set them which only comes with experience and knowing just how much pressure to use.

Incorrect blade set

Almost all professional blades (Oster, Andis, Laube, Conair, Thrive and Wahl) are interchangeable. They will state on the package or in the catalogue, that they are 'A5' or 'Snap-on' type blades. However, you have to be VERY careful of this: If the blade-set is adjusted to work well on the Andis, the blade-set may not work well on another clipper without adjusting it to fit properly. This is a common experience, and the blame usually falls on the clipper, when the problem really is due to improper adjustment of the blades. You should have on-hand enough blade-sets to use individually on each clipper. You should mark the blades you are using on the Andis with one colour of nail polish and the blade you are using on the Laube with another colour. Adjust the blades to fit and work well with each clipper, then don't mis-match them.