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Corrugation on Beauty Shears

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Many German and German-style shears have small teeth on one of the cutting blades. This feature is called a corrugated blade, but why is it there?

German-style shears are generally designed and built with a blunter (less acute) edge angle. While this serves to give them better durability so you can go longer between sharpening than you would with shears made with a sharper (more acute) edge angle, this durability comes at a cost.

Since the blunter edge angle has a more difficult time cutting into the hair follicle, it is also more prone to pushing the hair. To prevent this pushing, shear manufacturers can sharpen small V-shaped teeth into one of the shear's cutting blades (the "corrugation"). The hair is then trapped between the teeth of the corrugation, which prevents the hair from pushing towards the shear's tips.

The professionals at Edgewise have both the equipment and the experience to both sharpen salon shears with a corrugated edge, and to re-establish the corrugated edge on salon shears, which have had it removed (usually by sharpeners, who are either unable to perform this technique, or who are unaware of the importance of the corrugation).

Contact Edgewise today (http://www.edgewisellc.com/sharpening.html) to have your beauty shears professionally reconditioned. Our service is guaranteed, and we make every effort to have your shears on their way back to you within 24 hours.

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How to Repair Damaged Salon Shears

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At this time of year, damaging your shears can completely put you out of business until you're able to get them sharpened, possibly costing you thousands of dollars. For this reason, we at Edgewise always recommend that stylists have AT LEAST one pair of quality shears as a backup. For this reason we sell quality shears from Keiki, Jonetsu, and Yasaka.

Also, Edgewise is the official distributor of Hikari shears in Chicago and across the Chicagoland area - contact us at 773.844.3387 to try out our full line of demo shears right in your salon!

However, sometimes accidents happen, and your shears get damaged without a backup. What should you do?

1) If they're Hikari shears, contact HKR at 800.255.2705 for information on having your Hikari's sharpened

2) For all other brands of salon shears, contact the professionals at Edgewise to either schedule an in-salon sharpening appointment (773.844.3387), or to arrange to mail in your shears to have them professionally reconditioned (http://www.edgewisellc.com/sharpening.html).

If your shears get damaged, as important as what to do is, what NOT to do:

1) Do NOT try to sharpen your shears yourself

2) Do NOT give your shears to a sharpener, who doesn't come highly recommended by a stylist or salon you trust

3) Do NOT give your shears to a sharpener who usually sharpens tools OTHER THAN salon shears (e.g., lawnmower blades, axes, knives, medical/surgical/dental tools, etc.)

If you've damaged your shears, and aren't sure what you should do, contact the professionals at Edgewise at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 773.844.3387. We'll do everything we can to help.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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From our family to yours, no matter where you are or who you're with, we hope your Thanksgiving holiday is a warm, peaceful, and joyous one!

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Foiling Combs

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Edgewise offers several different foiling combs:

  1. The YS Park #102 tail comb, has a 4" long tail (9" overall length), is heat-resistant to 428 degrees F (220 deg. C), has measuring guide holes spaced every centimeter down the spine, and has the standard Park sectioning/parting first tooth. Additionally, the polished teeth eliminate snagging, and significantly reduce follicle damage caused by rougher-toothed, less-professional-grade combs. Made in Japan. (Available in Camel, Carbon/black, Green, Pink, Purple, Red, and White).
  2. The YS Park #112 tail comb. Identical to the Park #102 comb, but has much tighter-spaced teeth, providing better tension while combing. (Available in Camel, Carbon/black, Green, Pink, Red, and White

  1. The Boyd standard-length #257 carbon tail comb, has a 3.5" tail (8.5" overall length) has a similar heat-resistance to the Park #102, but is made of lightweight carbon. These combs are static free, strong, and glide effortlessly through the hair. Made in Japan. (Available in black).
  2. Identical to the Boyd #257 Carbon comb, except with an inch-longer (4.5") tail (overall length 9.5"). Made in Japan (Available in black).

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Sharpening Appointments

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I was surprised to see that we're less than 3 weeks out from Thanksgiving....and fewer than 7 weeks away from Christmas!! 

My schedule's filling up quickly - just a reminder to the stylists out there to be sure to get your shears sharpened soon to be ready for your holiday rush.

Call or text me at (773)844-3387, or message me here or on my personal FB page to book today.

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Holiday Gift Ideas

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Looking for the perfect gift? Splurge on a traditional handmade English cushion brush from Mason Pearson! 100% real boar bristles mixed with nylon pins is gentle to the hair and scalp, and the soft pneumatic cushion conforms to the head's contour. 

Mason brushes are available in 4 sizes - Popular (XL), Junior (L), Handy (M), and Pocket (S), and a nylon cleaning brush is included. Contact us today for pricing and orders, as these brushes often take a while to get in.

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YS Park #339 Combs in Blueberry

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Just got a few of the YS Park #339 combs in this new blueberry color, and they're pretty cool. 

Like the other 339's, it has a shortened first tooth for parting, strong durable teeth, and is heat resistant to 220 C (428 F). Additionally, the holes down the spine of this 7.1 inch comb are spaced every 1 cm to help with measuring. 

Many of our stylists find this to be their favorite all-around small-sized cutting comb, and its polished teeth provide good tension without unwanted snagging of the hair.

In addition to this cool new blue color, the comb also comes in carbon, gray, white, red, green, pink, purple, and camel (yellow)!

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Solo Salon

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Enjoyed another long visit with the stylists at Solo Salon (http://www.solo-salon.com/) in Chicago's West Loop on Friday.

Solo, run by owners Kristine and Michael Singer, is a beautiful full-service salon, located at 1065 Madison Street, just a stone's throw from the United Center - home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks.

In addition to shear sharpening, stylists picked up much-needed tools from Edgewise, including Feather's unguarded Plier Razor blades, YS Park's #335 8.5" cutting comb (in lots of fun colors), and some YS Park and Boyd tail combs.

Thanks for the hospitality, and I'll be looking forward to seeing you guys again soon!

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New Barber Shop in Batavia, IL

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Just out at Beardsgaard Barbers (http://www.beardsgaardbarbers.com/about-us/) on South Batavia Ave. in Batavia this week. Congratulations to Natalie, Tyler, and Colin on a beautiful shop in the W. burbs!! 

Really enjoyed the visit, and looking forward to seeing you for many years to come! Thanks, too for suggesting the Hudson Made Workers' Soap - smells great, and working wonders on my grubby hands!
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Finger Ring Inserts

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Another aspect of a stylist's shears, which should be sized correctly are the finger rings. When a shear is made, the manufacturer selects a size for the finger rings - or, often, a different size for each finger ring. Generally speaking, since the manufacturer wants to sell as many shears as possible, they will select a finger ring size which is too large for most stylists, and then enclose separate plastic or rubber finger ring inserts with the new shears to make the rings smaller.

For the stylist to get the right "fit" with their shears, these finger ring inserts should: 

1. Fit snugly inside the shear's finger rings so they do not pop out when the stylist pulls their fingers out of the rings.

2. Allow the stylist to comfortably slide their finger into and out of the ring comfortably

3. Not fit so tightly on the finger that the insert binds against the skin

These finger ring inserts should be enclosed with your new shears. If the inserts provided to not allow the stylist to achieve the correct sizing, the manufacturer should be able to provide you with additional ring inserts. Often your shear sharpening service may also have ring inserts available for sale, or a quick Google search (https://www.google.com/search?q=finger+ring+inserts+for+shears&oq=finger+ring+insert&aqs=chrome.2.69i57j0l4.8956j0j4&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8) leads you to an almost infinite selection of inserts.

For the past decade, Edgewise has provided the finest shear sharpening service to the salon industry's top salons and stylists. Find out why today - http://www.edgewisellc.com/sharpening.html.

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Are There Shears You Do Not Recommend?

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At Edgewise sharpening, we've worked on thousands upon thousands of professional stylist shears over the past decade. Most of the shears we see are pretty run-of-the-mill from a manufacturing- and metal-standpoint. Some, however, because of ill-though-through design or poor manufacturing, are ones which we recommend stylists avoid.

1) Foremost among the shears we tell stylists to avoid are shears with a specially-designed adjustment/tensioning system (as opposed to a standard finger adjustment knob, or screw-type adjuster). Included in this group are nearly all shears made by Tondeo, Jaguar, and Rusk (the Alpha's, Beta's, and Gamma's, with the screw-adjust on both sides of the shear). Our experience has been that stylists, who own shears from these manufacturers struggle to keep their shears properly adjusted, and so have more frequent issues with how their shears cut. The adjustment tool gets lost, it isn't available when its needed, or it is too finicky to get the tension right. Last year, a Rusk salesperson at the ABS show in Chicago even went so far as to tell us that stylists are not qualified to adjust their shears, and that the stylist needs to send their shears back to the manufacturer for adjustment. Utter crap. The screw- and finger-adjustment knobs are well-established, and work quickly, easily, and elegantly. Other adjustment systems are definitely a lot of trouble, and provide no discernible advantage to the stylist.

2) Second in the list of shear with flawed design are curved shears. This fad seems to pretty much have run its course (thankfully), but there are still dog grooming and stylist shears which have been bent to "form to the shape of the head", (allegedly) allowing the stylist to perform a more precise cut (here's an example sold by Washi: http://www.washiscissor.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=Washi&Product_Code=CC+60&Category_Code=perf). Our concern with these shears is not that they don't allow the stylist to perform a better cut, but it is how the stylist is going to have the curved shear serviced once the shear starts to dull. Many sharpeners claim that they're able to sharpen shears like these, but we have yet to see a sharpener successfully deliver on this claim. Edgewise does not sharpen curved shears.

3) Last in the list of shears-to-avoid, are shears with holes drilled in the blade (B.W. Boyd's Alu-Coba is an example: http://www.bwboydshears.com/bw/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=20_1&products_id=152). Holes are drilled in the shears to remove weight from the blade (and to look cool?). The problem is that these holes also dramatically weaken the structure of the blade, and give the shear a much shorter lifespan. Since any sharpening process removes some amount of metal, the edge of where the hole in the blade starts, is where the shear can no longer be sharpened, and this point will be reached much, sooner than on a shear with no holes drilled in the blade.

Edgewise sells a wide selection of high-quality, professional stylist shears from companies such as Hikari, Keiki, and Jonetsu. Our extensive experience selling and servicing high-quality stylists' shears* makes us a trusted source to the top salons and stylists in Chicago, and across the country. Contact us (http://www.edgewisellc.com/sharpening.html) today to find out why Edgewise is "The Salon Industry's Premier Sharpening Service(R)"!


(*Hikari shears may only be sharpened and serviced by Hikari's trained professionals at HKR. They can be reached at 800-445-2747. Edgewise does not sharpen Hikari shears.)

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Left- vs. Right-Handed Shears

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When working at trade shows, and by looking through websites ((http://customsharpening.com/converting-a-rusk-shear-with-a-tension-plate-from-a-right-hand-to-a-left/), a stylist can hear and read frequently that turning a right-handed shear into a left-handed shear is as simple as reversing a screw set. This post hopes to explain the difference between right- and left-handed shears, and whether changes like this are recommended. [Note: to see a picture of each, compare the picture of a (righty) Hikari #572 Blaze, http://www.hikariscissors.com/572.html, with a (true lefty) Hikari L604, http://www.hikariscissors.com/604.html.]

Firstly, whether a shear is right- or left-handed, when the shear is held in the correct hand, the natural weight of your hand will have you pushing gently with your thumb into the thumb ring of the shear and pulling gently with your index finger on the top (finger) ring. Whether you're holding a right-handed shear in your right hand or a (true) left-handed shear in your left hand, this gentle thumb and finger pressure will pull the cutting section of the blades into tighter contact with one another.

If, however, you switch the shear to your other hand the gentle pushing of your thumb and pulling of your finger will actually separate the two cutting blades as you close them. If you're a lefty who's ever borrowed a righty's shear or a righty who's borrowed a lefty's shear, and found that the shears are difficult to use and frequently fold the hair, this is why - your hands are producing the opposite finger weighting necessary for the shears to function correctly.

Now as many lefty stylists have found, by reversing the pressure being applied by their fingers (that is, pulling with their thumb and pushing with their index finger), they can get right-handed shears to function better. An issue that still exists for these stylists, however, is that when they hold a right-handed pair of shears in their left hand, the adjustment knob can get in the way of their comb, and can drag through the hair. For these stylists ONLY, reversing the screw set is a good option.

For lefty stylists, who are being told at a trade show, or at their beauty supply store, that reversing the screw set magically converts a right-handed shear into a left-handed one, are simply not being told the truth. A right-handed shear with the screw set reversed is exactly that - a right-handed shear, with a reversed screw set. The shears will still bend and fold hair just like a regular right-handed shear would - the screw set is just now facing your palm instead of facing away from it.

At Edgewise, we try to provide our stylists with exactly the professional tools they want and need. If a salesperson is telling you something about they shears they're looking to sell you that doesn't make sense or you don't understand, or even if you just have general questions about your shears, drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , and we'll get back to you as soon as possible with an answer.

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Proper Shear Care

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In order to keep your shears in top operating condition, you should take the following steps:

  1. Cleaning. Open your shears so they are in the shape of an 'X'. Place a few drops of oil on the inner face of the shear blades. Open and close the blades a dozen or so times. As you open and close the shear blades, you will see small pieces of hair, product, and dirt float out from between the blades. Take a dry towel and wipe the oil, dirt, hair, and product off the blades. This will serve both to clean the blades, and to coat the blades in a light sheen of oil, to better protect them from chemicals, which might land on the blades and damage them. Repeat this at the end of each day.
  2. Oiling. Lubricating the shears will help them to function smoothly and easily. For shears with a screw holding them together, there is usually a teflon (or other material) washer between the head of the screw and the shear blade. Place a drop of oil next to the head of the screw. Open and close the blades a few times. You will see the oil soak down behind the screw head. For shears that adjust with a finger adjustment knob, this teflon washer is on the side of the shears opposite the side with the adjustment knob. Again, place a drop of oil on the back side of the shears and open and close the blades a few times. Repeat this about once a week.
  3. Adjustment. Hold the blades perpendicular in the shape of a cross. The upright part of the cross should point straight up in the air (not tipped front, back, or to one side, or the other). The horizontal part of the cross should be the blade with the finger rest. Allow the horizontal blade to fall naturally. The two blades should close 1/3 to 1/2 way shut. If they close completely, tighten the screw slightly, or tighten the adjustment knob a click or two. Test again. Repeat until the shears close 1/3 to 1/2 way shut.
  4. Sharpening. While cleaning, oiling, and adjusting your shears will keep them functioning properly for longer. Eventually, every shear needs sharpening. If your shears are properly adjusted, and are cleaned, and oiled but you still see hair pushing towards the tips as you cut, see the hair folding between the blades, or notice a crunchy or pulling feeling as you cut, your shears probably need to be sharpened. For thinning scissors, you will feel the hair pulling as you try to cut. With normal use, these issues will start to appear in professional stylist shears after about 4-6 months of use. For having your stylist shears correctly sharpened, find out why so many of the country's top stylists trust their high-end shears to the professionals at Edgewise. Click over to our sharpening page (http://www.edgewisellc.com/sharpening.html), and follow the directions to get your shears to us today. We promise to try to get your shears as close to new as possible, and we stand fully behind all of our work. For other stylists feedback on our work, you can also check out your Yelp page, at http://www.yelp.com/biz/edgewise-inverness?nb=1.
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Pointy tips?

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Periodically we at Edgewise get requests from stylists to "make the tips of my shears pointier". Some stylists feel that pointier tips will allow them to do finer detail work on his or her clients. From a sharpening standpoint, however, making the shears pointier at the tips is a much trickier request.

Each time a shear is sharpened, some amount of metal is removed from the shear's cutting edge. Over time, the shear's blades get progressively thinner and thinner. Very old shears, which have had a significant amount of their metal sharpened away, will be thinner the entire length of the blade - all the way to the blade tips, which have been sharpened to a point.

Particularly when a stylist purchases a new pair of shears, they'll notice that the tips of the new shears look much 'fatter' than the skinny little tips of the shears they are replacing (which, through years of sharpening, have had much of their metal removed). To fix this, it seems, their sharpener should just be able to remove metal in a way that gives their shears pointy tips again. Generally, sharpeners have accommodated this request from stylists by removing metal from the spine edge of both of the blades. 

When shears have gotten to this state, keeping the tips pointy is simple. The sharpener can simply sharpen the shears and return them to the stylist without addressing the tips.

However, we at Edgewise feel that pointy tips on shears cause more problems than they solve:

1) The tips of the shears can be so pointy that they pose a danger both to the stylist and the stylist's clients. Particularly on older clients, pointy tips can easily cut or slice the skin, and injuring yourself or your client, is never a good way to keep them as long-term clients.

2) Shears cut hair through a combination of the sharpness of the edge, the force being applied, and the mass of metal behind the cutting edge. If the blades aren't sharp, or the force being applied isn't sufficient, the blades won't cut the hair. If the mass of the metal in the shear blades has been removed to the point that it isn't sufficient to support the force being applied by your hands, the hair wins out, the blades flex apart, and the shears fold or pinch the hair between the blades. Longer shears are especially prone to this problem - long shears with thin blades, are notoriously difficult to keep working out at the tips over time.

Our position at Edgewise, is that removing metal from the tips of the shears (to make them more pointy) is a bad idea. Particularly with long shears (6" and longer) our experience has been that the tips generally do not cut as well after metal has been removed. Furthermore, by (incorrectly) removing metal from the spine-side of the blades, the sharpener not only significantly reduces the life span of those shears, he or she also creates a pair of shears that neither looks quite right, nor cuts hair well.

At Edgewise, we attempt to return your shears in a condition that is as close to new as possible. Part of this care, is returning your shears to you with as little metal removed as professionally possible, and tips that minimize the cutting and slicing risk to you, the stylist, and your clients. Contact us today at http://www.edgewisellc.com/contact_us.html to find out why Edgewise is "the Salon Industry's Premier Sharpening Service".

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Why do my Shears pinch hair at the tips?

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My shears seem to be pulling at the tips - what's up? It's one of the most common complaints we at Edgewise hear from our hair stylists, but why does it happen? Generally pulling at the tips occurs because of a few simple reasons:

1. The blade edges at the tips have been nicked or are just dull. Over time, stylists accidentally contact things other than hair with their shears (a ring, or tooth of a comb, for instance). Since the tips are used more often than the rest of the shears, are most likely to get bumped into things, and are most likely to nip things like your comb, the tips also generally dull quickest and are nicked most often.

2. The tips are not closing completely. In order to cut hair, the entire length of the two blades of your salon shears must overlap. If your shears were either incorrectly sharpened, leaving a gap between the two blades at the tips, or the stopper between the two finger rings has started coming out (so that the blades cannot close completely), you will get pinching at the tips of your shears. In either case, a small "V" is formed at the tips of your shears when they are completely closed. Instead of shearing through the hair, the "V" catches some hair but does not cut it, which feels like the shears are pulling at the tips.

3. The blades have been bent outward at the tips, or they were formed incorrectly at the factory. These will be very difficult for the stylist to identify, but in either case, the shears are not contacting one another correctly at the tips, and the hair isn't being cut, but grabbed.

Edgewise has the shear sharpening know-how and the years of training necessary to identify, and, where possible, repair these and many other problems you may be having with your professional salon shears. Fill out our service order form today (http://www.edgewisellc.com/images/pdf/ServiceOrderFormSeptember2012.pdf), to have your shears expertly serviced today! 

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Sharpening Myths

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Over the years, we at Edgewise, have encountered a significant amount of mis-information being given to stylists and salons by our (the sharpening) industry. This post will try to debunk some of these ideas.

1. Claim: "Our sharpening method removes no metal." Truth: This is the same as saying our haircut removes no hair. When a shear is new, the metal is relatively clean and unbroken. Over time the tough hair follicles break the structure of the metal down into 'fingers' of metal. Since these fingers don't have the same structural strength as the clean (new) metal, the fingers eventually fold over, and the edge is no longer 'sharp'. Any sharpening process works to sand these small fingers of metal off and return the edge of the blade to the original 'clean' metal that was at the edge of the shear when the shear was new. Any sharpener who tells you that their sharpening process removes no metal doesn't get this, and probably shouldn't be allowed in to do work. The question is really how little metal the process removes - the less the better, and the closer to what the shear looked like when it was new, the better.

2. Claim: "Our sharpening process is done underwater." As a sharpening process works to remove the fingers of metal, described above (in 1), the friction between the shear blade and the spinning sanding wheel beneath generates friction, and with it, heat. The faster the wheel is spinning, and the more aggressive the abrasive being used, the more heat is generated. Too much heat, and the metal properties can be changed for the worse, weakening, and possibly destroying the shear. To help reduce this, some amount of water can be used to cool the blade as it is sharpened. At Edgewise, our sharpening equipment is being spun at a relatively slow speed, and with a very minimally-abrasive abrasive. While we use water as we sharpen, this is more to keep the small amount of dust down, than it is because we're worried about the amount of heat being generated (we're not). Anyone claiming to sharpen underwater is pulling off a trick we've never seen (like cutting hair underwater?), but also possibly using an abrasive that's too coarse, or working at a wheel speed that is too high, where they might have to worry about the heat being generated.

3. Claim: "We sharpen with lasers". There simply is no such thing. Anywhere. Period. Lasers work by generating a very intense light beam that can be hot enough to melt metal. But this is the problem. Any sharpening process that worked with lasers would lead to a cutting edge that was melted at the edge. Not so sharp.

4. Claim: "Anyone who uses a machine to sharpen, is destroying your shears. Hand-sharpening is best (or vice-versa)." This claim is more nuanced. There are sharpeners who do everything by hand, others who use only a machine, and others who use some of both (we at Edgewise fall into the last category). But no one method is a guarantee of sharpening quality to the stylist. In the end, the most important factor to the stylist, is the sharpener's skill with his or her hands, their experience, and their brains. Only through a combination of the three do your shears end up where you (as a stylist) want them to, or not. As an overarching principal, Edgewise tries to remove the minimal amount of metal from the shears, and deliver a shear that looks, feels, and cuts like new. How we get there should be less important than what the end result is.

5. Claim: "I'm certified by XXX, therefore I'm a great sharpener". One of the most difficult parts of the sharpening industry, is that everyone is self-taught. At Edgewise, we've taken classes from numerous training programs in the sharpening industry. Some were worth a lot more than others. Some, only required that we send them money to buy shears, and they'd send us a "certificate" showing that we were the official sharpener for that shear in that geographical area. Others actually went into much more depth, and were more valuable. As a stylist, you're probably not going to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff, by looking a the piece of paper the sharpener's waving in front of you. As one of the small number of sharpeners I truly respect said once, "my hands are my certification. I'm either going to do a good job or a bad job on the shears. But that's how I should be evaluated - not on some piece of paper." Sound similar? How many 'certification' programs can you go to in the beauty industry that were a total waste of time? Now consider again that the people teaching sharpening certification programs are all self-taught, and think how bad the training would probably be... 

6. Claim: "Our X years of experience make us the best sharpener". Think of all the stylist you know. Some of them, through extensive education, natural talent, and hard work, have gotten to the top of the industry, but only after years and years of hard-won experience. Some stylists, through immense natural talent, are great right out of school (although this is probably pretty rare). By comparison, many stylists are in the industry for decades, and never get any better than mediocre. Sharpeners are the same. Years of experience is generally necessary to become a great sharpener, but it isn't sufficient. Many sharpeners have ground on for years, but have also never gotten any better than mediocre.

7. Claim: "I'm a good sharpener because I have X, Y, and Z certifications." Our feeling at Edgewise is that we are certified every single day by the people who matter to us most - our stylists. The minute the top stylists and salons in Chicago and around the country stop believing that we're doing the best possible job for them, they'll switch over to one of our many, many capable competitors. No piece of paper or certificate can possibly mean more to us than that.

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What Makes a Shear "Good"?

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For an individual shear from a manufacturing standpoint, a good shear is one that is made of high-quality metal, has hardware that is going to hold up over the long haul, and is well-made.

From a broader standpoint, I would call a shear line (the entire collection of a manufacturer's shears) good if the shears in the line have all of the above, except change the last part of the sentence to: "...and are consistently well-made (across the entire line)".

A stylist, is really only interested in how well a shear cuts their client's hair. But stylists should understand that a shear that is correctly made of high-quality metal, and held together with high quality hardware, is probably going to cut their client's hair better than one, which is poorly made, made of low-quality metal, or held together with shoddy hardware.

When stylists ask whether there is a brand that I recommend, my simplest answer is, yes, the ones we sell. I get that this is self-serving, but we've had years of experience testing stylists' shears after they've been sharpened, and have seen lots and lots of shears new out of the packaging. The ones we recommend are the ones that feel and work the best after sharpening or new out of manufacturing. 

We've found that some shear lines consistently have problems with the way the blades have been bowed, or the hollow-grind on the inside of the blade has been done in manufacturing. Additionally, we see lots of shears that are made with sub-par hardware and/or metal (and how these shears have held up over the years). Additionally, we've found shears that, despite the fact that everything looks good from the outside, just don't seem to cut well (they feel crunchy, they push, etc.). Because we've spent so much time working on and playing with such an enormous universe of shears, our advice can be taken with some significant amount of weight. This does not mean we are specifically going to be able to guess how good an individual shear might be from a given company (as the adage goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day), but we are able to make a (very) educated guess about what your chances are that a given shear from a given company is any good. We're going to be more likely to recommend a company's shears if they make them right 99% of the time, and the remaining 1% is relatively easy to fix, than one that gets it right only 40% of the time, and the other 60% is either difficult (or impossible) to fix.

At the end of the day, you should be sure to purchase your shears 1) from someone you trust, and 2) from someone whose neck you are going to be able to get a hold of, if the shears do not function as promised. This is the relationship we at Edgewise have with our stylists at the top salons in and around Chicago, and it is why we are consistently viewed a trusted resource by our stylists.

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Thinning Shears Basics

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As discussed in previous posts, the most important factors to consider in purchasing a standard cutting shear are the comfort of the shear, the quality of the metal, manufacturing, and hardware, and the length of the shear. But when a stylist is looking to purchase a thinning, blending, or notching shear, what are the important factors a stylist should consider?

1. What is the percentage of hair that the thinning shears will remove? Basically, if hair is trapped between the metal teeth and the cutting blade, the hair is cut off. If the hair misses the cutting teeth and falls into the gaps between the teeth, it is left behind. The less space there is between the teeth, the more hair is going to fall to the floor. The hair that is cut off is percent of hair removed. Most standard thinning shears remove 35-40% of your client's hair, but there are shears that remove less than 10% of the hair (e.g. Hikari's Trendy 741 listed at 8% of hair removed), as well as shears that remove only slightly less than a regular cutting shear at close to 90% of the hair removed.

2. What is the shear's tooth pattern? A 40-tooth evenly-spaced standard thinning shear and a a 5-tooth notcher might each remove 50% of the hair, but the effect each shear will give is radically different. The standard thinning shear will be excellent at taking off weight, while the 5-tooth notcher will be used much more for an effect. By knowing the removal percentage, and then looking at the tooth pattern, the stylist can determine what the thinners or notchers are going to do. 

When looking at the tooth pattern, the stylist needs to remember that regardless of the tooth shape (whether the teeth are straight lines, are fat at the blade edge, but really thin further down the tooth, or have any other shape) the focus needs to be on where the metal of the tooth blade contacts the metal of the cutting blade. This is the contact point where the hair is actually cut. The shape of the teeth further down may look cool, but don't affect how much hair is cut.

Again, when evaluating a pair of thinning shears the stylist needs to focus on the percentage of hair removed, and the tooth pattern. These two factors will determine how much or how little hair is removed, and in what pattern the hair is cut.

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What Makes A Shear Right for You?

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What Makes A Shear Right for You?

Many shear salespeople will come up with a list of shear characteristics that, unsurprisingly, makes the shear they sell exactly the perfect shear for the stylist. Fortunately for the stylist, the answer to the "what shear is best" question is relatively straightforward.

The best shear for any stylist is the one that:

  1. Is comfortable
  2. Is the right tool for the job
  3. Is free of manufacturing defects

I'll address each of these items in order.

Firstly, is the shear you're trying out comfortable? If the shears aren't comfortable when you try them out, they're unlikely to become more comfortable as you use them. Important in determining whether the shear is comfortable, the salesperson should allow you to actually demo the shear before you buy it. At Edgewise, for instance, we carry a fully assortment of Hikari and Keiki shears for our stylists to try our on their clients. This helps us ensure the correct fit and feel of all the shears we sell. Aircutting at a trade show doesn't show much, and looking at a picture of a shear online shows even less.

Second, is the shear the one the stylist actually needs? Many, many shears are selected because they have a colored coating, have a rhinestone-encrusted adjustment knob, come with a free flatiron and thinner, or have a fancy blade shape. Sadly, none of these necessarily help the stylist do their job better. When looking at a shear, keep in mind that it is a tool that is going to help you execute your vision. Critical in this are that the shear is made of a high-quality metal, is well-made, and is of a length and shape that will help you do better work for your clients every day. Don't be distracted by fancy shapes, fancy colors, fancy adjustment knobs, or freebies. The fancy colors and shapes don't make the shear work better, and the freebies are always built into the price of the shear.

Lastly, and most difficult, is the shear free of manufacturing defects? This is exceptionally difficult to determine, and the stylist either needs to be working with a vendor they trust, or the seller must have a liberal returns policy. Ideally, the stylist will be able to work with a salesperson, who's trusted, and who has a solid track record of supplying dependably high-quality shears to the people they work with. [Ask around to other local stylists, at local trade shows, or through online reviews to identify these companies and salespeople.] Even if the stylist is able to work with a trusted shear supplier, the company should have a liberal returns policy. Even top-quality new-out-of-the-box shears frequently have manufacturing defects of varying levels of concern. Quite simply, if the shear doesn't feel perfect, it should immediately be returned. I'm often surprised how often a shear that doesn't work correctly out of the box (it's crunchy, it folds hair, it pinches hair, etc.) isn't immediately returned to the vendor, and months later, the stylist is still struggling with the shears that  were never right in the first place.

While this list doesn't provide a single shear or line of shears for the stylist to select from, I hope this discussion provides a framework that stylists can use to help select shears across a wide spectrum of suppliers and shear styles. If you're a stylist in the Chicago area, contact Edgewise today to set up an appointment to demo our finest-quality shears.

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One of the most important things a stylist should do to prolong the life of their shears, and to improve their shear's performance, is to regularly check and adjust their shears. Sadly many of the stylists we work with at Edgewise, either do not know how to adjust their shears, or are not aware of the importance of checking their shear's tension. What follows here is a discussion of how to check and adjust your salon shears, and also the advantages and disadvantages of the major different types of tensioning systems used to tighten and loosen your shears.

Firstly, why do shears need to be tightened and loosened? Mainly it is because, over time, things loosen. When you cut hair with shears that are too loose, the hair can force the blades apart, leading to the hair folding between the blades. Additionally, when the shears are used too loose, the two blades contact one another improperly, and dull much quicker than they would if they were properly tensioned. Conversely, if the shears are too tight, your hand will be doing a lot more work than they should, and you can run into carpal tunnel and other hand-related problems much sooner than you otherwise would.

So how do you adjust your shears? Follow these steps:

  1. Hold the two blades perpendicular (in a cross), with the finger blade (the one with the finger rest) as the horizontal cross piece of the cross. Point the tip of the vertical (thumb) blade straight up in the air.
  2. Allow the horizontal finger blade to drop naturally. 
  3. If the two blades stop when they are only 1/3- to 1/2-way shut, the blades are properly tensioned.
  4. If the blades drop all of the way shut, the shears are too loose, and need to be tightened. After tightening the shears slightly, repeat steps 1-3 above.
  5. Continue adjusting slightly and re-testing until the blades drop 1/3- to 1/2-way shut. At this point your shears are properly adjusted.

 When purchasing a pair of shears, close attention should be paid to the fastening system holding the two blades together. By purchasing shears that are easy to adjust, a stylist can save themselves lots of effort and aggravation down the road. What follows is a description of the major types of adjusters available on the market today.

  1. Flat screw. Shears that are held together with a flat screw, are adjusted by using a standard flat-blade screwdriver to tighten and loosen the screw. Many of these fasteners are made with a gap, which is wide enough to even allow the stylist to use a dime, penny, or sometimes even a quarter to adjust the shears in a pinch. The advantages of a flat screw are that it is exceptionally easy to adjust, and has a low profile, so you don't find yourself bumping your comb into the adjustment knob, like sometimes happens with other fasteners. The disadvantages of this fastener is that, for screws with thinner gaps, an actual screwdriver is needed to adjust your shears. While we don't feel this to be an enormous issue, it can mean that a stylist doesn't adjust his or her shears as often as they should.
  2. Finger knob. There are two types of this knob-type adjuster, the click-adjust and the infinite adjust. Like it sounds, the click-adjust knob gives an audible click each time the stylist tightens or loosens their shears. The infinite adjust also is adjusted by turning a finger knob, but no click is heard when tightening and loosening the blades. Between the two styles we tend to prefer the infinite-adjust knob because the click-adjust knob tends to be too-tight on one click, and too-loose on the next click when adjusting. The infinite-adjust knob is just more exact. Either of these styles has the advantage of being easily adjustable. The disadvantage of either of these fasteners is that the higher-profile knob can get in the way of your work, and your comb.
  3. Miscellaneous quirky other fasteners. Engineers at Rusk, Jaguar, Tondeo, and Matsuzaki, have all developed fasteners that  are virtually un-adjustable by stylists. Even shear pros struggle with some of these fastener styles. While it is anyone's guess why a manufacturer would design a shear that can't be adjusted, or can be adjusted only with great difficulty, we ask that any stylist, who is considering a shear that requires a special little little tool to adjust the shears, or, worse, requires that the shear be sent back to the manufacturer for adjustment (Rusk), please reconsider, and pick another shear. A shear that needs a special tool for adjustment is initially just going to be hard to adjust. Eventually, the tool's going to disappear, and the shears are going to be worthless.

The simple task of adjusting a pair of shears can make a huge difference in the performance of a pair of shears, and in the longevity of a stylist's career in the beauty industry. Stylists should regularly (weekly) check and adjust their shears to keep them at their peak performance. Additionally, when purchasing a pair of shears, a stylist should pay attention to the fastener system that holds the shears together, and, hopefully, only purchase a shear with a simple flat screw, or a finger-adjustment knob. Either of these adjusters will considerably reduce the amount of aggravation a stylist experiences over the life of the shears.



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