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Shear Fasteners and how to adjust your shears

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.







EDGEWISE® delivers the professional sharpening demanded by Chicago’s top salons and stylists.




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