1. How-To

How To Fix Hair Clippers That Won’t Cut

My clipper turns on but it just won’t cut”.

Argh!

Another bad day?

For most unprepared or inexperienced barbers, it usually starts with horrible clipper noises; then comes the overheating; and finally, the clipper blades start moving but not cutting.

Sounds familiar?

Well, these are some of the many clipper issues that we face on a day-to-day basis. And while some are easy fixes, you’ll definitely get two or three problems that will stress you to the core.

But:

Don’t fret – I’ve got you covered.

In this guide. I will share some of my best hacks, tips, tricks, and show you exactly how to fix hair clippers that won’t cut; including:

  • A few common clipper problems
  • Everything you need to know about hair clipper blades
  • Facts about haircutter motors
  • Zero-gapping tips
  • Common issues synonymous with major brands
  • How to maintain a hair clipper
  • As well as a few awesome pro tips to help you maintain your cutting tools

Sound, good?

Well, let’s dive in.

#1 Common Clipper Problems

Is there anything as frustrating as a clipper that pulls or moves but won’t cut the hair right off? 

Well, it irks.

Whether it’s a new clipper or one you’ve been using for quite a while, below are a few common clipper problems you could be facing.

a) Your Hair Clipper is Overheating

Imagine this:

You connect your clipper to the power source. You set it up and start following one of my haircut guides on Wisebarber

Two minutes into the haircut, your clipper starts to become hot. 

What could be the problem?

Clippers often overheat because of dirt, lack of oil, or long-term use. Failure to troubleshoot immediately can damage your clipper badly.

Anyway:

Here’s what you can do about this:

Remove Any Dirt in the Clipper’s Vent

Get this:

The sole purpose of a vent is to ensure effective heat dissipation. And failure to clean those vents as expected could get them clogged with hair, grease, and other debris.

And that’s why most clippers come with vents that require regular cleaning.  

Now:

Vent clogging can cause your hair clipper to overheat

And so, to fix this issue:

  • Brushing out the hair, dirt, or debris is all you need to do
  • But, some cases may call for a little wash here and there

Oil Your Dry Clippers

Much like a car or generator, hair clippers need regular lubrication depending on the number of times you use them.

For instance:

If you run a barbershop like me, you may have to oil your clippers before and after each use. 

Why?

Failure to oil them increases friction between the moving parts and could lead to the hair clipper overheating. 

Otherwise, if you’re the type to get a self-cut at home every once in a while, commit yourself to adding oil to your clippers on the itinerary on every clean-up day.

Avoid Long-Term/Non-Stop Use

I get it:

You run a busy shop. But, that’s no excuse to use one clipper for all your haircuts non-stop. 

Note:

Clippers, like most machines, tend to get hot when used for extended periods

And that’s why it’s always recommended that you have an extra pair of clippers to act as a substitute whenever your cutting tool starts heating up. 

That way, you’ll give your main clipper some cooling intervals during busy working hours. 

Get it?

Moving on… 

b) Your Haircutter is Too Noisy

That loud, incessant, droning sound is back again, isn’t it? 

What could be the cause?

Now:

We can all agree that noisy hair clippers are not only annoying but also tend to attract a lot of unnecessary attention. 

You don’t want that, do you?

Well, below are some common causes of abnormal or loud clipper noises:

Check for Blade Misalignment

Blade misalignment can cause incessant clipper noise

That’s because the blades’ movement might be deterred or altered by the change in alignment. 

To fix this:

What you want to do is to screw those blades back into place with the stationary blade being slightly longer than the cutting one.

Remember:

The edges have to be parallel and there should be space between the stationary and cutting blade. 

If it’s still noisy, try the following solution…

Check for Power Voltage Screw Misalignment

Another cause of noise in clippers is the misalignment of power voltage screws. This could happen at any time and sometimes, for no definite reason. 

Here is a quick-fix for this;

  • The first thing you want to do is to grab your toolbox and search for your Screwdriver.
  • Afterward, turn the clipper onto its sides
  • Place the screwdriver on the power screw (as shown in the video above) and turn clockwise. Is the noise getting louder? If so, that’s a good sign
  • Go ahead and turn your screwdriver anti-clockwise, but this time slowly and only by a half turn
  • If the noise stops, then your clipper’s voltage screw has been aligned and is now operating optimally.

Still noisy? Try this next fix…

Tighten Any Loose Housing Screws

Housing screws usually come off after prolonged usage because of the clipper’s vibrations. 

But:

The only sign that you’ve got a loose housing screw is that horrible, loud, rattling noise

Anyway:

Here’s how to fix this:

  • Get a screwdriver that easily fits into your clipper’s screws
  • Tighten all visible housing screws by turning your screwdriver clockwise

Doing so should hold them in place for a while but it is often a short-term solution.

c) Hair Clipper Pulling/Snagging Issues

Let’s face it:

It gets a little bit annoying and uncomfortable for your clients if your hair clipper starts pulling and snagging their hair. 

And that never bodes well for any barber’s reputation. 

Funny enough:

A lot of the time, clippers pull or snag hair due to small, fixable problems. 

Anyway:

If you are facing these issues, it could be because of the following factors…

Inadequate Oiling

I always say this:

Oil your clipper and its blades when and how its manufacturer recommends.

And if you are still wondering; why should you oil?

It’s Simple:

Lubricating is a must for the best utility and optimal performance

Apart from reducing the friction between your blades and extending the life of your hair clipper, oiling also helps to mitigate noise and heating. 

Anyway:

My post on How To Oil a Hair Clipper explains everything you need to know about this simple task and how to do it right. 

Blunt Blades

Are your clipper blades moving but not cutting properly? 

Well, your blades may still have their shine but might have lost their sharpness

It’s a fact:

Blunt blades won’t cut

It’s wise to sharpen your blades as soon as you notice that your clipper is taking longer to cut, pulling/snagging hair, or that it takes more than one pass to cut

Luckily, sharpening clipper blades is quite easy. With the right tools and a little know-how, this is something you can do on your own. 

Thinking of buying new blades?

It’s always best to go for stronger alloys like titanium. Of course, original titanium blade prices may be high. But, quality makes all the difference. And good quality equals good value for money. 

d) Worn Out Parts/Contact Interfaces

Wear and tear? 

The only cause for worn-out clipper parts is clipper aging or excessive usage. If your clipper is past its warranty and you are not ready to part with it, you could have them checked out by an expert.

Here’s why!

An expert will highlight the parts of the trimmer that can go on for a little longer. Also, they will tell you which parts are completely worn-out. 

With this knowledge, you can buy the replacement parts you need and install them yourself or find an expert to do it for you. 

e) Power Supply Issues

Power supply issues can also be the reason why your clipper is acting up. 

But:

What are these issues?

Faulty Power Cable

Question:

Have you ever been in a situation where you plug in your hair clipper, start using it, and then it stops working prematurely?

Well, chances are that your power supply isn’t stable. And this usually happens if you’ve got a faulty power cable.

Now:

To be sure that your power cord is damaged, try this:

  • Plug in your clipper
  • Try spreading and moving the cable around
  • Move it up and down at intervals
  • If your clipper switches on and off as you move the cable, then you have a faulty cord

If you are using a cordless clipper, then getting a new replacement would be the most ideal course of action. But for corded clippers, the best you can do is to try to fix it as shown in the video above. 

Blown Power Plug Fuse

Get this:

A blown power fuse is usually a result of power surges, socket overload, or faulty wiring. 

If you suspect that your clipper’s plug fuse is blown, the first thing is always to switch to another power outlet, just to be sure. 

Now:

If it still doesn’t work, you can then try to replace the blown fuse with a new one as shown in the video above.  

Dead Clipper Batteries (in Cordless Cutters)

Fact:

When using a cordless clipper and its battery dies (doesn’t recharge properly or discharges faster than expected), you won’t be able to use it if it does not offer cord/cordless usage features. 

So, what can you do about that?

Well, I’d recommend replacing the battery. For most clippers, that’s usually a very simple procedure. 

And:

If you’re unsure about it, you can always go online to search for battery replacement tutorials on your specific hair clipper; just like in the video I’ve shared above. 

Theoretically, the process should be easy; i.e.:

  • Using a screwdriver, unscrew the clipper’s housing
  • Take out the battery and then clean the casing using a cleaning brush
  • Air out and then replace the battery with a new one

f) Taper Lever Issues

Occasionally:

Your taper lever might start exhibiting problems; from being loose to altering the length of blade sizes due to misalignment.

And when that happens, it becomes harder for you to use your clipper optimally. 

So, here are a few ways to fix common taper lever issues: 

Fixing a Loose Taper Lever

Note:

When your clipper’s taper lever becomes loose, you’ll have a hard time making fast, easy and accurate blade size adjustments. 

And that defeats the whole point of having a taper lever in the first place. 

Luckily, you can fix this fast and easy; i.e.:

  • Unscrew your taper lever screw
  • Clean the screw hole and screw
  • Apply a medium-hold threadlocker
  • Tighten the taper lever screw until it feels firm and rigid 
  • Let it sit and dry for an hour or two

Taper Lever and Blade Misalignment

At times:

When the taper lever on your clipper comes undone, the blades also tend to be out of their regular position. Though, this is quite rare

Note:

Most blade misalignment/taper lever issues stem from users dropping their clippers often.

To fix this:

  • Loosen your taper lever
  • Align your blades to be “almost” parallel to each other; ensuring the stationary blade sits a bit higher than the cutting blade
  • Set your taper lever to the closed position
  • Use your left hand to hold the blades together while you tighten them
  • Thereafter, tighten your taper lever

And that’s just about everything you need to know about common hair clipper problems. 

Does it end there? Not really!

To fully understand how your clipper works and how to diagnose it, you must learn a few important things about its critical parts

So, let’s start by looking at clipper blades and what you need to know about them.

#2 Everything You Need To Know About Hair Clipper Blades

In this section:

I will walk you through a few important facts about hair clipper blades…

So, let’s get down to it!

a) Common Types of Clipper Blades

As a rule of thumb:

The quality of clipper blade materials determines the overall haircut experience, durability, and ability to stay sharp after use

Yes, read that again. 

Since it’s the blades that do all the cutting, it’s important to choose clippers with the best blade materials

But:

How do you know which blade to choose from the many available on the market? 

Well, for starters, here is a list of common types of clipper blades:

  • Ceramic
  • Steel
  • Japanese steel
  • Chromium steeL
  • Stainless steel
  • Titanium
  • Carbon steel
  • Molybdenum steel
  • Chromium-vanadium steel
  • Nickel
  • Tungsten chromium steel

Now:

The big question is, “which blade material is the best/worst?” Here’s a quick rundown of both the best and the ugly.

What Are The Best Hair Clipper Blades?

Titanium Blades

Get this:

You’re most likely to find a titanium blade in a top-tier hair clipper. Basically, most models with a “self-sharpening” tag. 

Why?

Titanium blades tend to stay sharp longer and are impressively durable. Moreover, these blades do not need any maintenance. 

On the downside, they can be very expensive at times.

Ceramic Blades

They have been proven to be the sharpest and coolest blades on the market. Ceramic blades are awesome because they don’t heat up regardless of how long you use your clipper. 

But:

They are also very expensive and can easily break if dropped.

Japanese Steel Blades

The variances in the quality of Japanese steel and ceramic blades are few. 

Basically:

If you want ceramic blade quality at a lower budget, go for the Japanese steel blades.

What Are The Worst Hair Clipper Blades?

Steel Alloys

There are more than 6 types of steel alloys. And they vary in terms of durability and sharpness duration.

On the plus side:

They are generally the cheapest you can get as a low-budget replacement. But, they don’t always retain sharpness for long and tend to rust if left unused. 

b) How to Oil Hair Clipper Blades

Oiling is an essential part of hair clipper and blade maintenance.

Note:

To improve performance and increase the longevity of your hair clipper, you have to oil it before and after each use

And the best part is that it is a simple task to do; i.e.:

  • Place three drops of oil on your clipper blade – one on each end of the clipper blades and one at the center of the blades
  • Switch on your clipper for a few seconds to evenly distribute the oil between the blades. 
  • Wipe off any excess oil.

And that’s it – quick and easy!

Learn more about this on my How to Clean and Oil Clippers post. 

c) How to Replace/ Upgrade Clipper Blades

Here, all you have to do is:

  • Do some research to find a good replacement/upgrade blade for your clipper
  • Unscrew and remove your current blades
  • Clean the clipper to remove any hair clipping or grease accumulation
  • Place your new blades on the clipper and screw them loosely
  • Align your blades and hold them in place using your other hand
  • Gently, tighten the clipper’s screws simultaneously to maintain blade alignment
  • Oil your new blades
  • Switch on the clipper to distribute the oil and confirm that the blades are in place as expected

d) How to Sharpen Clipper Blades

Here’s how:

  • Remove both the stationary and cutting blades from your clipper
  • Start by placing your stationary blade on your sharpening stone (whetstone) by applying medium pressure and moving it in circles as shown in the video above. Ensure you sharpen the inner side of the blade (the side that comes into contact with the cutting blade) only 
  • Sharpen the cutting blade’s inner side too
  • Once, you are satisfied with their sharpness, reattach and align the blades on your clipper 
  • Oil your blades and run the clipper for a few seconds to distribute the oil

e) How to Remove Clipper Blade Rust

Now:

Most clipper blades develop rust because of lack of use, not being oiled properly, and exposure to moisture. 

Having rusted clipper blades could impede the quality of cuts the clipper can give; plus, it’s not healthy.

Good news!

This is not a big problem. You can fix this right now from the comfort of your home.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Soak your blades in white vinegar and salt solution
  • Use a scrubbing wire to remove all rust
  • Rinse them and use a clean napkin or towel to dry your blades
  • Reattach them to your clipper, lubricate, and run your clipper for a few seconds to evenly spread the oil

Anyway:

Enough about blades. Now, let’s look at the motor. 

#3 Hair Clipper Motors Factsheet

In truth:

Hair clipper motors play a pivotal role during a haircut. 

Motors are the engines that drive hair clippers and they directly determine how much power and speed the cutter will have

And that’s why it’s always important to find a clipper motor that meets your needs and requirements

Which ones are they?

Well, read on to find out….

a) Types of Hair Clipper Motors (Best? Worst?)

There are three primary types of hair clipper motors; i.e.:

Pivot Motors

Pivot motors are well-known for having high power but low blade speeds. This kind of motor is ideal for wet or thick hair (heavy-duty work).

Rotary Motors

Rotary motors are usually a bit balanced. They often feature the same power and blade speed. This kind of clipper motor is for a wide variety of cuts; thick, thin, wet-dry, curly, etc.

Magnetic Motors

Magnetic motors have dependable power and high blade speed. This type of clipper motor is ideal for salon owners because of its high volume cutting capacity. 

b) Reasons for a Noisy Clipper Motor

Get this:

Owing to the design and architecture of electromagnetic motors, sometimes, your hair clipper can get noisy. 

And in most cases, that’s usually because the power voltage screw has been adjusted past its optimal position

To fix this:

  • Use a screwdriver to adjust your power voltage screw by turning it clockwise slowly
  • If the noise grows louder, start slowly turning the voltage screw anti-clockwise until the loud, annoying noise eases and turns to a smooth buzz with gentle vibrations

If you’d like to see how it’s done, refer to section 1(b) of this guide under Power Voltage Screw Misalignment

c) What Causes a Clipper Motor to Underperform?

Worried that your clipper isn’t giving you its best performance? 

Well, it could be that your motor is struggling to deliver

And:

If that’s the case, here are a few possible reasons why:

  1. Wear and Tear. Excessive or poor usage of a clipper can lead to rapid exhaustion of its motor causing it to underperform. 
  2. Dirt And Debris Accumulation. Accumulated dirt, dust, grease, hair clippings, and debris can spread to the motor. Gradually, the clogging will cause your motor to underperform. 
  3. Lack of Lubrication. It’s a fact that dry clipper blades and parts experience a lot of friction and do not function half as effectively as a regularly-oiled clipper. 
  4. Low Power Supply. Here, it depends on the kind of clipper you use. If you use a cordless clipper, your batteries might be worn out and deliver low power to the motor. But for corded clippers, this is often a result of the misalignment of the power voltage screw; a quick readjustment will fix this. 

And that’s a wrap on clipper motors. 

Next up, a look at what Zero-Gapping is all about

#4 Everything You Need to Know About Zero-Gapping a Hair Clipper

In this section:

I will highlight the things you must know about Zero-Gapping a hair clipper

First off, what is it?

a) What is Zero-Gapping?

Well:

Zero-gapping is the process of closely aligning the threads of a clipper’s blades to a point that they are completely flush with each other

On the plus side, zero-gapping can improve the quality of your haircuts

But:

It also makes your blades dangerously sharp and can easily cut and nick your clients’ skin. 

And that’s why this is something that is recommended for elite barbers or someone with a very steady hand. 

b) Why Is Zero Gapping Important?

Some of the reasons why many barbers zero-gap their hair clippers include:

  • It helps to improve haircut quality
  • Improves clipper efficiency and precision
  • Allows you to produce clean lines during hairline design 

Moving on…

c) How To Zero Gap a Clipper

Good news!

You can Zero gap a clipper by yourself as shown in the video above. 

To recap:

  • Unscrew your stationary blade
  • (Optional) Brush off any hair clippings around the blade area
  • Reattach both blades and loosely screw them in place
  • Move your taper lever to the closed position
  • Flush both blades at each other ensuring that you leave a tiny height difference between the blades; i.e. the stationary blade has to be slightly taller than the cutting blade to keep it from cutting/nicking a person’s skin
  • Once you are sure that both blades are in place and perfectly parallel to each other you can start to tighten the blade screws simultaneously as shown in the video

And that’s it. 

You’ll have successfully zero-gapped your hair clipper with ease. 

Now:

Did you know that there are clipper issues that are specific to their brand?

If not, this next section is for you. 

#5 Common Clipper Brand Issues

Alright.

So far, I have highlighted general hair clipper problems and their solutions. 

But in this section, I will get a little bit more specific. I want to delve into common clipper brand issues and troubleshooting.

So, shall we?

a) Andis Hair Clipper Issues

Arguably:

The biggest issue with Andis tools is often heating. If you’ve used the Andis Master or T-Outliner, you know what I’m talking about. 

Now, if you’ve been experiencing this, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Buy a new clipper that you can use interchangeably with your Andis clipper/trimmer. That way you’ll give your tool(s) some time to cool off before using them again
  2. Use Andis’ Cool Care spray to cool the blades after extended usage
  3. Modify your clipper or trimmer’s housing to improve heat dissipation as shown on this YouTube video. But, do this only after your warranty has expired because modifying your clipper or trimmer while it’s still new will void your tool’s warranty cover

b) Wahl Hair Clipper Issues

So:

What do you do if your…

Wahl Clippers Won’t Turn Off?

Listen:

The two major reasons your Wahl clippers won’t turn off are a result of contact with water or a busted switch

If it’s as a result of contact with water, you should air-dry it. Thereafter, your clippers should be back to work again after drying up. 

But, if the switch doesn’t work, plan a trip to the Hair clipper repair shop.  

Wahl Clippers Are Not Cutting Properly?

Now:

If your Wahl Clippers or Trimmers won’t cut, you may want to first check the following:

  • Test for bluntness: if your blades are blunt, sharpen or replace them as soon as possible
  • Check for lubrication: if your clipper blades are dry, switch it on and add two drops of oil to the blades

Moving on…

#6 How to Clean a Hair Clipper

Obviously:

There are several methods of cleaning your hair clippers. And they are all rather effective. 

In a nutshell, here’s what you can do:

  • Spray your clippers with a can of compressed air
  • Wipe it using a towel and isopropyl alcohol
  • For 100% washable clippers/trimmers, you can wash it under running water

#7 Expert Tips on Hair Clippers

Now:

Before I wrap up this post, here are a few expert tips that may come in handy for you…

a) Where and How To Find Quality Hair Clippers

To be on the safer side:

Always read through customer reviews to avoid finding yourself in a ‘what I ordered vs. what I got’ scenario. 

Also, if you want to buy online, make sure the retailer has a favorable return policy, just in case.

With that said:

Here are the 5 things to look out for to choose the best quality trimmer.

1. Experts Or Beginners-Level Clipper?

Note:

No matter how great a clipper is, it will never be good enough as long as it’s below or above your handling

So, the first thing you should consider is your barbering skill level.

For quality beginner-level trimmers, I recommend Wahl Elite Pro #79602 for home use or the Oster Fast Feed Adjustable Pivot Motor Clipper for professional use.

If you’re an expert barber, any of these will do:

2. Home Or Professional Use?

Of course:

You have to consider the purpose of your hair trimmer/clipper. This way, you won’t end up with a light-duty trimmer as a professional barber. 

So, how can you tell whether the clipper you’re buying suits your needs?

For professionals, you want a clipper with:

  • A strong motor
  • Exceptional blades
  • A taper lever
  • Lightweight and ergonomic
  • Little or no heat/noise issues
  • A longer runtime if cordless
  • And is ideal for heavy-duty work

For home barbers:

  • A clipper that is easy to use
  • Comes with all essential accessories
  • Very lightweight and flexible
  • And affordable

3. What Type of Housing Material Does It Have?

Here’s a good rule of thumb:

  • Valox-made clipper housings are tough and don’t wear out easily
  • Metal housing clippers are expensive but tend to last longer and rarely break when dropped
  • A large number of plastic housing materials look and feel cheap and can break easily

Another thing: 

Make sure the clipper’s casing allows for efficient heat dissipation or go for a clipper that has heat-resistance housing for comfort.

b) When to Oil Your Clipper

Now:

Oiling your clipper should be a regular thing but the frequency will differ depending on usage. 

For instance, if you run a busy barbershop, you should oil your clippers before every haircut. But, if yours is for personal use, you can oil your clipper weekly; even if it hasn’t been in use for a while.

Remember:

Oiling your clipper not only improves its performance but also lengthens its longevity. 

c) When to Replace a Hair Clipper

Now:

There are a lot of things that can tell you whether it’s time to get a new clipper. 

For example:

  • If the clipper’s performance deteriorates 
  • An irreplaceable component gets damaged
  • When the clipper keeps breaking down
  • If the housing gets damaged beyond repair
  • If you’ve used it for decades; sometimes, change is good

In Conclusion…

And that’s a wrap. 

I’m pretty sure I’ve covered all the possible ways on how to fix hair clippers that won’t cut. Plus, I’ve included a few extras that may be useful to barbers – both experienced and beginners. 

Anyway, I hope this article has been helpful and informative enough. And if you find a fix on this guide that’s too complex for you, kindly seek professional assistance to avoid damaging your hair clipper. 

So:

Is there anything I’ve left out? Would you like to ask a question? If so, don’t hesitate to post it in the comments section below. 

Good luck and #StaySafe

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