DON’T Trust Sharpeners With Portable Grinders

The shear sharpener guy came to the salon today. He made me so mad I could have punched him in the FACE. He spouted all this bullshit about shears and sharpening, and fucked up every pair of shears he touched – and so I’m writing this article.

I didn’t let him sharpen my shears, because I’m already skeptical of door-to-door salon shear sharpeners, having been warned by more experienced stylists out there. But around here, I’m alone in that – everyone gets the door to door grinder man to sharpen their shears. I watched him work, asked questions, but after I saw what he was doing I stopped talking and hung in the back of the room, until finally I just left the room to avoid yelling at the top of my lungs “YOU SIR ARE A CHARLATAN AND A FRAUD!”. Fuck that guy made me angry.

Argh. Ok, so anyway, what did he do that is so wrong?

He had a sharpening machine like this:

Sharpening Machine


And he flat out dissed sharpers who use machines like this:

Sharpening Machine


He said those machines heat the metal up and mess up the shears. (Wrong. You use water or oil to keep them cool, and you just use it properly so you don’t have heat problems.)

He used his little grinder machine and mounted up a pair of shears, and just ran the blade through, grinding a flat bevelled edge onto the edge of the shear, permanently and forever fucking up the convex edge. He didn’t even take the shears apart.

Now, if you don’t know the different types of edges, this is a  bevelled edge:

Bevelled Edge Shears

Bevelled edge shears come from back in the day, when we didn’t know shit. We didn’t know how to make good steel, we were mostly just chipping rocks until they were sharp and pointy, and using grinding machines to grind an edge onto shears. Bevelled edges are easy. They require almost no skill to put on.

Why do they suck? They’re not sharp – they’re the exact same edge as your friggin kitchen shears. They remove a crapload of metal. The more you sharpen your shears like this, the shorter they’ll get (from the tips being ground off). They take years off the life of your shears for this reason. Bevelled edges are for kitchen shears, cheap Goody hair shears they sell to consumers in drug stores, and the lowest grade student shears.

This is a convex edge:

Convex Edge Shears

Convex edges are SHARP. They are advanced. There’s like, science up in this bitch. When people talk about Japanese shears being the best, they’re talking about steel, and this edge. This is a thing of beauty. This kind of edge is hard to do – it’s a work of art, it’s not mechanically grinding a flat edge on metal. There’s no lines in this edge at all, it’s a smooth curve right up to the edge! It requires work, you have to sharpen the edge, then you need to put in a hone line (the little sliver of flatness you see running along the edge on the inside of the shear) and the shears must be balanced carefully.


Now, all the portable grinder types that haven’t kept up with the industry in the last 20 years are still putting flat bevels on things. They don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to sharpening, steel, or shears in general, because they just haven’t educated themselves on the last 20-30 years of advancement, and they haven’t learned the new skills they need to handle today’s shears.

What this portable grinder (I won’t call him a sharpener) did wrong:

Now, the door to door sharpener guy did a number of things wrong:

He sucks at sharpening, so he clamped every pair of shears onto his grinder and ground a flat edge on, and handed them back.

He sucks at sharpening, so he dissed the machines that better sharpeners use to sharpen scissors properly and well.

One pair of shears he sharpened needed to be re-balanced – they were slightly bent. He should have taken them apart, bent them back into alignment, sharpened them with a convex edge, honed them, removed the burrs from the sharpening, put them back together, checked the balance, and oiled them up. What did he do? He clamped them to his grinder and ground a flat edge on them. Took them out, tried to close them, and they didn’t close right. No shit Sherlock, they’re bent. So he scratched his head, and put them back in the grinder and took more metal off.

The whole time he was in the salon he was telling everyone (practically the whole salon was in the back room, watching and waiting to be next to have their shears sharpened) all this misinformation about shears, how to tell if they’re sharp, how expensive shears are really the same as cheap shears – they just mark them up more. He was hawking Sharkfin shears, saying he was about to become a distributor (read: door to door salesman), talking about how they’re better than any other shear out there, yadda yadda.

The only thing he did or said right the whole time he was here, was showing the girls how to adjust the tension correctly.


Double Face Palm

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