The Shear Truth

Given that shears are among the most important items in a groomer’s toolbox, it is essential that they are carefully selected to meet the needs and preferences of the professional who will be logging hours upon hours using them in the salon. Luckily, the market today is filled with a variety of options—in price, functionality, durability, cutting edge, and maybe most importantly, feel—to suit every groomer.

To get a consensus on how these issues are being handled in the salon, Grooming Business reached out to groomers across the country to ask them two questions:

What are the most important features you consider when purchasing a pair of shears?
What is your maintenance routine for shears?

Kelli Jo Strabley, owner of Paws and Claws On The Grove in Merritt Island, Fla.
Selection: I always check how heavy [shears] are, since we use them on a daily basis and scissor everything. That is very important to me. I actually have thinning shears that are 42 years old. Every time I go to get them sharpened, my sharpener always says, “I think this is going to be the last time,” but I keep using them.

Maintenance: I oil and keep [my shears] wiped down each day. I also never leave my scissors laying around on my table; they are always hanging to keep them sharpened and from falling off my grooming table. I have also warned all my employees that if they use my scissors for cutting paper or bandannas, they will lose their jobs, no excuses.

Jill Roth, owner of The Posh Poodle Spa in Center Moriches, N.Y.
[A pair of shears] has to fit your hand just right, like wearing glove. Your hand has to feel relaxed, not tense, and your fingers have to just fit the finger rings of the scissor. Always use the right size scissors—large scissors for large areas and small scissors for small areas. I like smooth-cutting scissors—ones that feel like they are on a spring and don’t have scraping of the blades. I like my scissors to have corrugated blades, as they seem to hold the hair in place before you cut. 

Maintenance: The only maintenance [I suggest] is to keep the shears oiled, don’t drop them and get a really good scissor sharpener. Try to only use them on clean coats as much as you can.  

Joan Lamborn, president of Peppermint Pet Parlor, Inc., in Canton, Mich.
The first thing I look for in a shear is the weight. If it is too heavy, then I know I won’t have enough control. The shear must fit my hand. Finger holes must fit; they should not be too big, because you don’t want your fingers to slide through the hole too far. You also don’t want the holes to be too small, as you will not have control of the shear if your fingers are falling out.

Maintenance: I have shears sharpened as needed, and that depends on how much use and what kind of coats I have been scissoring.  I would say, on the average, I have it done every two to three months.

Vonda Duer, owner/president of Great Paws Pet Spa Inc. & Great Paws Mobile Grooming, Inc., in Fayetteville, N.C.
The most important feature in a shear for me is balance.  I use many different types of shears, and if the shear isn’t balanced well for your hand, it causes more fatigue.

Maintenance: I hang my shears when not in use.  I oil them at least once a month, and I clean the blades when necessary.  I also have different shears for different things—dirty hair, clean hair and mat splitting.

Stacy Miller, owner of Oberjoch Boarding and Grooming Kennel, LLC, in Williamsport, Pa.
Weight, smoothness of opening and closing [this is the first thing I look for], performance history [edge life], guarantee and required sharpening routine. (Some manufacturers null the warranty if you don’t send [the shears] back to them for sharpening.)

Maintenance: My shears were an expensive investment for me, and I do my best to treat them as such. At the end of every day, I wipe the blades down with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball to remove any dander or grime, and I add a drop of oil to the joint. I always store my shears in a padded protective case.

Amy Murphy, grooming manager of Pouncing Paws in Harker Heights, Texas.
Price is probably the most important factor I look at when I’m purchasing a pair of shears. The brand name of the shears is also important, because I want to know that the manufacturer is reliable. In terms of the physical features of the shears, I prefer shears that are shorter, as they feel more balanced in my hand. In our salon, we keep all three types of shears—straight, curved and thinners—on hand, so we’re ready for anything.

Maintenance: It’s very important to keep our shears in good condition, because they are our moneymakers. We have a sharpening guy who comes out every three weeks, like clockwork, but we also regularly disinfect them [and oil them]. In addition, we are careful about how we store the shears, because we don’t want them to get dropped on the floor.

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