ALL ABOUT SHARPENING
To understand how your shears get sharpened, we need to know how they were made AND what edge type your shears have. This is even more important that knowing how to use your shears or thinners, and even more important that understanding how to maintain them
One bad or improper sharpening can remove up to 5 years worth of life from your shears, and RUIN your clients hair. The wrong edge-type can shred and tare the cuticle, causing major damage to the structure and foundation of the hair column. The original edge geometry and type MUST BE MAINTAINED through each and every sharpening service
What kind of edge does my shear have?
Shears have 3 basic types of edges. Beveled, Semi-Convex (Micro Bevel), Fully Convex. These three edge type describe the shape of the edge, as well as the shape of the face of the shear. To the right is examples of each edge type in cross section.
Beveled Edge Shears like this fabric scissor Bradley Robinson sharpened is an example of what Bevels look like. Older German shears like Jaguar, Boker, or C'Mon Cadillac, Dovo, Revlon etc used this edge type. They can be quite sharp, and hold an edge for a log time, but for razoring techinques or dry cutting these edges chip and fracture quite easily, resulting in a rough and crunchy cut. Great for around the house, horrible (unless specifically designed by the manufacturer to have this) for hair.
A scissor that started life as a beveled edge shear MUST maintain its bevel. All shears, even beveled ones, must retain its original edge gemotery through every sharpening!
Semi-Convex (Micro Bevel)
Semi Convex or Micro-Beveled edges are basically a mini version of the Bevel. If you have a Titanium Coated shear for instance, youll notice just at the edge there is a thin hairs-width line of exposed silver. When a titanium coated shear is made, the shear is finished completely and then the titanium coating is applied to the entire shear. Well, what about that edge? The factory will just cut off a miniminal amount of steel at the correct angle to leave a razor sharp edge for slicing through hair.
This Washi is titanium coated. You notice that above the WASHI there is a shiny highlighted edge. This is a semi-convexed edge. If you have a fully convexed shear that has been beveled or semi-convexed, then your shear has been improperly sharpened and should be replaced by the sharpener who provided that service to you!
Fully Convexed shears have faces that look like airplane wings. They are one continuous surface that is never interrupted by a cut in or bevel. For example, the Hikari pictured here is a freshly sharpened Fully Convex shear. These edge types are the smoothest, most razor like edge one could possibly have. With the types of high carbon steels we use today (440c, VG10, ATS314) a fully convexed edge type will provide the stylist with the absolute best performance no matter what.
PLEASE NOTE: Companies that claim their shears are fully convex and are titanium coated are either lying or misguiding you to believe something that isn't true. ALL TITANIUM COATED SHEARS are semi convex. There are, however, all stainless shears that are semi-convex...
Ride Lines (Hone Lines)
No matter what, a shear MUST have a ride line (with a few minor exceptions). The way a scissor or thinner blade is bent and twisted requires there to be a smooth, flat, uniform surface for the blades to ride and lap along. Otherwise, the two edges would dig and grind into each other, causing major problem and necessarily frequent sharpenings.
The photo here shows clearly the ride line on the inside of the blade. It is even and uniform, following in perfect paralell to the edge of the scissor. It travels down beyon the pivot and around like a fish-hook. This line should NEVER be on both sides of the inside of a blade, or swollen/missing/uneven. A few things can be the cause of a ride-line disaster. Either the ride is missing, it was done on a belt grinder or washed out and dished waterstone, or it was done on a flat hone device. These are ONLY ADJUSTED on a flat and clean water stone. Well get into that on the page "Sharpening 102". IF YOUR SHEAR is missing a ride line, or has one that is horribly formed, perhaps your sharpener isn't the greatest after all...
So, what happens if my sharpener ruins, breaks, or sharpens my shear improperly?
1. TO PROOVE that your sharpener has ruined or altered your shear, you must TAKE DETAILED PHOTOS of your shears (as you see above and below) prior to sharpening, and immediately compare the freshly sharpened shear to the photos you took.
2. Compare the edges of your freshly sharpened shear to the edges of a BRAND NEW SHEAR of exactly the same model or similar model (don't compare a convex shear to one that is produced as a Beveled edge). They should look identical
3. Make sure the ride lines have been restored properly and are shiny and well polished. They are even and unwavering.
If your sharpener has altered the geometry, edge type, or failed to establish a correct ride line, you are entitled to either a refund of the sharpening service or a brand new tool of exactly the same model and brand. We feel that a sharpener should be responsible for all the work they do, and if they knowingly or (from lack of training or understanding) unknowingly alter your tool, they should immediately replace that tool on THEIR COST!
If they break your tool, or cause un-repairable damage to your shear, they instantly are responsible for the replacement of that tool as well. If they refuse, or give any excuses or try to brow beat you, take down every detail of contact you have for them and TAKE THEM TO COURT!
Please save all photographs securely of the item in question. They will be relied upon in court. Also, and VERY IMPORTANT, make sure you tell as many stylists as you know about the issue and EDUCATE YOUR FELLOW COLLEAGUES! This information is not talked about by sharpeners because IT WOULD SINK THEIR BUSINESS and cause them to loose everything they dishonestly earned. This might be a very strong stance, but Phantom Edge is in the game of supporting and educating our clients to the best of our ability, and the carnage left behind by our industry needs to end. NOW!
The Phantom can only do so much to educate and provide sharp advice to our creative community. It is up to you to be public and carry on the message of proper sharpening and maintenance techniques. Make it known through social media and reviews your experience and share the educational pages that are on our site. Imagine how horrible you would feel if a shear you spent money on was ruined. Now imagine how many people that sharpener or company has done business with, and how many thousands of dollars were earned dishonestly. You have the power to go out and protect, save, or prevent further unecessary tool carnage and help keep money in the pockets of hard working individuals. You have the power to shut down the dishonest and theft like industry ripping off those around you. Go out there and be a hero! You've got the Phantom's permission.