In this article we will look at how to tune your Wahl clippers to get the best performance possible. As a barber there is no better feeling than when you start to use a brand new pair of clippers. But after a while, you may start to notice that they don’t seem to be cutting as well as they did.
With correct maintenance, a good pair of clipper should last you a long time, but what can we do to prolong their lifespan? Here I am going to cover three things you can do to tune your Wahl clippers to get the best performance for the longest time.
If you notice that your blades are starting to pull the hair it is probably a good indication that they need a service. Be don’t be put off by this, you can easily do this yourself. There are 3 main areas that you can look at to bring the efficiency of the clipper back again. These 3 things are :-
- Resetting, cleaning and oiling the blades correctly
- Adjusting the power screw so they run at full power
- Adjusting and setting the armature of the clipper
Resetting and Cleaning the Blades.
Many barbers are used to ‘zero gapping’ their clipper blades, even if they are brand new. But if you’ve never taken off your clipper blades, don’t panic as it’s a pretty straight forward process. But why do we have to do it at all? Well with all that hair and all that oil we use every week, it is a good idea to clean and reset the blades on your clipper at least once a week.
This is stage 1 of keeping your clipper running at their peak settings.
Taking off the cover
With the power off and unplugged, you need to remove the two screws which hold on the outer clipper plate. Put the screws safe and remove the outer blade and then the inner cutting blade. Clean these with a tissue or a clean cloth and check for any damage to the teeth. Place these aside and get yourself a small brush, either a toothbrush or a small paint brush is fine.
You then need to remove the small sponge piece from the clipper housing and clean out all the hair in the recess. DO NOT under any circumstance spray any lubricant or oil into the body of the clippers. The only part of the clipper which needs oiling is the blades.
TOP TIP: The white bit that drives the cutting blade is part of the armature. Hold the clippers so the back of the body is facing you. Then gently pull the tab three times towards you. This helps reset the tension on the arm until you can set it correctly. (see below)
Once everything is cleaned just reverse the process. Replace the foam insert and replace the blades. For now just nip up the screws so it hold the blade quite tight but is still adjustable. Making sure the taper lever is fully closed adjust the blades.
To check if realignment is correct, compare your clipper blades with this sketch below.
1.The end of the top blade teeth should be 0.8mm to 1.6mm back from bottom blade. This is important so that the clipper doesn’t cut too close or allow the moving cutter to touch the skin.
2. Extreme left hand tooth or top blade must be covering or be to the left of the first small tooth of bottom blade.
3. On the right hand-side align the blades as shown. Once all is good, re-tighten the screws. The best way to do this is to tighten each screw a little at a time swapping from one to the other.
Oiling the Clippers.
With the clipper running, put 2 to 3 drops of oil across the top blade, while holding the clippers so that the blade is lower than the body (Use Wahl Clipper oil ONLY! Other oils will gum up the blades.) Wipe off excess oil so it does not run into the motor compartment. Oil in the motor compartment will eventually damage the motor.
Use the correct oil
Blades should also be oiled after cleaning with Wahl Blade Ice Spray or Clippercide 5 in 1 Spray. Clipper should be oiled with each use.
Adjusting the Power Screw
Another ‘how to tune your Wahl clippers to get the best performance‘ tip, is to adjust the power screw. The power screw on the side of the Wahl clipper is used to make sure your clipper are set to run at full power. If this is not set correctly it will either be running under-powered or will make a horrible clattering noise. Don’t worry as this doesn’t damage your clippers.
Why we set the power
The armature which moves the cutting blade, should be as close to the electo-magnetic motor as possible without actually touching (if it does, this is the clattering noise you will hear)
We set this by switching on the clipper and then turn the screw in a clockwise direction, slowly until we hear the clattering noise. We then turn the screw anti clockwise until this noise stops. Switch off the clipper and then back on again. If you do get the clatter back the screw off another half a turn. This ensures that the clippers are running at their optimum power level.
Adjusting and Setting the Armature of the Clipper.
If you really want to learn how to tune your Wahl clippers to get the best performance, this tip is dynamite. This is a little know adjustment and is probably responsible for many clipper being thrown away in the bin. With constant use, the armature can weaken and get out of alignment, resulting in poor cutting performance.
What you will need
Think of this setting as the tension screw in your scissors. To loose and hair will get between the clipper blades and to tight and the blades will not move correctly as they will be too tight. I tend to reset the tension on the armature probably one every couple of months. All you need to do to carry this procedure out is a Phillips screwdriver, a torx or star shaped bit and a set of kitchen scales.
Make sure the clippers are off and unplugged. It is best to do this when the blade has been cleaned and been set correctly. Start by removing the cover of the clipper with the small Phillips screwdriver. With the cover off if you look on the side of the clipper body you will now notice the two star shaped screws.
These need to be loosened in a CLOCKWISE DIRECTION. Once they are loosened, you will need to apply approx 2lbs of pressure at the tip of the armature at the top edge of the housing.
This is where you need the scales. You can either practice on the scales so that you know what 2lbs pressure feels like. Do this by pressing down on the scale and watching the dial or reading. Or if the scale is able to reset to zero once something is placed upon it, put the clippers onto the scale and reset to zero.
You can then press onto the top edge of the armature (the bit in the photo, far left, with the two rivets) until the scale shows the 2lb reading.
You will then need to re-tighten the star screws ANTICLOCKWISE, until tight and secure. This will set the armature to the correct setting.
I can’t guarantee that these adjustments will bring your clippers back from the dead, but before you spend money on a new set, it may be worth a go. I can’t tell you how many clippers I’ve rescued, especially with the armature adjustment. So if your clippers are feeling a bit on the poorly side, give them a bit of care and attention and a tune up and get that great performance back.