Tuesday, March 31, 2009
A Guest Post By Mike Feagins
Hello fellow sharpeners! Today I had the privilege to go on my personal hajj to a place that nurtured many of us into our burgeoning careers – Wolff Industries in Spartanburg South Carolina. The purpose of my travel was to finally learn the essentials of sharpening clipper blades on my Extreme Kut clipper machine which had sat unused in my garage for well over a year. Though I had once received fine instruction from Bobby Huffman, I neglected to follow up his tutelage with practice and so once again I found myself in the position of young grasshopper seeking wisdom.
As I stood in the Seattle terminal at 5:30am, I prayed for a safe and direct journey to sharpening knowledge and fulfillment. Unfortunately this was not how it was to be written. My resolve was to be tested many times that day, and while I had prepared my mind for the challenge of a 3 hour time zone difference, my body and soul were not prepared for the hardships of missed connecting flights, baggage issues, and grossly overpriced airport alcohol. Through these conditions I struggled mightily to keep my faith, but finally, no less than 16 hours later my resolve was rewarded and I arrived at the $29.99 per night oasis called The Spartanburg Motel 6. The Sheets were thin and the bed springs worn, but I eagerly settled in for 6 hours of rest before pushing off to my final goal.
The morning wakeup call came much too early, but great expectations and a double latte propelled me to my destination. Sitting in the parking lot of Wolff industries, I reminisced on the innumerable white wheels and pink hones I’ve purchased and how those and so many other tools from Wolff continue to be indispensable and highly profitable. With one final yawn and a last chug of coffee, I passed through the front doors and into the lobby where I found the staff exceedingly cheerful for such an early hour. I felt much anticipation for the day of learning while I waited for my guru and good buddy Jim O. to appear and lead me down the path to clipper blade nirvana. It felt great to finally see Jim, and we wasted no time getting started.
The training room at Wolff Industries is clean and well lit and the machines are familiar. I was especially pleased to see the exact Extreme Kut machine which I own sitting at the ready. Additionally there were all flavors of TAS units, the Hira-To, and just about every other device that Wolff produces just waiting for someone (like me!) to take for a spin. However those would have to wait until later in the day since my primary objective was clipper blade sharpening. I told Jim that I had watched every video that I could get my hands on prior to coming in and could most likely ace a written test. But when it came to actually sharpening the blades, my hands just would not translate the knowledge in my head into the correct motor skills. We did many blades sets over and over testing them with Oster string, a rubbing block, and fur to track my progress. Gradually through the day I made big improvements in speed, technique, and most importantly quality - ultimately reaching a respectable level of acuity that will certainly improve with practice.
Fellow sharpeners, going to see Jim was a great investment. I have had many teachers in my quest for sharpening perfection, and I give Jim my highest possible rating. Most appreciated was his teaching style which hit just the right notes of critique and latitude. There were times he sat in the background and allowed me to think my way though a problem, and other times that he literally guided my hands. In just 8 hours I feel as if I was transformed from a rube to someone that, with a little more self study, can be the standard bearer for quality sharpening in this locale. I’m proud to call him my friend and was honored to meet his children and exceedingly lovely wife, who luckily for Jim must suffer from poor eyesight and certainly nothing else. I offer my sincere thanks to Jim and Wolff Industries.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wolff has picked up another great line of shears, the Lucky Hare Collection. There are fully forged, made in Korea, have welded handles, and look great. You can find out more about these shears by visiting the Wolff Site at:
If you'd like to visit the Lucky Hare web site here is the address:
If you have any questions, just give Wolff a call at 800-888-3832. This line of shears, cases, and razors sell great online and there are already a number of sharpeners that have had great success with them in the field. Consider adding them to you arsenal of products to sell to your stylists.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
A question I get is which blade should I corrugate? The one you want to corrugate is the stationary blade or the one that moves the least. In the case of a beauty, barber, or grooming shear; the stationary blade is the finger blade. On an industrial shear, the stationary blade is the thumb blade. For more info on this, or if you have other questions about corrugating, give me a call.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Howdy! I just wanted to encourage everyone that is planning on attending the Wolff Show in Richmond Virginia on May 2 - 3 to sign up quick. Wolff has already sold a number of seats and seating is limited to just 50. On top of that, we just found out that this is a NASCAR weekend, so if you are signed up and haven't booked your room do it now. Once our block is gone the room rate will jump from $79 per night to $170 per night, so act quick.
This show will be a great one! All the focus will be on shears and how you can grow and expand you business. I will have a full schedule written up soon. Please call if you have any questions. Wolff number is 800-888-3832. To find all the contact and pricing info for the show, click here.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
A couple of things I'm often asked is who should I buy a machine from, or who should I train with. Most everyone knows my personal preference for beauty shears sharpeners is either the Hira-To® or Ookami Gold®, the Twice as Sharp® for industrial shears, and the Extreme Kut for clipper blades; but everyone that has talked to me about this knows I'm not adverse to any of the machines out there. Most will sharpen just fine and the people that make them are proficient at sharpening, so there really isn't a wrong choice, but the questions still come; so let me give you some things to consider when you're ready to buy or train.
Things to Consider
Can you work with them?
There are many strong personalities in the sharpening business. Some come across as pompous, others arrogant, and then there's the ones that bad mouth everyone else. Watch out for all of these! If all you hear is how many years they've been sharpening, or how decorated they they are, or how no one can sharpen but them, run. If a person is truly good at what they do, they should have a quiet confidence that you will pick up on when you talk to them. If you feel they think too much of themselves, consider other options. Go with your gut.
Does the Number of Years They've Been Sharpening Matter?
To a degree yes, but this should not be the deciding factor. While I've been sharpening a long time myself, I've seen others that have been sharpening half that time that are excellent at what they do and would make a great trainer.
The Machine Does that "One" Thing
Boy this is the new rage out there! Let me let you in on something. If you hear a machine will do something none of the other machines can do on the market, it's a sales pitch; a gimmick. Is there anything wrong with the sharpening gimmick? No, not at all. But to spend more for a machine that will do some trick won't make you a better sharpener. What you ultimately need is a machine that is dependable and has a good jig system. All of the top selling machines have these features.
This is one of the most important things to consider. You want to buy from or train with a company that has a strong foundation. What should this foundation include? Here's my short list:
1. Longevity - can you see they've been in the business of supplying sharpeners for a while now.
2. Stock - if they don't have machines on the shelve ready to go, then they are building to order which is another way to say, "Flying by the seat of their pants." No stock, no stability.
3. Support - will they be able to help you when you run into a problem? Will you be able to get in touch with them when you have a questions? Here is something to think about. If you can't get in touch with a company on the phone to order a machine or set up a class during normal business hours, what makes you think you'll be able to get a hold of them if you need help. When you call, if a human being doesn't answer the phone, move on.
These are just a few things to consider. I said it before and I'll say it again, there is no wrong choice; it's just some of your options are better than others. If you'd like to discuss this more, please give me a call or drop me and e-mail. I'll talk to you soon.
Ever have trouble with the screws backing out of your grooming shears? Most of the time a little lock tight will fix the problem or maybe the shear needs a new washer, but on occasion you run into one of those screws that just won't stay in no matter what you do. So how do you keep it from backing out?
Well, what I do is ding the threads. What I mean by this is I pinch or crush the threads along the screw so the screw has some "bite" as you screw it into the shear. The slight burrs where the thread has been crushed will hold the screw in place so it won't back out. The tool I use the ding the threads up is a pair of regular pliers. Just grab the screw on either side, give it squeeze, and you're ready to go.
I just had to do this for a new customer a few weeks ago. She said she's had a number of other sharpeners try to fix the screw in her shear, but it keeps backing out. I called her yesterday to see if her screw problem was solved after I dinged the threads; she said it hasn't back out since. Give this a try the next time you have a problem screw. If you have any questions, just give me a call.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I've been getting a lot of questions about how to sharpen true left-hand shears on the Ookami Gold® Sharpening System. While you can sharpen the shear on the diamond wheel with the clamp in the honing position, and then polish the shear with the clamp STILL in the honing position on the outside corner of the polishing wheel; an easier way to do it is switch your wheels.
It takes a little more time this way, because it takes time to switch the wheels; but the shear will look better when it's done. And besides, in my opinion, it's safer to sharpen the shear this way. It's too easy to flip your clamp into the sharpen position to polish with the other method, and if you do, you will most likely cut into your polishing wheel which will ruin it. Not a profitable situation!
If you'd like to sharpen true lefts without switching the wheels, you can find the instructions on how to do so in the Ookami Gold® manual on page 24. If you don't have the manual, Wolff has a PDF copy online. Click here and then click on the Ookami Gold® link under Sharpening Machines. Another option is the Hira-To®. It's fixture can be set to sharpen true lefts. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The next Wolff Show is scheduled and Wolff is taking orders for seat as of now. This first show in 2009 will be held at the Holiday Inn in Richmond, Virginia on I-64 West End.
This show will be focused on Shears. Wolff will touch on Clipper Blade Sharpening, but there will not be a segment on Clipper Repair. (I'll shoot out a post about a show you can get some training on that topic soon.)
To find out about times and dates, click here.
I hope to see many of you there. If you have any questions, or would like to book your seat, give Wolff a call at 800-888-3832. Book soon though! Seating is limited to just 50.