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Last updated: October 06, 2017

Clipper Cutting 101

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Image courtesy of TONI&GUY


As barbering techniques explode in popularity, it’s more important than ever to integrate clippers into your tool kit in order to provide clients with a full range of options. Not feeling comfortable with clippers? Here are some basics from Wahl Director of Education Laura VanderMoere:


“Clippers boil down to three elements,” Laura explains. “The motors, the blades and the Taper Lever. The more powerful the motor, the more hair the clipper can cut at one time without bogging down. Blades can be standard or surgical; two-hole or three-hole; with attachment


combs of various lengths. There is a cutting blade and a fixed blade. The Taper Lever controls the amount of hair that is cut, which is essential for blending. An open lever (pushed down) means that the cutting blade is farther from the tip of the fixed blade, so the hair feeds through more loosely and slowly, and the cutting result is similar to what you would get with a wide-tooth comb. If the Taper Lever is closed (pulled up), the moving blade is closer to the tip of the fixed blade. The hair will cut on contact and the result will be a blunter, more precise cut.”


To increase your comfort level with clippers, start by getting it in your hands, suggests Laura. Turn it on and off. Get accustomed to the weight and feel. Play with the Taper Lever. (If it’s too heavy, consider a “mini” clipper like the Wahl Pro Pilot or Wahl Sterling Nugget—they’re two-thirds the size of a standard clipper with full power and full-sized blades). Hold it in your fingertips, and tip your wrist as if you’re drinking a bottle of water—that’s how clippers are held for techniques like tapering and fading. Snap the attachment combs on and off. When you’re ready, start by using it for simple techniques like cleaning up a neckline. The goal is to achieve that “Zen” moment when you’re thinking about your haircut rather than about the tool in your hand!”

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Laura VanderMoere