Why won’t my blades cut, or why are my blades pulling hair?


We get asked “Why won’t my blades cut, or why are my blades pulling hair?” a lot, and sometimes it comes in the form of a statement, “My clipper/trimmer blades quit cutting/started pulling hair, so I threw them (“them” being the blades and sometimes the entire clipper/trimmer!) away.”  We HATE hearing about people throwing their money away, because 9 out of 10 times we can help you get your blades cutting again for much less than a new blade and CERTAINLY much less than a new clipper/trimmer.  The time that we can’t get your blades cutting again, the blade is trashed and does need to be RECYCLED.  Don’t just toss your blades, please recycle them.

So, how does someone get a blade that is not cutting or is pulling hair to start cutting again?  Just follow T.O.P. C.A.T.S.

Infographic that you can download or print.

T. = Teeth

O. = Oil

P. = Power


C. = Clean

A. = Alignment

T. = Tension

C. = Sharpen


T. = Teeth

The first check that you do is on the teeth of the blades.  Are all the teeth still on the stationary blade?  Are all the teeth still on the cutting blade?  Are all the teeth straight?  If you are missing teeth, then you should seriously consider replacing the blade.  If you still have all the teeth, then move to the next step.

O. = Oil

Yep, this is the one that gets a lot of people.  For some reason oiling the blades is something that people refuse to do when this one step will save you more money than anything else.  It keeps your blades functioning properly and keeps them from wearing out as quickly.  Go here to read about the correct way to oil your blades.

P. = Power

Your third check will be the power of the clipper/trimmer.  Is there enough power to move the cutting blade fast enough to cut?  Turn the tool on and pinch the cutting blade and the stationary blade together.  If you can stop the cutting blade with very little pressure, then your power is too weak, and you will need to clean out your tool and/or adjust the power (upcoming article).

C. = Clean

If all the teeth are present and your power is good, then you will need to clean your blades.  Carefully remove the blades from the clipper/trimmer.  Thoroughly clean the blades using a cleaner specifically made to clean and care for your blades and a stiff nylon bristled brush.  We use and highly recommend the cleaner and disinfectant H-42.  Ensure that ALL hair and dirt has been removed from the blades and from between the teeth of the blades.  Dry the blades with a towel and reassemble the blades.  Also, inspect for rust BETWEEN the teeth.  You do this after you have thoroughly cleaned the blades because you do not want to replace a blade that was simply dirty and not rusty.  If there is rust damage between the teeth, then you will need to replace the blade.  The rust dulls your blades and will continue to dull the blades even if they are sharpened.

A. = Alignment

After cleaning your blades, then you MUST align the blades or they will not cut properly no matter how clean and shiny they are.  Ensure that the stationary blade and the cutting blade are parallel and gapped appropriately (Upcoming article).  Each clipper/trimmer cuts better at different gappings because of how they are designed, but ALL clipper and trimmer blades MUST be parallel to cut correctly.  Do not look through the teeth (Picture A).  Turn the blade to the side so that they teeth lineup which makes it easier for you to gap (Picture B).


 (Picture A – WRONG WAY!)

 (Picture B – CORRECT WAY!)


T. = Tension

Tension is of the utmost importance when it comes to your blades functioning properly.  ALL blades have some form of tension forcing the cutting blade against the stationary blade.  If this tension is too much, then the cutting blade will not move or will move poorly.  If your tension is too little, then the blades will rattle, will pull hair, or will clog up with hair stuck between the blades which will stop the cutting blade from moving/cutting.  Either way your tool will not cut properly.  (Upcoming article)

S.= Sharpen

Finally, if you have properly followed the above steps and your blades still do not cut or are pulling hair, then you need to look at having the blades sharpened by someone who knows what they are doing or completely replacing the blades.  We suggest getting your blades sharpened as many times as possible before replacing them with new blades.  This saves you money and saves on blades being thrown away (or preferably recycled).  Blades that have been sharpened by a professional who knows what they are doing will cut as well as a new blade (sometimes better) and will hold that edge just as long as a new blade.

Now if you hear anyone ask, “Why won’t my blades cut, or why are my blades pulling hair?” you can tell them to follow T.O.P. C.A.T.S. and help them diagnose the problem.

Finally, T.O.P. C.A.T.S. is not just for old blades that are not cutting.  You should apply the same steps after you get back your sharpened blades or after getting a new blade.  The companies that produce blades do make mistakes sometimes, as do professional sharpeners, and at a minimum, you will need to align the blades properly before using them.


23 thoughts on “Why won’t my blades cut, or why are my blades pulling hair?

  1. Dear Sirs,

    I have baught the hair cutter Moser 1400 for dog grooming, and I have been cutting my maltese dog’s hair, but it has stopped. It only works on human hair, dog’s hair it does not cut any more… What can be the problem?

  2. Hello. Brand new Oster A5’s won’t cut my dogs hair. Bichon/Yorkie mix. Not thick. Hair pulls. I’ve bought 3 more blades of different sizes without luck. Help Please!!!!

    PS…Hey Buford!!! I used to live on Hog Mtn before there was anything!!! We had Hig Mtn BBQ and a gas station. Lol. I now live in Louisville GA south of Augusta.

    • Hello!

      Hog Mountain (well, the whole area) has grown to be a lot more than Hog Mountain BBQ and a gas station, lol.

      First, have you oiled the blades? If not, give that a shot. Lubricating the blades will loosen them up and allow them to run smoother and faster. Just use the oil (not the grease) that came with your clippers.

      If that doesn’t work, then I would have to get my hands on all the blades and the clipper to give you an informed diagnostic. Unfortunately, there have been a rash of blades from all manufacturers that are not cutting coming out of the packages. It could also be a clipper problem.

      Let me know if oiling the blades works or if you need to get the tools to us.


  3. karen wilson says:

    hi there,

    I have a wähl Clipper self cut kit. I’ve only been using it a few weeks, so it’s not gummed up with hair or anything. The blade moves, but the clipper doesn’t cut my hair. What would you suggest?


  4. Hi, this is Jim. Recently bought an Oster Turbo A5 to trim my Golden Doodle. The original blades cut too short so I purchased new a #3 blade from them. When changing blades around they stopped cutting so I followed your advice on “alignment” and that seems to work. Thanks! When putting your information into my notebook for future sharpening use I noticed that your phone address on you website is different that that on your sharpening invoice. Is that procedure done by another company? I liked your response to Karen asking her to call you. A personal touch. Jim

    • Jim,

      Glad that you got your blade working properly! Our shop’s address is 14 West Main Street, Suite E, Buford GA, 30518, but our mailing address is P.O. Box 912, Buford GA 30515. If you want to mail us something, then please use the P.O. Box, but if you want to come visit, then use the shop’s address. Hope this clears things up!


  5. Just got oster a6 pro care clippers in today, started on my standard poodle worked about 30 minutes and then started pulling. The reason I bought these clippers is because my a5 did the same thing, that set of clippers was about 2 yrs old so I thought maybe they were worn out. So I thought I was upgrading to an a6 that would do better. But now it’s done the same thing. I put two brand new blades on it that’s were the cyrogen x 10 and they did the same thing. So now I think something fishy is going on with the oster products. I oiled my blades and everything and still pulling. I’ve never had this much trouble. Please help!!!

    • Amy,


      Would you be able to call me at the shop? Our number is (678) 288-9768. We will be there from 9 AM to 5 PM (EST) Monday through Friday. I think I can help, but it will be better if we can actually talk.


  6. Jill nazzaro says:

    Thanks Josh!!!

    You looked at my clippers via phone pics and let me know they won’t work on a standard poodle even though they are sold as such (Wahl dog clippers).
    I have spent many hours watching you tube videos on how to fix my clippers with zero change. I’m disappointed in Wahl that I’ve wasted so much time and money on a product that is labeled to work but doesn’t at all.
    I’ll replace with clippers that are for dog hair/fur therefore have the blades that pop off and not that lever on the side which is more for human hair—
    Thanks again Josh!!

    • Jill,

      It was a pleasure speaking to you. Both Wahl and the place where you purchased those clippers know that they are not designed for dogs. I just wish we could have done more for you.

  7. I have a Wahl Bravura clipper for my Goldendoodle. I use a long attachment – 23mm or 25mm – about 1 inch. When I am running the attachment through his fur, the whole metal blades section separates from the main clipper body and lands on the floor. This happens constantly – no matter how gentle or careful I try to be. The attachment will get stuck, and as soon as I try to work it through – again, gently, not using force, the metal blades piece pops away from the clipper main body. To add insult to injury, the 25mm attachment broke when it hit the floor. This is really upsetting as I just bought a new attachment set with the metal blades, and this was the first time I used them. How cheap they must be made to break when being dropped from a height of about 18 inches. Would really like to get some advice. Thanks!

    • The blade has three pieces that fit into the clipper to hold the blade in place. Two of the pieces are parallel and look like hooks about halfway down the back of the blade. The third piece is a small tab at the bottom of the blade. If any of these has broken off, the blade will not stay attached to the clipper when it comes in contact with resistance. These pieces can be replaced during a sharpening. If these pieces are not missing, then it could be one, or both, of the metal retaining tabs inside of the clipper are missing or simply stretched out. If you would like call me at (678) 288-9768, then we can talk more.

  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Bought an Oster A5 to shave our very old, very skin compromised Newfie.
    Read all the literature accompanying it, went on Youtube (my children swore by it) to watch countless videos, could not get clipper to trim his coat with the 10 blade. Kept snagging, dragging, not cutting. Oiled blades, aligned them, then ordered a 10 wide blade, reoiled clipper, still wouldn’t clip his coat!
    Found your article, read your article, followed all your steps, (I think the most important was adjusting the tension on the blade) and Voila! it works!
    Thank you so much for sharing your expertise, just saved me hours of frustration and my Newfie loves you as well!

  9. The article is very much helpful, specially TOPCATS formula. I applied the formula to my Andis Clipper and now its working. May I know What is the best clipper oil I can use?

    • Hanna,

      There is no best clipper oil. As long as it is formulated for clippers, you are good to go. We sell and use the Andis Clipper Oil in the 4oz bottle, but that is only because that is what our supplier sells.


  10. Hi i have wahl clippers and they dont cut. They are moving normaly not any weird noises but when I try to cut hair it doesnt it just drags the hair and does a lot of noise . Can someone help me . I ve seen so many videos and articles and still havent found a solution

    • Kristian,

      I would have to get my hands on them to give you a definitive answer, but sounds to me like your blade is dull. You can either get it sharpened or purchase a new one.


  11. Umair Khalid Khan says:

    Hi! I have a philips aquatouch S5070/04. The click on precision trimmer is causing me these problems. I cleaned it using the instructions and added sewing machine oil, all of this did help and little but still no where near optimum condition. Can anyone tell me how to open the trimmer head only so that I could assess and clean it further? Don’t wanna spend money and get a new trimmer head which would cost as much as a whole new trimmer. Thanks

    • Hello!

      Unfortunately, we do not work on Phillips tools. I have no idea how to open the trimmer head or if it is even possible to open them.

      Best of Luck!


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