Why do barbers have so many sets of clippers?

If you have ever been to a barber shop, you can be surprised at how many sets of clippers that we can have at our stations. You can also find barbers with just one or two sets. I participate in several barber groups on social media and talk with the guys in my area, and I have found that we generally fall into three mindsets.

The latest and greatest

Every year, folks buy up the latest cellphones, fashions, and other toys. Barbers fall into the same mindset.

The market for clippers is always expanding. It seems like not a week goes by without some new model of clippers or trimmers comes out. I often see barbers asking about others’ experience with a particular set of clippers.

I see various new colors come out, and one of the latest trends I am seeing is the “skeleton” model of trimmers. It’s based on a modification that many people make to their equipment.

Trimmers are used for the detail work around the ears, the neck, and often when prepping a lineup on the forehead – either before or after the razor in many cases. Several barbers have used a dremel or other tool to cut away the top parts of the cases so that they can clearly se what they are about to cut. Cutting the top lets them see just the hair and the blade, so they know exactly where the trimmer is about to cut the hair.

Manufacturers are now making versions of trimers with the blade sticking above the rest of the trimmer, and many barbers are buying them to make their detail work easier.

There are custom cases, different colors, and other variations that barbers get to express their creativity and personality. I have seen clippers with sports team logos, slogans, and other covers… One guy I know has all of his clippers and trimmers wrapped with the Louis Vuitton pattern.

Different clippers for different jobs

Clippers are being made with different types of blades now. Some blades are regular cutters and others are designed for fading and blending.

I use two sets of clippers: One for thinner and longer hair, and the other one is my “lawnmower”.

Some of the busier barbers also have two of each clipper on their station so that one can be recharging while they are using the other one. This also keeps the clippers in good condition longer, cutting the wear and tear on each clipper in half.

The minimalist

There’s also the folks who say that any barber can use any clipper to make any cut. I usually hear this from barbers who work primarily on straight or wavy hair.

There’s a lot of truth to this, because at the end of the day, all clippers cut hair. At the same time, it is true that some clippers are designed to cut much more closely to the skin than most clippers.

The minimalist overcomes this by using a combination of the clippers and different techniques, trimmers (which cut closer than many clippers), shavers, and razors.

Where do I fit into this?

I am somewhere between the “minimalist” and the “different clippers for different jobs” categories.

I usually keep two sets of clippers and one set of trimmers at my station.

Adjustable clippers

I typically use a set of adjustable clippers for longer hair, mostly anything longer than a buzz-cut. The upside is that I can cut hair that stays longer on the head. They are also adjustable on the fly. I can cut a little longer or a little shorter as I go, allowing me to make changes as needed. They are very handy for tapered haircuts which get shorter as the go from the top to the bottom of the head.

The downside, however, is that the hair’s final length is dependent on guard combs which fit over the cutting blade. Longer hair tends to work around the comb and evade the cutting blades, resulting in multiple passes and/or shear work above to catch any hairs that got away.

Clippers with detachable blades

This set of clippers uses a set of blades which can be switched out for different lengths. They cut very cleanly and my clients’ hair typically lays down better when I use them (I think I found out why). They cut through thick and coarse hair with ease and with less tugging on a client’s head. Most of the blades use ceramic cutting blades which generate less heat and are more comfortable for the customer.

These clippers can cut hair to 0.2mm, so they are fantastic for skin fades. They also have one that goes to 0.1mm which I often use as a detailer for cuts that close.

There are downsides to this clipper, though. For one, while they are great for short lengths, they can get iffy when cutting hair resulting in over half an inch long. They get the job done, but I need to check the work a little more when going that long.

The other downside is that they are very unforgiving. If a barber is not precise with them, or if the client moves their head. it shows. This isn’t much of an issue with longer lengths, but when we are cutting lengths shorter than 2mm, accuracy counts.

I tell my clients not to sneeze when I have those blades on the clipper.

About Dave

I am a barber in Marietta and the Cobb County area. I graduated from the Gwinnett Barber Institute and have been cutting hair since 2019.

Atlanta has always been my home, minus eight years when I was a Navy musician in Japan and Seattle.

When I am not cutting hair, I am usually found spending time with my family or at Atlanta United matches with the Terminus Legion in the supporters section.