-- Why its better to use our service than any other --
You NOW have a better choice!
Northern Tails Sharpening was started by Jeff Andrews as a sideline to his grooming and boarding facility in Michigan. Sharpening was very bad in Michigan, and whenever they got equipment back from the sharpener it didn't work very long if it worked at all. This inspired Jeff to find a way to sharpen his own equipment so their equipment wasn't at the mercy of sharpeners that didn't know what they were doing.
He was trained by the best sharpeners in the United States. He went to Kansas and Nebraska for training in sharpening clipper blades, then to Illinois and Ohio for training in sharpening regular and high dollar convex grooming and beauty shears. It seemed like overkill for a groomer just trying to find a way to sharpen his own equipment, but it was the starting point for someone who turned out to be "One of America's Favorite Sharpeners".
After dealing with some family issues, Jeff wanted to move south where his roots are. So after Hurricane Katrina, Jeff moved his very well known mail-in sharpening service to the Alabama Gulf Coast region, where local groomers had no help with their sharpening and repair needs. The "on-site" service area went from Pensacola FL to as far as Lake Charles LA. It seemed everyone was mailing out to someplace and were now very happy that a "World Class Sharpener" had finally come here.
Today, Northern Tails Sharpening has evolved from a groomer sharpening his own equipment in the back room of his grooming shop, to sharpening and helping groomers from all over the U.S and the world. Here are some of our accomplishments and goals to be mentioned, because it took years of hard work to get the trust and confidence of groomers from just about everywhere.
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* We advertise in three major pet grooming magazines that go world-wide.
* We advise and advertise on three major pet grooming bulletin boards. This gives groomers with problems immediate help with their equipment. There are several great sharpeners on these BBS's so help is always available anytime 24/7.
* Jeff gives equipment care seminars to several grooming schools, corporate salons, and vet colleges along the Gulf Coast. He is also a published author, and pioneered self-help video's for equipment care for groomers. He has uploaded his video's to other sharpener's websites so groomers everywhere can benefit from this instruction.
* We correspond on Facebook. Search for "Jeff Andrews".
* We are a Wahl Distributor and Repair Center in Alabama.
* We are a Laube Distributor and Authorized Service Center for AL & LA.
* We are an Andis Distributor and Repair Center in Alabama.
* We are a certified sharpening center for many shear manufacturers (call)
* We insist on being the most affordable sharpening service in the United States. This is Jeff's way of taking care of fellow groomers that helped and inspired him so much in his life. Its not always about money, its about service and doing the right thing.
* Our employees are groomers presently working in the grooming industry. This makes Northern Tails Sharpening a "Groomer Based" sharpening service.
* The "Mail-in" service has grown to where one person can not handle it alone. Jeff trained some very focused individuals who know the grooming industry. What better employees to have because they know everything there is about the tools they are working with. When we get equipment in that isn't quite right we call you, we just don't try to fix junk and mail it back to you. We always do the right thing.
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Jeff's experience started at a time when there wasn't any mobile sharpeners, everything had to be mailed out and you waited weeks to get it back. During this time, YOU had to maintain what equipment you kept so you were able to groom until your blades came back in the mail. If something didn't work YOU had to figure out what was wrong and fix it. This is what an "Old School" groomer is.
The articles and videos Jeff has written and filmed are from his years as a groomer keeping his equipment in top shape and running. This media is for YOU, so you don't have to figure things out and make the mistakes he did over the years. No other sharpener in the world will do that for you.
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My Grooming Certification, 1981
We also have authority to sharpen these shears:
Northern Tails Shears
Northern Tails Uses the Best Equipment Here is the sharpening equipment we use and why we use it
You NOW have a better choice!
The Shop Machine
We use the best clipper blade machine in the business, its a machine developed by Mitch Kingsland and "The Shop Inc". Known as "The Shop Machine" it puts the perfect hollow grind on the blades that doesn't drop down on the outer teeth like most other sharpening systems do. This technology enables the blades to cut weeks longer if you practice good blade care techniques. We have several of these machines that use the "automatic" feature, which moves the blades back and forth on the honing plate along the sharpening plane perfectly. Human technique in the process contributes to most blade failures, and these automated systems eliminate it completely. This means your blades will be sharpened perfectly and consistently every time.
For information about the "Shop Machine" to include pricing and training, visit the website: www.theshop-inc.com. Or call and talk with Mitch Kingsland toll free: 800-442-6144
For a video demonstration and information about the "Shop Machine", click on the link below.
Regular grooming shears are still sharpened the old fashioned way using a "Twice-As-Sharp" scissor sharpening system developed by Wolff Industries many years ago. This may be slower than using the more popular "Flat Hone", but with this system we can control how much metal, if any, is taken off shears as they are sharpened. You'll never have shears come back ground up, or having that "banana" shape to the blades.
As a groomer, Jeff will sharpen and set up these shears as if he were going to use them. But if the tension feels a little off for your grooming style, it's OK to take a screwdriver and adjust the tension yourself until it feels good to you. "Old School" groomers re-adjust the tension on their shears as soon as they get them back to fit their hand and style.
For more information on shear sharpening, types of machines available, or training, visit the Wolff Industries website: www.wolffind.com. Or call and talk with the training department toll free: 800-888-3832
This video is for new sharpeners who are having trouble sharpening and maintaining the same angle along the blades of curved shears. Groomers use the front of the shear more than the back, and if you don't get the same angle along the whole shear, the tips will dull in weeks instead of months. Works for both beveled or convex.
These shears are very different than regular shears, and have to be sharpened in a completely different way. Instead of having a "beveled edge", premium shears have a "convex edge" which looks as if the edge is a sharp razor. The insides of the blades are contoured to make this edge stronger and slice the hair rather than cut. Most times, good convex shears cost anywhere from $150 to $500 a pair because of the high grade metal needed to support the convex edge.
We sharpen convex shears using the "Ogamii Sharpening System" developed by Wolff Industries. The blades are first buffed with a polishing paste on the Ogamii polishing wheel until the cutting edge is polished perfectly to eliminate any nicks and blemishes. Then each blade is then honed on a Japanese waterstone (as shown) until the polishing burr is gone, and a razor edge is restored again. This system takes very little metal off the blades if any. It takes longer to do it this way, but thats how they do it in Japan.
If your not sending these high dollar shears out to the manufacturer for sharpening, Jeff can do it for you right here.
NOTE: We never use a "flat hone" to sharpen shears, because most grooming shears are curved and the flat hone was designed to sharpen a 4" straight shear for the beauty industry. Many sharpeners do use a flat hone to sharpen 8" and 10" curved grooming shears. The technique used for curved shears is inconsistant with the technique they were taught for straight shears. So, they develope their own technique and this is why there is variation in their work.
8000 Grit Ceramic Honing Stone
Sharp Edges In Illinois, Decatur Illinois
We Buff And Shine Shears
Another thing we do is make your shears look better than new if we can. If possible, we run every shear we sharpen on our buffer and clean the grime and hairspray off, then buff it with paste to make it shine. This technique is especially used on expensive convex finishing shears after sharpening to make them look better then when they were new. We even wipe our finger prints off. We have taken a very rusty pair of shears that was somebody's favorite shear for years and made them look new. Sometimes it can be a challenge, but we try nevertheless. We know how special they can be to someone.
Brown Radial Bristle Wheel (400 grit): Granger#1ED46
Buffing Wheel Spiral Sewn: Grainger# 02U083
Green Oxide Buffing Paste: Woodcraft# 85H28
Harbor Freight Bench grinder is a 8in 1/2 hp (1/2 in shaft)
Clipper Blade Tension Scale This scale should be part of every sharpeners toolbox. It accurately measures the tension of the cutter blade spring with consistancy each time. Now put the correct tension on blades as determined by the manufacturer. This tool is great for groomers as well to check tension on blades.
Watch the video for information, then call "Sharp Edges" at 217-422-0911 and order yours today!
Who Works at Northern Tails Sharpening
-- What "optimizes" the sharpening process for the "Mail-in Service" -- -- Why we can maintain a 48 hour turnaround with the volumes we do --
You NOW have a better choice!
Dana (MG, NDGAA) Blade Technician / Master Groomer
Dana is a successful groomer and shop owner in Mobile AL for over 30 years. There is nothing she doesn't' know or hasn't done in the grooming shop in that time. What better person to see your equipment and check it for damage or if its worn out past its usefulness. We'll call you if we find missing or damaged equipment, we don't just sharpen anything!
Her grooming facility grooms around 30 dogs a day, and we use it to test out equipment we've repaired on real dogs (if needed) to make sure it works for you in your shop. We also use her shop to try out new equipment introduced into the grooming industry. Several manufacturers have sent their new products to us for testing in the shop for our opinion.
Technician, Customer Service
Amber does everything, blades, shears, shipping, clipper repair, 5-N-1 refurbishing, ect. Worked here for years and learned the business from the ground up.
She makes phone calls and is big on customer service. She actually manages the business now where Jeff can take a break now and then. She has a Masters Degree, and is a clinical psychologist, and does that part time for veterans. She was also in the US Coast Guard for some time.
Mariana is Dana's daughter, and is a college student. She started out by helping break down blades and getting them ready to sharpen. After a few years she wanted to try the blade machine, so we let her.
Today she is the best blade sharpener I've ever trained, I'd put her up against anyone in this business. She can sit with a Shop Machine on each side of her and put out 60 to 80 blades an hour. She runs the refurbishing machine for 5-N-1 blades, and adjusts everything to ship. She works everyday after school, and then goes home and studies.
She is a straight A student and is in the forensic sciences as a major.
Jeff (Groomer, NDGAA, IPG, NAPCG)
Master Sharpener / Groomer
Jeff has worked in his own grooming shops and knows how equipment is suppose to cut. He is a trainer and lecturer, and has produced "How-To" videos to help a groomer help themselves with equipment care. These same videos can be seen on other sharpening websites to help those customers as well. He also talks to all the groomers who call about the sharpening service, and calls those groomers who sent in questionable or damaged equipment with recommendations. He gives advice on "Old School" methods of grooming and equipment care on several grooming BBS's. He is a published author, and submits articles pertaining to equipment care to Groomer To Groomer Magazine, Petgroomer.com, and his blog on GroomWise. He still grooms a little when the workload permits it. Jeff operates a small "on-site" sharpening service for grooming shops along the Gulf Coast 2 days a month. He says its to keep the battery charged up in the mobile rig.
The Complete Sharpening Process at a Glance
This flowchart shows how we can sharpen alot of equipment in a short time without rushing the work, rushing causes equipment failures. This process enables us to be consistent, precise, and a dependable sharpening service.
The Sharpening Shop at Northern Tails Sharpening
Unlike other mail-in sharpening services who use their mobile sharpening unit outside thier house to sharpen, we have a 20 X 50 dedicated building. This ensures our sharpening equipment isn't out of adjustment or alignment.
We just wanted you to see where your box goes, this small tour may help you decide our service is may be the one you finally stay with.
The building is on our property in Mobile Alabama. We sharpen an average of 28,000 clipper blades, and 15,000 shears a year, all mail-in. The Post office drops off boxes in the morning, and picks up boxes going out around 4 pm. We never leave the business. We have two security systems, one from ATT, and one named "Satan".
A hurricane took the top out of the tree so we took it down completely.
Clipper and Trimmer Blade Sharpening
The inside is packed full of sharpening equipment, parts for our clipper repair service, a shear sharpening area, a data center, and a shipping area.
This is a look at the blade sharpening area where we have two completely automatic blade machines. The left one does regular clipper blades using 240 grit, the other one is dedicated to refurbishing nothing but Wahl 5-N-1 blades using 400 to 600 grit. This machine was manufactured with the Wahl specs on the plate (3/1000ths per inch drop), and special magnets to hold both parts of the blade. Trimmer blades require a very fine powder to do "polishing", and we don't want to combine this service on another machine in fear of mixing sharpening media. Trimmer blades also require a lower grind angle, its not good to sharpen them on the machine we use for regular clipper blades.
We use a bench grinder with fiberglass disks to buff the rust off blades. We de-magnatize, then use an air hose to blow the grit off blades after sharpening. If we dont blow them clean, it may cause the blades to dull prematurely, and cause a black streak on the dog.
We sharpen around 35,000 blades and shears per year. I have 2 employees that work here with me, and we're all groomers that work in my shop across the street.
We are one of a few sharpeners that have a dedicated wheel for sharpening and repairing ceramic cutters. Ceramic cutters are flat on the bottom and so is this wheel. The wheel is diamond coated and spins at 1700 rpms, we hold the cutters with a clamp and not a magnet. This system makes the cutters like new unless they are fragmented beyond repair.
All Shears - Beveled or Convex
We average 15,000 shears a year, both beveled and convex, any straight or curved, any thinner or chunker. We are certified sharpeners for several shear manufacturers. There are two sharpening systems here, one for beveled and one for convex.
For bevelled edge shears we use the "Twice As Sharp" machine by Wolff Industries. We have a 600 grit diamond on the left "cutting" wheel, and a 5000 grit diamond on the "polishing" wheel on the right. We don't use any stone wheels because they take too much metal off, and we want to save the metal on your shears.
For convex edges we use the Wolff "Ogamii" machine which lets us keep the same angle from one end of the shear blade to the other by tilting the blade as we pass the blade across the 1000 grit diamond wheel. This technique prevents flat spots in the middle of the blade, or that "banana" shape the blades can get from being sharpened on a flat hone. It also lets us conserve metal because we only take off what we need to. We then polish the blade using paste on a buffing wheel to a brilliant luster and roll the edge over. The shear blades are then "honed" on a ceramic stone to take off the burr and turn that edge into a "razor". There's a ceramic stone on the table in the picture. It's a slower way to sharpen shears but a better way for us, and better for you too!
All shears are tested on hair, you can see it hanging from the left machine. Other sharpeners use toilet/tissue paper, because thats the way they were taught. We want to test shears on the same media thay are used for cutting. We make sure they cut and not fold all along the blades, or snag at the tips. You won't catch this cutting paper with them. And besides, in over 30 years in the grooming shop, I've never groomed a roll of toilet paper.
This is an ingenious way to keep the entire order together from one stage of the process to the other. The whole order goes from breakdown rack, to sharpening rack, to shear sharpening/clipper repair rack, and finally to the shipment rack.
We find that if you keep everything together you never mix up anything from one order to another. With the amounts of orders we get in every week this has proven to be the best way to keep orders straight.
We ship 1000's of boxes a year, and we make sure your equipment is packed in an appropriate size box to get enough packing material around it.
We use new boxes when needed, flate rate boxes if appropriate. Bubble wrap is used for shears and clippers, foam peanuts are used to fill in spaces, and we even use recycled Walmart bags at the end to pack everything tight in the box so nothing moves during shipment. We use the right size box and packing materials for each shipment, we never skimp. We pack everything like we are shipping to ourselves.
This is our "data center". It may look like two computer systems on a messy countertop, but its two completely separate business systems.
The computer on the right is our shipping computer. It is connected to the internet where we get postage online through the USPS.com website. We also get postage from UPS.com if we ship that way. It is as secure as the virus software that's installed on it. We do use the internet on this computer.
The computer on the left is a whole different system entirely. This is our customer database and billing software computer, it is NOT connected to the internet. We use Quickbooks, and it retains our customers personal information and credit card numbers. We wrote a security procedure according to our banks guidlines pertaining to credit card sales and retention in our system. We are audited yearly on this procedure. If we have your credit card numbers, no one else is going to get them out of this computer. Do you know what happens to your credit card information that you give other sharpeners??
Below is a copy of our credit card security policy, and our Certificate of CPI Compliance from our merchant services and the banks.
This is an average weekends workload finished and ready to ship on Monday morning. Adding this amount of boxes to the ones we get during the week, we average around 40 to 80 boxes a week depending on the time of year.
Curved Shear Configuration
The Flat Hone Shear Sharpener We DO NOT use this sharpening system
The Flat Hone Sharpener has a universal technique used in sharpening straight shears, you can see by the way the shear is clamped in the machine. BUT, when doing a "curved" shear, the technique isn't the same. In fact, the technique is not the same from one sharpener to another using this machine, everyone develops their own technique. This can cause the angle along the beveled edge to flatted in the center of the shear blade causing cutting problems. Its even worse on convex edges, it sometimes fattens out the convex part of the shear making your $200 shears cut like $20 shears and fold hair in the middle. Over time, the blades of the shear get a "banana" shape to them, the tips won't close all the way or overlap, and the metal at the pivot gets ground away because of the extreme angle they use to sharpen the entire curved blade on a flat wheel.
I've watched several sharpeners use the flat hone to sharpen a curved shear and they all did it with a different technique. How consistent is that?? Some even sharpen clipper blades using this machine. If your always having problems with your curved shears cutting after they've been sharpened check and see what kind of system that sharpener is using. If its a flat hone that may be the problem.
To sharpen a curved grooming shear, beveled or convex edge, the machine to use is the "Twice As Sharp" system developed by Wolff Industries. Its the only machine we use for all shears.
This is my opinion of this machine used with curved pet grooming shears. The flat hone works outstanding where it was designed to be used, sharpening straight shears for the beauty industry.
Example of a Flat Hone Sharpener
Here is a picture of curved shears sharpened on a flat hone sharpener. Are your shears in this condition?
Clipper Blade Machine Calibration
First, you need the correct measuring device. I use the
WESTCOTT 18 inch 8THs Graphic Ruler (clear)
You can Goggle this ruler and it is sold in many places. Cost is about $6.00 US
Finding the center of the hollow ground on manual machines is easy. setting up your guide string or lazer is the hard part.
First, center your graphics ruler on the middle pin of the wheel and extend it out to both sides of the plate. Its best to set up your guide in a comfortable angle for sharpening, it doesn't have to be from corner to corner. Drill holes in the side of the machine to hold your string or lazer. The ruler is set at a comfortable position for holding the magnet and moving back and forth across the plate (see picture)
The middle line of the graphics ruler is the center of the hollow ground, and directly in the middle of the front and rear rails of the blade. The outside line of the graphics ruler is where the fron of the rail on either the cutter or comb should be guided along. This will grind a good hollow grind. Guiding the tips of the blade along the CENTER of the hollow grind could shorten the cutting life of the blade. Don't follow a string or lazer mounted over the CENTER of the hollow grind.
Calibrate the string or lazor using the graphics ruler positioning the center of the hollow grind on the center line of the ruler.
When running a cutter, the tips of the cutter should move along the string or lazor
When running the bottom blade of #40, #30, #15, #10, #9, & #8 1/2, you move the tips of the blade along the string or lazor.
When doing the bottom blade of #7, #5, #4, #3, or larger, dont not run the tips of the blade along the string or lazor. Run the tips of the cutting surface along the string or lazor by estimation. Notice the tips of the bottom blade are extended past the lazor, but the tips of the cutting surface (on the plate) are following the string or lazor. Failure to do this will cause the blade to not cut at all.
Automated machines take more work because of adjusting the magnets in position, but this is the best way I've found. You can't go by the factory marks on the rods, sometimes they don't fit all the way down the holes, and this can throw off your calibration alot.
Make sure the plate you calibrate on is fresh, don't use a plate you've been sharpening on for a while.
Clean your plate real good. Turn off the motor to the automated arms and wheel, or unplug it. Then stretch the ruler across the plate as shown, you may have to cut the ruler down a few inches to fit inside your machine. If you have a brake of some kind to hold the wheel in one place so it doesn't move, apply it.
Its important to keep the ruler across the the center nut as shown. To help, tape the ruler down to the plate INSIDE of automated arms to keep it from sliding around.
Next, get both parts of a clipper blade, a comb and cutter, use a #10 or a #7F blade. Take the comb and put a line with a magic marker directly in the middle of both rails as shown. Do this to both sides of the comb. You dont have to do anything to the cutter, the rails are the very front and back. We want the middle of the hollow grind to be in the middle of both rails on these blade parts.
Attach the comb to your comb arm, and the cutter to the cutter arm and gently lower them both on to the plate.
Eyeball the ruler as being square across the plate and square to the arms. Imagine the ruler and one of the arms form a "L". Look and see where the mark on the comb blade is in reference to the middle line on the ruler, do the same with the middle of the cutter.
If your wheel is locked so it doesn't move, and the ruler is square as good as you can get it to the arms, the rest is easy.
See where that line you drew on the side of the comb sits on the middle line of the ruler. If its off, lift your arm and adjust the magnet head so that line sits directly on the middle line of the ruler. It shouldn't be that far off to begin with.
After you move it, verify the squareness of the arm and ruler and see where it sits again.
Leave your comb magnet laying on the ruler, it will help keep you square.
Now do the cutter side the same way. See where the cutter lays on the ruler, if its off adjust it. Lift the arm up and adjust the cutter magnet so the middle of the cutter lays on the middle line of the ruler. Also, this ruler has to outside lines as seen in the photo, the width between them is almost as wide as the cutter. You can also adjust the cutter magnet so the tips of the cutter teeth ride along the outside line as shown in the picture.
After you've calibrated both arms, check to see if the blades lay on the ruler the way you want them to. Readjust if necessary.
Now run a few blades. Take the cutter from these blades and rub them out on your test plate. You should see a shiney line across the very tips of the cutter, and shiny parts on the corners of the back rail. This is good hollow ground. The comb will be OK, but you can rub it out if you want to. Its hard to see hollow ground on the comb blade.
If you don't see shiny on the middle teeth of the cutter, it has to be moved back a little. If you see shiny down the teeth and not along the tips, it has to be moved forward a little.