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Thinning Shears are the Pet Stylist’s Eraser

Blog ImagerIt doesn’t matter how long you’ve been grooming or how talented you are as a pet stylist – sometimes you just need a little help. An “oops” can occur at any time. Mistakes happen.

Maybe there is a spot on the coat that you just can’t get smooth. Maybe there is tracking in the coat from the clippers or guard comb. You may have left scissor marks in the coat – or a hole in the coat you accidentally made with clippers or scissors. You might even be working with a dog that will not hold still long enough to work safely with clippers or scissors – leaving the coat rough and jagged.

Thinning shears can be your savior. They erase rough spots. They blend out jagged edges. They smooth out transition areas. They fix mistakes.

The difference between a good stylist and a great stylist can be determined by how much value they place on their blending shears.

Thinning shears (or blending shears) are the best-kept secrets in the grooming world. Used properly, they can make mistakes much less noticeable. For a new stylist, this is one of the first shears I always recommend upgrading in your toolbox.

Stylists that understand the value of this type of shear will invest in multiple pairs. Just like straight edge shears, there are wide varieties from which to choose. Some are for more general use while others have more specific usage. The key is to know how you want to use the shear. Do you need it for light wispy coats? Drop coats? Terrier styling? Working around the head or eye area or dealing with large surface areas? There is a blender to fit every single one of these needs.

I always suggest you personally try out thinning shears before you purchase them. Just like Colin Taylor says, shears are like shoes. You need to find the ones that fit… you! They have to fit properly as well as cut smoothly and run effortlessly in your hands.

So how do you narrow down your choices? Ask. Find out what other groomers and stylists are using. Determine which thinning shears they rely on every day in their salons. Believe me, they have opinions! There are lots of fabulous thinning shears out there – but there’s also a lot of junk.

Most high quality blending shears will have an average cost of $150 – $350. Of course, you can spend more if you like. Your equipment is an investment in your career. You may not need the Rolls-Royce when you first start out — but you do need something that is reliable and dependable. Luckily, there are many styles and varieties from which to choose.

The difference between a good stylist and a great stylist is that they know how to fix mistakes. Every one of us makes them. Having a nice collection of thinning and blending shears will be the erasers you need when that “oops!” happens.

Happy trimming!



Scissors Are Like Shoes

blog picHello!

We are excited to have Colin Taylor with us this weekend at the Atlanta Pet Fair where we will be selling his new book “What Would Colin Do?”. If you are in the area, please stop by the Melissa Verplank booth and get your copy signed by Colin. This is such a great book, I’ve included an excerpt to give you an idea of his unique and humorous style! Enjoy!

Happy Trimming!


Excerpt from the book “What Would Colin Do?” by award winning British pet stylist Colin Taylor. Used with permission.

I admit it. I’m a sucker for colin cover1 (3)good scissors. I know I’m not alone. Male or female. Young or not-so-young. Gay or straight. Scissors are like shoes. We just can’t resist a wonderful pair. The shapes. The curves. The colors. My fingers twitch with excitement when I come across a new set. I start to see them in my dreams. Creating beautiful shapes.

Yes, like shoes, scissors come in an array of sizes. Colors. Makes. Models. But, like shoes, they also need to fit. However much you might need that particular pair, right now, if they don’t feel right, don’t try to convince yourself you have to have them.

The color of the scissors won’t improve your scissor work. And after a few days, the euphoria of our purchase will reside. We might still love them. But, fundamentally, scissors have to be comfortable. They have to be practical. We need to be able to use them with ease. They are the extension of our hands. The instruments of our talent. Our training. Our expertise. So don’t be swayed by the salesman’s perfect pitch. Go with the feelings in your hands. But also your gut.

Let’s say you have acquired that prized pair of scissors. You have to keep them in good working order. You have to make sure you use them only in ways that will protect their balance and sharpness. It’s hardly any wonder that heated arguments break out when a pair of scissors is borrowed without permission. And fights over scissors — sharp tools, remember — can be a frightening thing.

Use a wider bladed shear for scissoring dirty hair. These blades can take the wear and tear of cutting heavy dirty coats. And then go for a lighter or Japanese style shear as your finishing scissors. The technology of scissors, the materials used in the construction, is complex and scientific. Look out for the ‘Rockwell’ hardness of the metal used. A harder Rockwell hardness means stronger metals have been used. Which is what you’ll want.

When I buy a pair of scissors, this is what I do: I always feel them in my hands first. To check for a good, natural fit. I check the Rockwell hardness. I want something that is going to be strong and durable. I don’t get distracted by how glamorous or pretty they look. I concentrate on the potential performance. But it takes enormous self-discipline.

I try to go for an off-set shear when buying a pair of scissors. This means that the thumb hole is higher than the finger hole.

My collection of scissors include:

  • Curves: To get nice angles and lines.
  • Straight Shears: All purpose.
  •  Thinning Shears: To blend in lines.
  •  Texturizing Shears (chunkers): Create a more jagged/textured look.

Scissors also have tension screws. Adjust this so it feels right. But resist fiddling with it too much.

When I store my scissors, I make sure they don’t bang against each other. I also don’t store them in the wet room area of the salon. There is a lot of condensation here. I need to put them in a cool, dry place.

I have so much experience buying and using scissors, I should create my own pair. I’ll call them ‘Precious.’

To get a copy of Colin’s book, follow the link to MelissaVerplank.com or catch us at select trade shows in the United States. Colin Taylor will be in Melissa Verplank educational booth at the following grooming shows.

The Atlanta Pet Fair      March 7-9

Intergroom                        April 4-6

GroomExpo                       Sept 19-21

by Guest Blogger, Colin Taylor

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