Many customers at my http://www.larrythebarberman.com online shop ask me to zero gap their new trimmers and clippers before I send them out. I’m always happy to do it, but if you drop your device or knock it out of alignment during your busy day, you need to re-zero-gap it yourself. Otherwise, you’ve lost that tool for the duration!
Today, I’ll show you how to zero gap and build your confidence that you can perform this important task. But first, an explanation of zero-gapping:
Zero gapping is taking the cutting, or moving, blade (represented by yellow in the picture) as close as possible to top edge of the fixed, or comb, blade (represented by black in the picture) without going past the top of the fixed blade. When zero gapping, you also position the cutting blade an equal distance from both the left and right sides of the fixed blade. Again: the cutting blade goes very close to the top of the fixed blade and equidistant from both left and right sides.
This gives you sharper lines and lets you board closer.
If the yellow goes past the black, (cutting blade goes past the fixed) your client will get cut, so be sure to leave a bit of distance from the edge!
How much distance is determined by how heavy-handed you are. The heavier your hand, the further you want the top edge of the cutting blade from the top of the fixed blade.
Barbers talk about 3, 4 and 5 hair-strands of gap (if you can imagine!), but that is how finely you will want to adjust the distance. To test how heavy handed you are, try out your adjustments on the back of your arm before you put those blades anywhere near the back of your client’s neck! You will soon find the gap that is right for you.
To sum up: Zero gapping is taking the cutting blade as high up or as close to the edge of the comb blade as possible to get a lower cut or sharper lines, with your ‘handedness’ taken into account.
Now, on to the Three Keys of Zero Gapping!
# 1 Take on the right tools. You need various sizes of Phillips and flat head screwdrivers for the job. I prefer Tool Hub products for their good, comfortable grip, which gives you very fine control. You’ll need that, because zero gapping requires gentle, easy, controlled turns of the screws.
Tool Hub has a general set of combination Philips and flat heads as well as a precision set for use on smaller trimmers. See for yourself! (LINK HERE)
#2 Loosen screws as little as possible. You will make it much harder on yourself if you loosen the screws too much initially. The cutting blade will slip when you retighten the screws, and you will have to re position all over again.
People make the loose-screw problem worse by tightening one screw all the way down before attending to the other screw. This practically guarantees the cutting blade you so carefully positioned will slip! Many people unscrew, reposition the blade, and tighten one screw all the way again, which again shifts the blade. Rinse and repeat! Very frustrating.
Don’t make yourself crazy this way! Just loosen each screw ever so slightly so the blades remain braced tightly against each other. This way, once you have positioned the cutting blade, it will stay where it is as you prepare to retighten the screws.
#3) When retightening, gently alternate between the left and right screws. Make slight, gentle turns of each screw alternately, back and forth, back and forth. This keeps the blade, already snug, firmly in position. Once you are sure the screws are tightened and the blades are securely braced against each other, you can apply more force to complete the tightening.
If you are working with fixed blades, such as the Styliner II, it’s the same drill: crack the screws ever so slightly, look down the blade, position it to your zero gap – depending on how heavy handed you are – and retighten gently back and forth, top and bottom, until it’s perfectly tightened again.
Another tip: On the Styliner II blade, the flathead screw in the middle is the tension screw, which adjusts how tightly squeezed together the blades are. If the screw is too loose, the blades will separate too much and catch or pull your customer’s hair. Too tight, the blades will not move at all.
So that’s how easy it is to zero gap your tools to the precise degree that works for you! This is excellent knowledge to have and will make you more confident you can handle any problems that arise.
As always, you can watch me demonstrate the “How To” on video at my YouTube @larrythebarberman.
Good luck and until next time, happy barbering!
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Precision screw drivers kit:
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