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Barber Jon Bourne Of Barber Town Worcester, Shares His Thoughts On the Barbering Industry 2017

With multiple barbershops and a position as an NVQ assessor, Jon Bourne from Barbertown in Worcester certainly has a lot on his plate. But he still found the time to catch up with me, and share some of his industry knowledge. Starting his career in a family barbershop, he managed to climb his way through the ranks before eventually setting up his own brand of vintage-inspired barbershops. I asked him about how they’re bringing back some of the best traditions of barbering for a modern gent.  

“We tend to buy old barber chairs – I have some great clients that can service an reupholster them. In general, the shops are just organic, they keep growing. Over time trends change and we adjust the shops accordingly. A lot of the stuff is memorabilia that I myself have collected.” 

This means vintage scooters, old arcade machines and everything in between – and it helps to create what feels like a home from home for Jon no matter which of the three shops he’s working at. But there’s more to Barbertown than good aesthetics – it’s also built on a strong work ethos. 

“We are community barbershops, in locations with local schools and colleges, car dealerships, solicitors, local rugby clubs. Rather than being the standard high street spot, we work within Worcester as part of the community.” 

This community spirit has also meant supporting apprenticeships for young, up and coming barbers. “The apprenticeship model is really important. When I started, you started at the bottom and worked your way up. Ash trays needed emptying, foot rests needed cleaning – it was all about attention to detail. That’s how we start our apprentices off now. It gives them a real grounding, and they become much better barbers.” 

 

Of course, that isn’t the extent of Jon’s work in education: he’s also an end point assessor for students completing their NVQ Level 2. “You spend a couple of hours, watch them do a couple of haircuts. It’s about how they interact with the clients, the consultation, the cleanliness, how they use their tools. And if I think they can do all those things competently then I sign them off.” 

Jon also thinks that there should be more regulation within barbering, with to ensure that barbers who work hard to do things properly aren’t undermined by people with low standards who just want to make a quick buck: “I think every barber should go through some sort of registration process, so the standard is the same. 

“It’s frustrating for the barbers that do everything properly to see others who are unscrupulous, almost doing slave labour, paying cash in hand. It needs to be stamped out and everybody needs to be regulated. We have very sharp instruments, there are infections and if you’re doing everything properly then you don’t have anything to worry about. If you’re serious about your business, why wouldn’t you do it?” 

 

Aside from formal qualifications, Jon brings his exacting standards to the modern hub for barbering education… YouTube. “I just thought we’d post a few videos showing how we cut hair. The feedback has been really positive, I’ve been overwhelmed. People are really interested in traditional styles of barbering.” 

This will naturally lead to people wanting more in-depth training on the Barbertown methods of cutting hair, and the good news is that Jon has plans to start his own academy in the not too distant future: watch this space! 

Another interesting aspect of Barbertown Worcester is their ‘Stay Sharp’ logo, which apparently came about as something of a catchphrase that the barbers would say when working with younger clients. “If I had a pound for every time it was used, I wouldn’t be sat here, I’d be in the Bahamas. It’s just become a bit of a mantra. Now we do T-shirts, various products available from our web shop at barbertown.co.uk. Keep visiting, there’s always going to be more content.” Aside from the shirts, there are all kinds of grooming products available from Jon’s shop; I’d definitely recommend taking a look at barbertown.co.uk. 

 

So, what does a barber like Jon, with now over 30 years of experience under his belt, rate as his best moment in the industry? “When I had the vision of barber town. All of a sudden, I had a new love for barbering. Nobody had things like pinball machines, laptops for people to take orders, Sky Sports back then. We were giving beers away, having that extra service.  

“I took on pretty much the biggest shop on the street. It was a real gamble, I had two very small children. But my wife backed me, and hard work has got us where we are today. I’ve got a great team, too.” 

It’s fair to say the industry has changed a great deal within the 30 years that Jon has been cutting, and one of the newer developments is the introduction of social media. While it’s a new addition to the barber’s toolkit, it’s not to be ignored: Jon and his team have embraced the new technology, and Instagram in particular: 

“On the back of that I’ve met some great people and been offered some great opportunities. It’s a great tool if you use it correctly. We have around 60,000 Instagram followers – I think people just buy into the brand and like what we do. We please ourselves before everyone else as well, which helps.” 

 

It has been great to talk to a barber who represents real professionalism and standards. His closing advice to young barbers reading this now? “Just put the effort and the work in. Go to your local barbershop and get an apprenticeship. Even do it for free for a couple of months if you can afford it. Just get it under your belt.”  

Don’t forget to follow Barbertown on Instagram – and check out the Larry the Barber Man channel too once you’re there! You’ll also find me on YouTube and Facebook; follow for more interviews with top barbers. 

 

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The 3 Keys, To zero Gapping Any, Hair Clipper Or Trimmer, Quickly & Easily

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!

Tools:

7 pieces screw driver set
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575100416&toolid=10001&campid=5338183206&customid=exstore_1&icep_item=221755790785&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg

 

Precision screw drivers kit:
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575100416&toolid=10001&campid=5338183206&customid=exstore&icep_item=322675841934&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg

 

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Turn Your Andis U S Pro Li Into a Mean Fading Machine Quick & Easy

My latest tutorial is all about getting more from the Andis USProLi clipper. In general, this is already a great tool with a great battery life and really good cutting power – however I’ve heard from some barbers who’ve found that the bevelled blade isn’t giving them what they need. While bevelled blades are quite versatile and can be very forgiving depending on your cutting style, it is less ideal if you do a lot of fading and, in particular, won’t take out the balding line for a skin fade. So, what can you do to make this clipper work for you?

My recommendation is changing the blade, fitting the ‘66255’ surgical blade that’s used for the gold US Fade clipper. The key difference between the two is that, where the bevelled blade has a 45degree angle, the surgical blade is completely flat which allows you to take out the balding line. It also makes it easier to do a 90degree angle – and also makes it somewhat similar to the Wahl Magic Clip tool.

All you’ll need is a Phillips screwdriver: the first step is to take out the two screws at the top. I recommend working using a matt or towel underneath the clipper, as this will help you keep the screws safe. Once you’ve taken the blade off, start by replacing the blade mount, with the flat side facing away from you and the grooves lined up with the clipper’s spindle and wires. Then position the cutting blade on top, making sure that there’s a small gap between the blade mount and the cutting blade. Finally, replace the fixed blade: apply some pressure to it so that it springs down, and replace the screws.

It’s important not to zero gap the clipper at this stage; instead, secure the screws tightly to fix the blade in place, and then loosen them again – but only very slightly. At this point you can zero gap your tool, making sure that the distance from the left and right is equal, and leaving a gap of around 5 strands of hair between the cutting blade and the fixed blade – otherwise you’ll end up cutting your clients! Finally, you need to tighten the screws up, very gently at first and then, once it’s secure, apply some more pressure.

This will give you more range, excellent 90degree angles, and allow you to knock out those balding lines. Just remember to keep your bevelled blade safe, so that if you’re not getting along with surgical blade you can always change it back! If you found this post helpful then please don’t forget to like and subscribe on my YouTube, Instagram and Facebook and make sure you don’t miss out on any upcoming barbering tricks.

 

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Why Andis Fademaster & US Fade Blades Cuts Skin and Pull Hair

Difference between Surgical Blade and Bevelled Blade

With the popularity of the Andis Fade Masters, I’ve found a worrying trend for complaints from barbers who have had problems with it pulling on their client’s hair or even cutting the skin! This is because, unlike most of the Wahl and Andis clippers that you probably have in your collection, the Fade Master uses a surgical blade rather than a bevelled blade, and you need to be able to use this tool in a different way.

To help you get to grips with your surgical blades, Harry Pirate from the Pirate Barber Shop in Bromley has kindly given me a quick rundown of the difference between the two, as well as how you should be using the Andis Fade Masters and other similar clippers safely – without cutting your clients’ skin. He adds that these tips are also useful for the Wahl Senior; although that uses a combination blade rather than a surgical blade, it is very similar so these tips should come in handy for both tools.

The key difference that you need to be aware of is that the surgical blade is a lot sharper and a lot flatter, without the rounded safety edge that you’ll find on bevelled clippers. Harry tells me: “I use the surgical blade purely for afro hair, very tight to the skin cuts and very close skin fades. You must keep it dead close to the skin, no flicking. Honestly if you try and use it like you use a bevelled blade your client is going to get cut – they’re going to look like Freddy Krueger has had a right go at them when they walk out your shop and they won’t come back.”

At the Pirate Barber Shop, they’ve had clients coming in who have been cut up by other barbers and need their haircuts fixing! Obviously, no barber wants to give their clients this kind of poor service and, as Harry says, there’s really no excuse for it: you need to learn about the tools that you’re using and make sure you have all the necessary information before you start your cut. If you have a Fade Master on hand then take a look at the blade now and you’ll be able to tell how much sharper it is; no wonder, then, that barbers are finding that they can seriously hurt people. Harry recommend that barbers who aren’t experienced with these blades only use them for skin fades – and even then, you need to be careful!

Essentially, if you think of any surgically bladed tool you have as being akin to trimmers and use them in the same way – flat against the skin – then you should be able to give a better service, stop pulling on clients’ hair and, most importantly, avoid cutting the skin. Harry also points out that you don’t need to zero gap these blades: otherwise, as he puts it, you’ll be “literally just scalping people”.

That’s really all there is too it, so thankyou to Harry for providing this simple but incredibly informative guide to the difference between bevelled and surgical blades, and to all the barbers reading this please get to know your clippers so you can keep your clients safe and satisfied. Head over to my YouTube, Instagram and Facebook pages to find more great, educational barbering videos and articles so that you can make sure you’re a barber who really understands their tools.

 

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