Best Barber Tools: 5 Sensational Trimmers For Barbers

Welcome to Barber Hacks, your FREE online barbering resource to help you be a better barber. Today we’re talking about the trimmers that you’ll need in order be your best barber.
I’ve had barbers tell me that the outline of a haircut is the most important part or the haircut, and there are moments when I agree with that. A lineup is often the part of the haircut that we notice first with fades. When it comes to this technique, the solid lines define our canvases. If you are going to be fading on a regular basis, knowing your trimmer and how to maintain it is key to a great haircut.

Trimmers are baffling to some barbers and stylists. I read comments on Instagram daily that say, “How do you get your trimmers to hit like that?” I understand completely. I remember asking myself how Jamie Foxx’s hairline was so incredibly straight while watching the Oscars one year. This was before I had any idea what a lineup was. As a hairdresser and barber I’ve always felt that you should be as knowledgeable as possible about your equipment, and that broadening your knowledge base to include as many hair types and techniques as possible will save you from embarrassing situations.

Trimmers, when it comes to their simplest form, are for taking hair off the neck and for shaping the sideburns and nape of the neck, but you can also use them to taper, to bald a head, or create your first guideline in a bald fade, for shaping-up, and to create beard and moustache lines. Trimmers are essentially a mechanized cutthroat with a guard that barbers use to create guides before going in and shaping up with an actual straight razor. Many master barbers will create these lines with just the cutthroat, but a trimmer is a way for the average barber to build up to that moment.
For those of you not in the know, all good trimmers have the capability of being “zero gapped.” Zero gapping involves bringing the cutting blade closer to the guide blade. If you look at your trimmers you will see the cutting mechanism is composed of one movable blade and one that is stationary. Most barber trimmers have the capability to move the blades closer together, zero gapping them, to create a cutting blade that has a sharper edge allowing the user to create cleaner lines. The closer the two blades are together, the nicer the line, the closer the two blades are, the more zero-gapped they are. For beginners, the blades that come stock out of the box are sharp enough, but to achieve a crisp outline you will need to know how to zero gap your blades. To do this you have to unscrew your blade from the trimmer and loosen the movable blade from the other and bring them closer together and then tightening the blade back up again. Some people like to achieve this by loosening the blades and then putting both of the blades on a mirror, allowing them to sit as flush together as possible without the bottom blade overlapping the top, before tightening the screw so that they no longer move. This technique works if you have a light hand (very light pressure on the trimmer when you have the blade on the skin so that you cut the hair but not the skin), but there are plenty of times when you don’t want to have this level of sharpness on your blades (for children, clients with sensitive skin, and if you have a heavy hand). I generally eyeball my blades to a point where they are very minimally apart and test them out on my own skin (and yes, I have put a small cut into my skin this way, but sacrifices must be made) until I’m happy with how they cut. As a beginner, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference between a sharp or dull blade, but trust me, after a couple of thousand heads you’ll know. I will repeat this again as a warning, do not let the bottom blade overlap the top (the moving blade cannot overlap the stationary one) or you will cut someone and you will surely anger a customer and scare yourself from ever zero gapping a trimmer again.

If you’re a classic barber, you may never need your blades this sharp, because you’ll probably never cut into the hairline, but I believe that it never hurts to have knowledge about your equipment. Knowing more about the entire industry is better than knowing less. Getting to know your equipment and being able to service them is part of the job. Having the best tools for the job will give your haircuts that extra edge, and while some customers may never notice it, the ones that do will appreciate it.

I work with three trimmers, two Andis Slimline Pros of varying sharpness, and an Andis T-outliner, and I use them all differently. Before I get into my suggestions for trimmers, know that there are so many trimmers out there that are capable of getting the job done, and there are more being released all the time. I don’t have the capabilities to try them all, so if I’ve missed anything, feel free to leave a comment about your favorite pair.

My go to trimmer right now is the Andis Slimline Pro LI. It feels light in the hand and is incredibly powerful. I have one that I use for balding and for kids, and I have one that I use for outlining the hair and lining beards and moustaches. The slimline pro has a great blade that you can zero gap easily. There are no cords here, so you can turn them upside down to hit a lip line without having pullback from a cord, and they are small enough to fit into small areas of the face easily. I love them for lining goatees, especially on smaller faces, they fit nimbly under lips and in between the guidelines that I make on chins and under noses. For lineups on smaller foreheads you can fit the blade flush against the skin without worrying about taking chunks out of eyebrows. The complaints that I’ve heard regarding these are that they feel cheap, and they are made with a light plastic casing. I haven’t seen anyone break the casing when they drop them, so despite being light, they are durable.


You may ask, “Why not buy the cheaper Andis Slimline Pro?”, the Andis Slimline Pro is a good trimmer, it has the exact same blade as the Slimline Pro LI, and it is a little heavier in the hand with a little thicker casing so as not to seem so cheap. The difference is in the battery. The Andis Slimline Pro LI has a lithium ion battery that lasts a couple hours, I always leave mine docked when I’m not using them and have never ran out of battery. The Andis Slimline Pro has an older version of battery that requires that you let the trimmer’s battery run completely out every couple of weeks in order to retain battery power. After a couple of years, the Andis Slimline Pros just turn into bricks because their batteries die, and you have to buy another one. I’ve never experienced any blade slippage with these models, or very little, and that is nice, as I don’t have to readjust them often.


One thing that I don’t like about the Andis Slimline Pro LI is that they don’t have a t-blade available for them. It they did I would happily use just these for everything, but I like t-blades for shaping up the hairline, so for that I prefer the Andis T-Outliners (less strokes across the forehead makes for a straighter line). I keep them zero-gapped very closely for a crisp line and I find that the hairline and temple I have a less heavy hand with.

 Andis T-Outliners are tried and true, they will last you as long as you are willing to fix and maintain them, they have cheap replacement parts, and are hitters. I love these trimmers because I have invested the time in understanding this machine. If you don’t want to do maintenance (20 minutes if your time) every 4-6 months on these I suggest you look elsewhere. Many people say that these trimmers run too hot, and they modify the body (by sawing away a piece of the plastic casing) for more power and to keep them cool, but I think this mod is just for show and I like mine just the way they are. I’ve never run my T-Outliner for so long that it has been too hot for someone, but that has also been a complaint about these trimmers.

If you are going to purchase the T-Outliners, learn how to maintain them well (I will cover clipper maintenance in a future post), and they will reward you for it. Once you know these trimmers, they are easily the best on the market.


Now, I’ll tag the Andis GTX onto this as well. The Andis GTX and T-Outliners are the SAME trimmer with a different blade. The GTX has a deep toothed blade that barbers swear by. I haven’t tried them yet myself, but for my next purchase I am going to get a GTX blade and put it on my T-Outliner (they are interchangeable blades so you don’t have to buy an all new machine if you have a T-Outliner already). The GTX blade is considered to be one of the hardest hitting blades on the market.

If you are looking for the blade of a T-Outliner without the maintenance, Andis Styliners are the way to go, because while they need you to understand them, they are much easier to maintain than the Andis T-Outliner. I’m pretty close to purchasing a pair of these because I’ve heard so many good things about them and how they’re a more modern version of the T-outliner. I can’t recommend them myself, but I’ve worked with barbers that swear by them.

I will warn you against buying an Andis Superliner. I have had two of these machines and loved the power that they had for cutting through bulk and balding the sides, but both of my machines had issues where the rotary motor would somehow misalign with the casing and cause a huge racket. Both of them still worked, but both were so loud that I couldn’t bear working with them. If Andis could remedy this problem I would love these trimmers, as they were super easy to adjust the blade and the blade could pop on and off so that you could have multiple blades for the one machine. Being able to replace the blades, I think, is what causes the motor to shift causing the noise, and once this happens there is no fix for them. Too bad Andis, so close to a great machine.

Now if you’re a Wahl person, the Wahl Detailers are the legendary Wahl trimmers. There are now two versions of the Detailers, a corded and cordless version, but I’ll tackle the corded one first. The corded Wahl Detailers can be zero gapped, and other than adjusting and oiling the blades, they don’t require a ton of maintenance. These are hitters, and I’ve seen my colleagues smash out some amazingly tight lines with these. If you’re looking for a low-key set of trimmers that will hit, these are for you, although I have heard some complaint about blade slippage and that finding the sweet spot while zero gapping them takes time.

The Wahl Cordless Detailers, I think are some of the only trimmers that are cordless with a t-wide blade on them. They can be zero gapped with precision, and I work with a lot of barbers that use and love them, but I find them to be really bulky in the hand, but that is probably only because I’m so used to the Slimline Pro LI which is about half the size. One of my co-workers does impeccable lineups with these and swears by them, and he has been using them daily for over a year now. One thing that bothers me about these trimmers is that Wahl advertises that the small plastic lever on the side pushes the blade back and forth so that you don’t have to unscrew them to adjust the blades, but in the five machines that I’ve seen of these, none of them have ever had this feature that worked.

I will warn against the Wahl Heroes because their blades shift out of place, the Wahl Sterling Mags because you cannot zero gap them (but otherwise they are quite a nice cordless trimmer), and definitely do not buy a Wahl peanut because the peanut is a piece of garbage for amateurs.

There are also new trimmers on the market like the Bevel blade, as popularized by Nas, but they are really noisy and cost a lot of money for something that in any reviews that I’ve seen cannot live up to the T-Outliner in performance. Too bad, because they look really cool.

So those are my recommendations, and my warnings for these products. You can’t go wrong with the Crowbarber approved gear that I recommend, these are products that will make your life as a barber easier, so I encourage you to buy one or more of them, because with trimmers it doesn’t hurt to have at least two in your arsenal, one zero gapped and one that is less sharp. After all, you are only as good as your tools.

Thanks again for reading,
@crowbarber on Instagram
Follow our YouTube channel (content coming soon)
Email mjmartinejohn with questions or for joining a mailing list for new articles



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barber Hacks: The 5 Worst Habits Barbers Can Have

Barber Hacks: 10 Tips To Make Your Customers Comfortable

Barber Hacks: The Barbers Worst Mistake