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Best Barber Tools: 5 Most Powerful Detachable Blade Clippers

Welcome to Barber Hacks, the website that is going to help you become the most well rounded barber in your barbershop. Beginner and advanced barbering knowledge to help you perform to the best of your ability day to day in the barbershop.

Disclaimer: I provide links to Amazon to products that I believe in. Feel free to purchase these products from the links that I provide. You will not be charged extra, but it will provide me with a small percentage of profits. Thank you.r

Detachable blade clippers (DBC) are every barber’s friend. What is a DBC? You’ve got your clipper, it works getting through the thickest heads of hair...most of the time. If you get a couple of snags every once in awhile, no big deal right? Wrong. Make your job easier invest in a DBC, a power tool that will cut through every head of hair like butter.  If you are cutting volume, and cutting thick hair often, DBC are your high performance vehicles, that muscle when you want the extra juice, but they are also surprisingly versatile.

I use my DBC to rid myself of all the excess hair and create a canvas that I can fade on, or I use it to lay in the bottom line of the haircut and taper up from that. For a traditional taper (starting with the clipper blades flush to the head and then rocking the blade out, leaving a longer length further up the head as you rock out), you get a clean crisp taper. I also use it for clipper over comb because with unparalleled power it creates a beautifully uniform weight line.

A DBC keeps your levered clippers blade sharp so that you don’t have to replace their expensive blades quite as much. The DBC’s blades are easier to get sharpened and after ten plus years of using mine I haven’t had to replace a blade that I haven’t dropped (and only the more fragile #000, #0000, and #00000 have broken when dropped). The blades are easy enough to sharpen, your scissor sharpener should be able to hook you up with that. The blades are easy enough to maintain as well, wash them in blade wash once a week, brush the hair from in between the blades after every use, disinfect them with Clippercide after every use and oil them after every cut (one drop of oil on each corner and one in the middle). All blades on DBC’s should be replaced while the machine is running.

It is also becoming more popular to fade with just DBCs. You can do this if you purchase every blade size and replace the blades in consecutive sizes. When you reach longer lengths and they have a small gap you can close this by using the corners of the small blade and flicking out to get rid of any lines that may remain in the hair. For me, I can’t be bothered changing over the blades and would rather use a levered clipper to fade instead.

I’ve got one ceramic blade that is Andis and is ceramic that I could care less for, and the rest are metal Oster blades. Ceramic tends to shatter if dropped so I stay away from them. I’ve always had the Oster blades and they work and have been durable over multiple years. When you buy a DBC you get the clipper body and one blade or two blades.
Oster detachable

When using levered clippers in conjunction with DBCs be aware that the #1 blade will not match up with the #1 guard that you have from your levered clippers. I’m including specs for the guards (Andis and Wahl) and the blades (Andis and Oster) so that you can compare and contrast and make sure you’re making seamless blends. I’m including these because they are the most common guards. If you have a Babyliss clipper, or some other sort, you’ll have to compare the blades yourself.
Andis magnetic guards set
Guard number : Size (inches) : Size (mm)
#0    1/16"    1.5
#1    1/8"    3
#2    1/4"    6
#3    3/8"    10
#4    1/2"    13
#5    5/8"    16
#6    3/4"    19
#7    7/8"    22
#8    #1    25

Wahl Guard Size
Guard number : Size (inches) : Size (mm)
#1/2    1/16"    1.5
#1    1/8"    3
#2    1/4"    6
#3    3/8"    10
#4    1/2"    13
#5    5/8"    16
#6    3/4"    19
#7    7/8"    22
#8    1"    25
#10    1 1/4"    32
#12    1 1/2"    38

Andis CeramicEdge blades chart
Blade number : Size (inches) : Size (mm)
#00000 : 1/125" :  0.2
#000 :         1/50"   : 0.5
#0A :         3/64"   : 1.2
#1  :        3/32"   : 2.4
#1A :         1/8"    : 3.2
#1 ½ :     5/32"  :  4
#2   :       1/4"    :  6.3
#3 ½ :     3/8"    : 9.5
#3 ¾ :        1/2"     : 13
#⅝  :        5/8"     : 16

Oster Detachable Blade Chart
Blade number : Size (inches) : Size (mm)
#00000 : 1/125" : 0.2
#0000 : 1/100" :  0.25
#000 :     1/50" : 0.5
Modified 0A :  1/50"     : 0.5
#0A :    3/64" : 1.2
#1 : 3/32" : 2.4
#1A : 1/8" : 3.2
#1 1/2     : 5/32" : 4
#2 : 1/4" : 6.3
#3 1/2    : 3/8" : 9.5
#3 3/4    : 1/2" : 12.7
Flattop T : 1/50" : 0.5
18 Skiptooth    : 1/8" : 3.2
Texturing Blade : 1/8" : 3.2

My favourite DBC, without reservation is, the Andis Supra ZR. Make no mistake, this is the best DBR I have ever set my hands on. The Supra ZR is cordless, has all the muscle of an Oster 76, and I can use my Oster blades on it without worrying. Having owned it for over a year I have had absolutely no problems with it at all. I use it on every haircut I do, and it shows no signs of slowing. For those of you that swear by Osters, the Supra ZR is a cordless Classic 76 without all the maintenance. My only objection to this clipper is the price tag, but after owning it for a year, I can say it is worth the price. I have never run out of battery while using it, I’ve never thought that it is too heavy (it is lighter the the Classic 76). The Supra ZR feels good in your hands, has adjustable speed (although I’ve never taken it off of high speed for anything), and it looks good on your station. The Supra has a lithium ion battery, which means it will not need its battery replaced ever. If you use a DBC you should own this one.

Second on the list is the Oster Octane, and it is a good machine as well. It is cordless, there is no maintenance involved with this machine, it comes with a battery pack that you can take out and replace (which is not an option on the Supra ZR), and has decent power. It is a lithium ion battery as well so it should last you for a number of years. The only complaint that I have heard is that certain blades make a lot of noise when put on the machine. The power doesn’t hold a shine to the Supra ZR, but it still a powerful machine.

The mother of all DBC’s the Oster Classic 76. Odds are you can buy this machine used, and it is worth the money, this is the classic detachable clipper and it is powerful, heavy and quite loud.
I never had an issue with this clipper when I was using it (and I used it for years). With this clipper you need to take the time to learn how it works, and to learn the maintenance for it. The Oster 76 needs to be well oiled (the blades need to be oiled, and there is a little silver ball bearing in the side of the body that needs oil bi-weekly as well), and greased (there are gears under the classic 76 faceplate on the front that needs to be re-greased twice a year. These clippers will last you forever if you treat them right, but you have to know how to treat them, and in these lazy days, people want to do less than more. But if you want trusted and true, these clippers are for you.
Now, there is a cordless version. And as with any cordless machine - this is worth the price of admission. Cut the cord, keep the power.

 Next up, the Oster Model 10. This clipper is the Oster 76 mini. It is lighter, more compact, and a little less powerful. It looks great in the hand, all black body and silver writing. I own one. I like it better than the Classic 76, but it is less of a clipper than the Supra ZR, mostly because it is corded. All the maintenance that comes with the Classic 76 comes with this machine, but once again, it will last forever and you may be able to find one on EBay at a reduced price.

Other machines that you can look for are the Andis BGR line (BGRV, BGRC, BGR+) which are powerful, but lack the power of the Classic 76 or the Supra ZR. They don’t need the maintenance of the Classic 76 or Model 10s. Be careful with the BGR+, it works well, but needs a battery replacement at least once a year because the batteries are not lithium ion.

Wahl also has the Wahl Rapid Fire that seems like an afterthought, is more lightweight, and is corded, with a medium amount of power. I’ve used it, it seems okay, but I’m not going out of my way to recommend it. If your arm is fatigued by heavier clippers, maybe this is for you.

 DBC’s are great, buy one, use it, you’ll start to get the hang of it soon enough and it will make your job easier. Invest in yourself.

Next week we’re going to cover outliners, so make sure to stay tuned,

Martin aka @crowbarber

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