Maintaining Sheep Shears

How to Maintain Sheep Shears

Electric sheep shears are an important piece of equipment for your farm, and properly maintaining the shears you own will ensure they run safely, and perform well for a long time. Most people who complain that their shears don’t cut well, or run too hot don’t have defective sheep shears or sheep shearing blades, they simply don’t have the shears adjusted correctly with adequate lubrication, sharp blades, and the correct tension.

This short article will walk you through how to maintain sheep shears, including cleaning electric shears, cleaning combs and cutters, oiling and greasing your shears, comb and cutter storage to prevent rust, and adjusting the tension rod to keep the blades from overheating during use.

At the end of the article is a useful video from Bucks County Extension, which will walk you through the electric sheep shear maintenance steps covered here.

RELATED: How to Shear a Sheep (Video)

Electric Sheep Shear Maintenance Checklist

These are the 5 things I suggest you do to ensure that your electric sheep shears are properly adjusted, adequately lubricated, and stored properly during the winter.

  • Clean the Air Filter Screen
  • Oil the Clipper Head
  • Grease the Internal Gears
  • Check the Tension
  • Clean and Store Your Combs and Cutters Properly

​There is a description of each important step below, along with an image to illustrate where you should complete each item on your electric shears.

Clean the Air Filter Screen

Typically this screen is at the bottom of the shears (near the cord and on/off switch). This filter screen must be regularly inspected and cleaned. Doing so ensures that the motor of your electric shears has access to plenty of air.

Sheep Shear Air Filter Screen

If this screen is dirty and airflow is restricted, your motor will overheat. This makes the shears uncomfortable to hold, and too hot for the sheep.

Add Oil to the Ports on Your Shears

There are several oil ports on the headpiece of most electric sheep shears. You want use a heavy-duty motor oil in these ports to ensure proper lubrication.

How to Oil Sheep Shear Clipper Head - Where are the Oil Ports on Electric Sheep Shears

Most people will use a 30-weight motor oil. I’ve had the best luck with Marvel Mystery Oil – an aromatic engine oil which lasts a long time. I recommend using it with a pump-action oil can which makes applying the correct amount of oil a breeze (and prevents a mess/wasted oil).

Grease the Internal Gears

This should be done 1-2 times per year for most people. You may need to do it more or less often depending upon how much you use the electric sheep shears on your farm.

Where to Add Clipper Grease on Electric Sheep Shears

Take the clipper head off your sheep shears, and use a specially formulated sheep shear gear lube or grease, and pack a good amount of grease in the shearing head. Then simply re-attach the shearing head to the motor with the two screws.

Check the Tension (Regularly)

Your cutter should be tight enough to not fly off the shears, and to easily cut the wool fibers, but NO TIGHTER. Over-tightening the tension knob will put too much pressure on the blades, causing increased friction. This will quickly dull your blades and make your shears run too hot. This can be uncomfortable for your sheep (and you).

Adjusting the Tension on Electric Sheep Shears

You can use a little Marvel Mystery Oil on the blades as needed. If you’re trimming sheep for a show and don’t want to get oil on their washed wool, Oster Kool Lube is a good option. It’s designed for sheep shears, and won’t stain your sheep’s wool.

Clean and Store Combs & Cutters Properly

After each shearing, clean your combs and cutters of dirt and lanolin. Then lightly oil them, storing them properly so they do not rust.

How to Store Sheep Shear Combs and Cutters

I recommend soaking your used blades in very hot water before storing them for the winter. Doing so will loosen the dirt and grease, making them easy to clean with a stiff-bristle brush. Once cleaned, be sure to dry them completely with a paper towel or cloth (be careful not to cut yourself). Any water left on the blades will create rust.

Don’t ever run your shearing blades in water – this will dull them very quickly.

How to Store Combs and Cutters for Electric Sheep Shears

After they are completely dry, use some motor oil (I use the same Marvel Mystery Oil mentioned earlier) to coat them to prevent rusting. Next, wrap them in sheepskin, or felt, storing them away from moisture.

I’ve found one of the most convenient storage options to be a fly fishing wallet like this one, which zips closed, and allows for storage of your shearing combs and cutters between two pieces of shearling inside a durable waxed canvas shell.

When you store your blades, do not use WD-40 or a similar lubricant to store them, as they may rust. This will ensure they are ready to use again the next time you need them. It’ll also help them last a long time.

RELATED: This Year’s Best Electric Sheep Shears

Maintain Your Electric Sheep Shears to Extend Their Life

Protect the investment you  make when you buy electric sheep clippers for your farm (and if you are in the market for new shears, check out our buying guide to see what models perform the best and offer a good value). It’s much easier to spend a little time each year properly maintaining your shears, than it is to replace them annually.

The short video below offers some good guidance about caring for your electric sheep clippers. It illustrates some of the steps outlined earlier in this article.