How to sharpen nail clipper

How to Sharpen Nail Clippers: Four Different Methods

by jacky chou
Updated on

A penny saved is a penny earned. That’s why I bother sharing a post on how to sharpen nail clippers rather than buying new ones. Buying a replacement is going to be an extra cost. Just as you’d go for the best vacuum beard trimmer for your beard grooming sessions, to trim your nails neatly, you need a good clipper or two, one for fingernails and another for toenails.

What Is a Nail Clipper?

A nail clipper is a handheld trimmer for shortening fingernails and toenails. It is made of metal, plastic, or carbon. It has two chisel ground blades that it uses to clip your nail. A nail clipper can also file nails and remove dirt from beneath them, and it doesn’t matter the type of nails you have because there’s always going to be a nail clipper leaving you with groomed and clean nails.

Best nail clippers


The toenail clipper is flat across the top and has a straight cutting edge for properly and safely shaping your nails. It is also larger than the fingernail clipper. On the other hand, a fingernail clipper has a small-mouthed clipper with a curved jaw.
It works similarly to an eyebrow trimmer because it provides more accurate cuts. Plus, they are handy tools for personal grooming.

How Often Should You Replace Nail Clippers?

Replacement of nail clippers generally depends on the quality and usage of a clipper. Nail clippers with low-quality blades get dull after a few uses, while those with high-quality blades take a bit longer, giving you the pleasure of their services without the need to replace or sharpen them.

Nail clippers

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Ensure you check the push-down bar to check resistance; too much resistance causes crushing. Nail clippers made of carbon and stainless steel are more durable than plastic ones.

Now that you’ve chosen your high-quality nail clipper that is equally durable, change is inevitable, and after enjoying its services for a while, it will eventually get dull. But what do you do with dull nail clippers? Simple, replace them or sharpen them.

Methods of Sharpening Nail Clippers

How to sharpen clipper blades


If you don’t want to go through the whole sharpening process alone, you can seek professional help or take them back to the manufacturer if they have a warranty. Otherwise, follow the methods below.

1. Sharpening Nail Clippers Using a Foil (Tin Foil and Aluminum Foil)



For this method, get an old toothbrush and aluminum or tin foil to sharpen your dull clippers. This method is cheap, quick, and non-toxic. Moreover, it is easy, so I prefer it for home use.

Step 1: Clean and Dry the Clipper

You can disassemble your nail clipper to clean it separately and thoroughly. Use a bristle or old toothbrush to scrap off any dirt, then rinse thoroughly with water. After that, use a towel to dry the clipper. Ensure the blades are properly dried, and remove any remaining dust using the towel.

Step 2: Place Your Foil on a Surface and Sharpen the Nail Clippers

How to sharpen a nail clipper or pliers

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Grab your aluminum foil, fold and put it on an even surface. Next, start cutting through the foil with the nail clipper as you move it sideways repeatedly from one side to the other for 10 times or more. When you notice a shiny look on your blades, it indicates that they are sharpened.

Step 3: Clean the Particles

Sharpening the blades will generate some dust particles. They might be invisible, but trust me, they are there. Use a small towel, damp or dry, and wipe your blades with it.

If your foil is still in good shape, or your blades are not sharp enough to your standards, you may want to repeat the process and ensure you clean the clipper blades.

Step 4: Reassemble the Clipper

Carefully couple back your clipper if you had disassembled it for sharpening. You may apply clipper oil to the blade to make the clipper work smoothly. Enjoy a smooth trim with a “brand new” nail clipper.

2. Sharpening Nail Clippers Using Sandpaper

How to sharpen nail clippers

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Sandpaper is an awesome abrasive for sharpening your nail clipper. This method is quick, easy, effective, and unlike other ones you will come across, you don’t have to disassemble your clipper here. Follow the steps below to sharpen your dull clipper using sandpaper.

Step 1: Begin With the Medium Grit

 Clean your nail clipper and dry it with a towel. Next, take sandpaper with medium grits and put it on a flat surface. Clip into the sandpaper using your nail clipper and hold for a few seconds, then release it. Repeat this holding and releasing 10 times or more depending on your edge’s dullness.

Step 2: Use Fine and Extra Fine Sandpaper Grits

Repeat the process with fine-grit sandpaper and finalize with the extra fine grits. These grits refine and polish the clipper’s edges and rid it of any extra steel.

Step 3: Clean It

Once you are satisfied with the results, rinse the clipper with lukewarm water and dry it with a towel, and you are good to go. Sandpaper removes a small amount of steel to refine your edges, so cleaning is necessary.

3. Using Emery Cloth to Sharpen Nail Clippers

A fabric for sharpening? Not really.Emery cloth is a cloth with emery stones attached to it, so the emery stone is the sharpening abrasive for your clipper. This method is the same as the one for sandpaper, and the materials are the only difference.

Emery cloth


Don’t freak out if you can’t get an emery cloth because sandpaper is a suitable substitute. It might be a bit challenging to get the different grits, but you can work your wayfrom coarse to smooth to end up with a polished edge.

4. Sharpening Using Diamond Stones

How to sharpen nail clippers


Diamond abrasive stones can sharpen almost every cutting tool, including nail clippers. Compared to the above methods, this one has two issues to consider.Since taking apart the nail clippers is a must here, this process takes more time. Second, it removes more steel to polish your edge, and I’ll advise you to use it on a more dull edge.

Step 1: Disassemble Your Clipper and Identify the Edges

Remove the actuating lever to hold the jaws in position during sharpening. The closeness of the jaws is a precision difficult to obtain with the actuating lever. Remove the pin and replace it with a screw to hold the jaws firmly and close to each other. This helps identify the edges that need to be sharpened and moves the cutting edges closer.

Step 2: Sharpen

The above step helps you to identify what needs to be sharpened. You can hold your clipper in one hand and the stone with the other, or put the stone on a surface and hold the clipper with one hand. Then, with the cutting edges held closer, run the clipper and the stone against each other from one end to the other. Repeat the process 10 times or more, depending on your edge’s dullness.

Clippers with convex surfaces are easier to grind on a flat sharpening stone, while those with sharp concave surfaces are easier to sharpen with a grinding stone on a Dremel tool. Continue grinding lightly until all the nicks on the cutting edges disappear. Remember to use a fine stone because hard ones have the potential to remove steel easily.

Step 3: Clean and Reassemble the Clipper

Fix Nail Clippers


Once you’re done sharpening your edges, rinse it with enough lukewarm water to remove the steel particles and dry it with a towel. Then, remove the screw and use the pin to attach the actuating levers back with the jaws. Finally, give your newly sharpened clippers a try on your nails but be careful because they must be pretty sharp now.

Tips for Maintaining Your Nail Clippers

Best nail clippers


  • Ensure the blades are attached firmly before use. They should be aligned and tightened properly.
  • If you have to oil your clippers, use an effective oil.
  • Properly and regularly clean your edges.
  • Use a small gentle bristle, preferably a toothbrush, to clean your blades.
  • Use clippers for what they’re meant for, that is, fingernail clippers for fingernails and toenail clippers for toenails.


Sharpening nail clippers is such a simple and quick process. The first three methods work well for ones that require a quick touch-up, while using diamond abrasive stones is good for extremely dull edges. Alternatively, you can get the best electric nail trimmer that works for kids and adults.

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jacky chou


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