How to clean your sheep shearing machine, combs and cutters
Search engine queries addressed in this post include:
“Sheep shearing machine cleaning”
“Does oil go in electric shears hand piece”
“Best oil to use with electric sheep shears” and “best oil sheep sheers”
“what kind of oil for my sheep shearing shears”
It’s easy to clean your shearing machine hand piece. You should not clean your motor or the interior engine of your portable hand piece, because there’s no need to do that. Those may need repair but — much like your car engine — they don’t require cleaning.
First things first:
- Unplug your portable hand piece, or detach your hand piece from your powered drop. You don’t want to accidentally turn your machine on and cut your hand to shreds. (This is easier than you might expect with portable, electric hand pieces that have the button on the side, right where you might be holding it as you prepare to unscrew things.)
- Loosen the two big screws on your hand piece and remove your comb and cutter.
- Wash the comb and cutter (and, if they’re really dirty, the two screws you just loosened) by dropping them into a little hot, soapy water. Shake them around in the water to loosen stuck wool and other bits. Let them soak.
- While your combs and cutters soak, clean your hand piece.
- Use your hand piece screwdriver to dig out wool bits that have worked their way into the end of your hand piece, like so:
- Wipe away the newly released wool bits with a dry rag.
- Use a dry scrub brush to brush off dirty bits from the chicken foot at the end of the hand piece, like so:
- Wipe the entire hand piece down with a dry rag.
- Oil the hand piece before you store it for the next job.
This brings us to a related query people use to find this blog: “Does oil go in electric shears hand piece”?
Yes, oil goes into your hand piece.
For detailed and complete instructions on how to properly oil your hand piece, see page 4 of this Lister manual.
You’ll see little holes in your hand piece — rather obvious, perfectly round, intentional looking holes that all but scream for something to be dripped in them. These are where your oil should be dripped:
Drip a few drops of oil into the top of your hand piece, where the chicken foot is (as you do while shearing).
What is the best oil for your sheep shearing hand piece? Basic, inexpensive motor oil is all you need. Put the oil into an oil can, a plastic drip bottle, or poke a hole through the cap of the motor oil bottle, which enables it to drip single drops right into the holes.
Now that your hand piece is clean and oiled, return to your combs and cutters in the water. Use a scrub brush or rag to remove any wool stuck in the cutters.
Rinse the combs and cutters, and immediately dry and oil them generously. They will begin to rust on contact with air. Mineral oil or jojoba oil work fine.
Store your used (dull) combs and cutters separately, so you have them ready to send out to a place like McWilliam for sharpening. You don’t want to confuse dull equipment with sharp stuff.
Rules of thumb vary, but I tend to replace cutters every 2-4 sheep, and combs every 4-8 sheep, depending on the sheep and how the shearing went. The more time you spend shearing per sheep, the more often you need to swap out combs and cutters.