Hair clippers are not the same thing as hair trimmers, which are smaller. This page concerns clippers for human hair; those for horses, dogs, etc. are different.
A number 12 Wahl guide comb
Guide combs attach to the blade end of a hair clipper. The comb's plastic teeth hold the clipper blade away from the scalp. The height of the comb's teeth affects how far from the scalp the blade will cut the hair. Other factors, however, also affect the length of the cut hair: the setting of the clipper's taper lever, for example. The curliness of the hair is another.
In giving a haircut, skilled barbers (or stylists) often use comb guides of different sizes, for example, a taper may begin with a #3 near the top of the head, a #2 further down, and a #1 at the neck.
From size 1, each whole guide number increase represents a 1/8 inch increase in hair length. Below size 1, manufacturers' designations differ, but the hair length doesn't (except for Andis, #0.5 is ³⁄₃₂″).
|0||¹⁄₁₆||1.5||—||✔||✔||✔||—||—||Maximum scalp exposure|
|2||¼||6||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||Some scalp exposure, but minimal|
Many clippers have adjustable blades: a taper lever adjust the depth of the cut. Wahl and BaByliss offer many model with this feature, with lever setting from 4 to as many as 15 positions. In other blades the hair length is built into the blade, and it is these non-adjustable blades that are described in the table below.
A number 2 Andis blade
|7 skip tooth||⅛||3.2||✔||—||—|
|5 skip tooth||¼||6||✔||—||—|
|4 skip tooth||⅜||9.5||✔||—||—|
|3 ¾ skip tooth||½||13||✔||—||—|
|3 ¾ FC||½||13||✔||—||—|
* In addition to its adjustable blades, Wahl also makes a Competition Blade Series, whose blades fit various models of their own and, for example, some Oster and Andis clippers. They bear the size designations in the above table, but some of the hair lengths Wahl gives are different:
“Sizes include 00000 (.4mm), 0000 (.6mm), 000 (.8mm), 0A (1.8mm), #1 (2mm), #1A (2.8mm), #1.5 (3.8mm), #2 (6mm), #3.5 (8mm), #3.75 (10mm), Speed, Texturizing, and 0A Modified. ”¹
We do not know whether this difference reflects actual differences in the physical dimensions of the blades, or is the result of Wahl using a different way of measuring hair length.
1. https://wahlpro.com/products/blades/competition-blade-series/. Accessed 31 July 2020.
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Last revised: 31 July 2020.