Picture of How to sharpen a Norelco electric shaver
Replacement blades are expensive,$30 to $40.  Why not save some money and sharpen the old one ? 
Back before safety razors and during world war II, when steel was scarce, people would resharpen their double edge razor blades on a sheet of glass.  I figured why not try it on my Norelco shaver that was leaving my face raw,  and it worked,   Here is how I did it...

You will need a small brush to clean shaver and heads, also a flat piece of glass ( a mirror or  picture frame glass will do).

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Step 1: Remove shaver head

Picture of Remove shaver head
Brush out any hair in the body, do not use water. 

Step 2: Remove cutters from head

Picture of Remove cutters from head
Rotate the white wheel to release cutters and remove from housing.

Step 3: Clean housing and cutters

Picture of Clean housing and cutters
Use the brush and running tap water to clean the housing and the cutters.  Close down the drain in the sink, you don't want to drop anything down the drain, then slide out only one of the cutters.

Step 4: Seperate cutter from shield screen

Picture of Seperate cutter from shield screen
Again clean the cutter and shield screen with brush and running water, junk gets trapped in the cutters.

Step 5: Sharpen blades on glass

Picture of Sharpen blades on glass
Place the blade cutter on the glass.  Here is the gross part...spit on the glass, put your finger on the top of the cutter with light pressure slide it into the spit and start moving it in a figure eight.
 Continue the figure eight motion 50 to 100 times and towards the end be more gentle with the pressure.  Always keep the glass wet.  I tried water but the spit works best, it has a lubricating quality.

Step 6: Replace cutter

Dry with tissue and replace cutter in shield screen, then remove the next cutter and sharpen it.
Do not remove all the cutters at once as I don't think it is a good idea to mix them up. 
Reassemble everything and enjoy a great and painfree shave.
WayneD125 days ago

hi, i live in new zealand where the cost of replacement heads is more than the cost of a new razor complete. So I have 3 dull razors that were due for the recycling. I decided to give your sharpening method a try - I was very sceptical but any improvement would be good. The result was unbelieveable - all three razors back to new performance. thanks very much

WayneD125 days ago

hi, i live in new zealand where the cost of replacement heads is more than the cost of a new razor complete. So I have 3 dull razors that were due for the recycling. I decided to give your sharpening method a try - I was very sceptical but any improvement would be good. The result was unbelieveable - all three razors back to new performance. thanks very much

WayneD125 days ago

hi, i live in new zealand where the cost of replacement heads is more than the cost of a new razor complete. So I have 3 dull razors that were due for the recycling. I decided to give your sharpening method a try - I was very sceptical but any improvement would be good. The result was unbelieveable - all three razors back to new performance. thanks very much

MastahONlen1 month ago

i never sharpen my razor before, this step by step give me a nice idea. thanks.

I tried just disassembling mine and cleaning it (disgusting after 3 or 4 years). I reassembled it and put a drop or two of oil in each cutter and the difference is amazing. I'm a little hesitant to try sharpening it unless I'm prepared to buy a new one.

batvette9 months ago
I can't tell what series Norelco razor this is but if the cutter/screen profile is anything like the 7-series "lift and cut" I use this is a really crude way to do this at best and likely degrades its performance. Why? Looking closely at my cutters with a magnifying glass I can easily see that each blade face is not at all flat but curved- the cutters are convex and the screens are correspondingly concave. So all you're doing here is deforming the bade surfaces, flattening what was once curved, and putting them back in their screens and operating them is what actually did the final sharpening.
For a few years I've been using a method involving putting a 1/2" drive (not 3/8, the wall is too thin) 13-14 mm socket (depends on the brand but you're looking to duplicate the screen's profile) against a piece of medium soft wood, in a vise, and making a significant impression, like a donut. The width of the donut, after applying the sandpaper, should be a little wider than the track made by the spinning cutter- you want to spin it in the groove. Afterwards I take a piece of 1500-2000 grit sandpaper, spray some 3m adhesive (like used on carpet and headliners) to affix an abrasive surface, then reapply the socket to reinforce the desired profile. This gets me a donut shaped sharpening surface that approximates the cutters' profiles. I then take a tool I made from a broken Norelco razor and a writing pen which engages the cutter perfectly and I spin the cutter precisely within the donut groove just a few rotations. The sandpaper should last for about 3-4 cutters.
Then when I put them back in the razor I operate them with a coating of machine oil as AGAIN the real final sharpening is actually done by the razor itself.
Hopefully someone can make some use of this advice and again, I can only say the obvious flaw in this instructable is that you're trying to sharpen a curved cutter on a flat surface. Doesn't add up.
In the end nothing is as good as new cutters and the only real drawback with worn cutters IMO is speed- old cutters seem to shave as close as new ones it just takes a hell of a lot longer to get the job done- so long you may not be shaving as close, not because they can't do it.
Finally for some real fun trash those junky Ni-Cd batteries Phillips puts in there and put Sanyo Eneloops in their place- you'll be blown away at how long they last. Soldering skills a must.
leppurd (author)  batvette9 months ago
(removed by author or community request)
leppurd (author)  leppurd9 months ago
I'm not familiar with your razor, Mine is a Norelco 835RX and I'm sure the blades are flat, at any rate they sharpen up great for me. Others have used various methods to sharpen their razors. Over many years of use and sharpening using my method, my razor cuts through my beard like butter...and I have saved enough to buy a couple of new razors if mine goes south.
batvette leppurd9 months ago
Obviously you'd sharpen a flat cutter on a flat surface and a convex cutter on a convex surface, anything else would be silly. I uploaded two pictures of Norelco's 7 series cutters, I'll leave it up to readers to determine if their cutters are flat or other. Note the view from above shows a distinct "C" shape as yours also do in your step #4 photo. Cheers.
Incidentally to arrive at a conclusion that one method works great when that is the only method being observed is to say the least, unscientific.
Fantastic idea. Did it myself and works great and super easy to do. You'll need the kind of toothpaste with abrasives (diatoms) in it like colegate and crest. The mineral oil is helpful as the abrasives get dry quick but I can see where spit would work if you had no oil. Don't try to press too hard or you'll bind the rotors. Just press about the same rate as you would on your face or maybe a bit less. Its not your force that does the work, its the abrasives. The mirror does not get scratched at all and only provides a perfectly flat surface. The surface does not have to be perfectly flat since the rotors float, but it helps. I sharpened for only 5 minutes. ONE CAUTION: There are little copper springs on some models that support each mini blade. If you are rough in handling the rotors, you could dislodge them from their clips in front of each mini blade and your rotors will not go back in the housing properly so be careful at cleanup. I used a tooth brush but was to rough. Use tooth brush LIGHTLY during clean up.
cajun622341 year ago
1. Mix a 1;3 solution of White toothpaste [1] and Mineral Oil [3] on the back of a porcelain saucer. [White toothpaste has a lot of 'grit'].
2. Place shaver face down in solution and turn the shaver 'ON' and let it run for a few minutes; checking occasionally to make sure that the solution is embedded in the shaver heads.
3.Remove head unit, rinse with hot-faucet water.
4.Disassemble [keep the screens & blades mated] and spray with Bathroom Cleaner.
5. Assemble
leppurd (author)  cajun622341 year ago
Toothpaste is a great polishing compound..I prefer glass to polish on, don't trust the flatness of ceramics, but whatever works!
Used a flat and wet Arkansas sharpening stone in place of the glass. Shaver is back to nearly original sharpness after 2.5 years of use. It had been going down hill fast the last two months. Saves me the fee of new blades and avoiding the waste of good stainless steel. I would have re-cycled it, but sharpening is a better path for me. Thanks to the author and all the additional comments!
kornylak4 years ago
THANKS! I added two steps - I removed the screens, replaced the blades on the drive shafts, pressed the shaver against the mirror and used the shaver motor to polish - makes it very easy. I also used some saliva as lubricant for the polishing process
Sounds like a novel idea, one that would speed up the process considerably. How long did you run the blades against the mirror and how much pressure did you apply? Also, it would probably be a good idea to wear eye protection, as you never know if the mirror might accidentally chip and send a shard of glass flying your way.
leppurd (author)  xevious3 years ago
very light pressure, but if someone is going to use other methods to polish the blades, such as Kornlak suggests, they should use eye protection.
Oh, I can't imagine any way that this could chip the glass, and if there was a chip there isn't enough force to send it anywhere. But in today's world I must say "Do it at your own risk and wear eye protection" otherwise your lawyer might get me :-)
As for force, using the shaver as I suggested, the shaver body springs provide the force, doesn't take much - just like shaving. With the shaver it is very short, just a few seconds is needed, longer if you do it by hand.
leppurd (author)  kornylak3 years ago
I agree
This "replacement Norelco heads are expensive" thing is ridiculous. They're $30 and you get two years or more from them depending on your beard. That's not expensive at all. Buy new heads.
leppurd (author)  ElectricRazorMan3 years ago
I can't argue with someone who wants to buy new shaver heads, it's their money... This is only a suggestion to those who want to feel good about extending the life of a product. I have repaired many things in my home over the years that others would have thrown out, but then again, I'm handy and some people are not
Perhaps that's not expensive relative to your own income and asset level. There are plenty of people in the world who consider $30 a significant amount of money. Also, there are people who are more conservative minded, that are bothered by the wastefulness of tossing out something that can be renewed with just a little effort. You can probably do this while watching a 30 minute comedy show.
xevious3 years ago
I'm intrigued by this tip. It's quite obvious that Norelco and other shaver companies make a lot of money from replacement parts. But when you realize that a little sharpening is all that is needed to these cutter blades, it seems wasteful to toss out the old heads and buy new ones. The "disposable society" mentality is just not a sustainable one.

Anyway, I think the trick of using oil is probably best, as it is more viscous than saliva. Also, I'm assuming that this will pretty much scratch the hell out of your mirror, so that it's probably best to use one that you you're not using any longer, or pick up a cheap one at a dollar store.

jello6664 years ago
Instead of spitting on the glass try a drop of mineral oil or baby oil which is scented mineral oil.
Whackmaster4 years ago
I just tried this and it worked INCREDIBLY well!  My razor has been basically ripping the hair out of my face for months, but I haven't been able to afford new blades.  I saw this Instructable, tried it, and the blades are now so sharp it plows through my stubble like it isn't there and even manages to cut my skin!  Yes, cutting my skin is a good thing, as it proves the blades are very, very close to being as sharp as the day I bought them!

Thank you SO much for not only helping to restore my razor to a functional state, but to open my eyes up to the ability of glass to act as a whetstone!
lemonie4 years ago
I know that mirror, used to have one years ago, it fell apart. Being double-sided as far as I remember both were not flat? Also, I'm curious as to how abrasive that glass actually is Lilicrap's hone appears to be slightly rougher.

leppurd (author)  lemonie4 years ago
One side on my mirror is flat the other side is concave, You wouldn't want to use the concave side for sure.  Glass is very smooth, but it is made from sand and it does have an abrasive sureface and less likeley to remove much metal.  I believe it's more of a polishing job.

lemonie leppurd4 years ago
It was 20-30 years ago, but you bring it back to me. It would have to be a polish, I've no handle on how smooth or rough a mirror is, but I'm thinking very-smooth. (There's more to glass than sand as it happens, it's not quartz at all.)

dchall84 years ago
I'll have to try that.  I've been using Norelco razors since 1985 or so and have never taken particular care to keep the cutter matched to the screen.  I've never noticed a difference in performance.  My biggest problem is hair, fallen from my head, getting caught between the cutter and the screen.  It winds up at the pivot point and forces the cutter away from the screen.  That leaves you with no cutting at all. 
Gloomy_Goth4 years ago
I tried this on my hella old Philishave electric shaver
and it worked great! Thanks!