Skate Sharpening & Maintenance
Time to go over the most IMPORTANT piece of equipment – Your Skates!
We want to address and go over some of the issues we have found when we started out and also make sure you know why and what is going on. From learning about the sharpening of your blades, through to how to look after your skates, so they look after you out there.
Skate sharpening is the process of creating a “hollow” on the bottom of skate blades by grinding off metal with the aid of a skate sharpening machine. By creating a hollow, blades are shaped with two edges. Correctly sharpened skates will allow proper turning and stopping.
The period between sharpening is influenced by personal preference. Some professional hockey players have their skates sharpened between periods, while others go a couple of games between tune-ups. Figure skaters may opt to have their skates sharpened after every skate and others go months
between sharpening. While personal preference does play a role,
here are some basic guidelines to help you determine the frequency of your skate sharpening. • As a general rule, skates should be sharpened
after every 10 hours of use. •
The deeper the hollow (smaller the fraction), the more quickly the edge can be lost.[/ultimate_heading]
Hollow (a.k.a. grind or cut) relates to the profile cut into the blade. Hollowing out the middle of the blade produces two distinct edges. With a traditional radius, the depth of the hollow determines both the energy required to “glide” on the ice and the “bite” or ability to turn and stop on the ice. The more glide, the less bite. The more bite, the less glide.
The ideal depth of hollow is based on personal preference and should be guided by ability and the weight of the skater and most importantly, by testing — that is trying different hollows to determine the one best fitted to you. Below are charts with recommended general ranges of traditional hollows (ROH) based on types of skates and skating activities.
Boys & Girls Hockey Skates 1/4″ – 1/2″
Adult Hockey Skates 3/8″ – 3/4″
Goal Skates 3/4″ – 1 1/2″
FIGURE SKATES HOLLOW ROH
Ladies & Mens Dance 1/4″
Children’s Dance 3/8″
Ladies & Mens Free Skating 1/2″
Childrens Free Skating 5/8″[/ultimate_info_table]
Goalie Skate Sharpen
Goalie skates and the style’s of goalies have changed a lot over the last 20 years. The stand up style is no longer and we now have hybrid and butterfly styles. These all evolving and getting more and more ability in crease then ever before! This has also changed the way we look at goalie skates and how they are used and Sharpened… The classic stand up style, used a 3/4 or greater sharpen, for easy moving around the crease without the need to push hard or move from side to side as much as a butterfly style.
But today with the Hybrid and Butterfly styles, we are using the edges more to move around the crease.
- Butterfly recovery
- Butterfly slide
- Backside recovery
- Power push
These are all some of the movements that goalies use. These all take a lot of effort to maneuver within the crease, as such skates are getting sharpened to suit!
Skates sharpened on average every 3-8 hours of skating.
Hollow ROH Explanation
7/8 – For very lightweight skaters or beginners who need the edges to slide
3/4 – Most common for 10-12 year old goalies or most standup style
5/8 – popular choice for variety of skaters and styles. Good combo of bite for quick push off and stops, while still sliding on the edge for shuffles
1/2 – For big strong goalies, who push hard and need lots of bite to stop quick.
3/8 – Very sharp, not used by goalies much or at all…
1/4 – Are you sure…. this is the sharpest hollow, need some crazy strength to use this
One of the most common issues with the short lifespan of Ice Skates is Poor Maintenance. The maintenance is very similar for all Ice Skates, with only small variation; the boot material.
- Keep your ice skate blades sharp but not too sharp. A sharp blade grabs the ice better than a dull one. Make sure you sharpen your ice skates appropriately for their type. As a general rule, skates should be sharpened after every 10 hours of use, depending on your style of skating or if you have encountered something to damage the blades. This time could be extended if you are only doing general skating.
- Don’t walk on the ground or floor with your ice skate blades. Instead, always use a skate guard when you are off the ice. If you can’t wear guards and in figure skates, walk on the toe picks instead of the delicate edges. For Ice hockey skates, the use of skate guards are recommended. Otherwise careful placement when walking to avoid any screws or possible areas that could cause damage to the blades when walking from the change rooms out.
- Always dry ice skate blades thoroughly after skating. One of the most common issues is Rust. It is the biggest killer of blades and the mounting area. Each time, before you slip on your skate guards, slide your fingers (carefully) along both sides of the blade to remove the “snow.” When you’re done for the day, take your skates off and dry them with a towel. Be sure to dry the blades and the mounting surfaces. If you have time, it is a good idea to let them sit for a couple minutes and then wipe them down again.
- After drying skates thoroughly, cover and store the blades inside of towel-like soakers. These help draw off any remaining moisture and provide a cushion for your blades inside your bag. Do not leave or store blades inside of plastic or rubber skate guards. They hold moisture and almost guarantee rust. Hard Plastic Blade guards are great for walking around the Rink in, not for storing your skates. These hard guards don’t dry or remove moisture from the blades, this will promote Rust.
- Keep your skate guards clean. Wipe out the insides of your guards so no grit or grime builds up over time. If your guards or soakers wear out (get thin spots or holes in the bottom) replace them immediately. They won’t help you protect your blades if they are run down or broken.
Skate specific maintenance
- The leather of your ice skate boots is just as susceptible to water damage as your blades. Polish figure skating boots on a regular basis to keep them water-resistant, we recommend the use of a silicon protestant.
- Open up the boots a bit so they can air out after each skating session. Loosen the laces as far down as you can and pull up the tongue to let the boot breathe. Removing the insole to allow for drying of the sole & insole will help reduce smell. Replace the insole if your skate starts to smell. After all you don’t want to smell like a hockey player!
- It’s also important to maintain the proper tightness of the screws that secure your blade to the boot. They loosen over time, which can be dangerous for skating. Have an experienced figure skate technician mount blades and replace screws when necessary. Careful not to over tighten, as this will cause “stripping” in the mount.
- It’s important to use the right length of lace. Laces that are too long can become a hazard if they drag on the ice. If they are too short, you won’t be able to properly tie up your skate. Replace broken figure skate laces on a regular basis. It’s always a good idea to keep a few spare pairs in your skate bag.
Ice Hockey Skates:
- Use a Toe Protector. This is a black, viscous liquid that you apply with a brush to the toe box of your skates. It dries on hard with a tough, matte finish that prevents your skates from getting cut by other players’ blades.
- The odor of Hockey equipment can be bad and anyone who’s played hockey knows that it’s one of the smelliest sports out there. This odor results from the amount of equipment required to play, coupled with the fact that it’s extremely difficult to clean the equipment. Not to mention the wetness and bacteria that is promoted to grow. Because you can’t throw your skates in the washing machine, these are the easiest and best way to keep the smell to a minimum.
- Insoles: These should be taken out after each skate session to allow the skate and insole to dry. For the most part, insoles are the only internal part of hockey skates that can be replaced. In addition to providing comfort, they also absorb some of the sweat that accumulates in you skate. Replace them every few months (depending on how often you play). Scented, or “odor eating,” insoles are also available, and keep your skates even fresher.
- Odor-neutralizing Sprays: These work wonders to remove some of stink from your skates. Just remember to only use sprays that don’t bleach! Only apply odor-neutralizing sprays to fully dried skates. Make sure the spray have an anti-bacterial agent within them for maximum smell reduction!
- Socks: Not surprisingly, one of the easiest ways to keep your skates smelling their best is to always wear fresh, clean socks. Buy a few pairs of athletic socks and keep them in your hockey bag so you always have a good pair. When they get old and stiff (even when clean), throw them out and get new ones. The Sani Socks are a great sock for any kind of ice skating, as they wick away the moisture from your feet and have a very quick dry time. Making them some of the most hygienic socks to wear. They are also extremely thin like wearing nothing at all.
On all Ice skate there are many parts that can be replaced, many of these are difficult to change without the correct equipment. Blades and blade holders are the most commonly replaced parts. However, specialty sports repair shops can sometimes replace skate eyelets and tongues as well. In our case within AUS, these can also be done at selected shoe repair or leather repair company. We here at Ice Park; are always expanding our repair and maintenance equipment to help with any of your repair needs.
- Eyelets: Eyelets are the metal rings that skate laces thread through. These rings rarely get damaged, but they are difficult to mend if they do. If your skate’s eyelets bend or break, they need to be fixed immediately or your laces will likely tear your skate boots. Only specialty hockey shops and selected shoe repairmen can fix eyelets.
- Tongue: Tongues sometimes wear through and break off, rendering the skate unusable. Tongues are often made of leather, cotton, and felt. Because they are made of a tough, durable material, they are very difficult to repair. As with eyelets, they can usually only be replaced by specialty hockey shops or shoe repairmen.
- Blade Holders: Blade holders are the plastic pieces that connect the blades of your skates to the boots. Over time (and use), these weaken and can crack. Blade holders attach to the skate boot with rivets. Unless you have plenty of experience using a rivet gun, do not attempt to change out your blade holders. All hockey pro-shops are equipped to replace blade holders. The rivets that hold these in if not not cared for can rust and fall out over time. Replacement of these should be done at your local pro shop.
- Blades: Until recently, players had to remove blade holders to access the steel blades. In general, this process hasn’t changed, it’s always wise to bring your blades to a pro-shop. However, an increasing number of skate companies are introducing blades that can be removed with external screws. Blades should be replaced when they are either covered in rust or too short to sharpen. Replacing a blade before it becomes critical will likely prevent damage to the blade holders.
- Blades: Unlike Hockey skates, the blades & holders are only known as the blades. These blades do wear out over time as the skate gets sharpened, the blade becomes thinner. The blades are normally held on by screws and can require new holes to be drilled if the same brand replacement blade is not used. A local Skate Shop or Pro Shop should be able to fit your new skates with the correct fitting blades for the size of the.
As per any expensive tool, The more care and maintenance you perform on them, the more they will look after you in the long run. Last longer and work better!
The finish on the skate blade refers to how smooth the blade and clean the bottom of the blade is after it has been sharped. This directly affects the glide and speed ability of the skate. A Blade with a poor finish (chatter marks, ripples, lines, etc.) is causing more friction with the ice surface during gliding then required, this affect slows the skater down and causes more effort to get the same effect as a well finished blade. (Image below left)
Having a completely smooth and clean blade maximizes glide and reduces friction on the ice surface. (image below right) The finish on your blades should always look like they have been polished not just “ground”.
As mentioned in “Are your edges even” there as some other issues that can be cause a bad finish.
- Unnecessary cross-grinding
- Cross-grinding is an excellent way to prep brand new skates for sharpening, or to remove rust or other imperfections (eg. uneven edges) left over from a previous sharpening. Unlike the finishing wheel, the cross-grind wheel runs vertically (perpendicular to the skate blade), so it doesn’t impart its shape onto the blade. It’s also much coarser, making it able to chew through the blade much faster. Effectively, it “resets” the blade to be completely flat on the bottom, ensuring the it can be perfectly aligned with the finishing wheel, even if it was previously crooked or uneven.
- However, it also removes much more steel from the blade than the finishing wheel. If your hockey shop is doing a full cross-grind every time they sharpen, then your blades will have a lifespan of about ⅓ of what they’d have without cross-grinding. As a compromise between precision and blade life, some shops will do an extremely light cross-grind to take off only the edges, without removing the entire hollow.
- Over-sharpening the tip & tail
- A hockey skate is designed to be relatively (but not entirely) flat in the middle two-thirds of the blade, and rockered at the ends for agility. Maintaining this profile requires a very light touch. Not only that, but the wheel should be spending nearly all its time within the middle two-thirds of the blade. Trying to pass the wheel along the entire length of the blade will cause it to gradually become more and more rockered over time.
- Too hard & too fast
- To give the blade a nice, smooth edge, your sharpener should be passing it over the wheel slowly but lightly. Going too fast (especially on the final few passes) can create burrs and rough spots along the edges, while pressing too hard can cause the blade to “chatter” on the wheel, making it discolored and slightly uneven.
Original post on by Coach Jeremy
Are your edges even?
Have you ever felt like it was easier to go in a circle one way easier than the other, after getting your skates sharpened?
Did they not feel like they had the cut you asked for? or did they simply fail when you tried anything?…..
Have you had difficulty stopping?
Did you notice a “Chattering” or “chopping” sensation when stopping?
Feeling like your skates are “slipping out” from under you?
Feeling like you’re “missing an edge”?
These are all the most common symptoms we find of uneven edges.
When reading though the radius section you would notice an image like this one below.
The small points on the blade after they have been sharpened, are what we used to go around corners and also to stop. The deeper the hollow the more pronounced these are. (as per the image above)
If the skate is not sharpened evenly, they can be off set and will make things more difficult to perform. As a hockey player you will wear your skate uneven with the use as you will always be using your inside edges more than the outside. The inside edge is used most to take off, get to maximum speed and also used on the outside foot through a turn.
When the skates are sharpen, there is a few things that can be done to prevent uneven edges from happening. As above the skates use one edge more than the other, making sure they have been sharpened past this uneven point is essential to making even edges. A lot of shops will use a cross grinder to do this, which is great if you are changing the hollow on your skate. But if you are keeping the same hollow, by using a cross grinder on every sharpen they are removing more of the blade than is required and prematurely wearing the blade away. The cross grinder is best used on new blades to make sure the edge will be even go start with, they are also used to remove badly damaged blades or rust. They can also be used to change or redo the profile of the blade.
An off-center skate sharpening will result in one edge being higher than the other. This is a common fault of many skate sharpenings. Most skate sharpening machines require the operator to center the grinding wheel on the skate blade by eye. Therefore, the training, judgement, and conscientiousness of the operator can greatly affect the quality of the skate sharpening. Inexperienced skate sharpeners, or casual skate sharpeners, often don’t take the time necessary to center the blade properly.
How to check
Here at Ice Park, we use a very simple tool called an Edge Checker. Below are pictures of an edge checker in use. The Edge Checker is a very simple tool, that is made up of 2 pieces, The First piece is locked onto the blade of the skate and has the white markings as below. The second part of the tool consists of the right angle bar with a magnet in the middle. When the magnet is attached to the blade it will show the results as per below.
The left images is how we like to see ever set of skates leave our shop. On the right is a set of skates that has been miss aligned.
This is only off by 3 thousands of an inch or less the 0.075 of a milometer.
How can you check this at home?
This is a bit harder to check out home without spending a heap of money on an edge checker yourself. But not impossible!
The way to determine if your skate has its two edges square to the side of the blade; is to turn the skate upside down, hold it up to where you can look across the length of the blade. Place a quarter or similar sized coin (a 20cent or 50cent works well) over the two edges. If the side of the coin and the side of your blade comprise a “T”, then your skates are correctly in square. But if one side of the coins sits higher than the other, you have a high edge, and your skates are out of square. See illustration to the right.
What’s your sharpen? And why?
If you answered no to both of these, don’t worry it’s common.
There is a few very important factors we need to look at when sharpening skates.
Weight: As a general rule, the more weight, the larger the Hollow needed. An extremely light
skater can tolerate a very small Hollow with lots of edge, beause they do not have much weight to
bear on the ice.
Player positioning: For hockey: 1/2” seems to be the most common hallow for kids up to and
sometimes through high school. Forwards generally prefer a smaller Hollow than defensemen of
the same weight. Goalies generally prefer a very large hallow so that they can “kick out” without
catching an edge. Figure: Kids (under 30kgs) can skate on a 1/2” radius. A 5/8” radius will take care of most recreational
Ice Temperature: Most rink managers shoot for an ice temperature of approximately 25F. A temperature
of 17 – 23 degrees is considered “hard hockey ice,” 25 to 26 degrees is considered good
figure skate ice. Slightly smaller hallow may be used on colder/harder ice and vice versa.
Skill Level: Beginner level skaters can learn most skills (particularly the hockey stop) easier by
grinding their skates with a very large hallow. As they progress they radii is decreased back to a
Choosing a Hollow that’s right for you comes down to personal preference. A smaller radius will
give you more bite into the ice for tighter turns, but less glide, so choose which advantages are
more important for you and your skating style.
Note: *Also a more pronounced hallow will be more fragile and less durable*
Radius / Hallow / Cut / Sharpen
No matter what you call it Radius, Hallow, Cut or Sharpen, this are the common terms for what happens when you get your skates sharpened. But what is really happening to your skates when you get a Sharpen?
What happens when you get a Sharpen
When you look at the bottom of the blade on your skate, weather this be Ice Hockey or Figure skates. You will see a small hallow in the middle with a point on either side. This is what is transferred on to the blade when passing it over the Finishing wheel on the skate sharpening machine often called a grinding wheel. When looking at the wheel on a side view you will notice that the wheel has had a Radius shaped into it.
From the above image you will notice the before and after dressing image. Dressing the wheel is where the technician uses a diamond tipped dresser to remove a very small amount of the wheel and add the radius. Once the wheel is dressed the technician can process to add the hollow to your skates.
The Technician will pass each skate about 10 times on each skate over the wheel once dressed, on the Finishing pass or final pass they will add a wax to keep the steel of the blades cooler as they do a slower pass to polish the blades and finish off the sharpening.
The Radius is the distance from the center of a circle to the perimeter. In sharpening we use an imperial measurement for this to
give us from 1/4 inch to 1 1/4 inch Radius. A 1 inch circle will have a Radius of 1/2 inch as per diagram.
The Smaller the Radius that is applied to the wheel the deeper the cut will be.
The deeper and more pronounced tips are, the sharper the skate will feel on the ice and the easier it will be to do a sharper turn. This type of sharpen has greater surface area and will create more drag, this resulting in a slower skate.
This type of sharpening are from 1/4 to 1/2″ normally. These are suited to Beginner and younger skaters.
Ice Hockey Position – Forward
The larger radius that is applied to the wheel the shallower the cut will be.
The shallower and less pronounced tips, the less sharp the skate feels on the ice and harder it will be to make tight turns. The less surface area of this type of cut will allow for greater speed on the ice.
This type of sharpening is from 5/8 -1 1/4″. these are suited to more advanced skaters.
Ice Hockey Position – Forward
Skater Sharpening available by appointment. While you wait or drop off and have ready 24 hours later.
Txt or Call 0425 619 233 to book or use the Booking form
4:30 – 8:00pm Mon-Fri
1:00 – 5:00pm Sat & Sun
*Times Subject to change without notice.*
Ice Hockey Skate: $10
Goalie Skates: $15
Figure Skates: $15