Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, your skates are the most important part of your game. Their condition will directly affect your game, and amongst the most important things to maintain is your skate’s blades. Because they are made out of steel and other high-strength materials, your skates will need sharpening frequently.
You should sharpen your hockey skates after every 15 to 20 hours of use.
If you are a more competitive player, this frequency might increase and, if you are a recreational skater, then sharpening them once a month is enough.
The sharpening process is vital to your game, but it’s also complex, so it’s recommended that a professional does it for you. However, you can follow tools and tips to maintain your blades’ condition.
Properly sharpened blades will give you the grip you need for faster acceleration, tighter turns, and more control during your game. Understanding the science behind the steel on your skates is key to your game. This article gives you all the information you need to keep your blades in excellent condition.
How Often Do Skates Need to Be Sharpened?
You should sharpen your skates, as a benchmark, after every 15 to 20 hours of use. This means that if you skate three hours a day, three times a week, you should sharpen your skates once every two weeks.
For those skaters at a higher competitive level, the number of times you need to sharpen your blade increases. Some professional players even do this before every game to ensure the highest level of grip on the ice.
On the other hand, recreational skaters who enjoy a skate every so often will only need to sharpen their skates once a month, sometimes more. But, to keep your skates in the best condition possible, there’s much more to sharpening your skates that just how often you should do it.
How Do I Know If I Need to Sharpen My Skates?
The most obvious signs that indicate that your skates need sharpening comes from how your skates feel. A dull blade will give less control when you skate, turning to one side and preventing you from making sharp turns or even braking.
Lack of Control
If you’ve begun to feel this lack of control, then you can do an inspection. According to American Athletic, you can inspect the blades yourself. Carefully touch the edge with your finger to feel any pits, nicks, or gouges. Take caution when doing this because you can cut yourself.
You see reflections
The next step is to hold the blade under a bright light. If sharpened, the steel shouldn’t reflect anything, so if you see a reflection, it’s time to sharpen your skates.
You see small burrs and nicks
One aspect to consider is where you skate. Indoor rinks usually have a smoother surface, with little to no impurities, so blades could last longer. Outdoor rinks have much harder ice, which could have pebbles or cracks, so blades might wear out faster.
So, now that you know how to tell if your skates need sharpening comes the question of who should sharpen them.
How Much Does Sharpening My Skates Cost?
Now that you know how often you should go through getting your skates sharper, one factor to consider is the cost. If you just want your skates sharpened, stores will charge from $5 to about $20 in more expensive states, like New York.
If you want to get your skate profiled, a process in which a specialist sharpens the skate and gives it a hollow, then prices start at $20.
How long does it take to get skates sharpened?
A store will take about 10 minutes to sharpen your skates and about 30 to profile them.
Hockey Monkey explains that a hollow is a hollow groove in the middle of the bottom of your skate blade. This cut is usually circular and can have various radiuses to adjust to a player’s skating style. A 1″ hollow will give you more glide, while a 3/8″ will help your skates bite the ice with more force.
Also, consider that some stores might offer free sharpening services for life, so don’t be afraid to ask around.
Should I Sharpen Own My Skate Blades?
In short, you can, but if you don’t know how to, or don’t have any experience doing so, then you shouldn’t. According to PureHockey.com, caution must be had when you’re first getting into sharpening your skates, as it requires precision and machines designed for the job.
The process consists of using a machine that grinds away at the steel. At first, the technician will go perpendicular to the blade and remove the most noticeable kinds, bends, and rust traces. It’s then time to sharpen the skate according to the player’s needs, which takes multiple passes.
After the general sharpening is complete, most stores use finishing stones to remove imperfections. As you can see, it’s a laborious process, with many variables to control. Many things can go wrong, especially with the first try, so finding a reputable store that can help you is always a must-have.
What Kind of Tools Do You Need?
If you manage a team’s equipment or you want to get into sharpening your own skate blades DIY, you’re going to need some gear to do so. First, let’s talk about the sharpening tools.
Blade stones or sharpening stones are geared more towards preventive maintenance, like the A&R Skate Blade Hand Stones. Sometimes, during a game, especially outdoors, a blade can get small burrs and nicks.
These stones help you quickly remove any small imperfections on the fly and, with a cost of about $8, they’re a cheap, easy to use tool that will undoubtedly come in handy. They do not, however, replace a proper sharpening process.
Manual Handheld Sharpeners
Then, there are handheld sharpeners like the Re-Edger and the SweetStick. These products promise to prolong your skates’ sharpness or provide quick repairs. Their small size and low cost (from $10 to $15) make them a practical tool to have around.
Automatic Electric Sharpener Machines
When it comes to sharpening machines, new products have come into the market to provide sharpening solutions without the traditional bulk. Sparx Sharpeners are portable and easy to use, and the manufacturer claims that as many as 25 NHL teams use their product. With a cost of $700, it’s ideal for anyone who wants to sharpen their own skates at home.
>> Take a look at our Sparx Skate Sharpener Review
But, if you are looking for bigger sharpening machines, the good news is that you can still find portable, sturdy devices. One example is the SSM-2, a portable skate sharpening machine that delivers fast results and is easy to use. Costing $2000, it’s the ideal tool for anyone who needs to sharpen multiple skates.
For people with a need for larger machines due to a higher number of skates, manufacturers like Blademaster provide working stations that suit all sizes, from single up to triple sharpening stations, and many other tools aimed more towards repairs shops.
Finally, remember that most skate shops offer a sharpening service, but this doesn’t mean they are all the same quality. Researching stores might help you find the right one for your needs, both in quality and cost.
As you can see, sharpening skate blades can be complicated, just as it can be interesting. There are many tools out there you can use to maintain your skates in top conditions and, if you want to venture more into working on your blades, now you know about the many tools you might need for a proper job.