Friday, August 4, 2017

My Skates go to the Sharpening Spa

Since many of you want to know how to sharpen skates (at least in theory!) here is a long post on what goes on in a sharpener's shack. Actually, for my skates, it's a spa!

From my sharpener:

1.  Fix the laces:  Untie knots and untwist the laces; tie them up so nothing gets tangled in the sharpening wheel (That would be bad ju-ju.)

Why yes these are my skates
2.  Check the mounting for tightness.  You shouldn’t get more than ¾ to 1 revolution out of a screw to tighten it.  More and it’s either been too long since it was checked, or you may need to recondition the hole.  If a screw spins freely and will not become tight, you are definitely in repair-mode; that’s a different post.

 3.  Check for any large nicks/ burrs and stone them out

4.  Dress the wheel to the desired radius.  (He does this once for each pair of skates).

5.  Check edge for evenness.  (He uses a 12" piece of aluminum channel with a magnet in it.  Aluminum because it’s softer than a blade & won't wear it down; a magnet to help it hold on.  If the edges are even, the channel will be parallel to the the holder's vertical stand.)

I'm okay!!
 6.  Check blade to wheel contact.  If one of the edges was higher than the other, it should meet the wheel first.  If edges were even, both should meet the wheel simultaneously.  Adjust the holder's angle as required for the proper contact.

 7.  First pass (light pressure).

8.  Check the sharpening path:  If there was a high edge, it should be getting ground down.  Adjust the holder's angle if needed.  If you're changing the ROH to make it smaller, there should be a grind path down the center of the blade that widens with each pass until it goes edge-to edge.  If you're making it larger, the edges grind from the outside-in.  If that's not happening, check and redress the wheel.  If a change is made, repeat steps 7 & 8.

9.  Sharpening passes (medium pressure).  Usually two or three.  Repeat until the grind path covers the entire blade, edge-to-edge, all the way down the blade.

10.  Final check for level.

11.  With a hand-stone, gently pull down the tiny metal fines that are left on the blade from the sharpening--top to bottom down the length of the blade, then one long pull front-to-back.  Do this on each edge.  Then apply wax.

12.  Finishing pass (slow, very light pressure).

13.  Wipe down the blade w/ warm rag. (removes any leftover wax).

14.  Clean/ oil the blade and put the soaker on.

And for this I pay the munificent sum of $10!!

Plus he includes a chocolate!


  1. You've got a good deal! I pay $25 a sharpening, because the people who charge less don't seem to know the difference between a hockey blade and a figure blade... GULP!

    1. Also, he picks them up and delivers them to the rink!

      And while other skaters talk about no sharpener at their rink or within 50 miles: We've got three figure blade sharpeners at mine. I don't know what the hockey guys do.