Good skate sharpening is as essential as getting the right fitting skates and ensures all ice skaters to skate to the best of their ability. Without it, skaters would lose grip on the ice, constantly slip over and wouldn’t pick up much, if any, speed. Here at Demon Xtreme, we pride ourselves on some of the highest quality sharpens on skates with trained staff who have many years of experience sharpening skates for figure and hockey skaters.
For those reasons, we’ve made this guide to help you understand some of the important questions such as: How often should I get my skates sharpened? What depth of skate sharpening is best for me? What are the differences between standard ROH sharpening and Blackstone’s FBV Sharpening?
When should I have my skates re-sharpened?
On average most skaters can get around 8 to 10 hours worth of skating between grinds. This, however, is determined by factors of the individual. Body weight, aggression, style, and time spent on the ice can all have a different effect on how quickly their skates will lose their edge. Ice quality and how soft or hard the ice is will have another big effect on blade wear.
An easy way Skaters can check if their skates need sharpening:
- Gently rub the top of the nail on your thumb down the side of the blade.
- If the blade is sharp it will scratch the surface.
- If you need to apply pressure to achieve this, then the blade is showing signs of wear.
Commonly skates wear more on inside edges as this, for most skaters, are used harder on turns and stopping.
Another way of knowing your skates are in need of attention is from using them on the ice. If you can feel the boot slipping from beneath you, especially on cross-over’s, and very little resistance when performing a stop then this will be another sure sign.
How Are Skate Sharpened
Before we go into choosing the best depth we need to know how skates are sharpened. Each ice skate, be it recreational, hire, figure, dance or Hockey has a metal blade or runner under the boot that needs sharpening. Once sharpened the blades has two edges, the inside and outside edge.
To achieve these edges, a wheel with the radius of the skate sharpen you choose is used to grind a hollow in the centre of the blade to give a sharp inside and outside edge. Below is a diagram with to show how a 1/2″ sharpen would be achieved:
If a larger radius such as 5/8″ is used it would give a shallower hollow and if a smaller radius such as 3/8″ is used it would be deeper. This is called a Radius of Hollow skate sharpen (ROH) which is the most common way to sharpen skates.
Now we know how we sharpen different depths, we can get into what the different depths mean for your skating.
What depth of skate sharpening best for me?
To start with, there is no right or wrong depth for skates.
- Shallower grinds are better for speed, ease of stopping and smoother turns.
- Deeper grinds are better for grip on the ice, quick stops and quick turns at slower speeds.
For this reason, it’s best to find a balance between speed and grip that you’re comfortable with. If you’re completely unsure where to start though, here’s a quick guide for beginners, hockey players and figure skaters.
Best Depth For Beginner Skaters
For Beginner skaters you’d look for a good edge to grip the ice but won’t be so sharp you won’t be able to pick up any speed. Here’s a quick guide but if your a younger skater or have a smaller build you may want to start shallower, or, if you have a larger build you may want to go slightly deeper.
- For a hockey skate or a thin edge blade, we would generally recommend a ½ inch grind
- For figure skate style boot or a skate with a wider blade, we would recommend a 5/8 sharpen.
Best Depth For Hockey Skaters
For hockey players, a lot depends on your skating style and position in the team. Forward players generally need more speed and easier stopping so a shallower grind is advised. Defenders generally use more technical turns and quick manoeuvres that require grip so you can go for a deeper grind.
- 5/8″ (shallow) grind gives you more speed less grip. Good for kids and lighter skaters that aren’t heavy on their feet.
- 1/2″ (standard) grind gives you a decent edge and is a good average to give to most players
- 3/8″ (deep) grind gives a sharp deep edge for stopping quickly and good grip on the ice. Good for heavier skaters who like a controlled edge.
NHL players mostly use a 5/8″ grind or shallower as they prefer the glide and extra speed. Even a 5/8″ will keep its edge for quite a while if it’s sharpened correctly and to a good standard. 7/16″ and 9/16″ are available and used for better players that know exactly what they want, it won’t make much difference to a less experienced player.
Best Depth For Figure Skaters
For figure skaters, a shallower grind is recommended as the blade is thinner and it offers a lot more flow and elegance than those with a deeper grind. We recommend a 5/8″ shallow grind to help with good fundamental skating skills, this will produce much better first and second skating marks.
- 5/8 (Shallow) grind is what most figure skaters skate on. This gives you a good flowing edge and has little friction on the ice.
- 1/2 (Standard) grind will be a lot more forgiving when landing a jump giving a sharper edge to land on.
- 3/8 (Deep) grind is very rare for any figure skater, this will slow a skater down but will give a much stronger edge, swings and roundabouts.
A good skate sharpening shop like Demon Xtreme will ask you a lot of questions about your skating style and work with you to get it right. At Demon Xtreme, we are always here to help you get the right hollow for your skating style.
We also offer a 1″ skate sharpen online and in-store, though, it is very shallow and we wouldn’t advise using it unless very experienced.
Differences between ROH sharpening and Blackstone’s FBV Sharpening?
The revolutionary new FBV™ skate sharpening system from Blackstone® gives you competitive advantages like you’ve never experienced before. Superior endurance, greater power, enhanced agility, better control, these are just a few of the improvements skaters from recreational leagues to the pros are reporting with this new blade sharpening technique.
Hockey skaters have reported noticeable speed and agility increases from having FBV™ and this makes them have an advantage over players with standard ROH grinds.
Figure/Dance skaters found an even bigger advantage over having changed to FBV™ and that is that they are able to go in to double an triple jumps with more speed than what they had previously been able to achieve from standard grinds, thus making the completion of these jumps a lot smoother, whereas before they may have struggled to do this.
For Beginner and public session skaters, the differences between standard ROH (Radius of hollow) and FBV™ (Flat Bottom V) Sharpens may not be apparent. FBV gets most of its improvement on fresh-cut or well-maintained ice that you may not get on public sessions, although, for hockey training, games and figure skaters, FBV will truly shine.
Choosing an FBV Grind
For FBV we’d always advise starting at 100/50 and adjusting after skating to find your prefered level of grip. All FBV grinds offer improved speed so they don’t compare like to like with standard hollows.
Common Problems With Skate Sharpening
Sharpening is an art and anyone who tells you otherwise is likely to make mistakes when sharpening your skates. An inexperienced sharpening technician may encounter some of the following problems at some point during their career.
This occurs when the skate sharpener leaves the blade on the wheels for a prolonged period of time. The blue sheen effect is a telltale sign. By heating the blade up too much when grinding the molecular makeup of the steel changed and will become softer. This will mean that your blades will not hold an edge for as long and can be damaged more easily.
The Hollow or FBV™ on the blade must be perfectly centred. Failure to achieve this will result in little or no edge and cause the skater to slip out. Due care must be maintained when setting the pitch of the blade in accordance with the grinding wheel.
These seem fabulous but we do not recommend them at all. Automatic machines are the quick and easy method of sharpening and at the time of writing, no machine can take the place of experienced skate sharpening technicians like we have at Demon Xtreme. The machine requires constant checking and need dressing every time to ensure they perform as required. This is often neglected by pro shops that leave and forget maintenance for long periods. It isn’t uncommon for these shops to have “Saturday” or part-time workers to sharpen skates as owners say its easy and automatic. A bad sharpen almost makes skating impossible. A good one can invigorate your skating and improve you no end
Get Your Skates Sharpened By Demon Xtreme
We have experts and instructors of ice skate sharpening science here at Demon Xtreme and we offer skate sharpening in store at our address C7 Cowdray Centre, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1BW.
Can’t make it in store? We offer skate sharpening online: Just order with the link above, send your skates or blades, we’ll sharpen them then send them back.
Looking to get a pair of skates? We offer free standard skate sharpening on all skates on or over £100!