Top 5 Skate Sharpening Myths

Hockey Lifestyle™ — By on January 25, 2012 10:09 AM

Heading into my 5th season of skate sharpening, Ive heard alot of uneducated assumptions about different aspects in my field. Not to sound arrogant and cocky about what Ive learned in my industry, but I take great pride at being the best that I can be and as knowledgable as I can be for my customers. With permission from Rosey (yes I actually asked, he is the GSH Top 5 king), I want to help educate you gongers on how to keep the wheels greased as best as you can, and maybe help answer any of the questions you may be asking yourself every time you get up to the sharpening counter.

5. The Finger Nail Test

I see this time and time again, every hockey dad, mom, and player like to grab a finished skate, hold it blade up, and run their thumb nail vertically along the blade and scrape off a thin layer of their thumb nail as they check both edges along the blade. Although this test does infact let you know that an edge exists on the blade, it doesnt give you a feel for what you’ll be skating on. If this is confusing you, try this next time: instead of using your thumbnail, use the opposite side of the nail and drag down with your skin. You wont cut yourself (as long as you are sure not to move sideways) and your skin lets you feel the strength of the edge and the quality of the finish done by the sharpener.

 

4. The “Magic Stick” (or Y-stick) is a great way to save money on skate sharpening

The Magic Stick is a tool with many different names, but one function: to take flattened out edges on skate blades, grab them, and bring them back to straight. With one pass along the blade, there is a noticable difference between the once dull skate, and the now “sharp” skate. This tool was designed as a “final minutes of the 3rd period and I blew an edge” quick fixer, but I have seen alot of people who abuse it, and over use the tool to the point where they actually break the edges off the blade from the repeated folding process (fold, skate on and flatten, fold, skate on and flatten, etc) and damage the blade to the point where we as sharpeners need to grind away a large amount of blade to repair the damage done. This is a great product to have on the bench or in your bag as a quick fix tool, but please dont overdue it to the point of damaged blades. One pass will restore your edge (but weaken it) and it is recommended you get your skates done afterwards.

 

3. Since my skates are made of fabric and re-inforced, I dont have to dry my skates off and I can walk around on them.

Ok, so maybe I havent heard someone actually say this, but its obvious alot of people think it.  Far too many pairs of skates come in for sharpening soaking wet in their skate guards (guards full of holes and soaking wet) often still covered in snow. I cant emphasize the importance of drying off your skates when you get off the ice. Stainless steel will still rust, and assuming that your cloth skate guards will soak up the moisture and protect your skates is ridiculous. Having that water surround your blades for hours results in “rust bubbles” that sink into the steel and rust it from the inside (freaky I know!) The worst part gongers? Is that no matter how often I grind steel away, they always appear the further I go. They do not go away once they happen, so best to avoid them from the beginning.

The whole skate guard thing is simple. Any sort of skateguard without a groove for the blades to sit in is not meant to be walked on. Period. No matter how thick the skate guard is, it will rip from continued walking on…plain and simple. Rubber bottoms or plastic is all that will work, any sort of cloth will not, so when you buy a cloth skateguard from me and walk on it and complain that its ripped, dont be suprised when I look at you like an idiot.

 

2. The Flat Bottom-V sharpening is better than conventional sharpening

I get that the new and exciting technology in skate sharpening has got the attention of hockey players and parents, but just because its new doesnt mean it will make you a better skater (which seems to be a common misconception around my parts). There are advantages, just as there are disadvantages to different sharpening hollows. For more information on the technology behind, and some information on the FBV sharpen (a little biased, but it provides alot of info) go to http://www.blackstonesport.com/technology.cfm

 

1. The sharper I get my skates, the better

This one made it to number one because it seems to be the general idea among all ages, beer leaguers in particular. Alot of people seem to think that sharper (or a deeper hollow) is the best performing and longest lasting sharpen; which couldnt be further from the truth. To answer that question quickly, the deeper the hollow, the taller and more pointed the edges are (making them weaker). A bigger player (like an adult) puts alot of pressure and weight on those two edges and wears them out very fast. A flatter sharpen will both last longer, and give you more glide and less leg fatigue at the expense of losing or lessening that “bite” feeling in deeper hollows.

Dont be afraid to experiment with different sharpenings because they all have their specific advantages and disadvantages. Any legit sharpener can give you a quick education and suggestion at the counter but dont be afraid to do some homework yourself.

That settles up my list gongers, hope some of you learned a thing or two and if you have any honest questions about skates or any sort of gear in general you can DM me on twitter (@cgrays12) and I can most likely answer it. After 4 years managing a hockey store buying product, and collecting pro gear in the process, theres almost nothing I havent seen or come across.

 

82 Comments

  1. Rosey says:

    great read. very informative. ive been playing hockey my whole life but i still learned alot. thanks for the info

  2. JSmyrlJr says:

    As a keeper, it’s hard to find someone who can actually sharpen my skates. I’ve had many people sharpen them over the years, but only one guy in this area can sharpen them the way I like them. Very informative article though, I’m sure it will help a lot of people out.

  3. Davis17 says:

    Personally I love the FBV sharpening. We had it at my home rink for years and when I moved, the new place didnt and it was a very noticeable difference when you skate with the “traditional” sharpening.

  4. hasser4 says:

    I feel your pain buddy, been sharpening for about 7-8 years, third generation skate sharpener ( my Grandfather opened our shop in 1969)I might actually even print this out and put it up in the shop, great read hopefully some of the kids on this site and even the “big” kids haha the FBV is my biggest problem, just another fad.. excellent read

  5. dirtymcgirty26 says:

    never knew what the magic stick did until know, awesome read.

  6. gregsummy says:

    the worst is when you ask the guy what hollow he wants on his skate and he looks at you like a deer in headlights. Listen, buddy, I’m giving you new edges, you should know what you want, you’re 25.

    or when people don’t put guards on when they walk out the door, and end up smacking the blade on the door frame, then ask me to touch it up for free.

  7. grayser12 says:

    I should point out one minor thing about WHY the finger nail test is a “myth”- because even An old dull skate will take off finger nail. So just because the edge scraped your nail, doesnt mean its sharp

  8. GWGoalie65 says:

    I forwarded a copy of this to all the tight wads on my beer league team that think that 15 passes with a sweet stick is the same as a fresh sharpening. Maybe now they will be able to keep their feet under them.

  9. Puck Broad says:

    great read, i cant stand the “magic stick”

  10. Doogler says:

    aha i told my dad the fingernail test dosn’t work

  11. B Hef says:

    good read, any info about sharpening goalie skates? (that I might not know about) when I get mine sharpen, I ask them not to sharpen it to much and pretty much just clean it up. also, only get it done every couple months..

  12. Joey Z says:

    Great and very informative article. I also didn’t know about the magic stick. Thanks!

  13. Flowman55 says:

    Great post… I knew Y-stick over use was bad, but I didn’t realize specifically what it would do to the steel.

  14. Doogiehowser says:

    I have my own portable sharpener and do my college club teams’ skates instead of paying dues. I’m amazed how often I repeat to other people this entire list. Great article.

  15. jetman says:

    nice good to know but knew a couple of those already

  16. CaptainKlutch says:

    thats great info, i learned a lot! keep it up

  17. fox says:

    Thanks Grayser … dated many guys over the years who sharpened skates, and never paid much attention. In Alberta, my best friend owned the sporting goods store in town and I was in there almost all my free time … thanks for giving us the finer points of your art!

  18. michaelbrill says:

    definitely a must-read for any hockey player, no matter what level or how long they’ve played. I always liked my skates a little duller, and I definitely learned a thing or 2 from reading this, thanks!

  19. schmodey says:

    I got my jets figured out to a science, can never over look the importance of properly kept skates nice read

  20. TDM says:

    Lots of great info about skates that most people dont think about.

  21. Keither says:

    One thing I’ve always wondered but never asked is at my LHS they gouge the hell out of my blade holders. At first I thought that maybe cobra holders didn’t fit in the machine correctly. But now they’re gouging up my Tuuks. The job they do on my steel is great but they are hell on my holders. Is it normal for holders to get all gouged up?

    • grayser12 says:

      no idea why or how they could mess up your holders….normally the skate holder clamps the blade and nothing else to ensure that everything is level. The holder should never touch the skate holder

  22. igorramone says:

    Awesome read! I think too many people over-think their blades. Once you find a place that you trust, just talk to them and let them do their thing.

  23. Pepe16 says:

    Great read. I work at the source for sports in sarnia, and were one of the best sports stores at sharpening skates around town. We dont have flat bottom V tho. If you come in you ask for farlow10 one of the best in the store.

  24. race says:

    great read, very informative, learn something new everyday

  25. stang91 says:

    this was definently good to read, i’ll use this infor when i get back on the ice. recovering from my surgery today i might try a different style of sharpening see if it’ll change my feel a bit too. thanks

  26. Cousinsimon says:

    Awesome info! I occasionally use a stone to get the edge back a bit but that’s usually if I forgot to get my skate sharpened lol. I have no idea what radius that the Home Hardware by my house uses but they does a great job. They are a family owned and operated and have been sharpening skates for a lot of neighbourhood kids for years and I’ve trust them with mine too!

  27. Capn Kev says:

    good article, very useful

  28. iron man says:

    all are very true misconceptions people have about skate sharpening

  29. CoryHunt10 says:

    All true. Love when people try to tell me these things work haha

  30. Eddie says:

    good read, very informative

  31. cchockey4 says:

    very interesting

  32. jackal says:

    definitely gotta stop using the sweet stick now…thanks for the info bud

  33. Beelz says:

    great article, tons of info. thanks

  34. Bouch says:

    thanks for the heads up.. knew most of this but hey, good to hear it from a fellow gonger

  35. gino_hard13 says:

    very cool

  36. Sheriff says:

    thanks grayser learn something new everyday

  37. Eric Forrest says:

    good to know

  38. Patty says:

    The good ol’ magic stick is the way to go

  39. tyler_19 says:

    haha the finger nail trick.. I see my players parents doing this everygame.

  40. jette4 says:

    good to know

  41. shortsxit says:

    I can’t believe that anybody actually believed most of these to begin with.

    Has anyone here used the flat bottom v cut?

  42. Geurtsy says:

    great read

  43. MitchSmeth97 says:

    I agree

  44. beautygonger97 says:

    True

  45. njicedogs11 says:

    so true

  46. SpeedySaxe7 says:

    yeah true

  47. Jam10 says:

    good to know

  48. Burgos says:

    very informative. actually glad i found this hahahha

  49. Mr. Dangles says:

    Awesome stuff.

  50. Kmt325 says:

    Hey everyone, so I have been doing some research online but have been coming up empty handed. One of the guys that has been sharpening skates for over 40 years was saying that rather than using products like Blademaster’s Gusto Glide or Blackstone Sport’s Fine Shine you can use 100% beeswax on skate blades before your final finishing pass.
    What are some pro’s and con’s to this method?
    Thanks for the info.

  51. twwwdot says:

    I just came across this article…it is very good. The only thing that is missing which I think should be on the list is the frequency of sharpening. How many hours of skating do you recommend in between each sharpening? Thanks.

  52. seanfister says:

    Hell yes on number one. I played roller as a kid and only recently switched to ice. I’ve been using a 1/2″ since that seems to be the norm, but I’m almost 290lbs and feeling the blade dig so hard is awful. I only truly feel comfortable after 3-4 skates but my good buddy (who’s literally half my size) kept going onabout how great fresh blades felt. I’m glad to know I wasn’t wrong, and I’ll be trying either 5/8″ or even 1″ from now on!

  53. Xanderman says:

    Thanks for the article. I’m looking for advice on some skates. I have a kid for whom I’ve been sharpening his skates for a few years, recently he outgrew some and I tried to match the profile on his new ones.
    They seem to work good except in forward tight turns, where they chatter a bit.
    Is it the toe needing blended in a bit more or a mistake I made with the edges?
    I’m using a 9′ profile radius with a “forward” pitch on blademaster custom radius, standard center of balance using the blademaster boot guage (just behind the center pillar)1/2″ hollow radius.
    All exactly as the old blades.
    I can see the old ones have a lot more material taken off on the toe and I know this typically means the new blades should have slower entry into corners and less push for initial acceleration, but would it also cause chatter on tight turns?

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