Blade manufacturers rely on quality sharpeners to get the best performance out of their blades.
Get the best out of your blades with a quality sharpen
We started our own sharpening service over twenty-five years ago after experiencing a number of poor re-grinds on our daughters’ blades.
We were very lucky in being put in touch with the then top figure skate sharpener in the UK, John Turner who provided some tuition and guidance and sold us one of his Broadbent sharpening machines. We still use these fine machines today in their latest form as we find that nothing comes near the quality of edge produced.
The cut of the blade can be tuned to individual requirements if requested. Some skaters like their blades really sharp and others prefer them with less radius. This is done by varying the depth of the cut. Go too deep and the blade will feel sticky, too shallow and the edges will not grip the ice. Using these fine Broadbent machines we can normally match the current cut of the blade. If the blades are sharpened lightly and regularly, only a little metal needs to be removed to reinstate good edges and the blades are always in tip-top condition to be able to cope with any tests or competitions coming up. If blades are left a long time between sharpens, quite a lot of metal often has to be removed to get a fine edge, thus reducing the blade life.
Experience the difference
In our experience, the quality of sharpening varies enormously. A good sharpen re-instates the two edges of the blade removing only enough metal to get good even edges. These should feel smooth and keen to the touch. A good sharpener should be able to get a few years of good skating out of a pair of blades. A poor sharpen can not only make it very difficult to skate with any proficiency, but can drastically reduce the life of the blade.
If you are happy with the way your sharpener maintains your blades, stick with him! Chopping and changing sharpeners can be wasteful on blades as each machine imposes its stone shape on the blade.
A good sharpen should rarely be noticed. The skater should be able to perform just as before the sharpen but with better edges. The days of working in blunting off blades for several sessions should be over. If you still feel the need to do this you need to talk to your sharpener and if he or she won’t listen make a change. If you are not happy with the way your blades are performing ask your coach or a senior skater to check them for you. I am sure they will be only too happy to advise.
Major Sharpening Flaws
Uneven edges: This is where one edge is more prominent than the other. It is very difficult to hold an edge, especially on the side with the less prominent edge. Spinning is difficult. Sometimes the blade can be uneven – inside edge prominent at the front and outside edge prominent towards the back of the blade, for example. This can make skating extremely difficult. You can check this by putting a flat edge across the two edges. It is better to check each blade at the front and rear stanchions.
Heavily patterned grind: Have you ever had your blades done and there is very heavy patterning on the base of the blade? You will rarely get a good edge on this type of grind.
Too deep or too shallow: Either the blades will feel sticky or it is difficult to hold an edge.
Rocker damage: Some of the larger machines used mainly for hockey blades in the wrong hands have been known to remove the rocker from a figure skating blade. You can check this by running your finger very gently up and down the blade from under the rake to the stroking surface. If the rocker has been damaged you will feel a dent where the rocker should be. The rocker is where on the blade the skater turns and spins, so removal of the this makes these manoeuvres very difficult.
If you experience any of these major flaws, consult your coach or other skaters in the rink. It is most likely they will know where there is good sharpening available.
Please be aware that once metal has been removed it cannot be replaced and the only way to regain maximum skating quality is to replace the blade. It may well be that you can pursue an incompetent sharpener who has irreparably damaged your blade to replace them especially if they are not old. It is always a good idea to take a tracing of the skating edge of a each blade when purchased. This will allow you to monitor sharpening.
It is inevitable that a blade will slowly change shape over a period of time but we have been known to get several years of excellent skating quality from a pair of blades and can count a number of Olympians in our clientele.