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Sparx Skate Sharpener - At home sharpener

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15 hours ago, Buzz_LightBeer said:

If that's the worst sharpen your local place puts out, consider yourself fortunate. 

 

 

Ive been sharpening for 15+ years, I'm sure this Sparx will find its place in the niche markets, just as any other upstart product does. However, people who try to remove the element of human error also eliminate the element of human correct, which I submit is necessary to the art of skate sharpening. 

I'm curious as to how these machines will hold up durability wise, and how long-term calibration of them will be handled. I find it hard to believe these machines can sit in homes and sharpen for any length of time without requiring some maintenance. 

That's actually a really good point I haven't seen discussed yet.  The grinding ring is adjustable to center on the blade, so no problem there..but as far as spindle bearings and the "ways" that the mechanism moves back and forth on to make it's passes, I'm not sure what type of bearings they're using and what the life expectancy is.  I would assume they have some type of cycle count expectancy if they used a reputable bearing manufacturer.  Of course that also depends on how well the bearings/ways are sealed from grinding dust as well. 

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I am very picky about skate sharpening. When I lived on the east coast I did not have a difficult time finding a decent sharpening but since I moved to Los Angeles it has been very difficult. The only places that do a good job are in Orange County and 30-40 minutes away from me(Monkey Sports, a few others). I am currently using noicing sports mail in sharpening service. It might sound extreme but I keep a couple sets of steel, and mail in two sets at a time. The costs is still close to $15/sharpening when you include shippin but it is consistent and they offer every hollow type known to man (I prefer a FBV).

I have been considering a home sharpening system for a while and I am very interested in the Sparx. The other option I am considering is the Blackstone X01 (which is cheaper now it seems). I don't mind learning how to sharpen but setting up a rig to collect dust takes up extra space and is a con compared to the sparx.

I am an engineer and I am very interested in how long these machines will hold up as some of the previous posters have stated. Are there any expectations on total number of quality sharpenings you can get from the machines? Is the machine serviceable?

On the topic of steel quality. Do you find that Step steel is generally straighter compared to something like Bauer LS2 steel?

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2 hours ago, glennda5id said:

 I am currently using noicing sports mail in sharpening service. It might sound extreme but I keep a couple sets of steel, and mail in two sets at a time. The costs is still close to $15/sharpening when you include shippin but it is consistent and they offer every hollow type known to man (I prefer a FBV).

I had previously been doing the same for the same reasons (I'm in San Diego), until I got the Sparx. So I totally understand your situation!

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3 hours ago, glennda5id said:

I am an engineer and I am very interested in how long these machines will hold up as some of the previous posters have stated. Are there any expectations on total number of quality sharpenings you can get from the machines? Is the machine serviceable?

On the topic of steel quality. Do you find that Step steel is generally straighter compared to something like Bauer LS2 steel?

 

We've tested it up to our "7 years of team use" standard which ends up being somewhere north of 15K normal sharpenings. That number roughly comes from one team of 20, sharpening twice a week, for 52 weeks a year. 

The sharpener would have to be sent back to our HQ in Boston for service, there aren't any user serviceable parts besides the Grinding Ring and Filter, which can be replaced at home. 

My gut wants to say I think so, but we definitely have not tested enough Step Steel to say that for sure. One advantage we see in Step is that it usually deburrs extremely well. Sometimes you can take it out of the sharpener and we won't even notice a burr at all, and if we do, it's easy to get it off. 

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45 minutes ago, stevebalchunas said:

We've tested it up to our "7 years of team use" standard which ends up being somewhere north of 15K normal sharpenings. That number roughly comes from one team of 20, sharpening twice a week, for 52 weeks a year. 

That is very encouraging!

BTW, who sharpens your skates?

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51 minutes ago, glennda5id said:

BTW, who sharpens your skates?

 

I did for the last 13 years... I've had some form of Sparx prototype for the past year or so and been straight Sparx ever since. Why would I ever jump in anymore? I'm only going to alter the profile a bit. I love going through a piece of steel and then overlaying it on a new piece with a similar profile. It still impresses me all the time. 

Consistency is the name of the game now. Oh, and I don't have to spend 10 minutes with my manual machine anymore. Just pop 'em in 5 minutes before I have to go, run a couple of cycles while I pack my bag and I'm ready to go. And for reference, I play 4-5 nights a week and sharpen before almost every skate (I'm a little spoiled, but I've always done it that way). 

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2 hours ago, stevebalchunas said:

We've tested it up to our "7 years of team use" standard which ends up being somewhere north of 15K normal sharpenings. That number roughly comes from one team of 20, sharpening twice a week, for 52 weeks a year. 

The sharpener would have to be sent back to our HQ in Boston for service, there aren't any user serviceable parts besides the Grinding Ring and Filter, which can be replaced at home. 

My gut wants to say I think so, but we definitely have not tested enough Step Steel to say that for sure. One advantage we see in Step is that it usually deburrs extremely well. Sometimes you can take it out of the sharpener and we won't even notice a burr at all, and if we do, it's easy to get it off. 

Crap, I JUST threw away my Sparx box. I probably should have hung on to that, just in case. I often keep boxes for most electronics, just in case (or for re-sale in the case of Apple products). If we needed servicing, would it be possible to have an empty box sent to us? That's how Microsoft used to do things with the old original Xbox... you'd call for service and they'd send you the packing materials. I imagine this is probably something you guys haven't thought about this early in the lifetime of the machines that are already out there ;)

As for the Step.. I use Step black and have noticed almost no burrs at all. I don't know if thats the step steel, it being step black, or the sparx machine. With it being the black step I only use the leather to deburr but honestly probably don't need to use anything. 

13 minutes ago, stevebalchunas said:

Just pop 'em in 5 minutes before I have to go, run a couple of cycles while I pack my bag and I'm ready to go. And for reference, I play 4-5 nights a week and sharpen before almost every skate (I'm a little spoiled, but I've always done it that way). 

Exactly the same here. Instead of a full 4-pass sharpening every couple weeks, I actually do two passes before every skate (twice a week). Probably not necessary to do it that much, but like you said... consistency. 

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On 21/10/2016 at 10:38 PM, stevebalchunas said:

100% agree... I was trying to say when you clamp the skate in, you still can't control the bend outside of the clamp. When we did our research, all of the blades were in a clamp, we never tested a loose piece of steel (one would assume those bends would only be even more pronounced). But again, we can only control what we can control, so that's why I always reference that center 4"-5", and in those cases, a clamp is going to do a real good job straightening a bow in the middle. 

I've been sharpening for going on 14 years now. A lot of that was in retail, so I'd like to think I've seen a lot. And I think like a lot of us in here who sharpen know there are a lot of theories and ways people think it should be done and we take bits and pieces of all of that stuff and form our own opinions. I think the coolest thing for me has been the last couple years and getting to toss all those theories to the smart guys in the office who can measure the smallest bends, changes in hollow depth, put burrs under powerful microscopes, and prove a lot of what we think we know/knew.

And for the record, I really do hope we can learn stuff from each other and not be all manual vs. Sparx in here all the time. If I think I can provide some value or insight, I'm going to post if that's OK with everyone. 

How about yourself?

 

 

If you really want it not Sparx vs the Pros you may want to adjust  some of your ad's. They are kind of off putting. 

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On 28/10/2016 at 11:33 AM, stevebalchunas said:

I've had some form of Sparx prototype for the past year or so and been straight Sparx ever since.

How do you check the grinding ring for accuracy of hollow after x sharpenings? Using other sharpening systems one would dress the wheel before sharpening the blades (either to change hollow or to ensure the wheel was still true at it's setting) so how does sparx retain the accuracy of the hollow on the grinding ring?

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17 hours ago, Vet88 said:

How do you check the grinding ring for accuracy of hollow after x sharpenings? Using other sharpening systems one would dress the wheel before sharpening the blades (either to change hollow or to ensure the wheel was still true at it's setting) so how does sparx retain the accuracy of the hollow on the grinding ring?

You can't. You get 320 passes from a ring then it's done. It's not a traditional ring, as per their FAQ. Whether the radius of hollow changes at all during the course of using it during it's 320 pass lifetime is a good question. Maybe the Sparx guys can chime in and show some measurements from a new vs. fully used ring to demonstrate how the ring wears over time.

 

  • Why doesn't the Grinding Ring produce sparks?
  • The most significant factor is the grinding ring used by Sparx. Our grinding ring is made with a completely different material than a traditional grinding wheel. We're using a synthetic diamond abrasive. This different abrasive material results in a cooler sharpening process and also a cooler swarf. 

 

  • How does the hollow stay consistent?
  • The Grinding Ring construction is a steel base material that is precision machined to the specific profile (e.g. radius of hollow). The base material is then coated with an abrasive layer. Because the base layer is protected the abrasive, its shape is not altered during the sharpening process (i.e. the profile is perfect on the 1st and 500th pass)
Edited by colins
added additional FAQ

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On 06/11/2016 at 3:58 AM, colins said:
  • How does the hollow stay consistent?
  • The Grinding Ring construction is a steel base material that is precision machined to the specific profile (e.g. radius of hollow). The base material is then coated with an abrasive layer. Because the base layer is protected the abrasive, its shape is not altered during the sharpening process (i.e. the profile is perfect on the 1st and 500th pass)

"Because the base layer is protected the abrasive" - I'm kind of struggling to understand this sentence. Lets assume it was meant to be "Because the base layer is protected by the abrasive" then it isn't really talking about the abrasive at all. It's talking about the base layer. I'd expect the base layer to retain its shape, it's the profile of the abrasive after 200 passes that I would be interested in.

But on the other hand lets assume somehow the sentence is about the abrasive and it's profile is always "PERFECT". As an engineer who has spent a lot of years working with abrasives I find this particularly hard to swallow. You have a product that by the very nature of its work wears away every time it is used. Let alone the fact that the entire surface of the profile of the grinding wheel is not in contact with the skate blade (the outer edges do not contact, do these just mysteriously evaporate away?) you have minute variations in the shape of the hollow of the blade that causes + / - grind resistance as the wheel does it work. And if you ever changed your hollow then this would only magnify the issue. 

Otherwise what they are saying is they have invented an abrasive that never changes shape during it's life span, its wear is even and consistent REGARDLESS of the shape of the surface it is in contact with. If this is the case then they are wasting their time making skate sharpeners, I can think of a dozen better applications they could put this technology to use with...

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15 hours ago, Vet88 said:

"Because the base layer is protected the abrasive" - I'm kind of struggling to understand this sentence. Lets assume it was meant to be "Because the base layer is protected by the abrasive" then it isn't really talking about the abrasive at all. It's talking about the base layer. I'd expect the base layer to retain its shape, it's the profile of the abrasive after 200 passes that I would be interested in.

But on the other hand lets assume somehow the sentence is about the abrasive and it's profile is always "PERFECT". As an engineer who has spent a lot of years working with abrasives I find this particularly hard to swallow. You have a product that by the very nature of its work wears away every time it is used. Let alone the fact that the entire surface of the profile of the grinding wheel is not in contact with the skate blade (the outer edges do not contact, do these just mysteriously evaporate away?) you have minute variations in the shape of the hollow of the blade that causes + / - grind resistance as the wheel does it work. And if you ever changed your hollow then this would only magnify the issue. 

Otherwise what they are saying is they have invented an abrasive that never changes shape during it's life span, its wear is even and consistent REGARDLESS of the shape of the surface it is in contact with. If this is the case then they are wasting their time making skate sharpeners, I can think of a dozen better applications they could put this technology to use with...

 

I guess what you're asking for, and what we're all curious about, is a comparison of a brand new Sparx ring with a ring that has 300+ passes on it. It would be interesting to have measurements and high res images of the two for comparison purposes. The claim is that with the Sparx rings, you can get 320 passes before wear becomes an issue / the change in profile is significant enough to care about.

 

colins

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Read an article this morning about the R Bar in Columbus buying a Sparx and having a beer/sharpening deal.  They bought one due to the fact that we (Total Hockey) and The Hockey Stop closing over the past year.  That being said, didn't know they moved the location.  We went there for the 2007 NHL Draft.

http://bluejacketsxtra.dispatch.com/content/blogs/puck-rakers/2016/11/hockey--the-city-how-the-r-bar-became-a-puck-centric-haven-for-fans.html

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16 hours ago, colins said:

 

I guess what you're asking for, and what we're all curious about, is a comparison of a brand new Sparx ring with a ring that has 300+ passes on it. It would be interesting to have measurements and high res images of the two for comparison purposes. The claim is that with the Sparx rings, you can get 320 passes before wear becomes an issue / the change in profile is significant enough to care about.

 

colins

If it is a metal ring coated with a thin diamond dust layer, it can do a couple of hundred passes before the diamond layer looses its cutting ability. You can buy convex diamond coated grinding wheels that can fit in an ordinary grinder. They are typically intended for cnc  grinders that make things like chain sprockets.

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6 hours ago, Kgbeast said:

If it is a metal ring coated with a thin diamond dust layer, it can do a couple of hundred passes before the diamond layer looses its cutting ability. You can buy convex diamond coated grinding wheels that can fit in an ordinary grinder. They are typically intended for cnc  grinders that make things like chain sprockets.

This is the type of ring used in the Sparx; about 2" diameter steel ring with diamond grit coating on the profiled OD.  I was waiting for Steve to chime in, but I believe this is basically the answer.  I'm sure the profile technically changes throughout the life of the ring, but I assume it's in the tenths (.0001) to maybe .001 range of measurable difference and really not close to being a factor.

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7 hours ago, bootsmagee said:

This is the type of ring used in the Sparx; about 2" diameter steel ring with diamond grit coating on the profiled OD.  I was waiting for Steve to chime in, but I believe this is basically the answer.  I'm sure the profile technically changes throughout the life of the ring, but I assume it's in the tenths (.0001) to maybe .001 range of measurable difference and really not close to being a factor.

The recipe for the secret sauce ? Mickey D's will never tell you.....

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I have the blackstone portable spinner FC-01-SPIN, I got it for 3k about 3 years ago and use it about 3 times a week.  I love the machine.  But to be honest, after 400ish sharpenings if I was to guess, I am still not sure that I know what I am doing.  when people ask me to do their skates, I do, for free, but I tell them no promises on quality.  I have gotten to the point where I love my sharpening, but I dont know if its really any good.  I check the edges in 3 spots every time, but even though the edges look great, I still dont know.  Maybe I am just overly worried.  Everyone has always said that the sharpening is good, but when its free, some people might not complain.

If the sparx was out at the time I bought mine, I would def have done that instead.  But the big question I am asking now, is should I get ride of my blackstone and move to the sparx?  I like the fact that It doesn't make any dust, I have to use a vacuum and even then, sparks and dust are all over the area my machine is in.  Id love to be able to control that the way that sparx does.  Also, my son is now starting to play hockey, and Id love to be able for him to use the sharpener himself as well.  I most likely will not get the sparx, just because I already have a solution that works well, so why rock the boat.  If I had got in on the kickstarter, the price may have been worth it.

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I'd stick with what you have if you're happy with it. The Sparx is really not meant to replace a real setup. It does a good job and is fast and easy and convenient, but to be honest I wouldn't have bought it if there were competent pro shops near me. But for what it is, it's great.

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11 hours ago, IPv6Freely said:

I'd stick with what you have if you're happy with it. The Sparx is really not meant to replace a real setup. It does a good job and is fast and easy and convenient, but to be honest I wouldn't have bought it if there were competent pro shops near me. But for what it is, it's great.

Thats why I got mine, Most my games are after 10p, pro shop at the rink closes at like 9p, gotta be there by 8p if you want your skates done.  Having my own has saved me enough time, that Its worth it.  Plus its 40 minutes away...

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43 minutes ago, lovejotd said:

Thats why I got mine, Most my games are after 10p, pro shop at the rink closes at like 9p, gotta be there by 8p if you want your skates done.  Having my own has saved me enough time, that Its worth it.  Plus its 40 minutes away...

Yup same here, rink pro shop is closed by the time I get there for my games. Plus it's been terrible every time I've had them done there. 

Now I just pop the skates in while I'm packing my bag. 

I envy those who have a competent sharpener who is convenient to use. But I guess that makes me the ideal demographic for this thing.

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We have a rink here in MA that has 7 ice surfaces (and is adding two more) that has added 4 Sparx machines to take some of the load off the guys at the pro shop for those youth tourneys on weekends, and nights where its just droves of men's leagues playing.  

I would argue that the guys at that pro shop are some of the best at sharpening in the area.  However, for people that just want to get a quick sharpening, and not have to wait as long, those 4 machines are invaluable in cutting down the work load.  8 months of incredibly steady commercial use on all 4 machines, and reports have been stellar. 

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