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bazli21

Skate Sharpening 101

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Funny that something important has not been mentioned - heat.  You do not want to overheat the blade.

Different types of wheels will call for different types of pressure.

The guy who sold me the machine told me that i'll definitely be breaking blades the first time i do it.. now i'm not living in canada or us where skates are readily available.. so i'd like to avoid this as much as possible. is overheating a cause of blade breakage?

can i cool it down with a wet towel or something?

You wont break a blade while sharpening. If you overheat and change temper, the blade will weaken. So, the unsuspecting skater will be on the ice when the blade breaks and has no clue you did anything. Even worse when you overheat is that the steel wont hold an edge very long. Some manufacturers steel is poor to begin with and overheating makes them more "breakable".

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Is there really that much dust? I sharpen on a brand new blademaster and it doesnt seem like there is any dust at all.

BTW, slick-it works great. keeps the surface smooth and glides well

yea, but you are spoiled... not everyone gets to start on a brand new machine, although I love to sharpen on that machine

I know for sure that I am extremely lucky, and yes it is a great machine to sharpen on :)

Edited by kovalchuk71

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that's the problem.. where i live, we have 1 lhs for the whole country.. and their sharpening sucks.. and they charge a bomb.. that's y i have no where else to ask these questions..

what other parts of the machine require regular maintenance? i wanna take good care of my baby haha

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-light pressure when grinding.

        -grind with the wheel, not against it

        -hold the skate clamp with very light pressure

        -hold the skate clamp handles with your finger tips(this will ensure light pressure)

I see no reason to use light pressure. I think the important thing is even pressure and movement along the entire blade. I use as little pressure is as necessary but add more pressure when I need more metal off.

Also, griding against the wheel is absolutely fine. It takes more metal off but it sometimes that is what you need to get down to the problem areas.

I do use lighter pressure and go with the wheel on my final pass.

When i said to use light pressure and don't grind against the wheel, i am speaking to someone who is just learning to sharpen skates. I go against the wheel too when time is an issue and i am backed up. Lighter pressure will create less heat on the blade which gives you a better edge and will also keep the dressing on the wheel in good shape for a langer time.

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what wheels do all you guys use?

8MXRuby for hockey here - i'd like to try some others but i don't have ordering powers right now...

EDIT: thought 8MXR / 8MXRuby where the same - 8MXR is blue though...

and we use pink for goalie & figure as well...

Edited by dix0r

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toe to heel? or heel to toe? or it doesn't matter?

If you're talking about how to put it on the holder, it doesn't matter.

You should get a squaring device to help you make sure your sharpenings are square.

This one is great -

http://www.blademaster.ca/products.asp?id=117

However if you are using it for personal use, this one does the trick, the difference is less lines -

http://www.blademaster.ca/products.asp?id=118

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-light pressure when grinding.

        -grind with the wheel, not against it

        -hold the skate clamp with very light pressure

        -hold the skate clamp handles with your finger tips(this will ensure light pressure)

I see no reason to use light pressure. I think the important thing is even pressure and movement along the entire blade. I use as little pressure is as necessary but add more pressure when I need more metal off.

Also, griding against the wheel is absolutely fine. It takes more metal off but it sometimes that is what you need to get down to the problem areas.

I do use lighter pressure and go with the wheel on my final pass.

When i said to use light pressure and don't grind against the wheel, i am speaking to someone who is just learning to sharpen skates. I go against the wheel too when time is an issue and i am backed up. Lighter pressure will create less heat on the blade which gives you a better edge and will also keep the dressing on the wheel in good shape for a langer time.

It shouldnt matter if your backed up or not always go IMO toe first light pressure smooth passes.......and I use Blackstone wheels personally but the company buys the ones made in mexico..

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toe to heel? or heel to toe? or it doesn't matter?

If you're talking about how to put it on the holder, it doesn't matter.

I meant when making the passes... toe to heel or heel to toe or both ways back n forth? does it make u skate forward faster if u go toe to heel?

i got a blue wheel with the machine.. is this a good wheel?

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anyone remember that "article" (err, blademaster ad that was supposed to look like an article) where some NHL equipment manager (i'm thinking oilers?) gives tips on sharpening?

i think he mentioned using a grey multi-grit wheel - anyone try that?

the reason i ask is because sometimes you can see guys sharpening skates in the background during interviews/between periods/whatever, and usually they have a big stream of sparks shooting out a foot or so. do they use a rougher wheel cause they don't have a lot of time between periods and need to take off steel quickly?

with the ruby, even if the wheel isn't dressed very smoothly and i use a bit more pressure than normal, i don't think it takes enough off to look like that.

also, i don't like going back and forth - i used to do it as i was trained that way, but i now know i do a better job with fewer passes in one direction using a bit more pressure (still light, but heavier than with quick back and forth passes). it depends on what hollow i'm cutting at, but i'll keep track next time i work of approximately how many passes i make per skate. and i do the one from heel-to-toe for every 4-5 for the flat of the blade...usually i'll save those for the end, as in, when i only have a bit more uncut steel on the sides, then i'll make a couple passes from heel-to-toe, and then one final slow, soft pass.

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I thought Blackstone wheels were made in Mexico too?

Yes...but I think they are 2 diffrent places as the Unversal wheel we were having major problems with the whole size being off with the inserts in the wheel.

I have used that black wheel and it shoots sparks somehting fierce but rips off a ton of blade in the process if you go to heavy on it.

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I had read somewhere that pros use carbon steel blades, so if that's true, that may be one reason why there are more sparks when you see their skates being sharpened.

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Lightspeed steel and Tuuk Plus steel is available only in stainless steel. The pros using carbon steel goes back to the 80s with standard/original Tuuks. There is a nice feel to sharpening carbon and seeing all the sparks fly!

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here's how i sharpen right now - i fall into certain habits and my routine ends up changing gradually over time, but this is what i've been doing lately. i didn't include the super-obvious stuff, like don't burn blades, etc.

first of all, get rid of any big nicks with a rough stone.

mount the skate in the holder so that the clamp isn't touching anything but the runner - i don't like it to touch the skate's holder, and especially not the skate's outsole. avoid clamping down on the runner too much - i do it just tight enough so that the skate will stay put. at our shop, we've removed the spring that supports the skate in the center (between where you'd hold the sled) - it seems to cause problems with some skates (graf's in particular)...

make a light pass on the cross-grind wheel, excluding heel and toe. i try to do it light enough so that a bit of the last sharpening is still visible - obviously the depth it was sharpened at last will make a difference, but the point is that i'm trying to avoid taking off more steel than necessary.

when dressing the wheel, i'll lightly put my thumb against the wheel and check from top-to-bottom to feel if it's smooth or not. i used to have no fingerprint on my thumb, but its toughened up a bit now, hah.

tap the runner against the wheel at the toe, near where you've started your cross-grind pass. also tap the runner against the wheel at the heel, near the end of your cross-grind pass. if they're not obviously very high or very low, i'll make my first pass now. this is basically the only thing i do that's significantly different from other guys i've watched, as they'll typically spend more time making witness marks before making the first pass. i like to approximate, make a first pass, and then adjust -- rather than adjust, make a first pass, and possibly adjust more. i find it easier and quicker, and it's also very obvious to see if a blade is bent.

make passes with even speed and pressure - to get an idea of whether or not you're doing a good job of this, you can watch to see that sparks are shooting off the blade evenly. i'll usually check after every pass to make sure that the cut i'm making is centered, and when i've got only enough unfinished steel for another pass (just an EVEN sliver of gray on both the top and bottom of the blade), i'll start to make complete passes from toe to heel. i'll usually do two, and then one last finishing pass (slower and with lighter pressure than before). i try to keep to the rule of 1 pass from heel to toe for every 4-5 passes on just the bottom of the blade. i don't use gusto-glide.

feel that the top and bottom edges of the blade have a bit of a "lip" portruding. i'm bad at describing things, so here's a visual of the runner w/hollow cut into it -- [skate]=( -- obviously that's exagerated, but if i can't feel it, i'll make another pass and check - and usually then it will be noticeable.

at this point, remove the skate from the holder and stone it like normal.

i haven't had any complaints since my first week or two, when i was learning. i've been at it for around a year and a few months now, and most of the higher level guys that play at the rink i work at, a few of which played semi-pro etc, go to me. but, i don't know of anyone in the area here who's particularly known to be a good sharpener, so i don't know how i'd compare to someone with a reputation for being great, like JR, jimmy, etc. if you guys bother reading this, is there anything "wrong" with my method?

the other thing i gotta mention is that you shouldn't automatically cross-grind - although that's a habit i've been guilty of lately...

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