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Sparx Skate Sharpener - At home sharpener

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@Giltis Take my comments with a grain of salt, I haven't used a Sparx. However, I do use a ProSharp Home on a regular basis (not mine, but a family member has one, so my only investment in this so far is a single grind wheel that my son and I share).  Based on the recent comments (expensive wheels, needing to adjust after wheel swaps in some cases), you might want to explore the ProSharp option.  Now, their wheels are expensive as well, but you get way more sharpenings out of them (I did the math a few years ago and if memory serves the Sparx was more expensive to own and maintain after 3 or 4 wheel changes than the ProSharp was thanks to more sharpenings per wheel) and if Sparx just raised their prices, the value likely leans even more towards ProSharp.  I've also never had any issues swapping between wheels and needing to re-align as long as I make sure the newly installed wheel is all the way on the spindle.  And we share the machine, so I am swapping my wheel in every time I need to sharpen and putting their wheel back on after I finish.  No complains of bad edges on our end or theirs that I am aware of.  I usually do 2 passes and then hone with a course stone, fine stone and strop on high end standard finish stainless runners (Step).

Now I can't comment on the quality of the sharpening by both, but will say I have been impressed with the ProSharp machine.  Honestly, the honing takes more time and effort than the sharpening.    

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I find it hard to believe that the Prosharp Home works out cheaper after 3 or 4 wheel changes. In the UK it is a bit over £1600 including tax and shipping. The Sparx is £787 including shipping and tax. We pay £70 for a wheel, so the difference is more than ten wheels. And the Sparx is cheaper in the US due to lower shipping costs. I bought the original Sparx which cost me £1200 including shipping. 

One Sparx wheel lasts me 18 months, one two pass sharpen per week. 

The reason the Sparx is cheaper is because it’s made in China, the ProSharp is made in Sweden. 

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14 hours ago, Leif said:

I find it hard to believe that the Prosharp Home works out cheaper after 3 or 4 wheel changes. In the UK it is a bit over £1600 including tax and shipping. The Sparx is £787 including shipping and tax. We pay £70 for a wheel, so the difference is more than ten wheels. And the Sparx is cheaper in the US due to lower shipping costs. I bought the original Sparx which cost me £1200 including shipping. 

One Sparx wheel lasts me 18 months, one two pass sharpen per week. 

The reason the Sparx is cheaper is because it’s made in China, the ProSharp is made in Sweden. 

 

12 hours ago, Giltis said:

Thanks @krisdrum for your insight, but I am in Canada, and it's the reason why I'm considering the Sparx at the moment.

Ok, sorry, don't want to derail this thread, but I ran the numbers again for my own curiosity and unless I am missing something the units are much closer in price to operate to the same amount of sharpenings, at least from my US-based perspective.  YMMV in your location.

  ProSharp Home Sparx Pro Sparx adjusted to equal 500 sharps
Machine 1400 900 900
Wheels, each after initial purchase 100 65 520
Claimed sharpenings per wheel 500 60 8 Sparx wheels = 1 ProSharp
Total 1400   1420

 

If you are looking at the newer Sparx, you are saying $200, which is about 3 wheels worth of saving.  Granted the upfront costs of the ProSharp are higher and not everyone can drop $1400.  Just food for thought for those looking at the long term value of the two machines.   

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Howdy,

1 hour ago, krisdrum said:

 

Ok, sorry, don't want to derail this thread, but I ran the numbers again for my own curiosity and unless I am missing something the units are much closer in price to operate to the same amount of sharpenings, at least from my US-based perspective.  YMMV in your location.

  ProSharp Home Sparx Pro Sparx adjusted to equal 500 sharps
Machine 1400 900 900
Wheels, each after initial purchase 100 65 520
Claimed sharpenings per wheel 500 60 8 Sparx wheels = 1 ProSharp
Total 1400   1420

 

If you are looking at the newer Sparx, you are saying $200, which is about 3 wheels worth of saving.  Granted the upfront costs of the ProSharp are higher and not everyone can drop $1400.  Just food for thought for those looking at the long term value of the two machines.   

Are you accounting for the (apparently) different definitions of "sharpening" each company uses?
 

I'm not in a position to validate any of these claims.  I will say that as a home user, these break-even analysis things have a much lesser importance to me as compared to machine reliability, ease of use, support, etc. etc.  I don't know exactly how many sharpens I have total over the 3.5 years I've owned it, but I would be pretty surprised if its remotely close to 500. 

Btw, another benefit of (relatively) less expensive grinding rings is that its not the end of the world to me to have a bunch, so that I can sharpen friend's skates to whatever they prefer.

edit:  This page also seems to indicate that ProSharp grinding wheels are $130 and you'll get between 100 to 167 complete sharpens for the ProSharp.
https://prosharp.us/collections/consumeables/products/ep-wheel-fine-100mm

edit again:  That link apparently isn't for the right wheels.  This one is, and it matches the #'s you talk about.  Sorry about that!
https://prosharp.us/collections/consumeables/products/sharpening-wheel-home

Surprised that the home wheel would last longer than the 100mm wheel but ??


Anyway, I've been really happy with my Sparx, but there are plenty of ways to skin this cat.

Mark

Edited by marka

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58 minutes ago, marka said:

Howdy,

Are you accounting for the (apparently) different definitions of "sharpening" each company uses?
 

I'm not in a position to validate any of these claims.  I will say that as a home user, these break-even analysis things have a much lesser importance to me as compared to machine reliability, ease of use, support, etc. etc.  I don't know exactly how many sharpens I have total over the 3.5 years I've owned it, but I would be pretty surprised if its remotely close to 500. 

Btw, another benefit of (relatively) less expensive grinding rings is that its not the end of the world to me to have a bunch, so that I can sharpen friend's skates to whatever they prefer.

edit:  This page also seems to indicate that ProSharp grinding wheels are $130 and you'll get between 100 to 167 complete sharpens for the ProSharp.
https://prosharp.us/collections/consumeables/products/ep-wheel-fine-100mm

That's way different than the numbers you have above.


Anyway, I've been really happy with my Sparx, but there are plenty of ways to skin this cat.

Mark

My analysis is based solely on product claims easily found on each of their websites.  If there is additional information on either/both, that is great to know, but it was not part of my breakdown. Update: After reading through Russ' response... I think you have to take it with a grain of salt, unless he wants to share the results of those head-to-head tests.  I'm sure both units a good machines, with their pros and cons.  It would be nice if someone would do a head-to-head to assess long-term value in a controlled unbiased environment.

As I mentioned earlier, I am not in the market for a machine, I have access to one already and the $100 grinding wheel entry price was more than reasonable for me.  My son and I have been sharing it for the last 18+ months with great results.  Well worth the price considering we've only had a handful of times his blades were damaged enough to necessitate a trip to our LHS to get it sorted by a trained professional. 

As for the product page you linked to, not for the Home version, for the SkatePal.  The Home machine wheels are $99.99 USD.  No clue what the difference is or why 1 is more expensive for seemingly less sharpenings. 

Reading through the recent responses, I saw a few issues mentioned that I haven't experienced with the Home machine I have access to.  If those issues are deal breakers or something that is giving folks pause, I figured I'd mention my experience with the ProSharp.  Nothing more, nothing less, I've got no skin in this game.  My son and I and our extended family (3 serious players in that household) have been very happy with the results the ProSharp provides.  YMMV.

 

Edited by krisdrum
Read the additional information offered by Russ aka ZamboniFever
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I agree with your comments that we need a proper comparison by a disinterested party. I assumed the ProSharp claim of 500 sharpenings meant cycles, but they say 2-3 cycles per sharpen, and 500 pairs of skates per wheel. Assuming 2 cycles per sharpen, that means 2 * 2 * 500 cycles per wheel ie 2000, which compares to 320 cycles per Sparx wheel ie roughly 6 times as many cycles per ProSharp wheel. If only ProSharp stated the number of cycles per wheel! Assuming my figures are right, here in the UK a Sparx wheel is about £75, so one ProSharp wheel compares to £113 for a ProSharp wheel. Six Sparx wheels cost  £450, which would last me 9 years, and an extra £337 over ProSharp. So for me in the UK the ProSharp Home is about £800 more expensive than a Sparx, it would take me over 20 years to start saving with the ProSharp. For a team of 20 players, they would save in one year assuming all use the same wheel. In practice you might need 4 or 5 wheels, so it’d take maybe 5 years to save. I think you need less time in the US to save as prices are much lower eg no VAT at 20%. 

I worked  out that the Sparx paid for itself in three years, and I paid £1200, as I save on car use to and from the LHS at £10, and the cost of the sharpen at £8.

Added later:

I found further details about ProSharp wheels in a PDF here: https://www.prosharp.eu/pub_docs/files/Engelska/SkatePal-EP-wheels.pdf

This states that for fine wheels, which hockey players will use, each wheel gives 1,000 cycles, so roughly 3 times as many sharpens as a Sparx wheel assuming 2 cycles per skate. The 500 sharpens figure from ProSharp must assume 1 cycle per sharpen, which IMO is inadequate unless you sharpen before each skate. In any case, my earlier figures are wrong, it’d take me 40 years to start saving with the ProSharp. 

Edited by Leif

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We've had our Sparx just over two years... I bought it while we were still in the US when my oldest boys were playing Squirt AA.  My youngest two also skated, albeit with nowhere near the frequency of the other two.  I also played a little old man hockey in the summer.  We were a good hour to our "home" rink pro-shop or any of the big box hockey shops - the Sparx saved so much time and allowed me to avoid the crap shoot of who is actually doing the sharpening.

Now that we're in the NL the Sparx is a godsend.  Throw in COVID, goofy shop hours or even trying to track down a reliable person to do the sharpening and the Sparx has been worth its weight in gold.  I honestly don't care about crunching the numbers - the reliability and convenience were worth every penny.

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13 hours ago, helmet91 said:

I honestly don't care about crunching the numbers - the reliability and convenience were worth every penny.

I feel like when some people do hardcore number crunching on purchases, they leave out the value of personal time and mental energy. 

Not having to stress and worry about something is a huge win. Even if a Sparx is only 90% as good as a perfect sharpening, how often do you get that perfect sharpening. 

For me, I don’t want the stress of doing the Sparx wrong, and getting through the learning curve, haha. That’s why I go to a shop I trust. But, if I didn’t have that shop, I’d opt for the “good enough” option that creates the least headache. 

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2 hours ago, start_today said:

I feel like when some people do hardcore number crunching on purchases, they leave out the value of personal time and mental energy. 

Not having to stress and worry about something is a huge win. Even if a Sparx is only 90% as good as a perfect sharpening, how often do you get that perfect sharpening. 

For me, I don’t want the stress of doing the Sparx wrong, and getting through the learning curve, haha. That’s why I go to a shop I trust. But, if I didn’t have that shop, I’d opt for the “good enough” option that creates the least headache. 

Even my good LHS never did a perfect sharpening. In my experience the Sparx does the closest you’ll ever get. The profile is  preserved, the edges are level, what’s not to like? Before I got one I drove 25 miles to get a sharpening. 50 miles round trip, a morning written off, petrol and car to pay for, and sharpening to pay for. There’s almost no learning curve with a Sparx. But do buy the edge checker ie BAT gauge. 

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20 hours ago, Leif said:

Even my good LHS never did a perfect sharpening. In my experience the Sparx does the closest you’ll ever get. The profile is  preserved, the edges are level, what’s not to like? Before I got one I drove 25 miles to get a sharpening. 50 miles round trip, a morning written off, petrol and car to pay for, and sharpening to pay for. There’s almost no learning curve with a Sparx. But do buy the edge checker ie BAT gauge. 

Humans are the biggest variable and even the best equipment manager or pro shop individual has bad days. I would love to think I never make mistakes, but that would not be factual. 

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2 hours ago, PBH said:

Humans are the biggest variable and even the best equipment manager or pro shop individual has bad days. I would love to think I never make mistakes, but that would not be factual. 

I’m not suggesting that a skiiled sharpener routinely or often makes mistakes, the ones I trusted were very good, but my suspicion is that a human cannot maintain a truly constant pressure across the entire length of the blade. Over the course of a year the very tiny differences in the amount of metal removed lead to a noticeable change in the profile. I might be wrong - I can’t manually sharpen skates, and I’ve seen no research studies. Sparx make similar claims, admittedly they’re not a disinterested party. It’d be interesting to know how NHL equipment managers sharpen blades. Do they run blades right down? Do they regularly reprofile them? Do they routinely check the profiles? Are they so good that the profiles don’t change? 

Edited by Leif

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For those who have a blade holder, when you sharpen steel in the Sparx, do you prefer to sharpen steel in the skate holder or the Sparx blade holder.  What would give you more even edges?  (I assume the blade holder)

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Howdy,

21 minutes ago, shoot_the_goalie said:

For those who have a blade holder, when you sharpen steel in the Sparx, do you prefer to sharpen steel in the skate holder or the Sparx blade holder.  What would give you more even edges?  (I assume the blade holder)

I assume you mean "consistently even over the length of the runner"... Obviously you can adjust the machine so that at any given point along the runner, the edges will be even to the resolution of the in/out adjustment mechanism for the grinding wheel.


I haven't noticed a difference between the two.  I can't see any reason there would be, assuming the runners are straight.

If the runners aren't straight, then a holder is likely going to hold them "straighter" I think... A holder has more bearing length on the runner.  The blade holder just has the center section that clamps on the runner.  Of course, if the holder itself is bent, then the holder could contribute to a problem.

The machine's clamp itself will also try and straighten the blade a bit as well, I would imagine.

Anyway, all this comes back to "are your runners straight?"  Fix that if that's not the case and you'll get even edges over the length of the runner.

Mark

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My Sparx is just over 5 years old. It shipped Jul 2016. My two boys were in minor hockey at the time and they now play Jr A and NCAA. I play beer league a couple times a week.

I've never had a single problem with the Sparx in that time. I routinely do 2 passes every couple of games/practices to keep our edges always 'like new'. I very rarely do more than 2. I've sharpened everything from Step Steel to stock steel and the Sparx handled them all equally well. When coming home from Jr A seasons my boys' steel was usually destroyed from a profile perspective because of their team equipment managers sharpening on BladeMaster machines. The toe and heels were significantly rounded off from the manual machines.

Sharpening on the Sparx (which I have done for my own skates exclusively) has never affected the profile on my steel, so my blades last a lot longer than theirs do. But then again they are on the ice practically ever day vs. twice a week for me.

I don't have any experience with the ProSharp unit so I can't offer any comparison head to head.

Yes, it would be great if Sparx wheels were cheaper but honestly at the current prices and the way I use my machine, it's simply incredible value to me and our family and has been since the first day it arrived.

Russ owns the company so yes take his words with a grain of salt as everyone has their own biases, but Russ is an engineer not a business or marketing guy. Everything I have read or watched (lots of great Sparx history on youtube) from Russ was logical, fair, balanced and very much what you would expect from an engineer with a background in industrial design.

I was in on the Kickstarter like many others here, and for that first year or so when timelines kept slipping I'm sure we all wondered whether Sparx was ever going to deliver on their promise of a revolutionary home skate sharpening machine... well 5 years later after their first launch I can say from my own experiences with the product that they exceeded my expectations, and pretty much nailed it right from the first revision of the machine.

For a small company like Sparx, that's pretty impressive when you consider what went into getting the first units out the door.

 

 

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On 8/31/2021 at 5:49 PM, Leif said:

I’m not suggesting that a skiiled sharpener routinely or often makes mistakes, the ones I trusted were very good, but my suspicion is that a human cannot maintain a truly constant pressure across the entire length of the blade. Over the course of a year the very tiny differences in the amount of metal removed lead to a noticeable change in the profile. I might be wrong - I can’t manually sharpen skates, and I’ve seen no research studies. Sparx make similar claims, admittedly they’re not a disinterested party. It’d be interesting to know how NHL equipment managers sharpen blades. Do they run blades right down? Do they regularly reprofile them? Do they routinely check the profiles? Are they so good that the profiles don’t change? 

Curious about how the pros get 'er done too.  I've seen the Crosby/Penguins equipment guy video and maybe 1 other.

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Every team is now running automated sharpeners, they are a no brainer for an EQM as they make the daily job of maintaining edges and profiles just so much easier. Each player will have 3 or 4 sets of blades, these are rotated regularly so the height is relatively consistent across the sets. If a breakage / edge failure occurs then it's a quick swap out between shifts and business as usual. Checking profiles is up to the EQM, there are some who do it weekly whilst others might only do it monthly or longer. However technology is continually changing this, automatic sharpeners provided the first real tool for EQMs to change the traditional way they were doing things, Multi profilers like the Elite profiler that will do 4 blades at a time is another tool to make the job easier. But the real game changer atm has been the Elite sharpener (2 years ago it was just the Canadians, now 10 NHL teams have them and I'm told most of the league is catching up). This tracks the profile across each sharpen, besides the fact that the profile shouldn't / doesn't change, the machine will tell you when it has changed beyond a defined tolerance. Now the profile is continually checked and consistent across sharpens and you can do 2 blades at a time. Profile once and then just sharpen for the life of the blade, the EQMs job has just got significantly easier.

My source is a family connection who isn't an EQM but does have some involvement in this area with an NHL team. I was discussing this with him a few years ago and just recently in July.

 

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On 8/31/2021 at 2:49 PM, Leif said:

I’m not suggesting that a skiiled sharpener routinely or often makes mistakes, the ones I trusted were very good, but my suspicion is that a human cannot maintain a truly constant pressure across the entire length of the blade. Over the course of a year the very tiny differences in the amount of metal removed lead to a noticeable change in the profile. I might be wrong - I can’t manually sharpen skates, and I’ve seen no research studies. Sparx make similar claims, admittedly they’re not a disinterested party. It’d be interesting to know how NHL equipment managers sharpen blades. Do they run blades right down? Do they regularly reprofile them? Do they routinely check the profiles? Are they so good that the profiles don’t change? 

I use an SSM TT-3 as the primary machine for the store. The sled and jig are attached on ball bearings so that sled is limited on the X and Y axis. The operator cannot rotate the jig like they can with a Blademaster or Blackstone machine. However, the amount of pressure and speed is regulated by the operator and as mentioned this means the profile over a long period of time does get modified. It just takes a much longer amount of time compared to a fully manual machine. 

Machines like CAG, ProSharp, Elite, and Sparx all sharpen very well and also do a good job maintaining profile shape better than any manual or semi-manual machine. This is fact. 

The problem is the public perception that automated machines are not good.

This is primarily because they have had a bad experience at one point from someone who had a semi-automated or fully-automated machine and once bitten, twice shy. Usually, this is due to the operator or calibration or general failure to maintain the machine properly. Not an issue with the machine itself. 

As a professional, I can tell you emphatically that I would prefer a semi-automated or fully-automated machine over a manual machine 100% as long as the person operating the machine is competent.

At the end of the day, the operator is the weakest link regardless of the machine.

I have literally watched a pro shop employee launch a figure skate through a wall because the toe pick in a ProSharp machine made contact with the wheel. Had anyone been in front of that machine they would have been maimed. 

Edited by PBH
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In regards to bad experiences with automated machines...  When I first saw Sparx three or four years ago the first thing I thought of was this crazy machine that was in the lobby of local rink where I grew up (in Central Ohio).  It sounded like the skates were being sharpened with a chain saw.  LOL

Thankfully our Sparx isn't as scary.

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Similar to a CAG Albeit watered down. For me Wissota 911 was a good option as it’s just a smaller version of a blade master machine (operationally) and I learned to sharpen on one of those way back.  I like it. The machine is quiet supplies aren’t super expensive it’s reliable and accurate if you do your part.  

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Skate_Area.jpg

Thanks, in part, to all the great content in this thread (all 77 pages!) I went all in on the Sparx. While I was waiting for it to arrive, I build some gauges to help keep track of each steel's hours between sharpening. Sounds like perhaps I should just be touching them up between each skate, but I'm worried about blowing thru runners too fast. As I'm sure is obvious by the image, my skates are old and I'm sure there's a finite amount of Step Mako steel out there.

Either way, thanks to both this thread and the Mako one for keeping my wheel game top-notch. I'd prolly be stuck in my so-so fitting pro return skates with high school kid sharpened edges without MSH.

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Hey Guys, 

ive owned a sparx for 3 years now and live it. Go through about 5-6 rings a season. Has anyone had their machine start to “skip” or have the belt “skip” or click on the return pass and is almost home. I emailed sparx and they said it either needs to be returned for work or needs to be cleaned thouroghly.  I vacuum and blow the machine out regularly.  
Has anyone taken their machine apart also ? I dont want to but might have to get down to the bottom of this and oil up a bearing or something. Thanks! 

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