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purepearl32

New sharpener + help needed

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Hello everyone. I have searched and read quite a few threads on skate sharpening and learned a lot from some of the members on here so first off, thank you all.

Like many of you, I got tired of inconsistent sharpenings from one time to another but got fortunate enough to find someone good for the past year but alas, he is now moving aaway. I looked into buying the Sparx machine but also am the type that wants to know how to do this and will put the time in to learn so I purchased the Blademaster SPB850 (with the Ruby wheel) and got it on a nice level work bench in my garage. For the past couple months, I have been using a couple different pairs of old skates to get used to the machine and how it feels. This included messing with dressing the wheel, adjusting the skate in the holder, different pressures while grinding, final passes, deburring, etc. I have just gathered up enough nerve to start sharpening the skates I use on a regular basis and have some questions.

For the past year, I’ve only let one guy sharpen my skates and he did a really good job however he is moving out of state and now I’m going to be back to square one (i.e. inconsistency). I have always kept them at 3/8ths and love the feel of the bite that I get. He uses the same machine and same wheel and every time he has done them, I have the ability to execute tight turns with 100% confidence and even the sound is different (biting into the ice). When I grind to 3/8ths, they feel “OK” but definitely not as good and very little sound when I am turning. I am dressing the wheel with the diamond, each time turning it ¼ of a turn to keep the point, so I don’t believe I’m goofing that up and am making between 8-10 passes on each skate, checking for levelness on the front, middle, and back part of the blade as I go along. Speaking of the blade, I had him check it and it is not bent either. I feel like I am putting medium pressure on the wheel and am grinding with it. On the final pass, I use Gusto and the finished product looks very smooth and shiny (not like the snakeskin finish I have seen and read about). I deburr lightly and make sure all the ‘slag’ is off of them. Still, it doesn’t feel like a 3/8ths hollow so I am confused. I can skate on them just fine but the bite just isn’t there. The only thing I can think of is when the guy at the shop does them, he does about 20 passes per skate which I haven’t tried doing yet since I don’t want to overheat the blade.

My questions are: Where should I start looking at what I’m doing incorrectly? How do I know when I’m starting to overheat the blade? And any tips for a beginner sharpener like me? All suggestions would greatly be appreciated.

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Let me preface this by saying I'm not a sharpening pro, as I only use a Sparx sharpener myself. If I had to take an educated guess, I'd say that it has something to do with the amount of pressure you're putting on the skate when sharpening. I've seen videos of pros sharpening blades with roughly five passes. You're doing 8-10 and getting lack luster results. That would lead me to believe it's pressure related. Worst case, it could be issues with how you're dressing your wheel. It could be possible that the wrong hollow is being applied. Again, this is coming from someone who's a novice. The MHS sharpening vets would be more knowledgeable here.

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Howdy,

I'm not a skate sharpener.

That said, two things come immediately to mind to me to try...

First, mark the blade with sharpie in a few places to ensure that you're getting a freshly ground surface all the way across.

Second, I would double check that you're setting the ROH the same way your preferred sharpener guy is doing it (and/or just go to a deeper ROH on your machine).  You can't see the actual ROH very well, so there could easily be a difference between you and him, even if you're making good passes, etc.

That advice is worth what you paid for it.  :-)

Mark

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1 hour ago, marka said:

Howdy,

I'm not a skate sharpener.

That said, two things come immediately to mind to me to try...

First, mark the blade with sharpie in a few places to ensure that you're getting a freshly ground surface all the way across.

 

this is excellent advice. I've been doing this for years. the other thing I can recommend is buy an edge checker. there are several on the market but most are pretty pricey. there's one that's almost always on Ebay though that is much cheaper and certainly up to the job.

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12 hours ago, shoeshine boy said:

this is excellent advice. I've been doing this for years. the other thing I can recommend is buy an edge checker. there are several on the market but most are pretty pricey. there's one that's almost always on Ebay though that is much cheaper and certainly up to the job.

If you mean the edge checker with dots instead of lines, the ProSharp one is no more expensive and much better made.

https://prosharp.ca/products/test

Edges are odd things. 6 months ago I had a 1/2" hollow done, by a sharpener I no longer trust, and I could barely skate. The skates seemed to dig in to the ice, as if following ready made grooves. I normally use 5/8" done by a good person, and the result is consistent and very good. A few months ago I had a 5/8" done by someone I don't normally use, and it felt totally wrong. Yesterday I had a 1/2" put on again, by my trusted sharpener, and it is fine, a bit grippier than 5/8", but fine.

Maybe someone is not getting the right hollow. You could buy a HDI:

http://www.pro-filer.com/hdi/

A bit pricey, but if your good sharpener uses one, he might let you try it after you have done a sharpening. Just a suggestion from someone with little knowledge of sharpening. :smile: However, if this person is moving away, why not ask him to help you? He might be flattered by your impression of his skills, and might in any case be happy to share knowledge since he is leaving.

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5 hours ago, Leif said:

If you mean the edge checker with dots instead of lines, the ProSharp one is no more expensive and much better made.

https://prosharp.ca/products/test

 

nope, I'm talking about the one with multiple colors:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hockey-Skate-EDGE-CHECKER-FewOptions-/172349229987?hash=item2820d08ba3:g:I~YAAOSwJ4hY-tgE

 

it's more than $20 cheaper and I have found is perfectly up to the job.

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9 hours ago, Leif said:

If you mean the edge checker with dots instead of lines, the ProSharp one is no more expensive and much better made.

https://prosharp.ca/products/test

Edges are odd things. 6 months ago I had a 1/2" hollow done, by a sharpener I no longer trust, and I could barely skate. The skates seemed to dig in to the ice, as if following ready made grooves. I normally use 5/8" done by a good person, and the result is consistent and very good. A few months ago I had a 5/8" done by someone I don't normally use, and it felt totally wrong. Yesterday I had a 1/2" put on again, by my trusted sharpener, and it is fine, a bit grippier than 5/8", but fine.

Maybe someone is not getting the right hollow. You could buy a HDI:

http://www.pro-filer.com/hdi/

A bit pricey, but if your good sharpener uses one, he might let you try it after you have done a sharpening. Just a suggestion from someone with little knowledge of sharpening. :smile: However, if this person is moving away, why not ask him to help you? He might be flattered by your impression of his skills, and might in any case be happy to share knowledge since he is leaving.

Thanks! I have this edge checker currently:  http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hockey-Skate-EDGE-CHECKER-FewOptions-With-Case-/172637140011?hash=item2831f9b42b:g:0FgAAOSw5UZY-m8Y

I have asked him but his time is very limited right now and I don't think he would be able to drive the 50 minutes to my house. I've sharpened on his machine before and he didn't see too much wrong with what I'm doing so I'm leaning towards more of a pressure thing. Just sharpened yesterday on 20 light passes with a 3/8ths grind and they had never felt worse. The blade felt flat with almost zero edge. Going to try redressing the wheel today at 3/8ths again and try for around 10 passes per skate, checking level as I go. I am also going to try the sharpie suggestion, as noted above. Wish me luck! 

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Try different honing techniques as well as different honing tools. The way a blade is finished off can be the difference between an edge feeling "okay" versus feeling like a quality professional sharpening.

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On 06/02/2017 at 11:09 AM, purepearl32 said:

Hello everyone. I have searched and read quite a few threads on skate sharpening and learned a lot from some of the members on here so first off, thank you all.

Like many of you, I got tired of inconsistent sharpenings from one time to another but got fortunate enough to find someone good for the past year but alas, he is now moving aaway. I looked into buying the Sparx machine but also am the type that wants to know how to do this and will put the time in to learn so I purchased the Blademaster SPB850 (with the Ruby wheel) and got it on a nice level work bench in my garage. For the past couple months, I have been using a couple different pairs of old skates to get used to the machine and how it feels. This included messing with dressing the wheel, adjusting the skate in the holder, different pressures while grinding, final passes, deburring, etc. I have just gathered up enough nerve to start sharpening the skates I use on a regular basis and have some questions.

For the past year, I’ve only let one guy sharpen my skates and he did a really good job however he is moving out of state and now I’m going to be back to square one (i.e. inconsistency). I have always kept them at 3/8ths and love the feel of the bite that I get. He uses the same machine and same wheel and every time he has done them, I have the ability to execute tight turns with 100% confidence and even the sound is different (biting into the ice). When I grind to 3/8ths, they feel “OK” but definitely not as good and very little sound when I am turning. I am dressing the wheel with the diamond, each time turning it ¼ of a turn to keep the point, so I don’t believe I’m goofing that up and am making between 8-10 passes on each skate, checking for levelness on the front, middle, and back part of the blade as I go along. Speaking of the blade, I had him check it and it is not bent either. I feel like I am putting medium pressure on the wheel and am grinding with it. On the final pass, I use Gusto and the finished product looks very smooth and shiny (not like the snakeskin finish I have seen and read about). I deburr lightly and make sure all the ‘slag’ is off of them. Still, it doesn’t feel like a 3/8ths hollow so I am confused. I can skate on them just fine but the bite just isn’t there. The only thing I can think of is when the guy at the shop does them, he does about 20 passes per skate which I haven’t tried doing yet since I don’t want to overheat the blade.

My questions are: Where should I start looking at what I’m doing incorrectly? How do I know when I’m starting to overheat the blade? And any tips for a beginner sharpener like me? All suggestions would greatly be appreciated.

8-10 passes is about right.  20 is too many for most touch ups.

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UPDATE:  So I redressed the wheel to 3/8ths and did roughly 12 passes per skate. Definitely put more pressure on the blade and was careful when deburring. They felt 100x better than the a couple days ago so I'm certainly leaning towards my issue being pressure related. Still didn't have that extra 'bite' that I'm used to so I'll dress the wheel a little deeper and see what results I get. Maybe the guy that has been grinding them until now goes a little past the 3/8ths mark and I don't know. I will say that the skates definitely felt quite good and I could certainly get used to that. Progress!

TBR - Could you elaborate a little more on what you mean by honing techniques? 

Is there a way to tell you are overheating a blade? I've never seen black or dark spots on the blade but it has become hot to the touch. Just want to be careful.

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2 hours ago, purepearl32 said:

Is there a way to tell you are overheating a blade? I've never seen black or dark spots on the blade but it has become hot to the touch. Just want to be careful.

blades will always be hot right after because of the fact that it's metal and what you're doing to it. you can burn the blades though. you'd know it because you'd have dark spots on your blades. also remember this: a good finishing pass is just as important as the rest of the job.

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3 hours ago, purepearl32 said:

TBR - Could you elaborate a little more on what you mean by honing techniques? 

Both the way you remove the burrs (and micro-burrs) and the types of materials you use - e.g., rough stones, smooth stones, diamond hones, leather strops, etc. - can make a huge difference in the way the edges feel on the ice. The amount of pressure you apply and where you apply it and whether (and to what degree) you are angling the honing stone(s) is also important to fine-tune. Think of it as a recipe where you'll make subtle adjustments to ingredients until your blades have the flavor you like.

As far as overheating the blade, just make sure you're not going too slow on every pass. The amount of passes is never a set number, because levels of trauma can vary. For example, if you have a deep gash, you will need to get it out even if it takes 40 passes. It's good to take a pause every seven or 8 to let the blades cool, as well as to gauge at what rate the metal is being taken down and how many more passes will likely be needed to restore the edge. Let the weight of the jib hug the wheel with your hands as merely a guide, and you should be fine. Once whatever damage is removed and you've raised a noticeable burr throughout the blade (you should be able to feel it with your fingers) you're ready for a finishing pass or two. Make sure your spark on the wheel has a consistent thickness matching your hollow, and once you're done with the grinding, move on to the finishing/honing process.

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I don't always grind out the big nicks.  It depends on how deep and where it is.  If you run a cloth along the blade and it doesn't catch, chances are it won't snag on the ice either. 

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8 hours ago, TBR said:

Both the way you remove the burrs (and micro-burrs) and the types of materials you use - e.g., rough stones, smooth stones, diamond hones, leather strops, etc. - can make a huge difference in the way the edges feel on the ice. The amount of pressure you apply and where you apply it and whether (and to what degree) you are angling the honing stone(s) is also important to fine-tune. Think of it as a recipe where you'll make subtle adjustments to ingredients until your blades have the flavor you like.

As far as overheating the blade, just make sure you're not going too slow on every pass. The amount of passes is never a set number, because levels of trauma can vary. For example, if you have a deep gash, you will need to get it out even if it takes 40 passes. It's good to take a pause every seven or 8 to let the blades cool, as well as to gauge at what rate the metal is being taken down and how many more passes will likely be needed to restore the edge. Let the weight of the jib hug the wheel with your hands as merely a guide, and you should be fine. Once whatever damage is removed and you've raised a noticeable burr throughout the blade (you should be able to feel it with your fingers) you're ready for a finishing pass or two. Make sure your spark on the wheel has a consistent thickness matching your hollow, and once you're done with the grinding, move on to the finishing/honing process.

Great information all around and especially about overheating the blade, thank you. Do you have a preferred honing method on stainless steel blades? I'm just using the Blademaster angled stone with pretty light pressure and making sure I don't accidentally run it down the edge I just created.

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1 hour ago, purepearl32 said:

Great information all around and especially about overheating the blade, thank you. Do you have a preferred honing method on stainless steel blades? I'm just using the Blademaster angled stone with pretty light pressure and making sure I don't accidentally run it down the edge I just created.

Consider getting a finer grit hone that you use after the blademaster. Make sure none of your finishing stones ever have any grooves in them. If they are grooved, put them off to the side and save them for pre-sharpening blade "prepping" or the occasional mid-sharpening nick/burr removal. As a final step, try wiping the blades down with some leather. That will help them feel smoother and less grabby.

mickz, you are right about not always sharpening out big nicks. It's really more about how wide they are and where they're located. A nick only several millimeters wide along the working radius can definitely create problems, especially if if it's the outside edge, while one at the very front or rear would hardly be noticed.

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15 hours ago, TBR said:

Consider getting a finer grit hone that you use after the blademaster. Make sure none of your finishing stones ever have any grooves in them. If they are grooved, put them off to the side and save them for pre-sharpening blade "prepping" or the occasional mid-sharpening nick/burr removal. As a final step, try wiping the blades down with some leather. That will help them feel smoother and less grabby.

mickz, you are right about not always sharpening out big nicks. It's really more about how wide they are and where they're located. A nick only several millimeters wide along the working radius can definitely create problems, especially if if it's the outside edge, while one at the very front or rear would hardly be noticed.

Do you have a recommendation of where I could get a finer honing stone than the Blademaster? The local hockey shops here all carry coarse stones (definitely grittier than the BM) and I am not sure what grit I should be looking for. I see Howie Hockey makes one and a couple other companies.

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6 hours ago, purepearl32 said:

Do you have a recommendation of where I could get a finer honing stone than the Blademaster? The local hockey shops here all carry coarse stones (definitely grittier than the BM) and I am not sure what grit I should be looking for. I see Howie Hockey makes one and a couple other companies.

A number of companies out there sell them. Just look for the hardest and smoothest ones you can find that aren't astronomical in price. 

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On 03/06/2017 at 8:45 PM, purepearl32 said:

I have asked him but his time is very limited right now and I don't think he would be able to drive the 50 minutes to my house. I've sharpened on his machine before and he didn't see too much wrong with what I'm doing so I'm leaning towards more of a pressure thing. Just sharpened yesterday on 20 light passes with a 3/8ths grind and they had never felt worse. The blade felt flat with almost zero edge. Going to try redressing the wheel today at 3/8ths again and try for around 10 passes per skate, checking level as I go. I am also going to try the sharpie suggestion, as noted above. Wish me luck! 

I wasn't suggesting he travel to your house, just that he chat with him, which clearly you have done anyway. Glad to hear your skills are improving. Incidentally, one  chap I knew had a piece of old wood hanging up, after sharpening he'd run a blade along it, presumably to deburr it. :smile:

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On 2017-06-05 at 2:52 PM, purepearl32 said:

Do you have a recommendation of where I could get a finer honing stone than the Blademaster? The local hockey shops here all carry coarse stones (definitely grittier than the BM) and I am not sure what grit I should be looking for. I see Howie Hockey makes one and a couple other companies.

You can look into ceramic stones.  They're available at my local knife and wood working shops.  The ceramic stones are about 3-4x more expensive than your conventional stones but they tend to last longer (don't get grooves in them as easily) and are available in fine grits.

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