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Author Topic: Blade Sharpening  (Read 675 times)

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Offline im_sk8_mad

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Blade Sharpening
« on: December 19, 2016, 11:05:18 PM »
I have average level boots and blades, and ive had them for several years now. I usually like my blades a little on the blunt side, but i know they need to be sharpened when i cant hold my edges and they slip from under me. This happened recently so i handed them in to my rink to be sharpened. (this was the first time i asked about depth and hollow and actually about what they were doing to my skates. Was told figures are usually shallow hollow. I just assumed this is what they gave me) I got them back and went to a public session to break them in. They were perfect, best sharpen id ever had, some of my skills even felt alot better. I came back another time, and within 1 hour of total time practicing skills and jumps, my ROE was sliping, i couldnt hold it and it felt terrible. I could see the tracing in the ice as it sliped, and it looked messy. I was advised i speak to a particular sharpener (my rink has more than one) because he is requested a lot and knows heaps about figure skates. (i dont know who sharpened them this time) I spoke to him and he did the fingernail test in front of me along al edged and said they were razor sharp, and deeper than he would normally sharpen figure skates, so i guess i didnt get the shallow sharpen i had assumed i was going to get. He gave them a touch up (but i havent had the chance to be on the ice since this touch up) and said there was nothing wrong with them. However he did make the comment that my blades were nearing the end of their life.... Im on christmas holliday break from lessons so i cant ask my coach her opinion, but she doesnt seem to really mind at the moment about my skates or my blades (im only on single jumps). It usually takes months for me to get the edge slipping.. I dunno what to do. Are my edges too sharp for me? am i too light? i only weigh 50kg. I dunno what the problem is...

Offline Ethereal Ice

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Re: Blade Sharpening
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2016, 02:53:41 AM »
Hmm, not the blade expert here, I know others will have better input, but I wonder if your slipping has anything to do with the combo of older boots and blades. Is it possible that in addition to having blades that may be at the end of their life the boots are also giving you less ankle support causing more instability?  You ask if your edges are too sharp, IME if the edges are too sharp you see trouble with the blade digging deeper in the ice than you are used to,  so you might have trouble with stopping, spins, turns, but not necessarily holding a landing edge. Another issue you may want to consider is that if you do not have your blades sharpened regularly and often,  the difference when you finally do have them sharpened it can dramatically affect your skating.  I feel the need to get mine sharpened about every 20-30 hrs and try never to go beyond 40 hours,  At that frequency,  a fresh sharpening just feels good,  no major change in my abilities one way or another.

I know that for me and most of the people I skate with, having a good, consistent blade sharpener, and also knowing your ROH (the "depth and hollow" you are referring to) is pretty important. It is kind of surprising to me that the person you were talking to was using the "the fingernail test" (not always accurate) and not talking in specifics of Radius Of Hollow...it sounds a bit hokey for a supposed expert in blades. There are some good articles online explaining ROH and why some work better for some types of skating. You are trying to strike a balance between edges deep enough to hold but shallow enough to be able to turn.  Different types of skaters have different priorities as they get better.  I think it is helpful to know your ROH and know that you may want to change it one way or another to assist your skating over time. 

At this point I would check with your coach when you can on the condition of your boots possibly contributing to the problems and also,  if you trust this blade guy is right about your blades being at the end of their life,  look into getting new blades. If you are not confident in his assessment, take them to a different person and see if the verdict is the same on the need for new blades.

Btw, if you do get a newly sharpened pair in the future that is just too sharp and grabby into everything,  you can dull them a bit with a Honing stone.  I always keep one to smooth minor nicks, they are a nice tool to have.

Online tstop4me

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Re: Blade Sharpening
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2016, 10:46:13 PM »
"Shallow" and "deep" hollow are, of course, subjective.  The skate sharpener should tell you the actual radius of hollow (ROH) that he dressed the grinding wheel to.  The smaller the ROH, the deeper the hollow (for a fixed blade thickness).  That way, if you like the feel, you should request the same ROH for subsequent sharpenings.  For figure skating blades, the typical range is about 5/16" to about 5/8" (values outside this range are also used), with 7/16" and 1/2" being common values for freestyle blades. 

Besides ROH, important edge parameters are evenness in height between inside edge and outside edge, edge sharpness, and correct profile.

If you have carbon steel blades, they will be plated with shiny metal (commonly, nickel or chrome over nickel).  The plating is removed along the edge.  This region, commonly called the chrome relief, has a dull appearance and is visibly apparent.  This typically demarcates the hardened region that the blade manufacturer considers to be usable.  So, if the blade has been sharpened so many times that the edges are approaching the shiny metal, the blades are approaching end of life (although some sharpeners will continue to sharpen beyond the chrome relief).

Even if the chrome relief hasn't been exhausted, the blades may be nearing end of life if the spin rocker (or the main rocker, for that matter) has been flattened too much.  Sometimes a sharpener with the right tools can correct this.  But it may not be worth the cost, unless you have a pricey blade with a substantial hardened region left.

Offline im_sk8_mad

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Re: Blade Sharpening
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2016, 11:57:02 PM »
As i said i am a reasonable beginner, and last time was the first time i questioned what was being done to my skates. While ive had my boots and blades for a while my boots still feel good, they arent too soft and i feel they still give good ankle support. My blades still have quite alot of the "chrome relief" on them, and i went to my pro shop (same rink as the sharpener) to question and price new blades. They looked at my blades and skates and said they were fine, my blades still had lots of life left in them and said that unless my coach wanted me to change blades they would advise against new ones. Previously i have noticed the big difference between blunt and newly sharpened blades, which is why this time i though they had given me a more shallow sharpen. Im wondering if his "touch up" will be more sharp like i thought they would be. I dont know alot of specifics about radius of hollow, and maybe he felt he would overwhelm me by babbling about it. I wont get to see my coach untill early febuary as my rink takes a long break over the christmas holidays. Am i maybe not heavy enough for the sharpen (deep or shallow at this point) and so my blades arent digging in to the ice? Even if they're sharp? BEcause i am so light do i need a deeper sharpen to give me traction?

Offline Ethereal Ice

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Re: Blade Sharpening
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2016, 12:57:42 AM »
As i said i am a reasonable beginner, and last time was the first time i questioned what was being done to my skates. While ive had my boots and blades for a while my boots still feel good, they arent too soft and i feel they still give good ankle support. My blades still have quite alot of the "chrome relief" on them, and i went to my pro shop (same rink as the sharpener) to question and price new blades. They looked at my blades and skates and said they were fine, my blades still had lots of life left in them and said that unless my coach wanted me to change blades they would advise against new ones. Previously i have noticed the big difference between blunt and newly sharpened blades, which is why this time i though they had given me a more shallow sharpen. Im wondering if his "touch up" will be more sharp like i thought they would be. I dont know alot of specifics about radius of hollow, and maybe he felt he would overwhelm me by babbling about it. I wont get to see my coach untill early febuary as my rink takes a long break over the christmas holidays. Am i maybe not heavy enough for the sharpen (deep or shallow at this point) and so my blades arent digging in to the ice? Even if they're sharp? BEcause i am so light do i need a deeper sharpen to give me traction?

I do not consider 50kg to be light,  we have little girls around 50 *pounds* able to get an edge just fine on an ROH within average ranges. Assuming you have a good sharpening,  concentrate on flexing not only at the knee but at the ankle.  Our coach says to visualize pressing into the ice as you flex those ankles.  It will help control your edges.  I was recently reading an old figure skating book I have from the 60s trying to figure out why I was skidding at times trying to find my outside edges (I assumed it was a sharpening issue) the author mentioned not only ankle press as an issue but also shifting the weight back a bit.  He, and my coach were right,  since I have made an effort to really press into the ice and shift my pressure back a bit I have not skidded once on an outside edge,  no matter where I am in my sharpening cycle.

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Re: Blade Sharpening
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2016, 07:38:16 AM »
Previously i have noticed the big difference between blunt and newly sharpened blades, which is why this time i though they had given me a more shallow sharpen. Im wondering if his "touch up" will be more sharp like i thought they would be. I dont know alot of specifics about radius of hollow, and maybe he felt he would overwhelm me by babbling about it.

If these sharpenings were done recently, I would start by asking the sharpeners (in particular, the one who did it the way you thought was terrific, plus the subsequent ones), "By the way, what ROH did you sharpen my blades to?"  Without more info, all you're left with are guesses.  Right now, you don't know whether each sharpener has a nominal target value he uses (if the customer doesn't specify), or if he just leaves the wheel at the previous setting.

Offline Query

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Re: Blade Sharpening
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2016, 08:19:20 PM »
How did you handle the skates between sharpenings?

E.g., even one step onto a concrete floor would be enough to destroy an edge. Many steps would be enough on any surface, even on the rubber floors they typically use around ice rinks.

Leaving your blades wet for an extended period can also destroy edges. They should be dried with something like a towel, as soon as possible after skating, and kept in the open (not in a bag, box, or trunk) - though some people use "soakers", if there is a danger of scratching the blade against something.


Offline im_sk8_mad

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Re: Blade Sharpening
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2016, 02:57:50 AM »
Assuming you have a good sharpening,  concentrate on flexing not only at the knee but at the ankle.  Our coach says to visualize pressing into the ice as you flex those ankles.  It will help control your edges.  I was recently reading an old figure skating book I have from the 60s trying to figure out why I was skidding at times trying to find my outside edges (I assumed it was a sharpening issue) the author mentioned not only ankle press as an issue but also shifting the weight back a bit.  He, and my coach were right,  since I have made an effort to really press into the ice and shift my pressure back a bit I have not skidded once on an outside edge,  no matter where I am in my sharpening cycle.
I had no considered this, but i will deffinitely keep it in mind and mention it to my coach when i go back after christmas!!

How did you handle the skates between sharpenings?

I actively use both soakers and hard guards with my skates, i also dry them with a towel before putting on my soakers.

Offline Query

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Re: Blade Sharpening
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2016, 09:37:09 PM »
I actively use both soakers and hard guards with my skates, i also dry them with a towel before putting on my soakers.

Then - the only thing I can think of is that they might have been sharpened to a longer ROH than before, but not much metal was removed. Then you would get a very temporary sharp edge, which would soon disappear.

Otherwise, I have no more ideas. "End of life": even if you are in the softer metal, it should still be hard enough to last more than a day. And, in point of fact, the hardened steel is usually supposed to go a little higher than the chrome relief.

Oh, wait.  If you have removed so much metal that there is no chrome relief (i.e., there is no strip of a different color at the bottom), the sharpener may have created an edge in the nickel/chrome plating, rather than try to do something very fancy and grind off more nickel/chrome to expose the hard steel. The plating may be too soft to hold an edge...

I think you should just talk to the good tech and ask his opinion of what happened.

Offline mnrjpf99

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Re: Blade Sharpening
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2016, 11:13:05 PM »
Another thing to look at, is if the blades are sharpened square. I had a pair of blades sharpened and one edge was higher than the other. I was a nightmare to try and skate with them.

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Re: Blade Sharpening
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2016, 05:05:04 PM »
Another thing to look at, is if the blades are sharpened square. I had a pair of blades sharpened and one edge was higher than the other. I was a nightmare to try and skate with them.

That also occurred to me, but then the OP should have noticed problems right away, not after an hour.  Anyway, my advice to the OP is to follow the advertising slogan, “an educated consumer is our best customer”, and ask for details from the sharpeners, instead of guessing.