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Author Topic: Class on Sharpening Your Own Figure Skating Blades  (Read 2777 times)

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Offline Query

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Class on Sharpening Your Own Figure Skating Blades
« on: September 26, 2010, 12:32:04 PM »
At AgnesNitt's suggestion, I wish offer a class on sharpening your own skates, in Maryland or Washington, DC.

Cost would be $25-$50, depending on facility rental. If you want to order tools they will cost between $75 and $100. (There are less expensive sharpening tools, but it is hard to get a good consistent edges from them. The cheaper tools are only intended for quick touch ups between professional sharpenings.)

If you are interested: How likely would you be to come, at various times and locations?

What hollow radius does your sharpener use, on YOUR skates? Ask your sharpener! New blade factory hollows are at http://home.pacbell.net/anamga/appendices.html and http://stason.org/TULARC/sports/recreational-figure-skating/9-1-Appendix-1-Commonly-available-blades.html, but are often changed to suit. The main tool only comes in 5/16", 3/8", 1/2" ROH. You can get away with a somewhat larger ROH, but get the same bite, if you change the edge shape, a couple different ways. E.g., my factory hollow is 7/16", but I use 3/8" and reshape the edge.

Would you like to order tools in advance? (I can get a discount on group orders. But if you aren't sure of ROH, or want to take the class before deciding, say no.)

I don't need an absolute decision now, but need to gauge the interest.

If this works out, I might offer a class on modifying your own boots to fit better. I’d love to offer a class on falling gently too, but no facility I know would risk it.

Hockey skaters are welcome, but they can order slightly different tools, and some of what I say won't apply.

FAQ

Why sharpen your own bladesf?

1. It's FUN and cool to do stuff yourself.
2. You can produce a consistent edge with just the right amount of bite (resistance to sideways skid) to suit YOU and the hardness of the ice, and make it even and balanced. Maybe the available professional sharpeners can't. Since you do it yourself, you can do minor touch ups more often, and always have the same amount of bite. If you really want, you can shape the blade with more bite than almost any professional sharpener can with powered sharpeners.
3. It's cheaper. A small fraction of a dollar / sharpening. Compare that plus the cost of this course to to $10-$15 / professional sharpening, which many skaters do 6 - 24 times per year - $60 - $360 / year total. If you drive to a shop for sharpening, the cost of gas, vehicle depreciation and maintenance, accidents and incremental insurance costs, it costs $0.20 / mile to drive. So if you drive 10 - 50 miles each way, that's another $24 - $480 per year saved. (You would save more if you skated on fake ice. Then you probably sharpen every 1 - 2 hours on the ice, so sharpening and blades get very expensive. Fortunately, DC area rinks all have real ice.)
4. It’s faster. Once you get used to it, sharpening both skates takes 5 - 10 minutes, less if you do frequent touch ups. A shop with a powered machine sharpener can do it much faster. But you may have to wait in line to be served, you may have to leave it at the shop, and you may have to drive to a good sharpener. Then you waste a lot of time on the shop - time you could be skating or doing other fun things.
5. Some professional sharpeners remove too much metal, because hockey skaters need it. Most figure skaters can get away with about 0.003 inch / sharpening - 33 sharpenings worth of blade lifetime per 0.1 inch of available tempered blade. If you discard the blade after 0.1 - 0.2 inch loss, and you sharpen 6 - 24 times / year (not counting minor touch ups that remove very little metal), and your blades cost $50 - $550 / pair, then you spend another $4.55 - $400 / year on new blades. But if your professional sharpener removes 2 - 5 times more metal, you are spending 2 - 5 times that. (Please do not add up all the costs of skating - skates, equipment, lessons, cross-training, ice time, music, magazines, memberships, clothing, driving, medical bills, personal relationship stress, etc. You might be discouraged.)
6. Maybe your professional sharpener thinks figure skates are just like hockey skates. He/she just destroyed someone’s expensive figure skating blades by grinding off the toepicks and rounding off the backs of the blade. Even some expert sharpeners gradually change the rocker profile in other bad ways that you can avoid.
7. Maybe your professional sharpener removes the "sweet spot" (rocker direction cusp) or "spin rocker" (length of lessened rocker diameter) where most figure skating blades are designed to easily turn and spin. If you sharpen yourself, you can put it back yourself, move it to where you like to spin, or make it stronger. Then you can turn and spin better, because it's more stable and you can feel when you are in just the right spot. (Not everyone agrees it should be there. Many companies that make sharpening machines don't know it is there, and provide instructions that ignore it, so it is lost after a few sharpenings.)
8. Maybe all the good professional sharpeners are too far away. Too much time and money to get there and back.
9. When you leave town, you can't use the same professional sharpener, and they all sharpen differently.
10. Just after a sharpening you think the blades are too sharp. Then they wear dull, and you skid sideways. Then you get them too sharp again. Better to sharpen them yourself a little bit more often, but remove very little metal each time, so it always feels the same.
11. You like to be feel in control of all aspects of your skating.
12. Same as reason # 1. The best reason of all.

Can I produce edges as good as a pro who has a powered sharpening machine?

Yes! Perhaps a little better, if you are careful, though it takes practice.

Is it hard?

A little bit. Most bright adults and teenagers can learn. I won't assume you know how to use tools. I will show you everything, step by step, and explain everything you need to know.
 
Is it dangerous?

Blades are sharp – or will be. I won't take kids under 18 without a parent or guardian's signed permission. People who are very nervous playing with sharp things shouldn't come. (But how do they skate?) You could use very thin gloves if you are nervous, but it would be hard to feel the edges.

Do I have to destroy my finger nails?

No. You can test sharpness on wood. You don't have to shave your nails.

Can I sharpen my kid's blades?

Yes, if they are analytic enough to tell you what you need to change.

Do I have to sharpen my precious blades during the class?

No. We can all bring worn out skates and blades for ourselves and others practice on. Some won't hold their edges very long, but they don't need to for class. When and if you are confident, you can sharpen your own precious blades.

Do I need your class to learn?

No. You may be more confident learning things and getting feedback from a teacher. But given time and confidence, you can work it out yourself.  

Where and when?

I need feedback from you. An ice rink, with an open public skating session at the end, would be perfect, so you can test your edges, but so far only one of the indoor rinks that has tables has even said maybe. (All the local indoor rinks, or their pro shops, make some money by sharpening, so it's a conflict of interest.)

The class will take an hour or two.

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: Blade Sharpening Class in MD
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2010, 01:17:49 PM »
Well, since I suggested it, I'll say yes.
Yes I'm in with the 90's. I have a skating blog. http://icedoesntcare.blogspot.com/

Offline jjane45

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Re: Class on Sharpening Your Own Figure Skating Blades
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2010, 03:30:17 PM »
Wow brilliant idea! I wish everyone great success!!! (it's scary to think accumulative sharpening costs are higher than $$ skates themselves!)

Offline Query

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Re: Class on Sharpening Your Own Figure Skating Blades
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2010, 03:28:35 PM »
If anyone else knows a skater who might be interested, please tell them.

I'm asking the moderators of a couple mailing lists whether a similar post is OK on their lists (as I did here).

I sitll have now way to advertise such a class to a wider audience in a way that doesn't cost more than possible income.

AgnesNitt, if you are the only interested person, we can do it informally. I'll show you at a picnic table in a park, or some other place where no room rental fee applies, then we can test the edges at a rink.

Sharpening skates with hand tools isn't a revolutionary idea. Lots of people have done it for quite some time, even some coaches I've known.

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: Class on Sharpening Your Own Figure Skating Blades
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2010, 07:34:12 PM »
I'm kind of surprised that only I signed up. I really hate taking 2 hour drive (one way) to get my blades sharpened, as I have to drive from Virginia to MD. And then they're too sharp.  This seemed a better idea. I honestly thought some of the adult skaters and maybe a skater dad would want to learn how to keep their blades in shape.

And Maryland is a good location it's convenient for VA, MD, and even some of the Delaware crowd.

Well, we'll have to PM each other and set up something.
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Offline jjane45

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Re: Class on Sharpening Your Own Figure Skating Blades
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2010, 11:20:51 PM »
What about mass-faxing nearby rinks' skating directors for promotion? They may even find you space.

Offline Isk8NYC

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Re: Class on Sharpening Your Own Figure Skating Blades
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2010, 06:37:23 AM »
See if there are any educational seminars coming up in the area and offer to do a segment on your topic.
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Offline Query

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Re: Class on Sharpening Your Own Figure Skating Blades
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2010, 07:55:56 AM »
Thanks for the brilliant suggestions! I must learn how to promote myself, in this and other areas.

(it's scary to think accumulative sharpening costs are higher than $$ skates themselves!)

I only gave a range of estimated costs, which may not apply to you. If you use cheap blades, sharpen infrequently using an inexpensive rink service, which does a good job, your sharpening costs may be insignificant.

And it might be a drop in the bucket of your total skating costs.

(An expanded list of those costs might include skates, equipment, lessons, cross-training, ice time, music, magazines, videos, memberships, test and competition fees, practice and performance clothing, cleaning and maintenance of same, make-up and other costs of looking nice, driving and other travel costs, incremental food costs, medical bills, missed work or school, lost jobs, home schooling costs, personal relationship stress. I probably left a few things out.)


Offline Skate@Delaware

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Re: Class on Sharpening Your Own Figure Skating Blades
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2010, 11:01:39 AM »
I just popped online and saw this. I'm interested, but my attendance would depend on school. As of now, Saturdays are my only days off (I take privates on Sundays, and would not want to miss that).  Would we be able to manage a skating session (freestyle) as well? I'd like to skate before I turn around and head back to Delaware.

I can see this as an economical solution. I drive 1-1.5 hrs to my sharpener about every 1-2 months. Add in the gas & tolls, drop-in fee (I skate first, then get them sharpened), the sharpening, etc. it adds up. PLUS, my husband's skates and now the boy wants to get back into skating. Yikes!
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Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: Class on Sharpening Your Own Figure Skating Blades
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2010, 01:17:24 PM »
Query, I talked to the Big Guy yesterday and even though he's on injured reserve he's interested. Maybe Skate@Delaware could get her husband in on it too.
Yes I'm in with the 90's. I have a skating blog. http://icedoesntcare.blogspot.com/

Offline Skate@Delaware

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Re: Class on Sharpening Your Own Figure Skating Blades
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2010, 09:13:30 AM »
Query, I talked to the Big Guy yesterday and even though he's on injured reserve he's interested. Maybe Skate@Delaware could get her husband in on it too.
Maybe I could promote it as a "retirement" activity LOL since he wants something to do when he retires in a few years. It would keep him out from under my feet as well hahaha!  I'm sure he would get local business, as some of the people are tired of taking their skates up north (1.5-2hr drive each way, depending on the traffic).
Avoiding the Silver Moves Mohawk click-of-death!!!