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Pure Hockey’s Guide To Understanding Skate Sharpening
by Tim Carter, Manager of Pure Hockey, Danvers, MA
Here at Pure Hockey, we place a lot of pride into getting you or your loved ones into the right hockey equipment. That doesn’t always mean the most expensive equipment, either - we're talking about the PROPER equipment.
An often overlooked aspect of shopping at Pure Hockey is our fastidious devotion to service and repair, particularly skate sharpening. Not many hockey retailers really take the time to explain the basics of skate sharpening and the nuances that come along with it. So we hope this overview gives you a better sense of what exactly happens when your skates get sharpened, what qualifications our employees must go through before they are allowed to touch skates - and most importantly, to give you a better answer when one of our service people asks you "how deep?"
In the end, we want you to be as educated as possible in all things hockey and we hope this helps!
Skate Sharpening – What Is Happening Here?
- A skate is sharpened by grinding (or cutting) a concave semi – circle into each skate blade. This semi – circle is called the “hollow.” The hollow creates your edges both inside and out. The “hollow” is created by a diamond tipped dresser on our skate sharpening machine. The hollow can be created in a wide variety of depths anywhere from 2” to ¼”. Each depth will have a different feel when you are on the ice. Our most common hollows are: Goalies: 1 ½” (shallower), Figure Skaters: 1” and Players: ½ (deeper).”
The smaller the number, the deeper the hollow will be; the larger the number, the shallower the hollow will be.
A deeper hollow will give you more “grip” on the ice, thus your skate blade will “feel” sharper. Advantages: Edges will “bite” more in turns, giving more control to hold the edge(s). Disadvantages: Could cause you to lose speed due to the fact the blade is digging into the ice surface more.
A shallower hollow will still have “grip” - but less than that of a deeper hollow. Thus having the feeling of not being as sharp. Advantages: a smoother gliding feeling due to less drag. Easier stops and starts. Disadvantages: Less “bite” in turns. Edges may feel like they are sliding out from under you.
Choosing a hollow is going to depend mostly on your personal preference.
Some other factors to consider when choosing a hollow is the weather at the current time of year. Why does the weather outside have anything to do with skate sharpening, you ask? Well, skaters should sharpen their skates based on ice conditions, so keep in mind the softer the ice surface, the deeper your hollow will feel and vice versa.
How often you sharpen your skates is also going to be a matter of personal preference. Some players will sharpen their skates every time they skate. Check your skates for any nicks, stripped or “rolled” edges after you skate. If there are any you may want to get your skates sharpened if that is the case.
Pure Hockey Requirements for employee Skate Sharpening:
- Employees must be 18 years of age to operate sharpening machine(s).
- All employees must be trained by an experienced Pure Hockey store manager only.
- The store manager must sign off on the following for each individual sharpener: a) finish and cross grind wheel dressing (including various depths of hollow) and b) flat-bottom and traditional sharpening (player, goalie, and figure).
- The employee is required a minimum of two weeks practice before they can be cleared to sharpen a customer's skates.
- Employees accuracy of sharpening is documented on a performance evaluation. An employee must maintain a threshold of level to 1 line off of the skate edges (on a level measuring device used for training).
- All sharpeners must be re-certified every 6 months by district managers and store managers.
- Select employees are taught how to maintain our machines to keep them running at optimum performance.
We hope this helps - we'll have more for you soon on this topic! In the meantime, here's a video showing you some of the in-and-outs of skate sharpening from one of our most senior employees, who's been sharpening skates for over a decade now: