SKATE SHARPENING QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

NSC provides monthly skate sharpening.

The fee is $20.  Please place your skates with soft guards in a pillow case with your last name and cell phone written on the outside.

NSC will send e-mails with more details and confirmations. 

 

So where can I take my skates to be sharpened reliably?  Nantucket Skating Club provides monthly skate sharpening (if timing and volunteers make it work) at Moon Skate Shop at the Charles Moore Arena in Orleans, MA. It is recommended that once a skater has begun Moves in the Field / Freeskate Level 1 they make sure whoever is doing the sharpening has experience with figure skate blades! Moon Skate Shop is the only place on the Cape and Islands that NSC would recommend for figure skate sharpening.

How frequently should skates be sharpened?  Typical skate sharpening frequency ranges from every 10 hours, for a daily skater, to every two months for a once-a-week skater.  In general, skates need sharpening about every 10-15 hours of skating of skating as long as care is taken to avoid damage from stepping on metal, concrete or any other hard or abrasive material.  Pond ice may contain dirt and stones.  One accidental step on concrete will probably ruin the last sharpening.  Hard guards and soakers can be used to protect the blades while walking to and from the ice and when the skates are carried in a bag.  Always dry off the blades after skating to prevent rusting and make sure the hard guards are also dry if they are going back on the blades.  Skates need sharpening when they start to slide sideways too easily. An experienced skater can often tell when the skates are getting dull but beginners can't, so look for feet skidding sideways when pushing or doing crossovers.

Can I tell if my skates have been sharpened correctly by looking at the blades?  You can compare the radius of the hollow with the edge of a penny.  If the penny fits exactly, the radius is 3/8".  If it can roll back and forth a bit, the radius is greater than 3/8".  If it touches at both sides but doesn't reach the bottom, it is less than 3/8" and a beginner will have a lot of trouble stopping.  You can also check the levelness by balancing a pen or pencil across the blade.  If the pen slopes toward either side, the edges are not level.  Two other easy things to check are to make sure the bottom of the blade curves smoothly from front to back with no sub-curves and that the bottom toe pick hasn't been ground off.  Both of these problems will make the blade virtually useless for edges, spins and jumps.

What do I need to know about getting skates sharpened?  The first thing to find out is where.  The right place might be the rink, a skate shop or a sharpening specialist. The simplest approach is to ask several more advanced skaters where they go.  At a minimum you should make sure that you can get a correct hollow radius and level edges.  If the sharpener doesn't know what a hollow radius is or have a square to check the levelness of the edges after sharpening, it might be better to go some place else.  The grinding stone is dressed to a circular shape to make a hollow along the bottom of the blade.  The hollow radius usually ranges from 3/8" (deeper) to 3/4" (shallower).  Beginners usually prefer a 5/8 or 3/4" hollow. Advanced skaters usually use a 3/8 to 1/2" hollow.

The best skates absolutely require an expert to sharpen them! In figure skating, by the time you have reached a certain level of accomplishment, perhaps Freestyle 1, you will most likely be skating on a better quality skate than the ones you learned on.  It is critical that you only take these skates to a figure skating sharpening specialist in order to take best advantage of the high tech design of your blades, and also, so you don't ruin them.  Higher tech blades are designed to be of a specific elliptical shape along the blade, and are built with a very hard tempered steel bottom - the spot that gets sharpened.  If they are sharpened without regard to shape integrity and are ground down too far, you can ruin the design, and also grind the blade to a fraction of its life expectancy.  And the blades are not inexpensive.  A typical figure skate sharpen should cost around 20 dollars.  Well worth the cost for the performance it gives you and the life it will add to your blades.