Salem High School hockey information and statistics from the first season to the present

Ron Chisholm's Skate Sharpening

Sharpener Competence

Presented by:   Ron Chisholm - a dedicated hockey fan, parent of four players, and past player and coach of many years.

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Skate Sharpener Competence

Be choosey

Skate sharpeners have always had a variety of competence.  Yesterday's consumers shopped for value and quality.  Better skate sharpeners were sought after, while less capable skate sharpeners ceased operating due to a bad reputation.  In recent years, consumer values have changed.  Today's consumers often shop for convenience, thereby allowing the poor quality operators to flourish.

How does your skate sharpener stack up?

How to tell if your sharpening is bad

  • Your skate blades chatter during a hard stop.
  • You don't skate as well as you feel that you can.
  • Your blades show traces of brown or black color, as the blade was over-heated and has been re-tempered.  
  • Your blades have good height in the center, but the tips are ground away.
  • You are unsteady on your skates, possibly caused by reshaping the blade profile.
  • You lose an edge when turning, usually caused by uneven edges.

How are blade profiles changed?

Because of the lack of standards and limited training, most skate sharpening is done freehand and as "best guess".  Most skate sharpeners don't regard skate sharpening as a total service, and focus on one or two aspects of the whole job.  The most common skate sharpening mistakes are unthinkingly changing the blade's profile, the blade's center of balance, or both.
 
 Some skate sharpeners "Rocker" skate blades, either on request or because they honestly believe they are helping the skater.  Rockering is a free-hand operation, and is inexact at best, meaning that the profile on each skate will be different.  Rockering is the placement of a heel-to-toe arc on the skate.  Rockering is usually the cause of excessive grinding away of the tips of the blade.

Repairing the damage caused by poor skate sharpening

In the worst case, skate blades need replacing.  In other cases, the skate blades may be saved by using a proven profiling or contouring system such as Custom Radius.  (See more on Custom Radius Profiling.)

Re-profiling restores blade shape, and balance, and is a cost effective way to repair skate blades.

Re-profiling involves removal of material from the skate blade, but in an orderly and measured way.  Metal cannot be added to damaged skate blades, and blade tips which have been ground off cannot be restored without blade replacement.

Freehand skate sharpening routinely causes erosion of a blade's profile.  Capable skate sharpeners can control this erosion, and keep it to a minimum.

Newly profiled skates can be corrupted again by poor skate sharpening.  Unless you are careful where you get your skates sharpened, you may be wasting your money by having your skates repaired by re-profiling.

Keeping the damage from recurring

The best defense against suffering skate damage caused by poor skate sharpening is to be choosy where you shop for sharpening.  Word of mouth will usually tell you where to avoid getting your skates sharpened.  If you know a capable, reliable skate sharpener, whom you trust and have confidence in, stick with that skate sharpener.

However if you use a shop just because it's convenient, then you are leaving yourself wide open to getting shoddy workmanship, and no value for your money.

Listen to the skater, because it's the skater who uses the skates.  The skater should have the last word as to when and where the skates are sharpened, and yes, the young kids can tell the difference between a good and bad sharpening.

Avoid last minute skate sharpening by getting it done well before you have to use your skates.  You shouldn't have to accept convenience over competence.

Additional Sharpening and Skate Information


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The information on this site has been collected from official scoresheets and from on ice observations.  As such, the final statistics are not to be construed as official or sanctioned by the Salem High School Athletic Department or by the NHIAA.  However, much of this information is not available from any other sources.

2014 Ron Chisholm & Associates
Salem, NH