If you have ever had the opportunity to observe your skates being sharpened, you may be interested to know why some Skate Shops sharpen heel-to-toe and some sharpen toe-to-heel. Well, the answer is: it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference; it’s the results that matter.
At my Shop in the Agrena Complex in Spruce Grove, Alberta, I have been following a routine taught to me by the World Leaders in Skate Sharpening Technology—Blademaster—and, I have using their system ever since because it Works! I am Blademaster Trained & Certified.
During a Junior Hockey Showcase held several years ago in our City, I happened to walk down the hallway towards the dressing rooms and observed the Equipment Managers sharpening their players skates. About half did the skates heel-to-toe and the other half, toe-to-heel. According to an Engineering Study, it was reported that the heel-to-toe method helps eliminate micro-fibers and creates a better finish on the blade. If you look at a finished blade with a microscope, it looks like fish scales; these ‘scales’ line up using the heel to toe method.
Now, how many passes along the length of the blade does it take to get a good hollow? Provided that the blade is not too badly damaged eg. deep nicks, it should only take about 4 to 5 slow, even passes to get the desired hollow. If you watch YouTube, you can observe the Pittsburgh Equipment Manager sharpening Sidney Crosby’s skates: he does 5 passes on each blade. Remember, however, that Sid may get his skates re-sharpened in between periods. Note to the Wise: if you ever observe a skate sharpener doing 15 or more passes on your skates, get your skates and get out of there!; they don’t know what they are doing.
Also, be careful with new blades and take them to a shop (Snipers) that will take the necessary prep time to get them ready for play. I have seen new skate blade runners where the contour or profile is already ruined due to aggressive cross-grinding to remove the coating on the bottom of the new blades. You don’t want to overheat the blades, either, as it will weaken the temper of the steel and it will be difficult to hold or maintain a good edge.
Lastly, it is just as important to get your skates profiled or contoured/rockered on a regular basis. Over time, the rocker radius will be altered due to the movement of the skate sharpeners method during the sharpening process. I always try and follow the natural contour of the blade as I move the blade across the grinding wheel. New steel is not always of the same radius on each blade; that is why new steel should be profiled prior to skating.
Snipers uses the above CRM6 Custom Radius for profiling.
Lastly, if you are a current Skate Shop Owner or Skate Tech., you may wish to join my New Facebook Group: https://www.Facebook.com/groups/skatesharpeninguniversity/ This a a closed Group and is reserved for the above constituency. Your application will be reviewed.
Thanks. Stay Sharp.