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How To Sharpen Figure Skates & Choosing An Appropriate Edge Radius

Steve Shoup

Sharpening your blades is important to keep you going on the ice and make you an effective athlete. Skating on dull blades is not only dangerous, but it will make you question your skating abilities. Even if you have gone through a list of best figure skates in the world and found the best skate ever, you will still need to sharpen your blades eventually.


Knowing how to sharpen the skates and the right edge radius can make or break your ability as a skater. Here’s what you need to know.


How Skates are Sharpened

Figure skaters have a wide, double-edged blade, and toe picks. The bottom toe pick needs to be ground down so that it is equal to the alterations made on the rest of the blade. To do this right, measure the blade before you start sharpening it. The distance needs to be consistent.


When sharpening the blade, you will need to get close to the bottom toe pick without touching it. The rest of the blade will be sharpened using a circular sharpener that alters the amount of space in between the two edges of the blade, sharpening the edges as much as possible.


The sharpener itself is like a grinder. It is made up of spinning circles that will help sharpen the two edges of your figure skates to give you a sharper point.


Edge Radius

The edge radius refers to the size of the circle used to grind your skates to a sharper point for you. The edge radius is what can make or break the effectiveness of sharpening your skates. It is important to know the edge radii in order to know what to ask for when you are having your skates sharpened or if you are taking the plunge and sharpening them yourself.

  • Small Radius: If you are using a small radius, you will get a deep hollow in your blade.
  • Large Radius: With a large radius, you will get a shallow hollow.

It is important to remember that regardless of the size of radius that you choose, your blades are going to be very sharp once they are completed. Never assume that a figure skating blade is dull or you might find yourself with a cut finger.

The Hollow

Understanding the hollow is essential in the world of sharpening your figure skate blades. There is no right or wrong answer here, it all comes down to personal preference.

  • Deep Hollows: Deep hollows are used by skaters who want more edge to the blades, more surface area on the ice, and will help you to make incredibly tight turns. Deep hollows do have a drag and grip, which can make them slower and less manoeuvrable than blades with a shallow hollow.
  • Shallow Hollows: Shallow hollows have no sharp feel and less of an edge than the deep hollows to. But, because they are flatter, they have more speed naturally. Speed skaters opt for shallow hollows to help get them around the ice without any trouble.

The depth of the hollow that you need will depend greatly on your skill level, and your technique. A radius of less than a quarter of an inch must never be attempted, however. The skates will not be safe to wear; it can wreck the grinding wheel, and be too sharp to even do anything with.

While you can sharpen skates yourself, it is best if you have a professional do it for you through a skate shop or sporting goods store. Just make sure that you know the type of edge you need first.



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