sharpening figure skates

My daughter does a lot of figure skating. I spend a lot of money
paying to have her skates sharpened. The bottom of the blade has
a slight concave shape to it. Seems to me that it wouldn't be
too hard to make some thing to grind the bottom of the blade.
Any opinions? New blades cost 200+, so I really don't want to mess
them up. I could buy some cheap used blades to practice on though.
I have lots tools, lathe, mill, surface grinder etc.
I think I need to get a good look at a blade sharpener...
chuck
Reply to
Charles A. Sherwood
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If you screw up the contour of the blade or change the "balance" point of either skate... she will hate you. If you really want to help her become a *good* skater, it would be well worth spending the $20 or $25 that a knowledgeable skate sharpener will charge, and have the blades measured and matched. I wasted one whole hockey season trying to re-learn how to skate on brand new $400 Bauer skates... only to find later that the blades not only had different radius' but the balance point was also different on both of them. One of the most frustrating things I ever experienced... I skated noticeably worse on the brand new skates than I did on the old ones that had the rivets pulling through the sole. Apparently these were shipped from the factory as "blanks" and the hack at the sporting goods store just randomly sharpened them rather than grinding in the initial curvature on the proper fixture. Once they were measured and re-ground... they went from the worst pieces of junk I've ever owned to the nicest pair of skates I've ever skated on. Even if she thinks they're "fine" and has gotten used to skating on them, the improvement will be amazing if they are off even a little bit right now. Strictly my opinions based on my experience, David
Reply to
David Courtney
Chuck, skates can be resharpened many times, here in the St.Louis area it runs 5$ on a dedicated machine, now some of the operators are better than others, be sure you get the same radius(hollow ground) doubt if she has flat ground. unless you want them to change the contour of the blade they are just going to give a quick go over which will make the edges sharp again, you can use a flat stone to give a quick edge touch up. Ask around the rink who is the best at sharpening skates, if skating on creeks/lakes skates tend to get dull more quickly. Take care! tt (oldgoaly) hockey
Reply to
Terry Thorne
You want the radius of about a quarter (25 cents) and you want the grinding to be with the blade not across it. Speed skates are flatter, hockey goalies about the radius of a dime.
Reply to
Beecrofter
Reply to
Charles Erskine
Just an off the wall thought. How about making something to hold a round carbide tool insert so that you can pull it down the blade to sharpen it? Something like a RNMG-43 insert. It could be used to touch up the blades, you probably would want to have them done on a regular skate sharpener once in a while.
Dan
Reply to
Dan Caster
Don't they still make those things? We had something like that when I was a kid. It was about three inches long, a whitemetal casting with a groove that just cleared the blade, and it had a round carbide cutter that was screwed into one end of it.
I never liked them much. I prefered the tool my dad made for me, which was two slabs of hardwood that clamped a round file of about 3/8" diameter between the slabs. There were grooves in the wood to center the file while allowing the wood to be clamped to a width that just cleared the blade. He had been making them since *he* was a kid, so it's an 80-year-old tool, at least.
You ran it down the blade until the edges were sharp. Then you took a whetstone and ran it down the blade flat, very lightly, on both sides and then on the bottom, barely touching it, to knock off the burrs. I also wrapped the file in some fine wet-dry sandpaper for the final passes in the hollow of the blade.
Ed Huntress
Reply to
Ed Huntress
I have a tool to sharpen skates... Its a special tool to hold a half round file... It slips over the blade and does a fine job... I did a net search and found many tools to do this job...
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Reply to
Kevin Beitz
I have no clue. I had never seen one of those things, but am not surprised that they existed and probably still exist. The coldest place I have lived is Huntsville, Alabama.
Dan
Reply to
Dan Caster
Aha. The ice skating capital of North America.
Up in the frozen north where I lived part of my life (*not* New Jersey), sharpening skates was something that somebody's dad was always good at, and, if you were lucky, he did all of the kid's skates. That was my dad until I was around 13 years old. Then he turned the job over to me. Fortunately, we moved to Florida not long afterward. d8-)
Traditionally, there were three different ways skates were sharpened -- three different patterns to the grooves. One was a flat bottom with burrs raised on the sides, something like a wood scraper only with the burrs pointing straight down into the ice. It was used on narrow blades: hockey skates and some racing skates in the very old days.
The second was a plain hollow. That's what figure skates used, and, today, it appears that it's what they use on other kinds of skates.
There also was a contour-ground shape that was esentially a flat bottom with radiused edges, sort of a cross between the two others, that was used on racing skates. Top-class racers may use something like that still, I don't know. Or maybe they have something better.
We used to play hockey on a pond next to my house in Pennsylvania every night after school, when I was in junior high. We always got a lot of dirt onto the ice and it knocked the hell out of the edges on our blades. So my skates got sharpened, or at least dressed-up, around once a week.
All of my friends carried one of two types of little dressing tools: the circular-cutter type that I described, or a plastic one that had a cylindrical abrasive stone in it, which you had to keep rotating to keep grooves from forming in it and mis-shaping the edge. We'd just give our blades a couple of strokes with one of those after skating, and it reduced the frequency with which we had to have a real sharpening done, with a skate-grinder or with the file-holding tool.
Ed Huntress
Reply to
Ed Huntress
Racing skates are ground flat. Being only a couple mm wide, anything else would just add drag (oh,Horror!). The standard way is still to mount both blades in a jig and use a large hone stone to carefully refresh the surfaces, then hone the edges with a small hard arkansas stone or similar.
Boy, does this bring back memories. You think RCM'ers are opinionated. Speed skaters all have their own 'religion' about sharpening skates. Some would away between every race! Others wouldn't use oil on the stone. Others would insist on only just such a motion with the stone. Very weird bunch. 'Course, the best I saw was on dear old Lake Lansing late one night, when a couple buddies and I chopped a hole in the ice, rented a pump and flooded a 400 meter Olympic track. We didn't know about the sand bar at that time. That night I remember my buddy disappearing into the night and then a series of sparks as he skated the first corner. That one took a little longer to sharpen.
Used the jig I made as a senior in high school. The one that I made that held the right blade at 5 degrees off verticle so the inside edge of the right foot was just a little sharper, since you used both edges of the left skate, but only the inside of the right.
Karl Pearson
Reply to
Karl Pearson
Yeah, but I vaguely recall something about a different grind for different tracks, and that the burred edge was for wet ice. My father did some speed skating when he was young and that's where I heard these things, but that would have been back in the '20s.
You know, I'm remembering ice fishing on Lake Lansing, and once dropping a runner of an ice boat into one of the holes out there and ripping it off, and I'm trying to imagine speed skating there. It makes my ankles hurt to think about it.
I gather that ice fishing holes are no longer a problem, eh?
Ed Huntress
Reply to
Ed Huntress
Ed,
In my tenure here (~35 years now) Lake Lansing only freezes good for skating about every 7 years. Has to freeze early, with no snow and no blowing (sand and ripples). When that happens, it's like a mirror that lasts for months. Even when the snow comes, all you have to do is shovel off a rink or track and have at it.
The biggest bummer was the arrival of the snowmobiles. Used to be a near religious experience to skate on the black ice pond after dark, with only the stars and moon to see by. With little snow and a good set of speed skates, it was truely like flying.
We did extend the season a little too much once. We were looking for a new patch of good ice down in the swampy end. My buds stll laugh at the sight of me, arms full of boots and scabbards, falling through at barely frozen fishing hole. Threw things in all directions and caught myself by sticking my arms out. 10:30 another night I was skating toward this wonderful patch of shiny black ice. Just in time I realized it was open water. An agressive turn, with my boots under water, and I decided to always bring a friend.
Also = there's nothing like skating out in the middle and having the whole lake crack under you and drop maybe an 1/8". Sounded like a rifle shot and travelled from one side to another.
Karl Pearson
Reply to
Karl Pearson
I remember those metal ones Ed. I recall them being V shaped , I guess round would do. I noticed an improvement after sharpening them.
We used to go bike out at night to one of many "ponds" in the marshes a couple of miles from home and shovel them off. That was a job in itself and get more kids at night to come and play hockey. We could do anything we wanted in the middle of nowhere. I personally liked skating on the small rivers , maybe 25' at the widest. Isn't it fun when your going 30mph and catch a reel or branch in the ice , the last thing on your mind was how sharp your skates are. The best is breaking through the 1/2"-3/4" ice over snow and hard ice below , even fore arms won't save you. I recall needing a tool to pry off the things from my feet in 20 below temps.
If we ever got caught having fun like that we would have had to shovel the roof every other day.
Reply to
Sunworshiper
That sounds familiar. I'm surprised you only have one good skating season out of seven. Of course, I lived there at the tail end of the last Ice Age.
Do they still race cars on the ice up at Rose Lake? I have several trophies I won there, racing my MG in the "no studded tires" class. You could hit around 80 or 90 mph on the straight and then you had about five minutes to set up for dirt-tracking the turn. Whoopie!
Ed Huntress
Reply to
Ed Huntress
Yeah, that sounds a lot like what we used to do. I seldom think about this because I nearly lost it one night when I was 13. I was alone, everyone else had gone home and I was taking one last spin around the pond by myself...and I went through the ice. I barely got out alive. It tends to repress the memories, until people ask me how I got the scar on my chin, and I tell them, "playing goalie without a helmet or a chin guard."
Ed Huntress
Reply to
Ed Huntress
I believe that. We had been going to one place and was getting reasonable results. My daughter skates on a team so we meet a lot of other skaters. There is one guy in our area that seemed to have the best reputation. I took her skates there once and he told me the profile was wrong. My daughter said it was a noticable improvement.
My daughter team skates which is hard on blades. Its quite common to hit other skaters during practice which dulls the blades quickly. I am sharpening blades every 2 weeks which gets kind of expensive.
I am a decent craftsman and I think I could learn to sharpen skates as well as anybody. If I need to buy a machine to do it, I doubt it will be cost effective!
I am puzzled here. I was not aware of any other service other than sharpening blaces which would imply that you skated the whole season without sharpeing your blades. This seems unlikely so I am wondering if some places just follow the existing curve and other places actually verify the curve is correct when sharpening.
I think there are probably some significant differences between sharpening figure skates and hocky skates. I do know that hocky skates have more radius. Figure skates come in several different radius 7, 7.5 and 8 feet.
I have also been told NEVER ever, let a hocky pro shop sharpen figure skates. This comes from two different figure skating shops that specialize in figure skating. They claim that the pro shops use a different machine and they can destroy an expensive set of blades pretty quicky. One even showed me a blade that had been ruined by a pro shop. However, I think the real reason is the pro shops have inexperienced operators where the figure skating shops only let the owner sharpen blades. I have even heard stories about professional skaters that will only let a certain person sharpen their blades. They will ship there skates fed ex to that person. Therefore, it appears there is a lot of operatore skill involved at that level or maybe its just a trust issue.
I have had skates sharpened at two places that use the same machine. One place told me the profile was wrong and corrected it. My daughter agreed with him the first time she skated on the blades. Therefore I believe the operator skill is significant.
Maybe the outcome of this whole thread is that maybe I should just let the profession guy sharpen the blades.
chuck
Reply to
Charles A. Sherwood
I would talk to the guy at this shop that did them right, and ask what you could do for 'in-between' or 'emergency' blade touch-ups without bringing the skates in for a full sharpening every week or two, and take his advice. He might say to just hand-hone (and show you how), he might suggest getting a machine. Heck, you might be able to do it with a Dremel and a steady hand if you are shown how.
If I was running the sharpening shop, and I knew the customer wasn't looking to cut me out of the picture totally (just control their costs) I would be glad to share. Treat people right and show them how to do the small stuff for themselves correctly and safely, and they will come back for the big stuff.
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Reply to
Bruce L. Bergman
Ice racing at Rose Lake. Hmmm. The only Rose Lake I know of is part of the Rose Lake Research Station, 'bout 5 mi N of LL.
The hook and bullet types that bought that property and it's very tightly controlled as to use. No xc skiing until Jan 1, only shooters in the section with the rifle range, etc.
Would have loved to see 'real' sports cars duking it out on the ice, though. What a blast. 'No studded tires' class, eh. As in, 'brakes - we don't need no stinking brakes - they don't do nothing anyhow'.
Karl Pearson
Reply to
Karl Pearson
An ordinary serious skate sharpener (those big units that look like a big tool chest) is simply a grinder disk that projects vertically from a flat metal table, with a convex rounded edge to make the hollow grind, and some air blowers/filters/hoods to shield the wheel and inhale the dust. The skate is clamped horizontally into a simple block jig that just lets you slide the skate around on its side in a plane parallel to the horizontal table top, with the height of the skate blade centered for the edge of the horizontal grinding wheel. The actual pass of metal to stone is controlled in direction (2 degrees X/Y of freedom), angle (1 d/f), and pressure completely by the operator's hands, other than being constrained to a plane (restricts remaining 3 d/f, Z and two rotations) by the jig. This grinding is uncontrolled other than the manual skill of the operator, which means that the original profile is slightly and progressively changed (distorted or corrected) with each sharpening session. But as it is a few very light passes, it takes a while before the profile needs machine regrinding, and skillful operators tend to change or correct profiles by look and feel. No doubt there are finer machines and gauge tools possible, but this is all the everyday art involves.
It seems like one could improvise a setup to do all this on a vertical milling machine, using a grinding wheel in the spindle, some kind of guard hood around most of the wheel, and a polyethylene table cover to provide the sliding surface. The holding jig itself is nothing elaborate. The wheels are standard abrasive items. I'll have to ask to look over the local skate shop's machine.
Reply to
Richard J Kinch

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