|Proper Skate Sharpening|
If you haven't paid much attention to your
skate sharpening, you are neglecting a key part of your performance. Proper fitting skates and a proper sharpening can impact your hockey game as much or more than any other piece of equipment. Consistency is one of the keys to a good
hockey skate sharpening. Square edges, a proper hollow, and good contour are all parts of a well tuned skate.
Toronto area skate sharpenerstry to compensate for a poor sharpening by sharpening with a deeper hollow, but this only compounds the problem. The deeper hollow gives the skater an increased edge, but the skate controls the skater, and makes stopping and transitions much more difficult. To deep a hollow will cause the skate blade to bite and dig into the ice surface more. This will affect your ability to stop and pivot from forwards to backwards.
What radius or hollow is right for you?
The selection of a proper radius or hollow for your skate blades is an individual decision. THN can give you an overview and recommendations to help make your decision easier. Defined: the radius or hollow of your hockey skate blade determines the depth of the blade edge. The correct hollow will result in a skate blade with sharp edges and allow for a smooth glide, easy stops, and quick starts. A smaller radius of 1/4" will give you a blade with edges that have more bite and a deeper groove, than a blade with a larger radius of 1". The deeper the groove will result in edges which penetrate the ice deeper increasing drag and requiring more energy to accelerate.What radius or hollow do the NHL players choose?
The most common choice of radius of hollow for hockey players is 1/2". According to a recent study of all NHL players 47% choose to skate on a 1/2" radius. The next most common hollow in the NHL is 5/8" radius.
Beginners and recreational skaters should try a radius or hollow of 5/8" or 3/4". This is a shallower cut then 1/2" radius and will allow the beginner skater to glide better, stop and pivot easier. As you progress and become a stronger skater you can move towards 1/2" or as many NHL'ers do use 5/8".
Toronto area skate sharpenersuse a deeper 3/8" cut as standard dressing. When bringing your skates to be sharpened simply ask for a 5/8" or 1/2" cut. If the sharpener gives you a funny look or declines you might be better off letting someone more experienced sharpen your blades.
In simpler terms, for better glide, skaters select a higher radius or hollow (5/8" for example) when they are looking for increased glide. For more bite, and more friction - skaters choose lower radius or hollow (3/8" or even lower) when they are looking for more bite and control.
Inconsistent Radius or Hollow
Due to a combination of factors in skate sharpening equipment, such as lack of operator training and poor settings, radius can vary from machine to machine, operator to operator, and shop to shop. Even though a skate can be perfectly sharpened, a change in the radius will give the hockey player a different feel due to change in bite. This may give the impression of an improper sharpening, which is why consistency is one of the keys to good skate sharpening.
Proper Skate Sharpening
For proper sharpening, the radius of hollow must be centered down the middle of a skate blade. This results in a level edge on both the inside and outside skate blade edges. An off-center skate sharpening will result in one edge being higher than the other. This is a common fault of many skate sharpenings. Most
skate sharpeningmachines require the operator to center the grinding wheel on the skate blade by eye. Therefore, the training, judgement, and conscientiousness of the operator can greatly affect the quality of the skate sharpening. Inexperienced skate sharpeners, or casual skate sharpeners, the kind commonly found in , often don't take the time necessary to center the blade properly.
Poorly Dressed or Worn Grinding Wheels
This is another common fault seen in many skate shops. The radius or hollow must be applied to the grinding wheel with a diamond stylus. Poor operation techniques and/or out of sync stylus can result in poor profiles being applied to the grinding wheels. Frequent wheel dressing is required to maintain the proper shape. With repeated use and many sharpenings, the grinding wheel profile will wear and change. This can result in incorrect or uneven blade angles. Many of the larger skate sharpeners may sharpen 100's of pair of hockey skates a day. It's not uncommon to cut corners and dress the grinding wheel less frequently than is necessary.
If you haven't found a hollow or radius that is comfortable to you, THN recommends that you experiment with different hollows to find one that is comfortable and gives you maximum performance. Half inch is a good place to start since it's in the middle. If you would like more bite try 3/8". For less bite try 5/8". We also recommend you find a skate sharpener that takes the time to dress the stone properly and consistently gives you a proper radius. A sharpener that spends the necessary time to properly dress and center the grinding wheel, will give you the edge that your game needs.
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