Skate Sharpening Science

Each skate has an inner and an outer edge. Improving in the skating fundamentals depend on your ability to correctly all four edges and to balance or shift from inner to outer edges or vice versa.

The important aspects of your skate blades are as follows:

Contour/radius of the blade

This is the curve of the skate blade along the length of the blade. The more gradual the contour the more skate blade is in contact with the ice. This would help with top speed (speed skates have longer blades). A smaller radius would have less blade on the ice. This would allow for easier turning and pivots.

Center/balance point of contour

This is the position of the blade you would balance on. Slightly forward of center would promote easier forward skating. Slightly backward of center would promote easier backward skating.

Hollow/radius of the hollow

A greater hollow will bite more on harder ice and may seem too sharp for heavier players. A smaller hollow will work better on softer ice or for heavier players. Weaker skaters probably don't create the angles that better skaters can and therefore may feel that they need to sharpen their skates more often to keep sharp edges. Better skaters may not need to sharpen their skates as often since they are not as upright.

size of hollows

Balanced/equal edges

Without balanced edges a skater may feel that the inner or outer edge is not sharp and slips on the ice. The opposite might be catching an edge.

Photo of Rob checking edges with ruler

For more information see the following links:

The Cutting Edge to Skate Sharpening - Jim Johnson
NHL Equipment Managers Sharpening Tips - Barrie Stafford
Stay Sharp: Getting the most from your skates - Robert Hineline and Andrew A. Turnbull
To Learn About Skating, Study Sharpening - New York Times