Internet Customers, we custom sharpen and radius blades and ship them all over the country! Visit our Sharpening and Profiling pages for more info, then e-mail or give us a call.

Thanks for a great season! Our store hours have changed for the Spring/Summer seasons. Be sure to visit our Store Hours page for details and our vacation closing schedule. We are also moving across the street to a bigger store in the White Hen Pantry Plaza June 1'st! Stay tuned for more details.


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Skate Sharpening 101: How Do Skates Work
Before we discuss sharpening, we must first look at the basic principles of ice-skating and physics of how skates work. While on skates, the skaters body weight places pressure on the sharp edges on the blade, and the blade “digs” in. The friction of skating and the pressure melts the ice at the points of contact. As a result, the melted water is trapped in the hollow between the two edges of the blade. This “liquid layer” is what fuels the gliding motion that makes ice-skating so easy. The more water that is trapped beneath the blade, the easier it is to skate. Faster speeds can be achieved with less effort. This of course doesn't happen at extreme low temps, like outdoor skating. It's just too cold for the ice to melt under the blade. But, since most of us skate indoors, we won't go into further detail about sub-freezing temps. (of course, many hockey moms may point to several local rinks where this may apply. :-)

The above physics describes just the "gliding" stage of skating, there are 3 others, accelleration, stops, and turns. How your skate is sharpened and how your rocker is shaped will effect these stages as well.

When skates are sharpened, a hollow is ground in between the two outside edges. A skate with a deep hollow has very pronounced and aggressive edges with a bite angle that more direct into the ice. Deep hollows have pro's and con's. They are great for sharp turns, but as the blades edges dig in deeper, it causes drag and slows you down. So, while the player may see performance gains in turns, they will loose some performance in speed and may also have difficulties in stopping and lateral movements, especially when trying to shuffle the puck along the boards with your skate. Most spills are a result of too deep a hollow.

Shallower hollows produce faster speeds but don't grip the ice as well as their edge bite angle is not as direct into the ice. A loss of accelleration, agility and tightness of turns will result. A hockey skater needs a balance of speed (accelleration & glide) and agility (turns, pivots and stopping). Finding the proper hollow that will give each individual player this balance can only be achieved through trial and error, and perhaps even several adjustments.

A perfect example of how just skate sharpening alone can make performance differences is to compare a speed skater with a hockey player. NHL players can reach speeds in excess of 20 miles per hour but some speed skaters can exceed 30 miles per hour! Is the speed skater a better athlete? Not really, but the reason for the speed difference is simple. The best way to trap more of that "gliding" water under the blade is to have a shallower or flat hollow, and have more blade touching the ice. For Speed skaters, their blades are long and optimized where virtually all of their blade’s surface is touching the ice. This, combined with flat hollows, gives them great speed. However, speed is only one part of skating, maneuverability and agility is the other. That same Speed Skater has to take it very easy on the corners or he could fall. With all that blade on the ice and no hollow, he can achieve great speed but at a big sacrifice in turns and agility. For the hockey skater, a mixture of speed and agility must be achieved. How this is best obtained is with a proper hollow that is selected based on many personal and external factors, and also a proper blade radius. Hollows are put on your blade when you get a normal skate sharpening. Radiusing though is optional, something that serious hockey players will have done to their skates. Simply changing the hollow can improve performance significantly, but it does not produce the same end-results as a custom radius that is matched to suit the skater’s individual style of play. Check out our Skate Profiling page for more information on custom radius's.

Basic Sharpening Explained
Basic sharpening places a hollow or groove in the skate blade. To do this, the sharpener must first shape/round the edge of his grinding stone to a specific radius. Radius of Hollow are not complex to understand, it's simple basic math. Everyone who completed elementary school knows what a 1/2" radius circle is, right? You remember, you take the compass instrument, pull out the pencil part 1/2 inch, place the pointy part on the piece of paper and twirl it around till you have a circle. Bingo, you have a 1/2" radius circle. The sharpener uses a similar instrument to the compass to shape the outside of his grinding stone to 1/2", except his instrument has a diamond cutting tool on the end instead of a pencil. His stone now has the same shape on the outer edge as that 1/2" radius circle you drew on the paper. Now when he applies a skate to the stone, the 1/2" radius is transferred and cut into the skate blade. The curve of the radius creates a groove or hollow between the two edges on the outside of each blade.

If you look at the illustration above or look straight down your skates blade, you can see the edges and the hollow in- between. How deep or shallow the hollow is depends on the radius you select. A 3/8" radius will create deeper and more pronounced edges than a 1" radius. The depth of the hollow effects your play, sometimes positive, sometimes negative.

No single hollow is right for every hockey player. A shop that sharpens all skates the same is doing a disservice to the skater. There are many hollows to choose from, and several individual factors need to be considered before a hollow is chosen; age, experience, weight, position, ability, strength, skill, ice temperature and more. I'd say approximatly 80% of my new customers have a hollow on their skate that is not the best for them.
Even edges are the most important element of skate sharpening process. Our Process
A properly sharpened blade can make a noticable difference in overall skate performance. Have you ever had your skates freshly sharpened then step on the ice and can't skate very well? I think we all have at one time or another. What we got was a poor, rushed, or inadequate sharpening. Before actual sharpening, several steps must be taken by the sharpener to ensure the sharpening will come out correctly. First, the blade must be fully inspected for straightness, edge damage, surface condition, and width (blade widths vary quite a bit and if not checked by caliper the edges WILL turn out uneven). Failing to perform all these checks usually results in a poor sharpening. At "No-Icing", we thouroughly examine every skate, and adjust our machine's settings and the number of passes accordingly.

The next step is to determine the depth of hollow. We explain hollow selection in more detail on this page, but did you know that if you are a lighter weight player, you can use a deeper hollow than a heavier player, or that shallow hollows can increase your speed? Don't feel bad, most old-timers don't have a clue either. Be prepared the first time you bring your skates to us for sharpening to spend a little time discussing your options. At No-Icing Sports, we will explain hollow choices to you, and we will educate you on the pro's and cons of each setting. We will then let you pick a hollow that you feel is best for you, rather than just giving you a one-size-fits-all generic grind.

Before we sharpen any skates on your first visit, we ask the skater to fill out a Skater Profile Form, which is a short questionaire about your skating style and hockey game. From the information you provide, we help you determine an optimum setting for your ability and style of play. If you are a new skater or parent, we will recommend one for you or your child to try. We will evaluate what we think is right for you by first determing your weight, hockey position, experience level, age, leg strength, personal preferences, and ice temperature. After you select your hollow, we will sharpen your skates (both to the exact same specification).

If you already know the hollow you like, we will sharpen to your wishes. If you are not sure, we can also measure what your current sharpener has put on your blade and match it. Sometimes though, we can't figure out what your previous sharpener had done as we often get several different hollow measurements on the same blade, likely from a poor sharpening job. In these cases we'll pick the most likely hollow and have you go try it.
OK, I like my hollow, now what?
Now that we found your favorite hollow, the process is not quite over. Yes, it will be much simpler now, we will retain your setting in our records so every time you visit you get the exact same cut for consistency. Plus, all you have to do now is when you, your wife, or whomever, brings in or drop off your skates for sharpening is to give us your No-Icing Sports Customer Number (Card issued when you fill out your Profile Form). We have all the info we need on file. Some have asked why we don't write the hollow on the bottom of the skates like other shops. Simple, your hollow doesn't stay constant, and must be adjusted occasionally for weight gains/losses, skill improvements, position changes, ice temp and more.

As I said, the tuning process is not completely over. As you develop as a skater, change positions, gain or lose weight, or as rink ice temperatures change, you may need minor adjustments in hollow to maintain optimum performance. Just let us know when the skates don't feel right and we can discuss hollow changes and other options.
How Important is Ice Temperature?
The ice temperature where you skate is an important part of the hollow selection process. There are two types of ice, "Soft Ice" and "Hard Ice", also referred to as "Slow Ice" and "Fast Ice". Slow ice is generally any temp over 23 degrees and fast ice is 17-23 degrees. On soft ice, your edges sink deeper into the ice and slow you down and make you tire easy. With hard ice, more edge is needed to get a good bite into the ice. If you are playing at different rinks, your skates will feel very different from one rink to another. For example, if you are playing at Tri-Town, which normally has soft ice, and are skating on a 9/16" hollow that works well for you there, ... if you now go play at the Blue rink at Skate 3, which has very hard ice, you likely will be slipping out and not have enough grip.

So what do you do? While it is not always economically feasible to have your skates sharpened everytime you change rinks, if you do have an important game, tournement or tryout, then you may want to have your skates sharpened for that ice surface. NHL pro's do this for virtually every away game. At their game-day morning practice they test out the ice and their skate's performance. Then if necessary, have their equipment manager change the hollow to suit the ice condition.

Just let us know if you are changing from soft to hard ice or vice versa and we'll adjust your hollow as needed. You can ask the rink manager or even the zamboni driver what the ice temp is, they just read it off the compressor guages.
To make this process more affordable, check out our sharpening passes which lower the cost of sharpening significantly.
Performance Blade Finishing
For the serious hockey player, we now offer Performance Blade Finishing. While our regular skate sharpening produces an excellent finish, the blade's performance can be improved even more with this optional service. Similar to what Olympic speed skaters use, we apply a special space-age compound to your skate's blades during the sharpening process. Unlike oils and waxes, we actually grind this special compound into the blade where it bonds with the metal, kind of like a teflon coat. The compound significantly reduces friction and drag and will increase your glide and speed. The results are amazing. Also unlike oils and waxes, it will not wear off after a few minutes, it will last 2-3 skates. Make Blade Finishing part of your regularly scheduled sharpening routine. Ask for a demo when you visit the shop. We offer this optional service for only an additional $1.00. For those who don't believe it works, We'll apply it for free to just ONE of your skates. Go test it yourself. We'll bet you come back begging to have the other skate finished! Of course, that'll cost you $1. :-) Ask for blade finishishing, or for "Special Sauce" when you give us your skates.


How to choose a Hollow?
There are many hollows to choose from, not just the few in the illustration above. Forwards, offensive defensemen, defensive defensemen and goalies will all have different hollows. How come you didn't know this? Well first of all most shops don't take the time to explain the choices available. They simply take your skates into the "secret room" and you don't have a clue what they are doing to them. Some shops will never ask you how you want your skates sharpened, others may offer a simple choice of either deep or regular, and perhaps some might even have multiple choices, often numbered 1 to 5. One caution, one shop's number 3 or "deep" can be different than another shop's No. 3 or deep cut. At these shops, YOU still never really know what radius of hollow (ROH) was put on your skates, unless of course you ask. Some of these shops even refuse to tell you what their codes mean. They use "codes" instead of true measurements so you won't know what hollow you're getting. They don't want you to know because they think you'll go somewhere else if you know the setting you like. At "No-Icing", we only use true ROH measurements in 1/16 inch intervals, and can even cut as precise as "32nds" for the finicky skater. When you leave our shop, you'll know exactly what we put on your skates. No guessing, no mystery. While our hollow is customized for you, any shop can sharpen your skates the same way. We write your "hollow" down for you on our Customer ID card, so when you do go to another shop for sharpening, you can then tell them specifically what hollow (ROH) you want replicated on your skates. If they won't do it or try to charge you more, simply walk away and try another shop. The big advantage of knowing your favorite ROH is that you can control your preferences and ensure you get the grind you want every time you visit a sharpener. This is important. Since you won't be getting random changes of hollow, you'll no longer have to make huge skating adjustments every time you get on the ice. There's nothing worse than getting your skates sharpened before an important game, and then step on the ice and not be able to skate like you do normally. You should never be hesitant to get your skates sharpened right before an important game. Some NHL pros get their skates sharpened between periods. They have no fear because their equipment man knows what hollow to put on their skates. You shouldn't be afraid either. Always tell your sharpener what hollow you want. Finally, having the same ROH put on every time will extend your blade's life.
What Next?
So now you have a fresh No-Icing Sports sharpening, what do you do next?

Go skate of course!

If your hollow was changed, you WILL feel a difference. It may take a skate or two to get use to it, but we are confident that in most cases you'll be very happy with the results. If not, don't fear, simply remember what you didn't like, or what problems you were having on the ice, i.e., slipouts, chattering, no speed, easily tired, etc, then bring the skates back to us for a free adjustment. We'll resharpen to try to find a "sweet spot" that will be your favorite hollow. We usually get in right on the first try and very rarely have to do a "free" resharpening, but if needed we'll gladly adjust it once. If after the free adjustment you still find you need more tuning, we'll have to charge for subsequent changes, however, at most one more try should be all that's needed to optimize the skates for top performance.

If you prefer, we can also simply put the initial hollow back on that you started with.

Also, please let us know when you have had your skates sharpened by another sharpener, it is likely they didn't give you your regular hollow, so we may need to do additional passes to get it back to normal.
We've earned a great reputation for superior skate sharpening. Why, ... because we take sharpenening seriously. It's not just something we do on the side or a task we leave to unsupervised teenager employees. That's why we can offer a 100% money back guaranty. If at any time and for any reason you are not pleased with your sharpening we will resharpen again or refund your money. That simple.

We do ask though, that if we changed your hollow, that you skate with it a few times. Remember, anytime your hollow is changed, skating will feel different and perhaps awkward at first, especially if you are not having your skates sharpened regularly. We are confident when you get use to your new hollow, you most likely will be very happy and will see an improvement in your skating. Most of our customer's tell us their skating has improved.
Our Prices
At No-Icing Sports, we don't charge you anything extra for our personalized sharpening services. A customized sharpening is still only $5.00, same price as most pro shops and arenas charge for their generic service. We also don't charge extra for deep hollows or goalie skates like some shops do. As for grind quality, we don't use the cheap stones to cut our costs. We use top quality Pink, Ceramic and Ruby Aluminum Oxide stones which produce a clean superior finish. We also clean the stone of metal shavings from the last pair of skates for EVERY new customer. Some shops cheat and try to get as many sharpenings as they can before they clean their stones. Why do they do this, well, to save money, stone wear, and time of course. But when they do this, you get an inferior sharpening.

Our shop is equipped with state of the art computer and manual sharpeners that provide accurate and consistant sharpenings. However, it's not just the machines we use that gives you a perfect sharpening, it's the attention to detail. Before we sharpen, we inspect every skate. Before you walk out our door, we check and verify the skates for proper grind and squareness. The same skate technician will do your skates the same way, every time. This is very important. One customer recenty told me a young sharpener at a southern NH hockey shop was talking on the phone with his girlfriend while sharpening her son's skates one handed. Another saw a sharpener eating lunch, while sharpening one-handed. This is a shop that claims it only lets "select" employees sharpen skates. Wow! This will never happen at No-Icing. We won't use retail clerks as sharpeners, nor will we rush or skimp on required passes when there is a waiting line. Also at No-Icing, unlike other shops, you don't have to plan your visit when the "good" sharpener is there, the good sharpener is always there! Our goal is to consistently provide top quality service. We are certain, if you try us, you'll make us your FAVORITE sharpener!
We don't spend just 20 seconds to sharpen your skates. We do it right and take whatever time is needed to produce superior results. We refuse to skimp or rush the sharpening process when there is a line of customers, so you may have a bit longer wait to get your skates serviced. We apologize, but it is the only way we can ensure quality is consistent. As always, if you prefer, you can drop off the skates and pick them up later, or call in advance to schedule an appointment. Fridays and Saturdays are our busy days, so the best time to come to avoid waiting is during the week. Thanks
Yes, we sharpen figure skates!