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Frequently Asked Questions (continued)

Q How do I know when my skates need sharpening?
A There is no magic method, but the answer is, "Before they need it," not after they need it. You don't change the oil in your car after it looses it's lubrication qualities and your engine blows, do you? The same principle applies to sharpening. How long a sharpening lasts depends on how much you skate, how hard you skate, ice condition, type of blade, and how you treat your skates off ice...(proper drying, stepping on boards getting into bench, etc). If your edges are damaged from rough play then it's time to get them sharpened, even if you just sharpened them. But how do you tell while skating if you need a sharpening? Here's a simple test; when they no longer feel like they are grabbing, or when you are slipping on a turn, then it's time. For me, while skating, I try to think about how freshly sharpened skates feel. If they don't "feel" that way any more, then it's time to take them to the sharpener. Generally, to keep the sharp feel all the time, and to avoid having to get USE to "just sharpened" skates, I recommend having them sharpended at regular intervals, every 3 or 4 hours of hockey skating. This ensures your edges are always at its optimum. Here's why, during the process of skating, your edges not only will dull but they will wear down, more in some areas on the blade and less in others. This makes the edges uneven and causes tracking problems. A sharpening not only sharpens the blades, but brings the edges back to level. Uneven edges are a prime reason to bring your skates to a sharpener.

Q If I get my skates sharpened frequently, will I have to replace my blades often?
A Not really. If done correctly, each re-sharpening removes only about 1/100 of an inch of metal from the blade. (a typi0cal piece of paper is about 4/100ths of an inch thick). If there is 3/4" of sharpenable height on the blade when new, this means that you might get as many as 75 sharpenings out of a blade. With monthly sharpenings, this would give a blade a useful life of about 6 years. Weekly sharpenings and sharpenings to restore the edges back to level will take off a bit more metal. So will frequent sharpenings that change radius of hollow. This is rarely done intentionally, however, if you're taking your skates to different rinks and shops, and you don't tell the sharpener how to sharpen your skates, your hollow could be changed every time. As such, skaters will likely see even a shorter blade life. Still, a careful sharpener can do much to prolong blade life and protect the skater's investment. Some inexperienced sharpeners with a heavy hand can unnecessarily over-grind away blade material, especially at the toe and heel. This is another reason to avoid impulse sharpening at unfamiliar rinks and skate shops.

Q Should I be concerned with nicks in the blade?
A The requirement to remove all nicks is a wive's (old coaches) tale. The sharpener will use a hone to remove small nicks where the metal is curled out on the side of blade next to the nick. However, the nicks itself is usually not even noticeable at all while skating. Larger, deeper nicks are generally not completely removed as well. We can remove them but your blade life will be shortened big time and it will cost more to remove a deep nick. A regular sharpening price doesn't include 30 more minutes of labor required to get a nick out.

Q How long should it take to get use to newly sharpened skates?
A There should be no adjustment period. If you are one of those skaters who needs a practice or 1hr of skating before the skates feel perfect, then you have the wrong setting in your blade. After a sharpening, when you first step on the ice, you should feel totally comfortable immediately. If they don't, you either got a bad sharpening, the incorrect hollow, or you waited too long between sharpenings. Most skaters expect an adjustment period after having their skates sharpened. The common symptoms they experience is that skates edges catch, and stopping is difficult. You'll see these skaters doing things like dragging their skates sideways on the ice, or rubbing the skates on the wood bench, to "dull" them, cursing the sharpener along the way. A skater can avoid this ritual if they have their skates sharpened more often. If you sharpen regularly, you should have little or no adjustment period. They should never feel too sharp after a sharpening, they should simply feel more firm. Skaters who wait too long between sharpenings have been basically skating on dull blades, so ANY sharpening will feel too sharp. They usually blame the sharpener for "messing" up their skates, but in reality it's the skater's fault for not keeping the edges tuned up properly.

Many will also need an adjustment period if their depth of hollow is changed. For example, if you go to sharpener A and he puts a 5/8" hollow on, then next time you go to sharpener B, and he puts on a 1/2 hollow, the skates now will feel too sharp. The skater usually blames sharpener B, but again, it's the skater's fault for not knowing what his "regular" hollow is, and ensuring that is put on every time. You must always ask the sharpener to put your hollow on your blades. Don't be satisified with a simple "deep" or "Number 2" answer. One shop's "deep" hollow may be vastly different than another. At No-Icing, we keep your favorite setting on file so you get the same sharpening every time.

Q How can I extend required sharpenings?
A Simple, take care of your skates! The biggest factor is off-ice abuse. Stay on the rubber, never walk on floors, or concrete. This will damage the edges immediately and severely, requiring more metal to be ground off to repair. Be careful getting off the ice. Some players step on the plastic step leading into the bench. At many rinks, the rubber floor just inside the bench door is worn through to the floor from frequent use. Step over this area onto "good" rubber. Off ice, wear skate guards, even when walking around the rink. Dirt and sand on the rubber is abrasive and can wear on the edge. Don't throw your equipment bag around, trauma to the skate edges can result. Skates should be thouroughly dried off after each skate. Use the plastic guard for walking around the rink and transporting, don't leave it on because rust can form. Use chamois or soft cotten guards for storage to capture any leftover moisture from condensation. Remove skates from bag at home and air dry. If you get rust, more metal may have to be removed next sharpening.

You also can use a hand-held sharpener to refresh the edges, they are very good for use between periods and might even extend your sharpening interval one or two sharpenings. We stock the Sweet Stick that will work on all hollows. This tools are great for emergencies, like when you loose an edge during a game.

Q I get very tired and my skates feel like they aren't gliding well, slowing me down. Is there anything you can do?
A It sounds like your hollow is too deep. Deep hollows aren't best for new skaters, weaker leg strength skaters, or heavy skaters. It could also be the rink you are skating at has "soft" ice. Either way, adjusting the hollow can lessen the energy required, and improve your speed.

Q It feels like I've lost my edges, mostly while turning. I just had my skates sharpened, what's the problem?
A There are three general reasons for this: First, if you have changed rinks and gone from soft ice to hard ice, the skates won't be gripping as well. You will need to deepen the hollow. Second if your last sharpener did a poor job and you have uneven edges, you may not have grip. Lastly, some lighter weight players have slipping problems with shallow hollows. Without weight on the edges, they don't grip into the ice as well, effecting turns. Going to a deeper hollow may help.

Q I'm a goalie. What do I ask the sharpener? I don't like sharp edges so I generally avoid having my skates sharpened.
A Contrary to popular belief, goalies can benefit from sharpening (and profiling) and there are MANY choices of hollows for goalies. Remember, it's not the sharpening that give that sharp feel, rather the depth of hollow that creates pronounced edges. Unless you ask, most shops put a 1" hollow on all goalie skates. This generic grind is shallow and may not work well for you. I know some who use 1/2" and others who use 1 1/4. It all depends on your style of play. I personally use 1/2" - 9/16ths. Also, I like to see goalies sharpen frequently as they can loose an edge very quickly slamming their skates on the posts to stop those wrap-arounds. Keep in mind, you do need some edge to help get footing to get up from the butterfly, so don't write off sharpening. If you are a roaming goalie, a deeper cut may be better for you than a stay-in-crease goalie. Profiling goalie skates can also help with agility and proper stance. In addition, most goalie skates come from the factory with a reverse radius (only toe and heel of blade touching ice.) A profiling can correct this. We can also do custom combo cuts, deeper at the toe and shallower along rest of blade. This is great for control.

Q What is the advantage of having two sets of skate blades and rotating them?
A Great question. If you plan to keep the skates you have for many years, it is wise to invest in a second set of blades. Three reasons; first, you have a spare set in case you break a blade, which is very common now-a-days because poor skate sharpeners burn and overheat blades which makes the steel brittle. Second, you can have a spare set, sharpened ready to go. This is handy if you are going to a tournement and don't want to risk having your blades sharpened by an unfamiliar sharpener. Or if we are closed for vacation, or if you live far away you can reduce the number of trips to our shop. Last but most important, with two sets of blades rotated every sharpening, the blades will wear slower and evenly. Every time you sharpen a pair of skates, a little metal is removed and the skate height changes. You body easily adapts to this minor change. So, over the course of years, your body has adapted, very slowly. Eventually, you will need to replace your blades. The new blades will likely be 1/2 inch or more higher and have much more metal at the toe. Your body will not adjust easy to this new blade shape and height. Remember, it adjusted slowly on the old ones and you never noticed or felt the change because it was small. However, when you change to new blades you have made a big change and the body can't adjust immediately. With two sets of blades, rotated, the blades will wear much slower. It is likely you will purchase a new pair of skates before you wear out two sets of blades. So, when you finally buy new skates, adapting to them will be much easier.

Q I'm having a problem with a profile or sharpening you did, what do I do?
A Occasionally a skater may not like a profile we recommended for them, no problem, we'll gladly make a free adjustment on radius we recommended. However, some skaters might need 4-6 hours of skating to give their body mechanics and muscle memory time to adjust to the new profile. We've had hundreds of people who hated their profile on the first skate, yet loved it by the third outing. Be patient, if your old blades were really worn down and you got new steel, most of the adjustment is due to the bulk metal on new steel, and not related to the custom radius at all.