Knowing how to keep your skate blades in great shape can help you get the most out of them for years to come.
There’s a reason we use the term “rusty” when we talk about being slow and out of practice on something, and nowhere is this more true than with our skates. When you get off the ice and collapse exhausted on to a chewed up wooden bench in the changing room, you’re usually more focused on getting out of your gear and showering as fast as you can. However, a few simple tricks can help you keep your gear in great condition. Here’s how to maintain your skate blades so they always perform as expected.
Everyone knows the terror that comes when your blades are freshly sharpened and feel too sharp. You chatter when you stop and sharp turns feel death-defying. However, keeping your blades sharp and consistent is the best way to make sure you can rely on them to perform as they were designed to do.
What makes a good skate sharpen?
A good skate sharpen is one where:
- Each edge is straight and clean
- All burrs and spurs have been removed from the skate’s edges
- The outside edge is slightly higher than the inside edge
- All dings, scuffs and rust has been removed
- Outside edges have been lightly buffed with a skate stone
Consistency is key
If you find a rink or shop technician who does a good job on your skates, go back to him each time, so you concentrate on the game and not on your feet. Also, if you have a freshly sharpened pair of skates and find when you get on the ice that one edge is dull, hustle to the pro shop and get the skates re-sharpened. Trying to compensate for a skate that lost its edge is an easy way to cause a groin pull as you battle your gear to push off the ice with a natural stride.
Do it yourself
Keep a clean, soft rag in your hockey bag (an old t-shirt works great) and dry off the skates when you get off the ice. Get into the habit of doing this consistently and you’ll go a long way towards maintaining your blades. As well, buy yourself a cheap skate stone and keep it inside your bag as well. Between sharpens, you can run the skate stone along the side of the skate blade, to keep the blade free of burrs, minimize dings that make impact push-off, and remove any rust that may be forming.
Protect your investment
Skates are expensive enough without having to replace the blades due to rust, wear or damage. Keeping your skates clean and sharp will help you skate your best, and keeping the sharpening consistent will help you get comfortable with your blades at their peak level. By learning how to maintain your skate blades, you can feel comfortable knowing you’re getting the most out of your investment and out of your time on the ice.