Skate Sharpeners: Why You Should be Nice to Them

November 1, 2016
Skate Sharpeners: Why You Should be Nice to Them

There are lots of stressful occupations out there - doctors and lawyers among them, but none more stressful than being a skate sharpener! It might not sound that tough, but having worked at pro shop for several years, standing behind a skate sharpening machine with dozens of anxious and customers who are all late for their game is no easy task.

Sharpening hockey skates and sharpening figure skates are skills that take years to master - there are lots of ways to screw up a pair of skates and only one way to get it right. For example, when sharpening hockey skates, there is a fine line between "too sharp" and "not sharp enough" which could have a disastrous impact on the ice. Similarly, sharpening figure skates is a delicate process - one wrong move can ruin a brand new blade since the margin for error is so thin. Fortunately, the technology built into skate sharpeners has improved over time, thus reducing the likelihood of mistakes.

I have learned that the key to sharpening hockey skates is to take your time and have patience. A customer might be in a rush and ask you hurry it up, but he or she will be thankful that you didn't rush once they step on the ice. It's important that skate sharpeners ask their customer questions since everybody likes their skates sharpened a different way.

For example, hockey forwards and defenseman often like shake sharpeners to use a specific hollow grind. The standard is usually 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch, or 5/8 inches, but I've seen customer ask me to sharpen hockey skates at 1/4 inches and sharpen figure skates at 1 inch. Today's skate sharpeners are very versatile and can be customized depending on the customers' preferences.

My experience as a skate sharpener taught me that things are often more difficult then they appear, so next time you go to sharpen hockey skates, make sure to say thank you to the guy behind the machine - otherwise you might lose an edge!

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