In ice skating, a sharp blade means a good grip and easy maneuvering, while a dull blade means less friction and better speed. That, however, doesn't mean you need to keep your blades dull to skate well. In fact, you need to do the exact opposite of that. Irrespective of whether you are an amateur skating enthusiast or a veteran of the field, you need to keep your skates sharp and in good condition; not at all difficult, if you grasp the basics.
How Often Should Skates be Sharpened?
This is an important question that needs to be taken into account beforehand, as too much of sharpening (or too less of it), can end up damaging the skates. Sharpening the blades too frequently can either damage them, or cause them to wear out quickly. How often to sharpen the skates will largely depend on how often you use them. Going by the rule of the thumb, sharpening them once a month is more than enough. Or else, you can just test the skates to find out whether they really need to be sharpened. Just run your fingernail down the blade. If the blade is sharp, it will dig into your nail, but if it is dull, your nail will just slide over, and that would imply that the blade needs to be sharpened.
How to Sharpen Ice Skates?
Your ice skate sharpening equipment will include a vise and a whetstone, along with a bottle of honing oil. The vise will act as a holding device, while you can use the whetstone to sharpen the blade. It is ideal to cover the leather portion of the ice skate with some old cloth; this will avoid any scratches on them.
You can start by placing the skate upside down in the vise, so that you get proper access to its blade. Make sure that the grip of the vise is tight enough to prevent the skate from moving. As the next step, pour some honing oil on the whetstone. Place the whetstone at a right angle on the blade, and move it back and forth around 6 - 8 times. Make sure that you hold the whetstone at a right angle―approximately an inch of it should rise above the blade, as holding it flatter will only erode the blade and thus, damage the skates.
Check whether you have achieved the desired level of sharpness; if not continue with a few more strokes until you get it. If you notice any metal shavings on the whetstone, promptly get rid of it, pour some more honing oil, and continue. These tips are also applicable for sharpening newly bought pair of ice skating shoes, as they are not sharpened by the manufacturer.
These were some simple tips which will enable you to sharpen the metal blades of your skates. On an average, skate sharpening costs anywhere between $5 to $15, depending on whether you take them to the facility in your neighborhood skating rink itself, or to a professional who would use a sophisticated sharpening devices to execute the task. Now that's a decent amount, and you can save it by sharpening your skates on your own.