In how to sharpen ice skates by hand at home or at the rink, I explain three simple and easy steps to complete this important task. But can you actually sharpen ice skates at home without a machine? Yes, you can, but the handheld ice skate sharpening tools available aren’t designed to eliminate professional skate sharpening altogether. Everyone I know that sharpens their blades at home or in the locker room pre-play uses their handheld sharpener as a touch-up tool. The tool I recommend is the V-shaped Sweet-Stick Blade Edge Enhancer. It’s cheap, works well, and is pretty use to use.
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Why Use a Handheld Ice Skates Sharpener?
The most common reason to use a handheld device to give ice skates a sharpening at home is to reduce how often one pays for pro sharpening. Jason, my SO, owns the tool I mentioned above and uses it to give his blades a touch-up moments before hitting the rink.
I’ve seen that using this tool does reduce the number of times he takes his blades to the skate shop for a proper sharpening. The proshop happens to be 50 miles away, and going there seems like a real trip, a trip that necessitates a bit of moving things around the schedule to organize.
Sharpening ice skates with Sweet-Sticks can help knock off 2 to 3 trips to the rink shop or wherever you get your services. And, that also saving about $10 each time he doesn’t pay for a sharpening. Considering the low cost of the tool, it really makes sense to own one.
How to Use Sweet-Sticks to Sharpen Ice Skates
One thing I love about my partner’s handheld sharpening tool is that it’s pretty easy to use. The tool comes with a V-shaped sharpening stone on one end which does the job.
Here’s how to use Sweet-Sticks to enhance the edges of your hockey skates, goalie skates, and figure skates to optimize skate performance. You don’t need any special skills to use this tool, by the way.
Step 1: Hold the Tool Right
Be sure to hold the Sweet-Stick properly before you start the sharpening process.
So, what’s the right way to hold the tool? Hold the little piece of equipment between the thumb and forefinger of one of your hands. The thumb should be on top.
Use the right hand to grip the tool if you’re right-handed and the left one if you’re left-handed. But if you’re ambidextrous and can use both hands equally well, then it doesn’t matter which hand holds what.
The Sweet-Stick shouldn’t be held precisely perpendicularly. Rather, the tool should be held at some angle as the job does feel easier that way.
Step 2: Grab Your Ice Skates
Using the other hand, turn your skates upside down so that the blades face up. Make sure the skate’s toe faces away from you.
Step 3: Give Your Ice Skates 2-3 Passes
Now, it’s time to do the real work. And the work isn’t much at all.
Point the V of the tool to the toe. Next, apply light pressure to run the tool forward and backward down the entire length of your blade. Give the skate 2 or 3 strokes and repeat the process with the other skate.
You just did!
Note that applying too much pressure on the handheld tool can end up breaking it. Knowing how much force you need to use is a matter of practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it. As they say, practice makes perfect.
Do the V-Shaped Sweet-Sticks Last?
They may or they may not. It all depends on how carefully you handle and use the tool. Unless you’re dropping it on the floor all the time, it should last. Jason’s V-shaped Sweet-Sticks haven’t broken, yet, but I’ve come across a few unhappy users of the product.
The disgruntled users complained that their Sweet-Sticks didn’t last more than a season before breaking. I think the head of the tool could be more durable. Some reviewers said that their tool didn’t survive more a single fall on the floor during use.
But proper handling should definitely prolong the small skate sharpening device’s usefulness. As mentioned above, not applying too much pressure while sharpening can help minimize the odds the tool will break after one sharpening.
The Downside of Sharpening Ice Skates By Hand
While you could save yourself two time-and-money-consuming trips to some far-away skate shop for a sharpening, there’s a downside to it. Jason has noticed that using the Sweet-Sticks to touch up his blades before skating tends to push the skates’ edges in toward each other. The blades do feel noticeably sharper afterward, but the extra sharpness comes at a price.
In Jason’s case, the guy at the skate shop ended up needing to grind more steel off the blades than they otherwise would have had manual sharpening not happened. What more blade grinding means is that longevity of the blades gets drastically reduced. Who wants to replace expensive ice skates every other season just because they saved a few bucks hand-sharpening?
It’s Best to Get a Pro Sharpening
I’ve talked to quite a few ice skaters concerning the issue of giving skates a manual sharpen at home. And pretty much everyone tells me it’s best to pay for a pro sharpening. As long as you can get someone that knows how to correctly and precise make the required hollows/grooves on blades, getting a $5-$10 sharpening shouldn’t ruin your finances.
A pair of trained, dexterous hands get to sharpen your blades as per your specific instructions. And, your blades will last longer because the guy at the skate shop won’t need to grind off the edges more.
Is Hand Sharpening of Ice Skates at Home Worth it?
Here’s the takeaway message of this post: using a handheld grind stone does help keep edges sharp after a sharpening so you can reduce your trips to the skate shop. It’s easy-to-do, and the tool for the task is pretty inexpensive.
But using your hands to sharpen your blades shouldn’t be a way to replace professional blade sharpening. Rather, hand sharpening should be used as a general maintenance practice aimed at fixing tiny nicks when you can’t get a pro sharpening.
If smoothing out a new sharpening to keep your blades sharp for longer is what you want, then sharpening your skates by hand could be a good idea. But keep in mind that any kind of sharpening without using a specialized machine could end up being counterproductive.