Technology on the ice skating scene keeps evolving, and now it’s possible to sharpen your ice skates at home using an appropriate machine. Well, there’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to machine-sharpening of skate blades, but if everyone in your family and circle of friends skates, it’s an idea worth exploring. In how to sharpen ice skates using a machine, I’ll describe how to do precisely that. I’ll also include a video that’ll explain how to handle the process as well as recommend the perfect device for the job. Stay with me.
Machine-sharpening Requires Precise Skills
Just like it is with learning ice skating, using a good machine to sharpen your blades is a learned skill. And it takes years of focused practice to master this all-important skill.
Have you ever wondered why some skate shops still do a bad job of sharpening skates even though that’s what they do for a living? It’s because machine ice skate sharpening isn’t an easy task. It takes a pair of laser-focused, detail-oriented eyes working with a pair of highly dexterous to do the job correctly.
So, where can you learn how to sharpen ice skates? The best way to learn how to sharpen ice skate blades is at a rink or hockey store. The best sharpening pros I know have been ice skating for years, and they at some point decided to set up a skate shop to help others. They know how hard it is to remove all those dings, cracks, and nicks from the edges and want to help deal with those pain points.
Unless you possess the requisite hands-on ice skate sharpening skills, I strongly advise you to learn first before you attempt to do it. It’s pretty easy to damage your blades using a 4,000 rpm wheel to grind off your steel. Yes, you can choose to be a self-taught blade sharpener, but it’ll probably take you forever to acquire the skills.
Learn from a Sharpening Pro
So, work with an instructor and practice the heck out of your lessons until you perfect the skill. Remember, becoming a pro skate sharpener takes many years of dedicated and constant practice. I asked my sharpening guy at my local store, and they revealed they’ve taken care of thousands of ice skates over the past decade to finally pick up the skill and get the touch.
It’s almost always best to hire someone to do it. Ask other ice skaters in your area who sharpens their blades and they’ll likely recommend a decent service provider.
What about using hand-held devices such as sweet sticks to sharpen skate blades? Yes, that’s doable at home, and pretty much anyone can do it. But that’s hardly sharpening. All you can achieve with a tool is to eliminate burrs and nicks that may still remain after a good traditional sharpening.
Others use such tools to refine a fresh conventional sharpening. Learn how to sharpen ice skates by hand using sweet sticks to enhance your blade performance here.
Let’s now dive in and learn how you can get those faithful blades into a great shape so they can get even more nimble on the ice. The best machine I know for getting a pro-level sharpening at home without needing to have any sharpening skills is the Sparx Skate Sharpener.
The machine is pretty easy to assemble and use. But it’s not cheap, and buying this machine may not make much economic sense for individual ice skaters who’ll only be using the device on their skates.
But for households with a few members skating regularly, it’s make a lot of sense to own such a machine. If you want to check the machine out, click the link below. The link takes to Amazon, and I may get a small commission should you decide to buy the product. If you’re tired of driving miles to have your skates and your kids’ skates sharpened at a skate shop only to find the shop closed, consider investing in this machine.
Do you hate how the guy at the rink shop never seems to get the sharpening right? Do they always give you an uneven sharpening with one edge done right and the other one badly sharpened? Are your kids loving ice skating more and more and the bills for taking care of their steel are beginning to pile up a little?
Maybe you’re a night owl that gets tons of stuff done at night and would love to be able to sharpen your dull blades at 2.00 a.m. any time you wish? If you answered yes to all these questions, buying this machine should be a no brainer.
Many reviewers are in consensus that the Sparks Skate Sharpener is the only ice skate sharpener for home use that actually does what it’s supposed to do without needing the user to have worked at a hockey shop for years. Lots of hockey families love this recent invention, and even NHL teams use the device.
It works. But how does the Sparx Skate Sharpener work?
How to Use the Sparx Skate Sharpener at Home
Follow these steps to sharpen your ice skates.
Step 1: Use the Correct Blade Grinding Ring
The first and most important thing to do is to choose and install the right grinding ring. The sharpener comes with three grinding rings that enable you to cut ½”and 5/8″hollows. The third ring, the ½” Fire, is designed to help you to create a flat bottom hollow on your blades. Each grinding stone lasts 40 sharpening before needing replacement.
Simply open the case and put in the ring you prefer, and tighten the bolts. And if you decide to have a different hollow, enlighten the bolts and swap out the current grinding ring and attach your preference instead.
Step 2: Set the Grinding Height Properly
Also, be sure to set the right grinding ring height. There’s a red knob in the case that’s included to help you adjust grinding height. Turn the know clockwise or counterclockwise to lower or raise the grinding ring. And yes, you can also sharpen all kinds of traditional skates with this unit, and that includes figure skates. Just adjust the grinding height right, and there’s no blade you can’t take care of.
Step 2: Load Your Ice Skates onto the Slot
There’s a slot on the top of the machine that lets you load your ice skates. The sharpener comes with sturdy, easy-to-use blade holders that keep the skates firmly held throughout the sharpening process.
The machine uses lights to let you know whether your setup has been done correctly or not. If the lights are on after you load the skates, that means the setup isn’t done right.
Your ice skates should sit up at an angle of 90 degrees, and your grinding ring should touch the steel at a 45 degree-ish angle. To make the grinding ring move toward the steel, you’ve got to press the two arrows on the keypad. By the way, be sure to place your boots so that the grinding ring grinds off the front end of the blades and the rest of the blade.
Step 3: Crank Up the Sharpener
There’s a keypad with several features that let you program each sharpening correctly. There’s the power button that illuminates white before you press it, and when you press the button, the light changes to blue.
You can easily choose the number of cycles to perform on your blades. For brand new ice skates that came in unsharpened, dial in 10 cycles. But for blades that need re-sharpening after they’ve been skating for a while, 3 or 4 cycles should be adequate.
When the machine is working, the case has a red LED light, and it produces the same noise like I used to hear when my dad sharpened Mom’s kitchen knives with a manually operated kind of traditional grinder.
During sharpening, the grinding stone moves from one end of the steel blade down the full edge and repeats the movement until all cycles are performed.
Step 4: Inspect Your Blades
After the cycles are all done, the LED light in the boxy case turns green. That means the sharpening process is complete and it’s time to take the blades off the unit and see how well the device did the job.
In just a few minutes, Jason (my spouse) examined the blades he’d sharpened using a friend’s sharpener. And what did he think the overall quality of the sharpening using the Sparx machine was like? It was great, as good as any you might from any hockey shop that know what they’re doing.
Oh, there’s a kind of tray that collects the steel dust that comes from the process. The unit comes with a special filter designed to trap all that dust so you can stay safe. The filter does need to be replaced, but you do that after roughly 180 sharpenings. You’ll want to tidy up the tray and particle filter after every sharpen.
How Much Does the Sparx Sharpen Cost?
The machine costs in the neighborhood of $900. That’s a pretty penny, but if you’re a hard skater and have a whole tribe of skaters in the house, consider buying this sharpening machine. Each grinding stone gives you around 40-60 quality sharpenings. And when the ring needs replacement, the unit has an mechanism that lets you know.
Here’s what you get when the package finally arrives: The machine itself, a honing stone, goalie risers, alignment ring, optical alignment tool, youth skate adapters, and a leather strop. But I must mention that some reviewers said they their purchase didn’t include a quality edge checker and they had to buy that separately. You need a good edge checker so you check whether you got level hollows.
Sparx Sharpening Vs Traditional Sharpening Machines
What’s the difference between the device from Sparx and traditional ice skate sharpening machines such as a Wissota sharpener?
The difference pertains to product cost. An option such as Wissota costs a couple hundred dollars more than the Sparx sharpener. Good regular style sharpening machines last a long time. As for the Sparx unit, it’s not been around long enough so users can’t speak authoritatively about its durability. I know at least two skaters who use their parent’s ancient Wissota to grind off their steel. If you want a product that serves your skating needs for years, definitely go with a traditional pick.
In terms of ease of use, you do require serious blade sharpening skills to use a unit such as the Wissota. In comparison, anyone with a working pair of hands can get the job done on the Spars machine. Your 10-year-old won’t need you every time they want their skates sharpened. They’ll get the task done themselves provided you teach them how to correctly do it.
What about the quality of the sharpening? If you have good sharpening skills and know how to use a traditional sharpening unit, you can get an edge quality as good as you get with the Sparx. With the unit from Sparx, you enjoy consistently accurate sharpening each time. Well, it may not always be a perfect cut, but it’s not like traditional machine sharpening gets it right every single time.
Then there’s the little issue of grinding disks. With a unit such as the Wissota, you never need to buy different kinds of discs to make different hollows. The same disc enables you to make different hollows. All you have to do is set the disc correctly and that’s that. What’s more, the grinding disks in most conventional sharpening machines last much longer than those the Sparx machine uses.
Fi nally, there’s portability. While you can’t carry Daddy’s Wissota around, the Sparx sharpener is quite portable. It’s pretty compact and fits small spaces such as city apartment suitably.
How to Sharpen Ice Skates Using a Machine: Final Word
Sharpening machines are a costly affair, but if used right, they get the job done pretty quickly and accurately. They offer a level of consistency you won’t get with any hand-held sharpening stone.
If you have the skills, you can sharpen your skates at home using your parents’ Wissota or even buy your own. But if you’re like most ice skaters and lack the skills to use such a machine, go for the Sparx Skate Sharpener since it’s cheaper, much easier to use, and produces level hollows pretty much like any traditional sharpener.