Technology on the ice skating scene keeps evolving. And it’s possible to sharpen your ice skates at home using a machine. Well, there’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to machine-sharpening of skates. But, if everyone in your family and circle of friends skates, it’s an idea worth exploring. In this resource, I describe how to sharpen ice skates using a machine.
Things can get pretty technical with a traditional sharpener such as Wissota. But there’s a modern sharpener many can use without prior skate sharpening experience: the Sparx Sharpening Machine.
Also Read: Different Ways to Sharpen Skates
Machine sharpening Requires Precise Skills
Using a machine to sharpen skates is pretty much like learning ice skating. It’s 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 highly dexterous hands to do the job correctly.
Also Read: Sharpening Skates With a File
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 skate edges and want to help deal with those pain points.
I strongly suggest that you learn with an expert before you attempt the first sharpening on your own. It’s pretty easy to damage your blades using a 4,000-rpm wheel to grind off your steel. Yes, you can self-teach skate sharpening, but it’ll probably take you forever to become an expert.
For Most People, Hiring Someone’s Best
Becoming a pro skate sharpener takes many years of dedicated and consistent practice. I asked my sharpening guy how long it took them to learn this art. They’ve taken care of thousands of ice skates over the past decade, but they finally picked up the skill.
For most people, it’s best to hire someone to sharpen their skates. Ask other ice skaters in your area who sharpens their blades and they’ll likely recommend a decent service provider.
But the Sparx Skate Sharpener Makes Everything Easier
There’s a skate sharpening machine capable of doing quick pro-level sharpening at home without needing to have any sharpening skills. It’s the Sparx Skate Sharpener. With this system, you get performance-enhancing edges in no time so that you can get even nimbler on the ice.
The machine is pretty easy to assemble and use. Be sure to watch tutorials before using it, though. And no, it’s not a cheap buy. Purchasing it may not make much economic sense for individual skaters who’ll only use it on their skates.
Who is the Sparx Sharpener Best Suited for?
For households with a few members skating regularly or someone with a bunch of hockey friends to please, it makes sense to own a sharpener.
If you’re tired of driving for miles each month to have your family’s skates sharpened, consider investing in this amazing machine. Also, if you hate how the guy at the rink shop never seems to get the sharpening right, consider controlling the process yourself.
Another reason to get this tool is to prevent new hires from experimenting with your steel. You’ll no longer get uneven sharpening with one edge done right and the other one done badly.
If you’re the happy parent of an entire tribe of young hockey palyers, do yourself and get this thing. Your kids will love ice skating more, and the bills for taking care of their steel will stop.
Are you a night owl who gets tons of stuff done at night? Well, go ahead sharpen your kids’ dull blades at 2.00 a.m. or any other time you wish? 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, ice hockey coaches, and even NHL teams love this on-demand miracle.
Check the machine out on Amazon.*Aff. link.
This thing 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 roughly 40 sharpenings before needing replacement.
Simply open the case and put in the ring you prefer, and then tighten the bolts. If you want a different hollow, untighten the bolts, swap out the current grinding ring, and attach your preference instead.
Step #2: Set the Grinding Height
Set the right grinding ring height. Use the included red knob to adjust the grinding height. Turn the knob clockwise or counterclockwise to lower or raise the grinding ring.
You can sharpen all kinds of skates with this unit, including figure skates. Just adjust the grinding height correctly, and there’s no blade you can’t take care of.
Step #3: 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 post loading the skates, you did the setup wrong.
Have your ice skates sitting at an angle of 90 degrees and let the grinding ring touch the steel at a 45-degree angle. To make the grinding ring move toward the steel, press the two arrows on the keypad. Place your boots so that the ring grinds off the front end of the blades and then the rest of the blade.
Step #4: Fire Up the Sharpener
A keypad with a bunch of features lets you program each sharpening just right. The power button illuminates white before you press it, but when you press the button, the light changes to blue.
Choose the number of cycles to run on your blades. For brand new ice skates that came in unsharpened, dial in 10 cycles. What about blades that need re-sharpening after you’ve been skating for a while? 3-4 cycles should suffice.
When the machine is working, the case displays a red LED light. It produces a noise similar to what I used to hear when Dad sharpened Mom’s kitchen knives with a manually operated 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 dialed-in cycles are performed.
Step #5: Inspect Your Blades
After the cycles are all done, the LED light in the boxy case turns green. The sharpening process is complete, so it’s time to take the blades off the unit. Inspect the steel to gauge the quality of the sharpen.
After less than 10 minutes grinding the edges, Jason (my spouse) examined the blades he’d sharpened using a friend’s sharpening machine. The overall quality of the sharpen was great, as good as any you might get from any hockey shop who knows what they’re doing.
The hollow profile was perfectly square, too, something that takes tons of expertise to achieve with other machines.
Oh, and there’s a kind of tray that collects the steel dust coming from the process. The unit comes with a special filter designed to trap all that metal dust so that you can stay safe.
The filter does need to be replaced, though, but you do the replacement after roughly 180 sharpenings. Tidy up the tray and particle filter after sharpening.
Do You Have to Remove the Blades?
No, you don’t need to take off the blades first. What if you want to sharpen skates with removable steel such as the Bauer TUUK Edge Steel? The blade holder of the Sparx lets you sharpen the steel separately.
Can You Sharpen New Skates With This Machine?
Yes, you can. Most new skates come unsharpened or poorly done. Fortunately, this automatic tool does a great job cutting the perfect edge into new blades.
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 device.
Each grinding stone gives you around 40-60 quality sharpenings. And when the ring’s due for replacement, the unit has a built-in mechanism that lets you know.
Here’s what you get when the package finally arrives: The machine itself, a honing stone, goalie risers, an alignment ring, an optical alignment tool, youth skate adapters, and a leather strop.
But purchase didn’t doesn’t the edge checker. You have to buy this component separately. A good edge checker enables you to check whether you have square 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?
An option such as Wissota costs a couple of 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, a tested-and-proven choice, definitely go with a traditional sharpener.
Ease of Use
In terms of ease of use, you need 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 Sparx.
In fact, a 10-year-old won’t need you every time they want to sharpen their hockey skates. They can easily get the task done themselves provided you teach them how to correctly do it.
Here’s what makes the Sparx unique? Unlike a traditional sharpener, the Sparx doesn’t need you to line up the blade with its grinding ring. It comes equipped with a unique clamp design, a technology that has the clamp self-centering, taking the guesswork out of the process.
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 Sparx, you get consistently accurate sharpening each time. And all this happens in just a few minutes.
With a Wissota, you never need to buy different kinds of discs to make different hollow profiles. The same disc enables you to make different hollows. Simply set the disc correctly and that’s it.
What’s more, the grinding disks in most conventional sharpening machines last much longer compared to those of the Sparx.
While you can’t carry Daddy’s Wissota around, the Sparx sharpener is pretty portable. It’s pretty compact and fits small spaces such as city apartments suitably.
What About Sharpening Skates By Hand?
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.
Many hockey players and recreational ice skaters use a sweet stick to refine a fresh conventional sharpening. Learn how to sharpen ice skates by hand using sweet sticks here.
Sharpening Skates With a Machine: Conclusion
Sharpening machines are a costly affair, but if used right, they get the job done pretty quickly. And the sharpen quality stays consistently accurate. You get a level of consistency you won’t ever get with any hand-held sharpener such as a sweet stick.
If you have the skills, you can sharpen your skates at home using a traditional sharpener such as a Wissota. But if you’re like most ice skaters and lack the skills to use such a machine, go for the Sparx Skate Sharpener. Because it’s cheaper, much easier to use, and produces level hollows pretty much every time.