The large pick closest to the toe plate. The toe pick is used in toe jumps to start the jump. This pick drives into the ice and starts the vertical motion upwards.
The bottom pick closest to the blade edge. The base pick is specially designed for various blade types and determines the heel lift, which controls the overall rock of the blade.
The blade edges start behind the base pick, run the length of the blade, and touch the ice when skating. The blade edges are made up of three parts: the bulge, the blade heel, and the main curve.
The bulge curve is very specific to figure skaters. The bulge curve is the area behind the base pick and is usually set to a 12" - 14" radius curve. The length of the bulge area is approximately 6 cm long..
The blade heel is the end of the blade and is approximately the last 2.5 centimeters. The curvature of the blade heel should be the same as the main blade curve and therefore not rounded.
The main curve is the area after the bulge curve (approximately 6 cm back from the base curve) and runs the length of the blade. The main curve can very between a 6 foot radius and a 9 foot radius. Manufacturers produce blades with main curve radiuses between 6.5 ft. and 8.6 ft. In general a smaller radius gives more agility and quicker turns where and larger radius gives more speed and power.
The root is the concave trough that is ground down the centre of the blade which causes the two sides to have a sharp ridge running the length of the blade (blade edges). These ridges are called inside and outside edges. The depth of this trough is determined by the root radius or root diameter. If a Canadian penny, turned sideways, fits in this trough without letting any light through between the penny and the blade, then the root diameter is about 3/4" and a root radius of 3/8" (1/2 of the root diameter). The smaller the root, the more pointed the edge, and the deeper the blade cuts into the ice. PBHE can grind any root radius but for normal use our tooling is set up for the following radiuses: 5/16", 11/32", 3/8", 13/32", 7/16", 15/32", and 1/2" (diameters: 5/8", 11/16", 3/4", 13/16", 7/8", 15/16" and 1"). These root radiuses are within .002 of an inch (less than a hair thickness). Smaller roots will maximize the edge on hard ice but will require more frequent sharpening to hold this fine edge.
The proper root radius depends on the skater's weight, skill level, and ice temperature. Light skaters (60 - 80 lb.) on hard ice, requiring fine control, will need a smaller root diameter. Heavier skaters on soft ice will need a larger root diameter for the same edge grip on the ice. Remember, skill level is also a major component to the equation. PBHE's equipment can exactly duplicate previous grinds. Roots that are too deep for the skaters weight, skill level, and ice temperature cause drag by cutting too deep into the ice.
Side grind is the 3mm (1/8") area on the side of the blade that runs the length of the blade and forms one side of the edge. The smoothness of the root and side grind will have an effect on the glide of the blade on the ice. The side grind should be properly honed prior to sharpening skates for two reasons; first to take off any burrs on the side and second to make sure the edge is smooth. The root and side grind surfaces make the sharp edges. The side grind and root are not chrome plated on high carbon steel blades and will rust. True hollow ground tapered blades give a sharper edge but are much harder to sharpen accurately. Precision Blade's equipment was specially designed to sharpen hollow ground tapered and narrow edge blades accurately.
The manufacturer’s designs each type of blade with a specific curvature for the bulge (10 - 20 in. radius) and curve/heel (6 - 9 ft. radius). The blade rocks back and forth on these two curves between the base pick and heel. These curvatures result in the use of the term rocker.
In figure skating, the proper grind of the base pick, the curvature and location of the bulge, and blade length determine the heel lift of a blade. To determine the amount of heel lift, the skate is placed on its edges on a flat table with the base pick touching. Then the distance from the table to the heel is measured. This heel lift indicates the overall movement along the blade when skating. Generally, the heel lift should be between 3/4 and 9/8 inches, depending on the type and length of blade. Regardless, both skates should have the same heel lift.
The toe plate attaches the blade to the skate boot sole. The heel plate attaches the blade to the boot heel. Both the toe and heel plate have two oval holes cut in each plate to allow for adjusting screws. These screws allow the skater to get the blades correctly positioned on the boot. There are also six or more round countersunk holes in the toe plate and two round countersunk holes in the heel. These are for positioning screws, which ensure the blade does not move once the correct position of the blade is determined.
PBHE recommends that only special #6 stainless steel screws be used to secure the blades to the boots. The screws that come with the blades are generally of a poorer quality and can rust out and snap off. All mounting screws must be sealed to help prevent the leather from deteriorating. Heel screws are generally 50% longer than the toe plate screws. Edea boots have special screws that must be used due to the sole membrane construction. Blades without tapered holes use a #8 screw of specific length.
Good quality blades are made from high carbon steel where the edges are hardened to approximately 60 degrees Rockwell 'C'. These blades hold an edge well and require less frequent sharpening (Phantom, Gold Seal, Pattern 99, and M.K Dance are all made from High Carbon Steel). Low carbon blades are cheaper and do not hold an edge for as long.
Stainless steel blades have a chromium content that causes the steel to curl preventing a clean sharp edge. Due to this PBHE does not currently sharpen these blades. Stainless has the advantage of being rust resistant but at a cost of reduced edge control. Stainless 440 C and AUS 8 has other specific grinding problems that have yet to be solved by grinding specialists.
An ice temperature between -5°C and -3°C (24°F and 27°F) is good for figure skating because it allows for the smoothest glide. However, some hockey rinks are as low as -9°C (16°F), which results in very hard ice and a surface that increases friction. Your blades should be tuned for the ice temperature to maximize performance.