Figure skating equipment is a large investment. Here is PBHE's guide to properly maintaining your blades to help extend blade life!
With nearly two decades of experience PBHE has not had a client’s blade break while skating. We have prevented this by inspecting all blades during general servicing. The blades in the below photos were under extreme stress mainly due to the skaters training quadruple jumps. We make sure that our inventory always has replacement blades for our clients. These blades are exceptional but all blades have limitations and require proper, regular inspections.
The red die emerges when there is a crack in the metal. As you can see there are multiple areas on a blade that may crack. As soon as there is red die visible the skater should get a replacement blade. It is extremely dangerous for a skater to be skating with compromised blades.
At any given time a skater must feel the blade edge bite the ice. Side slip is a factor based on edge pressure for a given skater. When the skate blades are pattern ground by PBHE there is consistency with every sharpening so the skater has a standard for the feeling of their sharp edges. As the blade gets dull the edge pressure must increase to maintain the same bite on the ice. To reduce their sharpening frequency skaters must dry their blades and use soft guards to prevent rust on high carbon blades and use hard guards when walking on any surface including rubber mats.
Without metal to metal contact our competitive skaters get their skates sharpened every four to five weeks. Metal contact generally occurs when the edge of one blade comes in contact with the toe pick area of the other skate usually when performing double and triple jumps. This contact can put a nick in the blade or remove an edge for a few centimeters resulting in the need to have the blade re-sharpened.
Sharpening Frequency for Competitive Skaters Graph: PBHE recommends that the skater gets their skates sharpened every four to five weeks which is illustrated in the above graph by the green line. The yellow line indicates when the skater may notice their edges are becoming dull. There will be noticeable change in the blade feel if the skater waits until the red line (6 weeks) before they get their skates sharpened again. These suggested times are based on a competitive skater skating 10-15 hours a week.
High carbon blades hold a keen edge but will rust if not properly dried. Rust on a blade has a great impact on glide and therefore must be avoided. Some skaters have a piece of oil cloth that will add additional protection after the blades are dried. Stainless blades do not have this problem but they do not sharpen as well due to the chromium content in the steel.
Soft Blade Guards
Soft guards should be used at all times to store blades even for a short period of time. The fabric helps wick away moisture as well as protect the blades from scratching/nicking each other, taking off an edge, or ruining other items in your skating bag.
Hard Blade Guards
Hard guards should always be used when travelling from the change room to the ice surface. It is also a good idea to regularly clean your hard guards with an old tooth brush or by putting them in the dish washer. When dirt builds up in hard guards it will damage the blade edge.
A strop is a leather strip charged with very small diamond particles and honing oil, mounted on a small block of wood. It is used to reduce the sharp edge of a freshly sharpened blade. Most of our competitive and high test skaters only use a strop for the first sharpening. After that they prefer the feeling of sharp edges that result in fine edge carving and definition to their skating.
If the blades are initially too sharp rub the strop along the sides of each blade twice on a slight angle, starting at the toe pick and moving back to the heel, then test the skates. If the blades are still too sharp then rub the strop along the flat of the blades covering both edges. This will reduce the edge substantially.