The Art of Skate Sharpening

Richard Langlois, owner of Lou's Shoe Repair, introduced skate-sharpening as a service in October. Since then he has built up a growing following of people of all ages in need of sharpening. He has several pieces of advice for people who are trying to get the most out of each sharpening:
bulletWear skate guards, but do not leave them on after skating or the water will rust the blade;
bulletGet into the habit of drying your skates after you use them and take them out of your bag when you get home to air them out;
bulletTry to avoid walking in the lobby area where there is a lot of foot traffic. You will step on gravel and get nicks in the bottom of your blades;
bulletOutdoor ice is much harder on a blade than indoor ice. So if you do a lot of skating on outdoor ice, you will have to get your skates sharpened more often.

Sharpening skates properly requires a good eye and attention. The first thing Richard does with a skate is level the blade so that it is uniform and flat. Then he carefully lines up the "grind" so that it is directly along the centre of the blade and not closer to one edge or the other. This is the critical part of the sharpening in order to give the person good balance on the ice.

The next thing to determine is the kind of edge to put on the blade. For example, a figure skater needs to have a deeper groove in order to help with the sharp turns and stops. A hockey edge does not need quite as deep a groove. Hockey players need to be able to glide more quickly and get speed. A goalie edge is even less pronounced since a goalie must be able to slide sideways in the net and does not want his edge to be sticking into the ice.

Richard warns that nicks are very hard on a blade. In order to get rid of a nick you must grind the blade down to eliminate the entire nick. The deeper the nick, the more blade you will lose to get rid of it. Therefore, be extremely careful when walking around areas where there may be gravel and avoid stepping on metal edging around the bench.

Skate sharpening can be done at Lou's Shoe Repair for $4.00 per pair.

The hours of operation are Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


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