While digging through our archives (which has produced some scary pictures) we found an interesting piece on figure skate blades. This article, produced by Jon Register, sheds some light on 3 very common myths of blades:
Since the early 90’s, I have listened to many coaches, parents, and skaters talk about figure skate blades. What I havelearned is that everyone believes they’re an expert and they all have no problems repeating false information, unbeknownst to them. This false information has made skate technicians and sharpeners look bad in the public eye while preserving the reputation of the companies who make these blades with rather astonishing manufacturing variances.
Figure skate blades are made of 2 different grades or hardnesses of steel that are fused or welded together at the bottom.
Fact – Figure skate blades are cut (stamped or laser-cut) out of a solid piece of tempered or hardened steel, then chrome plated for rust resistance and aesthetic value. After this process, the manufacturer creates the “chrome relief”, which is a line towards the bottom of the blade that suggests where you can safely sharpen the blade down to. Certain companies chrome relief their blades by hand, which produces quite a variance in appearance of sharpenable life. Some pairs that I have seen have had astonishing variances between right and left blades. This variance in manufacturing has led some skaters and coaches to believe that their local skate tech has mis-sharpened the blades. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Understandably, coaches and skaters find it easier and more feasible to blame someone at their local rink than a multi-million dollar blade company that still uses manufacturing procedures and processes that were common around the turn of the 20th century.
You cannot sharpen a blade beyond the chrome relief.
Fact – Since the blade itself gets sharpened but the toe picks do not, the chrome relief is just a suggested sharpening range so that you replace the blades before you end up tripping repeatedly on your picks. Beyond the chrome relief, the rest of the blade is the same hardness of steel as the bottom part and is indeed sharpenable.
The sharpening machine is what actually makes the blades sharp.
Fact – The sharpening machine removes a small amount of steel, uncovering fresh steel and re-creating the hollow. The stoning of the blade (final process) is what actually makes the blade sharp.