This article is from the Recreational Figure Skating FAQ, by Karen Bryden with numerous contributions by others.
Take your skates to a pro shop or ask some regular skaters at your
rink where they get theirs sharpened. Skate sharpening is NOT a
do-it-yourself project! Skates are expensive and it only takes one bad
sharpening to turn them into scrap metal!
1) You have to know and trust your sharpener,
2) Your sharpener has to know you and your needs,
3) You have to stand guard over your skates until they are sharpened
by the proper person.
Skates properly sharpened will have a smooth concave grind accurately
centered along the length of the blades, edges squared (parallel to
the bottom of the boot) and level with each other (inside edge at same
height as outside edge) for the length of the blade. Proper sharpening
will maintain the correct rocker for the life of the blade.
Freestyle sharpenings will have typically a 1/2'' radius concave grind
and will be in a sharp condition. The edges of a deep freestyle grind
have the great advantage of holding jump landings on hard or soft ice
and also will outlast a shallow grind by a considerable amount of
time. They will also hold landings on missed jumps and give the skater
that extra split second to catch their balance and avoid unnecessary
falls. A sharp deep grind takes a little effort on the part of the
skater to adapt but is well worth the effort and once adapted to it
will be no problem in future sharpenings.
Figure sharpenings will have 1 1/4'' radius concave grind and will be
in a medium sharp condition. The figure grinds are extremely smooth
and flow freely on the ice. More shallow (greater radius) grinds have
extreme flow on the ice but are usually suitable only for the more
Combination sharpenings will have 3/4'' radius concave grind and will
be in a medium sharp condition so that the skater can skate figures
with ease or they can be used for general skating. The grind will be
of smooth finish and will flow quite freely on the figures (although
not as freely as a true figure grind). This grind can be used for all
jumps and spins and will hold well while blades are in a sharp
condition. This grind is also very suitable for occasional skaters and
some dancers; and is also good for adults to start with.
Skates should be resharpened before they become so dull that you begin
to slip on hard ice (eg: not flooded since last night). This will also
minimize the adjustment you need to make to your newly sharpened
skates. Nicks in the blades should also be attended to. Bad nicks in
the edges will ruin the finest sharpenings.
When the blade is ground down a long way after many sharpenings, the
relationship between the bottom pick and the blade edge should be
maintained by removal of steel from the pick. There should be about
1/2'' lift at the heel before the pick makes contact with the ice.
Just because your blades are ground down past the line of chrome
plating, that is not an indication that you need new ones. There is
still lots of life left as long as the sharpener replaces that "line"
and adjusts the pick height.
Beware of how some shops do their sharpening: Some shops flat-grind
the blade first, and then hollow grind. This wears the blade at an