For most hockey players, skate sharpening is typically a matter of personal preference. Some players like to be able to dig into the ice for a firm “bite” or “grip”, while some players like a more shallow hollow for a better “glide” along the ice. There is generally no right or wrong skate sharpening radius, but below are some general guidelines to skate sharpening:
The most common skate sharpening radius we see for ice hockey players is a 1/2″ inch or 5/8″ inch cut. The 1/2″ radius would be our typical recommendation because it is the perfect blend of “glide” and “bite.” Some players opt for the 3/8″ cut, but you are definitely sacrificing some “glide,” which can in turn affect your overall speed on the ice. Likewise, players that choose the 3/4″ cut can really sacrifice their “bite,” which can negatively affect quick cuts that are so common in the game of hockey.
Our recommendation: 1/2″ or 5/8″ inch radius.
We see the biggest variety of skate sharpening cuts when dealing with ice hockey goalies. Generally, we find that the more experienced goalies opt for a very deep cut, like 3/8″ inch. This allows the goalie to really dig into the ice, and slide post to post to make reactionary saves. Sometimes this can be a difficult radius for inexperienced or younger goalies because there is too much bite, which leads to their goalie skate getting caught underneath them, often tripping them up when sliding post to post. For this reason, we recommended that a more inexperienced goalie choose a 1″ cut, so it as an effortless glide going from post to post.
Our recommendation: 3/8″ or 1/2″ for the experienced goalie, 1″ for the inexperienced goalie.
Figure skaters generally like a better “glide” along the top of the ice, so we typically see a 1″ cut to maximize a smooth glide. When a figure skater wants to dig into the ice, they do so with their toe pick, so a sharper edge is not necessarily paramount.
Our recommendation: 1″ inch radius.
Sometimes the time of year can play a factor in which radius hockey players choose. In the warmer summer months, the ice gets softer, so many players elect for a duller cut to avoid digging too much blade into the ice.
Likewise, in the winter months, when the ice is harder, players often opt for a sharper cut that is more capable of digging into the ice.
Our recommendation: 1/2″ inch radius in the winter. 5/8″ radius in the summer.
Below is a chart that outlines recommended skate sharpening cuts: