Complete Guide to Hockey Skate Sharpening

Complete Guide to Hockey Skate Sharpening

So many factors go into playing your best hockey. Practice, rest, coaching, and equipment are all key factors that can make or break your performance on a given day.

Add to this list how you handle the sharpening of your skates.


First, take a close look at one of your hockey skate blades.

Hockey Skate Blade With U-shape Hollow

Notice that it doesn’t have a single edge, like a knife, right? Instead, you see an upside-down U shape. The inside of the U is rounded, hollow space. That space is called the hollow. Hockey skate blade sharpening is the process of creating two edges (a left and right edge) along the hollow. How deeply the edges grab into the ice offer two distinct advantages: glide or bite.


Skate blades with shallower hollows have less friction with the ice surface, or more “glide.” Skates with better glide let you skate faster while using less energy. Deeper hollows give your blade more “bite,” which helps you dig deeper into the ice for sharper turning.

Key Takeaway:

A deeper hollow will give you more bite and less glide, leading to a feeling of more “grip”. The shallower the hollow, the greater the glide, reducing muscle fatigue.


Different Skate Sharpening Hollows Measurement Guide Graphic

Skate sharpening radius hollows are made by a fraction of an inch. Common measurements from deep to shallow are 1/2" (13mm), 5/8" (16mm), 3/4" (19mm), 7/8" (22mm), 1" (25mm), and 1-1/4" (31mm). Unless you ask for a specific measurement, most skate shops sharpen blades at 1/2" (13mm) or 5/8" (16mm).

Key Takeaway:

Lighter skaters typically use a deeper hollow such as ½” or 5/8” to get enough bite on the ice. Heavier, and stronger skaters typically go with a shallower hollow improving glide.


      Regardless of how you sharpen your blades (aka ‘steel runners’ or even ‘steel’ for short), you need to recognize just how important it is to have sharp blades. A properly sharpened skate blade will catch the ice when you push off, carve easily when you corner and glide on the surface at speed.

      Advantages of properly sharpened blades include:
      • Quicker acceleration
      • Improved agility
      • Maximum blade glide
      • Less damaged skate blade
      • Enhanced stopping capability
      • High-end performance regardless of ice conditions or player size
      • Better balance and stability
      • Consistent skating strides


      When your skates feel like they’re no longer performing well, gently run your finger along the edge of the blade. You’ll feel small nicks and defects, which affect your on-ice performance. A good sharpening will grind those flaws away.

      How often you sharpen them is up to you. For competitive players looking for the best possible performance from their skates, Bauer recommends sharpening your skates after every 2 to 3 hours on ice.

      Key Takeaway:

      Most local Pro Shops use blade angle testers to align your edges. If you need a personal solution, the Prosharp Bauer hockey blade angle tester is the tool for you.


      Manual hockey skate sharpening

      Traditional hockey skate sharpening, like most people have done previously by going to a shop and having a person sharpen your skates by hand, involve passing your blades along a spinning stone. The stone has a curved outer surface. Changing the curve of the stone changes the size of your blade’s hollow.

      Key Takeaway:

      All skate sharpening involves your blades passing over a disc with the desired hollow applied. Manual sharpening typically uses ceramic/stone wheels with the technician manually applying pace and pressure over the wheel. This process can lead to your blade heights being different, and the removal of your performance profile in as little as one sharpening.

      Automated hockey skate sharpening

      Another option in the world of skate sharpening and profiling, and for those who are new skaters, skate very regularly or are competing in hockey at a very advanced level, can use automated skate sharpening services like PROSHARP. Automated sharpening offers consistent and accurate skate sharpening on your skate blades each an every time. Not only that, due to the constant pressure of the grinding wheels providing a hollow in your blade, you’ll also have the same size runner or skate blades giving you optimal performance on ice.

      For a great primer on the benefits of automated hockey skate sharpening , give this quick video a look.

      In fact, relying on the consistent wheel pressure and pace of an automated skate sharpening system such as PROSHARP Bauer puts you miles ahead of skates sharpened by hand. We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to what our PROSHARP automated sharpening machines can do. Stay tuned for more information about our PROSHARP Performance Profiles!

      Benefits of automated sharpening include:
      • Consistent sharpening
      • Maintains profile shape - manual sharpening can round out a profile in as quick as one pass
      • Consistent pressure from heel to toe and back
      • Increases accuracy - eliminates possible human error
      • Consistent blade height from skate to skate
      • Frees up time for retail shop employee to spend more time with customers
      • Better balance and stability


      Keep in mind that factors such as rink temperature and surface conditions, your weight and your skating stride all can have an impact on how your blades perform at a specific hollow measurement. On colder ice, it’ll be harder to dig in and you’ll skate on top of the surface. If the ice is warmer and softer, you’ll dig in more, which adds to fatigue and less glide.

      Key Takeaway:

      Most high-level players tend to know what surface conditions to expect at a given rink. (Rink A has the hardest ice around; Rink B is super soft come playoff time.) Some players carry extra steel runners sharpened at a different hollow measurement to use if conditions differ from what they’re expecting.


      Skate sharpening is certainly one of those personal preferences. The more you experiment, the more likely you are to figure out what works best for you – and your game. Visit a PROSHARP Bauer sharpening retailer to find out ways to improve your game by visiting our dealer locator below!

      Find this article helpful? Want to take your blade performance to the next level? Then check out these awesome resources:

      Find a PROSHARP Bauer sharpening retailer

      Find a PROSHARP Retailer

      Learn more on YouTube

      Watch the Videos

      Explore our hockey steel runners

      Explore Steel