Complete Guide to Hockey Goalie Skate Sharpening

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Skate sharpening.

Get it right and you’ll take it for granted.

Wrong, on the other hand, can turn what should’ve been a great practice/game into a nightmare. I may just be a goalie writing this, however, it seems that with goalie skates it’s even more critical that we get a spot on sharpening. As many goalies would agree, there is nothing worse than stepping on to the ice only to discover that you’re missing an edge.

Before you read..Β as a goalie, I was having a terrible time finding a place to get my skates sharpened, so I bought a Sparx Skate Sharpener. With a Sparx, you just put your skates in and press “Go”. It sharpens them for you. Here’s my full review of the Sparx.

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How to sharpen goalie skates

Sharpening goalie skates is exactly like sharpening player skates, except the shop should have experience with goalie skates. It’s best to use word of mouth to find a reputable skate sharpening shop.

  1. Get a skate sharpener (we use the Sparx, full review here)
  2. Determine your hollow (1″ equals more glide, 3/8″ equals less)
  3. Sharpen the skates to your desired edge
  4. Use a honing stone to remove burrs / etc.

What hollow should I sharpen my goalie skates at?Β 

We’ve built a highly exaggerated graphic to help you understand the “hollow” of your skates.

If you’re unfamiliar with what a hollow is, it’s the indent created when a grinding wheel runs along the skate blade. This hollow is often referred to as the “skate sharpening radius”. The skate hollow created by sharpening either creates more or less friction with the ice.

*for beginners and young skaters, 1/2″ is a great starter hollow.

*for beginner goalies, a 9/16″ hollow works well as a starter. Move up to 1/2″ after the goalie learns to skate (or stay at 9/16″)

Whether you’re a goalie or a skater, the hollow stays the same. Goalie blades are a bit wider than a skaters, so the skate sharpener tunes the grinding wheel prior to sharpening. It’s important to note, however, that you still order your skates sharpened at the same hollow.

Related: How to sharpen your skates at home, for under $1200, even if you have no experience

On the left side of our photo, a 1″ hollow shows hardly any indent in the blade. This gives a skater or a goalie more glide, as most of the blade is touching the ice. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a 3/8″ hollow cuts the ice much harder and as a result, digs in further to glide.

How sharp should goalie skates be? More Glide or Max Grip?

This is about the only thing you’ll need to remember when it comes to getting your skates sharpened. As you get closer to 1″, there’s less of the blade “cut out” or “hollowed”, and you’re gliding more. The further a hollow goes from 1″, the more cut you’re getting with the ice and in theory.. less glide.

In the video below from our friends over at Pure Goalie, they cover a pretty critical point. No matter what you decide to do, there really isn’t a “standard” for goalie skate sharpening.

My skates have no edge, what happened?

On a traditional sharpener, it’s quite easy to mess up a skates edge. Find a local skate sharpening shop that gets your skates right every time and stick with them. You’ll be glad you did.

(or go buy the Sparx automatic sharpener, like I did)

There will generally be a couple things wrong with a bad skate sharpening.

  1. Your skates edges could be unbalanced. Place a coin on the skate blade. Does it lean one way or the other? If so, your edges are not perfectly aligned. This will cause your skates to feel like they may not have an edge at all!
  2. Did your skate sharpening shop run a stone on the edges afterwards?Β “Stoning” your skates is very important, especially after a sharpening. Without doing this properly, a skates edge can actually curl just a bit outwards, causing it to feel like there actually isn’t an edge — even when the sharpener did a good job on the skates.

*it’s not a terrible idea to buy a skate stone for your bag, especially to work out nicks and burrs.

How often should I sharpen my goalie skates?Β 

This one is purely personal preference as you can sharpen them as much or as little as you’d like. With repeated use and slamming up against the posts of a net, your edges are going to wear down significantly.

Typically, we see goalies at lower levels sharpen their skates once a week, or bi weekly. The need to sharpen skates on a more consistent, regular basis however, drastically shortens this time period.

See: how to protect goalie skates from wearing out quickly

For goalies especially, it’s next to impossible to find somebody who knows how to properly sharpen goalie skates.Β 

I got fed up and bought the Sparx sharpener. The Sparx sharpener allows anybody to sharpen their skates from home, with zero experience. Plus, it’s cheaper than regular sharpeners. Here are my thoughts.Β 

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