Do Ice Hockey Skates Come Sharpened? Sharpening Ice Skates

Posted on May 17, 2024 by Dan Kent
skate sharpen

Have you just bought a new pair of ice hockey skates? If you’re curious about whether or not the new skates come sharpened, it’s a smart question to ask.

Hockey players don’t want to hit the ice with dull skate blades, but you also wouldn’t want to spend money to re-sharpen freshly sharpened blades. We’ll look into the details on new skates and skate sharpening in general here.

Do you need to sharpen newly bought skates?

Yes, you do. New hockey skates do not come sharpened. Not only are the skates not pre-sharpened, but the first sharpening is an important one.

When you purchase new skates, they will come equipped with plastic holders and skate blades. Some new skate blades also come with a thin layer of plastic coating that needs to be ground off during the sharpening.

The bottoms of blades on new skates are flatter and rounded, so they need a hollow groove cut into them before they should be used to create edges on the skate blades.

A trained sharpener with proper equipment will give the blades on new skates the edges needed to perform effectively on the ice.

Some hockey shops will ask if you want your skates sharpened and will offer this as an additional add-on service – but be aware that this will likely void the returns policy.

How hockey blades work

Skate blades need edges to be able to dig into the ice. You dig into the ice every time you take a stride or stop on the ice. You also use your edge to turn and maintain balance. The shallow hollows put into the skate allows this to haopen.

Without an edge, your skate blades will slide on the ice. This would make it difficult to skate or even stand on the ice at all.

Bauer Vapor

Can you use new ice skates without sharpening?

Yes, you can. However, it will not be effective at all. A new pair of hockey skates have very little, if any, edge to them. This means the blades will not dig into the ice, and you’ll likely find yourself struggling to gain speed and maintain balance.

When you buy a brand new pair of skates, get them sharpened for optimal performance.

How do you sharpen brand new skates?

The first time you sharpen new skate blades, a “hollow” will be cut into the bottom of the blade. The hollow is a small groove that leaves edges on both sides of the bottom of the blade.

The hollow cut into the blade will be shaped like an arc, giving a sharp edge to the inside and outside of your blade. With dull blades, this hollow has gotten too shallow and skates are said to be “losing their edge.”

The first skate sharpening with brand new skates is critical. Because the blades are flat from the manufacture, sharpening skates for the first time is much different than maintenance sharpenings.

How do you break in brand new skates?

One of the best ways to break in new skates is heat. When you buy a new pair of skates, you can either bake them at home or, if the store offers it, there. However, it is very important to understand that not all skates can be heat molded or baked.

Generally, more expensive skates will have the ability to be heat molded while cheaper skates cannot. Make sure to check each individual pair prior to doing it, and check out our review of the best hockey skates.

Heat moulding skates softens the boot of the skate and allows it to form around your feet to create a more comfortable fit.

If your skates cannot be heat moulded, breaking them in will require you to skate in them and use them often, and they will get more comfortable as time goes on.

How long does it take to break in ice skates?

If you use heat to mould the skate to your feet, the time required to break in skates goes down significantly. If you don’t want to heat mould them or you have a pair of skates that cannot be moulded, expect it to take around 10-12 hours worth of skating to initially break them in.

It is important to take shorter initial skates and allow the sessions to get longer as you go. If you go too long, you could end up with blisters on your feet which could prolong the timeline to break them in.

Unless it isnt possible, try to utilize your old skates during games until your new skates are broken in during smaller practice skates.

Why should you sharpen your skates?

The sharpening itself grinds down the steel skate blade. This provides a fresh, sharp blade each time you get your skates sharpened. This can allow you to skate faster, make quick turns, and generally be more mobile on the ice. 

After many skate sharpenings, you may eventually need to replace the skate blades if they become ground down too low. But this usually only occurs after a period of years.

In order to extend the life of your blades, make sure to use skate guards when not on the ice, and do not walk on concrete or any hard surface that could cause nicks in the blade.

How often should I get my skates sharpened?

You should be getting your skates sharpened every 15-20 hours of ice time. However, there are several factors that could make this timeline shorter or longer. For example, your blades will dull quicker on colder ice, especially outdoor ice.

New skates are not sharpened, so you will need to get them sharpened by a trained professional sharpener, and then re-sharpened every 15-20 hours of ice time – to keep them in tip top condition by removing nicks and deformaties in the metal edge.

Keep in mind, if your blades have a nick in the edge or any other sort or damage on the outside edges, disregard the timeline above and get them sharpened right away.

Hockey Skates

Where can I get my skates sharpened?

You can get your skates sharpened at most sporting goods stores that sell hockey equipment. Most stores sharpen new skates for free when you’ve bought them at the store.

Wrapping it up

In sum, new pairs of skates do not come sharpened (unless request). The first skate sharpening after you buy them is also critical to their effectiveness on the ice. So, don’t rush out onto the ice with your new pair of skates.

Take the time to sharpen them first so your skates have edges. You’ll of course need those edges to be a fast skater and effective contributor to your team.

P.S Use skate holders to protect the blade and the rest of your bag during travel.

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada, Stocktrades.ca.

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