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Everything you need to know about skates, bowls and radius grinding

Everything you need to know about skates, bowls and radius grinding

How many times have you heard when someone wants to have their skates sharpened at their local sports shop or at the materialist at the ice rink...

Player: "Well, would like to get these sanded."

Store/Materialist: "OK, which bowl do you want?"

Player: "Uhm... Just take something."

There is nothing wrong with "just taking something". But if you learn the pros and cons of different depths of the grind, you can definitely test yourself to something you really feel comfortable with in order to take your skating to the next level.

How skates are sharpened

Skate rails are incredibly sharp overall, but especially when freshly sharpened. Like many other sharp knife-like objects, the rail on the skate consists of two sharp edges and not one.

The way it is done is by a grinding wheel that goes back and forth in the middle of the rail that hollows out the steel in the middle so that two sharp edges are formed.

The image below is an exaggerated image of what the rail looks like "from the front".

hockey skate hollow fixwell hockey
If you have just sharpened skates but still feel that you don't get the same grip as before or if you lose your grip often, it could be that they are sharpened incorrectly. This means that the whetstone did not lie on it completely straight, but that it was grinding to some degree at an angle.
Then it may look like the picture below:
hockey skate hollow fixwell hockey 2

Different types of cup and radius grinding

There is an incredibly big difference between Swedish and American players when it comes to skating. The standard in North America is closer to 1/2" , which corresponds to 12.7 mm, and the standard in Sweden is closer to 22-25 mm.The lower the bowl, the more grip and "bite" and the higher the bowl, the more speed and glide you have. See image below.

One reason why the North Americans drive with a lower bowl is because the rink is smaller. But that is a completely different discussion that you can read about here.

An argument for different bowl grinds depends on how big you are. The smaller and lighter the lower the bowl (more grip/control) and the heavier you are the higher the bowl (speed/glide).

This is because a heavier player does not need as much weight or pressure (force) to push the rail down into the ice to generate energy forward. A heavier player who just slides has more use for a higher bowl than a lower bowl which would just dig the rail into the ice even more and lose top speed.

Advantages of lower bowl (10-19 mm): Better grip and "bite". Easier to make quick stops and turns, more control and faster acceleration.

Advantages of higher cup (20-30 mm): Higher top speed, better glide, does not require as much force/energy to brake.

hockey skate hollow list fixwell hockey

The next time someone asks how you want your skates sharpened, try something new and see if it makes a difference.

Do you want to know how all the pros sharpen their skates? Click and read our article here!

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