How Sharp Should Ice Skates Be? A Comprehensive Guide 
how sharp should ice skates be


It’s perfectly normal for new or experienced (no shame here) skaters to ask the simple question, how sharp should ice skates be?

The answer, however, is not as simple as that. There are many factors that influence how big or small the radius of the blade hollow should be. Don’t panic after reading that last sentence.

In this article, we’ll explain exactly what a blade hollow is, what it has to do with sharpening ice skates, and other factors that should also be taken into account.

What is Blade Hollow?

Ice Skate Blade

It might surprise you to learn that the bottom of an ice skate blade is not flat, but it is concave. This is known as the blade hollow, and it allows your skate to cut into the ice. If your skate is not sharpened, you won’t be able to skate on the ice.

Blade hollow measurements are measured in inches. Common hollows are 3/8”, 1/2”, 5/8”, and 3/4”. The smaller the radius of the hollow, the deeper the hollow is.

With a smaller hollow radius, the blades will feel very sharp while skating. Your blades will cut deeper into the ice (biting), although this does reduce speed.

The bigger the radius of the hollow, the flatter your blade will be. This means that your blades won’t feel as sharp and won’t bite into the ice as much, but you’ll reach higher speeds.

Usually, the size of the blade hollow is not easy to see with the naked eye, although you will feel the difference on the ice rink.

The bite of your ice skate blades will allow you to stop and turn with confidence – if your bite is not deep enough (the radius of the hollow is not small enough) you will find it more difficult to stop or turn.

Your blade should never be 100% flat, as they are when they are brand new. It will be extremely difficult to skate with flat blades.

What is The Best Radius of Hollow For You?

The ideal radius of the hollow differs for every skater. Factors like your weight, purpose, and ice conditions all influence your ideal radius hollow. Let’s look at these factors in more detail.


The lighter you are, the deeper you need your hollow to be in order to cut into the ice. A bigger radius would not be suited for a person who does not weigh much.


What is your intended purpose for the ice skates? Are you a figure skater or a hockey player? Both have different goals and expectations from their blades.

Ice conditions

At colder ice rinks, you would want blades with a deeper hollow because the ice is harder to bite into. These ice rinks are great for hockey. At warmer ice rinks, you should have a shallow radius of hollow since these rinks are soft and easy to bite into. Warm ice rinks are perfect for figure skating.

It takes a good amount of trial and error to discover the perfect hollow radius for your ice skates. Normally it is recommended for beginner skaters to start on a larger hollow because it’s easier to glide and the edges will not dig into the ice.

A 1/2” blade hollow is the most popular, but a beginner skater can start with an even bigger hollow, like a ¾’’.

If you want more speed or the ability to glide smoother, go smaller with your radius. If you want more edge and bite into the ice, go bigger with your radius.

How Often Should You Sharpen Your Blade?

Skat Blade Sharpening

There is no right answer to this question, it is a personal preference. Most skaters, both figure and hockey, don’t go longer than 40 hours of skating time between sharpening their blades.

You will notice naturally when your blades need to be sharpened. You might start to slip more or feel like you have to be more careful. These are some tell-tale signs that it’s time to sharpen those blades.

Do not try to sharpen your own skates, you could permanently damage them. Take your skates to a reputable professional who sharpens skates that best fit with your purpose.

Remember, hockey players’ and figure skaters’ blades are not sharpened in the exact same way, so you should be sure to take your skates to the correct professional.

How to Take Proper Care of Your Blades

When you’re done skating you should be sure to completely dry off your skates. Remove all the ice and wipe your blades with a clean microfiber towel. This ensures that your blades do not start to rust over time.

If you do start to see rust spots on your blades you should immediately take them to a professional. Most of the time, they will be able to remove the rust without damaging your blade. In extreme situations, you might need to buy new ice skates.

We also recommend purchasing soakers that slip over the blades of your ice skates before you put them in a bag. These soakers will absorb any leftover moisture on your blades and protect them from any damage.

You should never walk on floors with your skates on (even with hardcovers) as the concrete/tiles could damage the edges of your ice skates. If you do walk on floors you should get your skates sharpened again as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

Even though sharpening your ice skates is not as easy as you might have thought, we hope you found this article informative. The radius of the hollow in your blade is influenced by so many factors, but the most important thing is that you know what feels good for you.

Next time you have your ice skates professionally sharpened you can feel more confident in your decision. You no longer need to wonder – how sharp should ice skates be?


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