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Thread: Salvaging blades from used skates?

  1. #1
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    Salvaging blades from used skates?

    I was at a general sports gear shop today and found they have a lot of used skates. While I did not find any skates in reasonable condition for me (the boots are all pretty much beaten up, for some of them I could not even find the label to know what model they are), but I found a few pairs that are with good name brand blades, like gold star, coronation ace and phantom, and the blades look like they are in good condition (shiny). The price tag for the skates are between 12 to 30 dollars, so I wonder if it is worth buying them just for the blades. Btw I don't know how to tell how much use is still left for the blades, so I left empty handed. But I'd like to get some education on what is the general principle dealing with second hand blades. Thank you for your input.

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    It *can* be worth buying the boots if you can use the blades or maybe resell them yourself. It is done all the time.
    There are a few things to look at on the blades (shiny is not enough ):

    Is there sharpening life left on them?
    Are the toepicks in good condition (none shaved off from a sharpening)?
    Are there nicks on the blades?
    Is there rust on blades?
    Are there rust marks on the bottom of the blade where guards were left on while the blades dried?
    If you're buying them for yourself, will they fit your boot?

    Perhaps you could take some photos of the blades so we could look at them.

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    I'm going to add a couple things.

    Is the blade straight from end to end? A ruler held next to the blade will be a good first test. A bent blade should be avoided.

    There are some commercial products that could give you an idea of remaining life, but keep in mind that other factors can still affect usability. Here's a gauge to determine if excessive metal has been removed from the spin rocker area ...
    http://www.iceskateology.com/Skateol...ess_Gauge.html

    With a brand new pair of Jackson Synchro blades, I've rocked the blades to the toe pick on a flat surface to determine how far back the blade first touches. I found it close to 1-1/8" further back from where the first pick meets the skating surface...
    http://www.afterness.com/skating/ima...chros_flat.jpg

    My older Coronation Aces that are in reasonable shape were 7/8" (different spin rocker)...
    http://www.afterness.com/skating/ima..._aces_flat.jpg

    Typically, the contact area starts moving rearward as the blade is sharpened over time. I can't make a guess about how much is too much, but if you are 2" or beyond, I'd be safe in saying that the blade profile is non-optimal.

    You can estimate how much metal remains for sharpening by the chrome-relief on the blade next to the edge. It is typically a little less than 1/8" new, and grow smaller after each sharpening. If you have just a 1/16" left, I'd pass on the blade. While there's still life left, it won't be much.

    Keep in mind that there are all sorts of ways a blade can look good using these methods and still be junk.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill S View Post
    Here's a gauge to determine if excessive metal has been removed from the spin rocker area ...
    http://www.iceskateology.com/Skateol...ess_Gauge.html
    Note that this gauge is calibrated for Wilson and MK blades, which tend to have more pronounced (rounder/smaller radius) spin rockers than other blades. Also works for Paramount blades, since they try to reproduce Wilson and MK spin rockers closely. Ultima and Eclipse blades tend to have less pronounced (flatter/larger radius) spin rockers. This gauge may indicate a new blade from these brands as already excessively worn. See the video on "Lift Angles" on the Paramount website: https://www.paramountskates.com/videos.

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    In addition to the above tips, you can check for a really bad sharpening job by running your fingernail along the edges down the length of the blades from just behind the pick all the way to the heel. The edges should be free of flats and dips along the whole length, and free of excessive rounding at the heels. This won't detect more subtle issues with poor sharpening; but if the blades fail this coarse test, I'd move on.

    If the blade is overheated during sharpening, the edges will get softened, and you will need frequent sharpening. This is not detectable by any visual inspection. If you're talking about only 12 - 30 dollars for an intermediate to high end blade that sells for $200 - $600 new, could be worth the risk. Otherwise, don't pay more than that for a used blade, unless you're buying from a trusted source (not from a random bargain bin or online seller).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill S View Post
    I'm going to add a couple things.

    Is the blade straight from end to end? A ruler held next to the blade will be a good first test. A bent blade should be avoided.

    There are some commercial products that could give you an idea of remaining life, but keep in mind that other factors can still affect usability. Here's a gauge to determine if excessive metal has been removed from the spin rocker area ...
    http://www.iceskateology.com/Skateol...ess_Gauge.html

    With a brand new pair of Jackson Synchro blades, I've rocked the blades to the toe pick on a flat surface to determine how far back the blade first touches. I found it close to 1-1/8" further back from where the first pick meets the skating surface...
    http://www.afterness.com/skating/ima...chros_flat.jpg

    My older Coronation Aces that are in reasonable shape were 7/8" (different spin rocker)...
    http://www.afterness.com/skating/ima..._aces_flat.jpg

    Typically, the contact area starts moving rearward as the blade is sharpened over time. I can't make a guess about how much is too much, but if you are 2" or beyond, I'd be safe in saying that the blade profile is non-optimal.

    You can estimate how much metal remains for sharpening by the chrome-relief on the blade next to the edge. It is typically a little less than 1/8" new, and grow smaller after each sharpening. If you have just a 1/16" left, I'd pass on the blade. While there's still life left, it won't be much.

    Keep in mind that there are all sorts of ways a blade can look good using these methods and still be junk.

    Thank you for sharing the knowledge. The non-skating-zone measurement is very easy to follow guidance for someone as inexperience as myself. I will be bring my ruler next time I visited the store.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tstop4me View Post
    Note that this gauge is calibrated for Wilson and MK blades, which tend to have more pronounced (rounder/smaller radius) spin rockers than other blades. Also works for Paramount blades, since they try to reproduce Wilson and MK spin rockers closely. Ultima and Eclipse blades tend to have less pronounced (flatter/larger radius) spin rockers. This gauge may indicate a new blade from these brands as already excessively worn. See the video on "Lift Angles" on the Paramount website: https://www.paramountskates.com/videos.
    Wow, these videos are great. I actually watched all four of them, the most impressive being the one showing how unleveled the blades are from front to back. I wonder how often this is happening to non-elite level skaters who might not have access to really professional sharpeners and how this uneven side issue affects their learning and progressing. Honestly I did not have a lot of confidence in our local sharpener , it is a mystery to me how they can keep the same amount sharpened away from front to end....

    It was also very interesting to see the difference in lift angle between the Jackson freestyle blades and the other MK blades. Is it really true that the higher the lift angle the better the blades, not in the sense that you can have more use of these blades, but in terms of skating? I have looked at some entry level skates from Jackson and the profiles all seem to be pretty flat, so maybe flatter profiles are easier for beginners?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tstop4me View Post
    In addition to the above tips, you can check for a really bad sharpening job by running your fingernail along the edges down the length of the blades from just behind the pick all the way to the heel. The edges should be free of flats and dips along the whole length, and free of excessive rounding at the heels. This won't detect more subtle issues with poor sharpening; but if the blades fail this coarse test, I'd move on.

    If the blade is overheated during sharpening, the edges will get softened, and you will need frequent sharpening. This is not detectable by any visual inspection. If you're talking about only 12 - 30 dollars for an intermediate to high end blade that sells for $200 - $600 new, could be worth the risk. Otherwise, don't pay more than that for a used blade, unless you're buying from a trusted source (not from a random bargain bin or online seller).
    Does the sharpener have an idea how heated the blades are when they are doing the job? Are some material more susceptible to overheating than other materials?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandraskates View Post
    It *can* be worth buying the boots if you can use the blades or maybe resell them yourself. It is done all the time.
    There are a few things to look at on the blades (shiny is not enough ):

    Is there sharpening life left on them?
    Are the toepicks in good condition (none shaved off from a sharpening)?
    Are there nicks on the blades?
    Is there rust on blades?
    Are there rust marks on the bottom of the blade where guards were left on while the blades dried?
    If you're buying them for yourself, will they fit your boot?

    Perhaps you could take some photos of the blades so we could look at them.
    This is a great checklist, the very first things I should be looking at

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ykai View Post
    Does the sharpener have an idea how heated the blades are when they are doing the job? Are some material more susceptible to overheating than other materials?
    Sharpeners don't actually monitor the temperature of the blade. Careful sharpeners know to take multiple, light passes, pausing between passes to allow cooling. If you've ever seen a sharpening in progress, you will see a shower of sparks. Those sparks are actually bits of hot metal being thrown off. Long ago, master metalsmiths could judge how hot things were getting by the color of the sparks. But that's an art lost to but a few.

    Stainless steel is more susceptible to overheating than plain carbon steel.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ykai View Post
    It was also very interesting to see the difference in lift angle between the Jackson freestyle blades and the other MK blades. Is it really true that the higher the lift angle the better the blades, not in the sense that you can have more use of these blades, but in terms of skating? I have looked at some entry level skates from Jackson and the profiles all seem to be pretty flat, so maybe flatter profiles are easier for beginners?
    You do get better controlled spins with a higher heel lift. Even the advanced Ultima and Eclipse blades have flatter spin rockers than MK and Wilson. Haven't a clue why. Some advanced skaters do use the Ultima and Eclipse blades and do adjust to the flatter spin rockers; individual preference does come into play.

    For beginner blades, one advantage of the lower heel lift is that you can't rock too far forward on your blade: the drag pick will dig into the ice and stop you. I'm currently on the Paramount version of the Gold Seal. It has a relatively high heel lift. If you're not careful, you can rock forward enough such that the blade can scoot backwards under you, leading to a nasty fall.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ykai View Post
    Wow, these videos are great. I actually watched all four of them, the most impressive being the one showing how unleveled the blades are from front to back. I wonder how often this is happening to non-elite level skaters who might not have access to really professional sharpeners and how this uneven side issue affects their learning and progressing. Honestly I did not have a lot of confidence in our local sharpener , it is a mystery to me how they can keep the same amount sharpened away from front to end....
    Tragically often, plus the ones who don't realize they need a professional. I was one of those. Nowadays, I won't let anyone near my blades without checking with Ic3Rabbit first, and yes, I'm learning and progressing much better.

    Unfortunate that it's pretty much a matter of dumb luck whether or not any random non-elite has access to a good sharpener (unless they purposely move near one).

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by hanyuufan5 View Post
    Tragically often, plus the ones who don't realize they need a professional. I was one of those. Nowadays, I won't let anyone near my blades without checking with Ic3Rabbit first, and yes, I'm learning and progressing much better.

    Unfortunate that it's pretty much a matter of dumb luck whether or not any random non-elite has access to a good sharpener (unless they purposely move near one).
    It gets even more complicated than that, unfortunately. Finding a competent tech who has the capabilities to do a good job is the first step. Finding a competent tech who has the capabilities to do a good job and will do a good job for you is the second step. There are good sharpeners who will do a good job regardless of whether you are an Olympian or some random skater, who will do a good job regardless of whether you bring in a pair of Gold Seals or a pair of Majestics. But it has been my experience (and experiences of other skaters that I know) that some good sharpeners will do a good job for their select skaters, but a mediocre job for random skaters. Sometimes it helps to name drop, "Hi, I'm a friend of K. She told me you're the guy she trusts with her blades."; but sometimes it doesn't help.

    ETA: If you're an experienced skater, you can usually tell next time you get on the ice that the sharpening was messed up. But if you're a beginner, you can't tell. So, e.g., you end up struggling to get onto an outside edge for mucho time, just to find out later from someone who knows blades and has the gear to check them that the edges are way off level (of course, some unlucky ones never find out).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ykai View Post
    I was at a general sports gear shop today and found they have a lot of used skates. While I did not find any skates in reasonable condition for me (the boots are all pretty much beaten up, for some of them I could not even find the label to know what model they are), but I found a few pairs that are with good name brand blades, like gold star, coronation ace and phantom, and the blades look like they are in good condition (shiny). The price tag for the skates are between 12 to 30 dollars, so I wonder if it is worth buying them just for the blades. Btw I don't know how to tell how much use is still left for the blades, so I left empty handed. But I'd like to get some education on what is the general principle dealing with second hand blades. Thank you for your input.
    The entrepreuner in me says buy them, then unmount the blades and sell the blades seperately from the boots and then use the money to buy the skates you actually want.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tothepointe View Post
    The entrepreuner in me says buy them, then unmount the blades and sell the blades seperately from the boots and then use the money to buy the skates you actually want.
    That would be an iffy venture:

    * The OP is a non-trusted source, since he just picked the blades out of the bargain bin and knows nothing about their history.

    * If the OP buys only blades in his size, then he has the possibility of using them himself. But if he accumulates an inventory of random sizes, he can end up with blades of no use to himself, should they not sell.

    * As I mentioned above, the risk on spending $12 - $30 for blades that sell for $200 - $600 new would be acceptable to me, if I were purchasing them for personal use (especially if I could inspect them in person). But if I were buying them for resale, I would want to clear at least $10 (preferably more) to make it worthwhile. And if I'm shipping them (rather than selling them in person), I'd need to add another ~$10. Those $12 - $30 blades then become at least ~$32 - $50 blades. More if I go through eBay and need to recoup fees. They then become much riskier for a potential buyer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tothepointe View Post
    The entrepreuner in me says buy them, then unmount the blades and sell the blades seperately from the boots and then use the money to buy the skates you actually want.
    I think anyone who is buying these medium to high-end blades is more knowledgeable than me, which means my potential customers won't trust me thus won't buy from me, lol.

    In fact, after this post, I decided to drive for 2 hours to a trusted technician to have my daughter's skates sharpened. I would not even consider it before.......

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    Quote Originally Posted by tstop4me View Post
    That would be an iffy venture:

    * The OP is a non-trusted source, since he just picked the blades out of the bargain bin and knows nothing about their history.

    * If the OP buys only blades in his size, then he has the possibility of using them himself. But if he accumulates an inventory of random sizes, he can end up with blades of no use to himself, should they not sell.

    * As I mentioned above, the risk on spending $12 - $30 for blades that sell for $200 - $600 new would be acceptable to me, if I were purchasing them for personal use (especially if I could inspect them in person). But if I were buying them for resale, I would want to clear at least $10 (preferably more) to make it worthwhile. And if I'm shipping them (rather than selling them in person), I'd need to add another ~$10. Those $12 - $30 blades then become at least ~$32 - $50 blades. More if I go through eBay and need to recoup fees. They then become much riskier for a potential buyer.

    Exactly,

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