It is a question we get all the time here at Sparx Hockey - "Help! My edge checker keeps showing that my edges are not even...what am I doing wrong? is there something wrong with my Sparx machine?"
The simple answer? Most likely you are doing NOTHING wrong and there is most likely NOTHING wrong with your machine!
Using a patented alignment system, the Sparx Sharpener is able to produce even edges on any thickness skate blade without confusing and time consuming trial and error adjustment of the sharpener. Once your Sparx machine is aligned, if you experience an uneven edge checker reading it is most likely due to one of the following:
1) Your edge checker may need to be replaced
2) Your Sparx Sharpener is not aligned properly
3) Your steel is not flat, causing the edge checker to produce a false reading.
To determine which scenario is creating your uneven edge checker reading, follow the steps below:
1) Confirm that the tilt bar of your edge checker does not have excessive wear in the area that makes contact with the skate blade. If it does, it may be affecting your edge checker reading and the tilt bar should be replaced.
2) Ensure your Sparx machine is aligned properly - In some instances, moving the Sparx Sharpener may cause the alignment to shift. Refer to your Sparx Sharpener manual for instructions to properly align your machine.
3) If you machine was not aligned properly and you have adjusted the alignment, re-sharpen your skates and repeat the edge checker measurement. We recommend running four cycles after adjusting alignment.
4) If your edge checker is not damaged and your Sparx Sharpener is aligned properly, but you are still experience an uneven edge checker reading, the issue is most likely with your steel.
Skate Steel with Rounded Edges or An Uneven Face
Sparx Hockey recently conducted an in-depth study of virtually all skate steel currently on the market and found that a large portion of steel in the marketplace is not flat and is actually slightly rounded on the sides of the steel (see magnified image below) as a result of the steel manufacturing process used by some manufacturers.
If you have steel that is not completely flat, the edge checker will not lay flat against the skate steel. This causes the lines on the edge checker to be tilted and any readings taken with the edge checker will not be accurate.
To determine if your steel is rounded or has an uneven face, try this test:
1) Color one face of the skate blade with a black permanent marker and let it dry. (You can remove the marker later with rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover).
2) Lay a honing stone flat on the blade face, and slide the stone up and down the face of the steel 5-6 times over the permanent marker coloring.
3) If your steel is flat, the honing stone should wear down the permanent marker coloring evenly across the height of the blade (as shown below).
4) If your steel has rounded edges, there will be areas of the coloring that do not get worn down by the honing stone (see image below). These areas are not on the same plane as the rest of the blade face and this uneven face is creating the inaccurate edge checker reading
If you have steel with rounded edges or an uneven face, an edge checker reading will never be accurate. Attempting to adjust the sharpener at this point to produce an even edge checker reading will only make your edges worse.
If your Sparx machine is aligned properly, TRUST the machine. This is surest way to produce even edges.
Continued sharpening of the steel may eventually remove the uneven portion of the steel face. Once this happens the edge checker reading will be accurate.