Custom Radius for Skate Sharpeners

Custom Radius Ice Skate Contouring Setting Up

Blademaster Custom Radius

There are other Ice Skate Contouring systems available, but these pages deal only with Custom Radius II and to a lesser extent Custom Radius I.

To obtain Custom Radius equipment pricing or to order Custom Radius equipment, contact: Blademaster

Contour Fixture

Custom Radius II Contouring Fixture

If your Custom Radius II kit is new, then it should be complete as shipped. If your Custom Radius II kit is "experienced" then you should check to ensure that it resembles the diagram to the left.

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Terminology (as I know it):

  • (A) Contour fixture center line.
  • (B) Gooseneck.
  • (C) Contour fixture glider.
  • (D) Contour fixture main block.
  • (E) Control block.
  • (F) Adjustable block.
  • (G) Center screw.
  • (H) Contour fixture lock collar.

Radius Bars and Radius Bar Clamps

The radius bars come with pre-drilled and counter-sunk bolt holes in each end of the respective bar. No matter which bar you are using, the holes will align with all the other bars. These holes are used to attach the bar to the bar clamps, and you should match the holes you use at each end (inner, middle, outer). Once you have made your choice of which hole sets you are going to use, stick with that choice. Attach your radius bar clamps to your radius bar using the counter-sunk machine screws provided. Determine the center line of your cross grind wheel, and draw a line from the surface of the wheel to the edge of your grinding table. Slip the radius bar clamps over the front side of your grinding table, and fold the bar to the top of the table so it rests on the top of the grinding table. Align the center of the radius bar with the center line you drew from the surface of your cross grind wheel to the edge of the grinding table. Firmly hold the bar clamps against the edge of the grinding table and tighten them in place. Since older Custom Radius machines have holes pre-drilled in the grinding table for Custom Radius I radius bars, Custom Radius I users just have to bolt the radius bar they want to use onto the grinding table. If you have a Custom Radius I system, and your grinding table is not pre-drilled, then you'll have to drill a couple of 1/4 inch holes for the radius bar bolts. While you're drilling the holes, make sure that when the radius bar is attached to the grinding table, that the center of the radius bar aligns with the center of the cross grind wheel.

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Boot Guage

The boot guage has an adhesive back, and should be fixed to the front edge of your grinding table, between the radius bar clamps. To ensure proper location of the boot guage, there is a heavy line at the left end of the boot gauge which is your reference point. The Radius bar and radius bar clamps should be in place on the grinding table, to allow proper mounting of your boot guage. Remove the protective covering from the adhesive backing on the boot guage, and align the boot guage reference point with the inside edge of the left-hand radius bar clamp. Firmly press along the entire boot guage, to fasten the boot guage to the edge of the grinding table. Once your boot guage is mounted on the front edge of your grinding table, it is not necessary to remove the boot guage from the grinding table unless you are going to replace the boot guage with a new one.

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Set-Up Tips:

Tip #1 - If on your contour fixture, you have a lower vise jaw that is flat across the entire jaw, then grind a slot into the middle of the lower vise jaw. The slot should be about 1/4 inch deep, about 3 inches long, and centered on the middle of the lower vise jaw. The purpose of this slot is to accommodate the curve of a plastic blade holder and thus allow the skate to sit firmly and squarely in the contouring fixture.

Tip #2 - It's important to have a smooth running glide pad on the bottom of the contour fixture, but often overlooked is the running surface under the control block. A small glide pad placed on the bottom surface of the control block will keep the contour fixture from rocking up and down during a contouring operation, and will also prevent the radius bar from being scratched.

Tip #3 - After some use, and sometimes right "out of the box", the center bolt on the contour fixture may slip. Correction is merely a matter of tightening the set screw which keeps the threads in the control block in place. The set screw is cleverly hidden under the small glide pad located on the bottom of the control block. Remove the small glide pad, remove the set screw, apply a bit of thread locking compound to the set screw, and replace the set screw. Don't forget to replace the small glide pad. A good preventive maintenance measure is to check this set screw whenever you change the small glide pad.

Tip #4 - Using your contour fixture like a regular skate glider, sharpen a skate, and adjust the vise jaw alignment of your contour fixture so the sharpened edges are square to the side of the skate blade. Absolute accuracy is not required, but the better your finished edge squareness is, then the less aggravation you'll have later trying to get by a high edge produced from your cross grinding.

Tip #5 - Use a try-square aligned with the front edge of your grinding table to determine the center line of your cross grind wheel. It may also be helpful to use a supplementary straight edge to extend your try square's reach. Determining the center of the cross grind wheel is not a high precision operation, so we're not interested in accuracy to 1000ths of an inch, but you should get it as close as you can eyeball it. Once you have determined the center line, draw a line along the straight edge outwards from the grinding wheel to the edge of your grinding table. Yes, you Custom Radius I guys should do this too.

Tip #6 - The hinge screws on your radius bar clamps should be snug, but not tight. The hinge should be able to move with just a small amount of effort. These hinge screws tend to loosen in spite of the fact that they've got lock washers on them. Try a drop of thread locking compound on the hinge screw threads.

Tip #7 - The design of Custom Radius II bar clamps permits the radius bar to be swung out of the way under the grinding table. This is OK theory, but in practice, the radius bar clamps are still in the way whenever you want to use your cross grinder. If you remove the radius bar and radius bar clamps assembly from the the grinding table, it is desirable to replace the radius bar and the radius bar clamps assembly in the correct location the next time you need to do a contour. Part of the theory is that you use your boot guage as a reference to re-attach your radius bar and radius bar clamp assembly to the grinding table. However boot guages get corrupted, so we need something more reliable. With your radius bar and radius bar clamps assembly still attached to the grinding table, select a radius bar clamp, either on will do. Select one side of the selected radius bar clamp, either will do. Draw a line on the grinding table along the selected side of the selected radius bar clamp. Now it is OK to remove the radius bar and radius bar clamp from the grinding table. From the edge of the grinding table place a cold chisel along the mark you just drew, and give the cold chisel a good whack with a hammer. Voila, one reliable reference point. Bear in mind that this reference point is only as reliable as your ability to recall which side of which radius bar clamp it's relative to.

Tip #8 - The edge of most grinding tables is fairly rough, and the rough surface is a poor choice to stick your boot guage onto. Before you hang your radius bar and radius bar clamps on the front edge of your grinding table, smooth the front edge of the grinding table. You actually only have to smooth the area where you are going to stick your boot guage. An angle grinder or a rotary sander with 60 or 80 grit abrasive paper driven by an electric drill will do the heavy work. Then an orbital sander can be used for the final smoothing.

Tip #9 - Since Custom Radius boot guages are made of relatively flimsy material, they get used up or damaged during day to day skate sharpening. In fairness, they last a reasonable amount of time, but in a busy shop, this time is considerably shortened. It's cheap insurance to keep a few boot guages on hand, and it's really tough to measure a skate without a readable boot guage.

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