the blade barber

frequently asked questions


A lot of folks are curious about the Blade Barber handheld skate sharpener. Here we answer some of your most frequently asked questions. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, please get in touch!

B.B = Blade Barber
ROH = Radius Of Hollow

What Radius of Hollow does the Blade Barber apply to skates?

The Blade Barber comes in a 7/16”, 1/2”, 9/16″, 5/8”, 11/16″, 3/4” and 1″ ROHs.  We can make you a custom radius between 7/16″ and 1″ – See our custom radius option on our website.  All models require 3/8” of blade height to function.  1/2” ROH accounts for ~95% of the market. Send us a message to buy your custom Radius Blade Barber.

What Radius of Hollow do I need?

If you don’t know, get a 1/2″ ROH Blade Barber.

How much blade height does the Blade Barber require to function?

3/8 inches or 9.5mm of blade height is required for the Blade Barber to function.

What direction should the Blade Barber be moved (pushed or pulled) along the skate blade?

The molded handle indicates the proper direction.  Moving the Blade Barber in the wrong direction can damage the tungsten carbide cutter.

Can the Blade Barber be held and used with a left hand?

Yes. If you’re holding the Blade Barber in your left hand you can pull it along the skate blade. The Blade Barber is pushed when held in your right hand.  The arrow on the handle indicates the direction the B.B. must travel.

Should the Blade Barber shave metal from toe-to-heel or heel-to-toe?

It does not matter.

Will the Blade Barber sharpen new blades that have never been sharpened before.

If the blades do not have a hollow sharpening, then you can’t use the Blade Barber.


Can the Blade Barber change the Radius of Hollow (ROH).

If your blades have a special ROH you must use a specialty ROH Blade Barber to match the radius on your blades.  Most pro-shops will apply a 1/2″ ROH unless you ask for something different, so if you don’t know what radius is on your skates then it is likely 1/2″, which will require the Standard 1/2″ ROH Blade Barber.  You can sharpen skates with a ROH matching the radius printed on the Blade Barber.  You can also sharpen skates with a radius smaller than the radius printed on the Blade Barber.  You can’t sharpen skates with a radius larger than the radius printed on the Blade Barber.  If you color the hollow of your skates with a marker and take one pass on each edge of your skates, you can clearly see where the BB is cutting your skate blade.  If you are removing metal close to the edge of the blade then you are sharpening your skate to the same radius or creating a larger radius, which will yield good results.  If you are removing metal close to the middle of the blade then you are sharpening your skate to a smaller radius, which will not sharpen your edges.  For total nerds, use our Bite Angle Calculator.

How many sharpens should I expect from the Blade Barber?

When used correctly you will get 25-30 sharpens. Even after the cutter blade is dull, it will still smooth your hollow and remove nicks and burrs from your edges. The BB is not intended to sharpen very dull or damaged skates, or you will get less than 25 sharpens.

How do you know when the Blade Barber is worn out and needs replacing?

If your B.B is not removing much metal from your skates and your previous sharpening was a good machine sharpening, it is likely worn out.  It could also be that your B.B. is trying to sharpen skates with a larger ROH than the one marked on your B.B.  For example, a 1/2″ ROH B.B. will not sharpen skates with a 9/16″ or larger ROH. Sometimes machine sharpenings are not accurately done, so be careful who machine sharpens your skates.  If your B.B is not removing much metal, try getting them machine sharpened again and your next B.B. sharpening might be better.  Even when the B.B. cutter blade is dull it will still smooth your hollow and remove nicks and burrs.


Will the Blade Barber sharpen Black coated steel blades/runners.

Yes, the Blade Barber will sharpen DLC or carbon coated steel blades.  You may see a slight increase in the wear on the cutter blade inside the Blade Barber.  We have not extensively tested DLC or carbon coated blades, so results may very.  The BB will not damage a true DLC coating.  Some black coatings are not hard coatings and the BB can scratch them.

Can you replace the cutter blade in the Blade Barber?

The cutter blade cartridge accounts for 90% of our manufacturing cost.  It’s not worth the effort to replace.

What makes the Blade Barber so accurate?

The Blade Barber hones the bite angle, one edge at a time.  It isn’t trying to align the skate blade to a grinding wheel using complex machinery.  Its simplicity is it’s greatest strength and reason for its accuracy!  It will always give you the same accurate bite angle on each edge.
Blade Barber gives you the same bite angle regardless of blade thickness.  In all other types of skate sharpening, blade thickness variation causes bite-angle inaccuracies.

My skate blades are thicker or thinner, how will the Blade Barber sharpen them?

The Blade Barber uses the side of the skate blade as a guide to sharpen one edge at a time.  It will give you the same bite angle on each edge.  Your skate blades must be from 0.100″ – 0.170″ thick or 2.7mm – 4.3mm thick.  For total nerds, use our Bite Angle Calculator.

Does the Blade Barber sharpen figure skates?

Short answer is yes. Most figure skaters use smaller ROHs on 4mm thick blades so you need to know what bite angle you use and buy the Blade Barber with the matching bite angle. Contact us for more info.

Does the Blade Barber sharpen goalie skates?

Absolutely yes. Many new goalie skates have 3mm thick blade like as player skates.  A 4mm thick goalie blade will require knowledge of what radius the last sharpening was. From the blade thickness and ROH you can calculate the bite angle and buy the Blade Barber with the matching bite angle. For total nerds, use our Bite Angle Calculator.

Where is the Blade Barber made?

The Blade Barber is designed and made in Canada.

What is the Blade Barber made from and how is it made?

The Blade Barber is made using the highest quality processes and materials.

  1. Tungsten carbide is used to shave hard and wear resistant stainless steel skate blades. We tested many grades of tungsten carbide from many suppliers before landing on our custom proprietary sub-micron tungsten carbide composition.
  2. Grinding our tungsten carbide cutter requires ultra-high precision diamond grinding that could not be done by many tool grinders in USA and Germany. The proprietary grinding process was developed in Canada over many years and allows the Blade Barber to hone your skates bite angles to very high accuracy.
  3. The guide plate is ceramic coated and it’s another key to the accuracy of the bite angle achieved by the B.B. Earlier prototypes were made from brass and stainless steel and they would wear and change shape too easily. There are no compromises used to make the guide plate. It is CNC machined to an accuracy of +\-0.0005”.The Blade Barber is made in Canada by people that care about sharp skates and making a quality product.The Blade Barber is by far the best value in handheld sharpeners, and arguably the best value in any sharpening product available.
    The plastic handle is fiber reinforced nylon for ultimate strength and rigidity.
    At first site the Blade Barber might look like a cheap plastic tool, but it isn’t.

Is the Blade Barber patented?

Yes, the Blade Barber is patent pending in many countries.

If you have any further questions, comments or concerns, feel free to get in touch.