Hello and welcome to the inaugural edition of "The Equipment-Related Confessions of a Canadian minor hockey dad!"
On this week’s episode, I confess to having a little item in my daughter’s equipment bag that I use once in a while whether I need to or not and when I’m using it, I’m not really sure if I’m using it properly or if it’s making a difference.
It’s a small, rectangular honing stone which I purchased at the beginning of the season because I saw somebody else using one and I thought it looked like something my 11-year old daughter needed and something I had to have.
Act I: "How did this happen to you?"
So we’re at the rink one day, getting ready for a game when I see another Dad running something small and grey along the side of his daughter’s skate blade.
I remember thinking "that guy must care about his daughter’s performance way more than I do because he’s got an extra sharpening ‘thingy’ and I don’t!"
That was enough to send me straight to my local sports store where I found a perfect little kit with not one but two honing stones.
I remember thinking "Now I care about my daughter’s performance even more than that other guy because I’ve got TWO stone thingy’s."
I was so excited I didn’t even bother to ask the person at the pro shop how the stones work or when to use them or what they did. I just headed home, put the kit in the bag and forgot about it for a month.
Act II: "How often did you use the stone?"
The honing stone measures about 4-5 inches long, an inch wide and about ½ inch thick. One is white and the other is grey and I had no idea why.
About a month into the season, I remembered I had this kit so I grabbed the grey stone and I rubbed it along the two flat sides of the blade a few times or until I was satisfied I actually accomplished something.
I had no idea at the time if what I did was helpful, but I remember thinking it couldn’t hurt. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even bother to ask my daughter if it helped after her game.
So the stone went back into the bag and it was gone again for at least another month. All tolled, I’ve used the stone 3 times in 6 months and only because I thought I should.
Act III "Did you ever ask a professional what the stone does?"
A few days ago, I saw the stone at my local skate sharpening shop and I finally remembered to ask what the stone does and how to use it.
Simply put, the honing stone is designed to remove the little burrs left behind after sharpening and to eliminate the little nicks and burrs on the blade during regular wear-and-tear at the rink and inside the equipment bag if you don’t have skate guards.
Turns out goalies like to use the stone too, thanks to the constant contact their blades make with the steel goal posts.
After a brief demonstration, I was relieved to learn I was using it correctly by sliding it up and down both sides of the blade. All it takes is 4 or 5 swipes along the entire length of the blade for it to be effective.
Some coaches and trainers have one of these stones in their pocket or on the bench at all times, especially at the older ages where kids can really tell the difference between sharp and dull.
I also learned that using the stone does not take the place of sharpening skates. It might buy you a bit more ice time but if your son or daughter complains of ‘losing an edge’ a skate sharpening is in order as soon as possible.
By the way, there are all kinds of fancy honing stones available on the market featuring names like ‘Sweet Stick’, ‘The Blade Doctor’, ‘The Skedge’ and ‘The Miracle Stone’. They have handles or rollers and can be quite colorful but in the end, they accomplish the same thing as my plain, grey stone.
Now, I must confess that I have to run back to the store because I forgot to ask what the white stone is for and I don’t want to wait another 6 months to find out.
Next Week’s Episode: "Hey, what’s that guy using on that stick? He must care about his daughter’s performance way more than I do because he’s got an extra stick ‘thingy’ and I don’t!"