Just what are those speed skating blades made from?

Larrin

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I've always been curious about the steels used in the skates of those speed skaters. With these top athletes needing any advantage they can get, certainly they are using the best steels out there for their blades. Right? RIGHT?!?

Well, the answer seems to be mostly yes. There are multiple price points, of course. The less expensive blades seem to be made of stainless in the 58 Rc range, such as these out of 440A or 12C27:
https://www.cascadespeedskates.com/cadomotus-allmount-speedskating-blades-details.aspx
https://www.theskatenowshop.com/ind...redirected=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=144

So those don't seem to be terrible options, but certainly there must be better. The high end models are usually advertised as a "bi-metal" PM steel at relatively high hardness, 64-66 Rc. The bi-metal refers to a laminated product with a high toughness steel laminated to a harder and more wear resistant powder metallurgy steel. Several articles stated that PM blades have been around for a while, but issues with toughness led to a decline in popularity which led to the development of the bi-metal blades: https://www.cascadespeedskates.com/blog/pedal-to-the-metal--speedskating-blade-anatomy-blog.aspx

A lot of these just had a generic "PM" label so I had to do slightly more hunting to figure out what this mystery steel is. I originally found a "Viking PM" steel with "tungsten/cobalt/vanadium" which I thought meant a high speed steel. (http://redriverspeed.com/en/long-track-blades/285-viking-pm-lt-blades.html). However, I found that Bont blades specifically advertise K390 steel (http://www.bont.com/inline/products/iceblade/K390/index.html), then I found an Evo blade which is also K390, so I believe that "Viking PM" is K390 as well as it contains cobalt and tungsten despite not being a high speed steel. So K390 seems to be the most popular choice, which is a Bohler-produced PM steel sold as an improved alternative to 10V, with apparently superior toughness at similar wear resistance. You can see a datasheet here: http://www.bohlernn.ru/files/K390DE_MICROCLEAN.pdf

There are some alternative steels available, as Bont also sells a blade made with K190 (https://www.cascadespeedskates.com/...t-track-speed-skating-blades-b-c-details.aspx), which is kind of an odd steel as it is basically a modified D-series (12% Cr) steel with 4% vanadium added, and of course it is produced with powder metallurgy.

There are also some blades which have a mystery "64 Rc steel" or "bi-metal runners hardened to 64 HRC" (https://www.cascadespeedskates.com/maple-duro-short-track-ice-speed-skating-blades-details.aspx) These appear to not be powder metallurgy grade as there is also a PM version: https://www.cascadespeedskates.com/maple-duro-pm-short-track-ice-speed-skating-blades-details.aspx I was unable to find what this non-PM steel might be, though my guess would be something else produced by Bohler, since they are also produced with the "bi-metal" construction, perhaps something like K360: https://www.bohler-edelstahl.com/media/productdb/downloads/K360DE.pdf
64 Rc would be pushing it for K360 but is possible, and could use similar heat treatments to K390. There aren't many other options from Bohler in terms of non-PM steels that would achieve both the hardness and wear resistance they would be looking for. That would give them a reduction in wear resistance but with similar toughness and be able to save somewhat on cost. I don't think they would use a non-PM high speed steel as that would require much higher austenitizing temperatures and would have lower toughness.
 
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I had wondered this and posted it in another thread. Are there any skate brands where they advertise that they use high end steels? What steels do well known brands use? What about skis and snowboards?

Whatever it is I see that alot of skates are sharpened on skate sharpening machines which automatcally “sharpen” the skates. They throw a ton of sparks and likely overheat the steel destroying the heat treat, if there is even a heat treat on skate steel.
 
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Doubt they effect the heat treat at all. Do you effect the heat treat when you grind a heat treated blade? If it sat in one spot for a long time maybe, but most sharpeners just skim the edge til it's sharp. Less heavy work then doing a blade.
 

Larrin

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I had wondered this and posted it in another thread. Are there any skate brands where they advertise that they use high end steels? What steels do well known brands use? What about skis and snowboards?

Whatever it is I see that alot of skates are sharpened on skate sharpening machines which automatcally “sharpen” the skates. They throw a ton of sparks and likely overheat the steel destroying the heat treat, if there is even a heat treat on skate steel.
I believe my post answers your question about whether they advertise high end steel.

I don’t know how well or poorly the sharpeners work but the K390 blades likely use an upper temper which would reduce the possibility of overheating.
 
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Skates are only sharpened by a machine when new to give them a slight curve. Maintenence sharpening is done by hand with (diamond)stones.
 
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the other thig to note is that surface grinders toss sparks off hardened steel but when used right never overheat the base steel. i can realy lay into a blade blank post HT and never warm the blade to over 400f. dont let sparks flying tell you the temp of the base steel
 
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Interesting, laminated skates.
Never given it thought, but knowing how they are sharpened, stands to reason. But laminated opposite of a knife, softer steel in the middle.
 

Larrin

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I wonder if the skate blades really need all the wear resistance provided by K390. If we are sticking with Bohler, something like K490 or K890 could give a big boost in toughness and ease of shapening. And edge stability depending on how thin they take those edges. And those steels are not slouches when it comes to wear resistance.
 

Robert Erickson

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Interesting thread Larrin thanks!
I'm going to ask what I'm sure everyone is thinking...What kind of steel do the North Koreans use for figure skating?
Case and point:

 

Phixt

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Only broken minds.

I was thinking, When were skis and snowboards ever made of steel?

ETA: Lapedog Lapedog
 
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Thanks for starting this thread. You've covered the material nicely with links. Ever thing how sharp are the blades? AND - how they are sharpened? Not a typical beveled edge, but flat for speed skates. Blade is around .040" thick. Note they mention dragging edge of skate across thumbnail to check for sharpness. Page 8 shows profile of sharping. http://www.indyspeed.org/equipment/SharpeningYourSkates.pdf
 

JGguns

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This is a interesting and timely thread. I have a friend who is a professional player, he is gonna hang it up after this year(ready to be at home an spend time with his family), and he asked if I thought I could build a knife for him out of one of his blades.
 
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Hey that's neat - your friend is a professional player (speed skater?) and wants a knife made from one of his skate blades? It should make a nice knife. Let us know what you get. It "should" be .040" thick and about 16" to 18" long and of high end steel with a Rc of 64 or so? That might not even need HT'ing, just grind a blade from that. With only .040" thick that would make heck of a fillet knife, or perhaps a slicer. Paring knife set?

Let us know what you get and how you handle it.

Ken H>
 

JGguns

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Hey that's neat - your friend is a professional player (speed skater?) and wants a knife made from one of his skate blades? It should make a nice knife. Let us know what you get. It "should" be .040" thick and about 16" to 18" long and of high end steel with a Rc of 64 or so? That might not even need HT'ing, just grind a blade from that. With only .040" thick that would make heck of a fillet knife, or perhaps a slicer. Paring knife set?

Let us know what you get and how you handle it.

Ken H>

No he is a hockey player, sorry idk why I assumed we were talking about hockey skates hahaha. It will be some times before I can get to it, but I’ll definitely post once I get the blade in the mail.
 
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Hockey skates are thicker and will of good metal. Looking forward to your post on them.
 

Sonnydaze

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I never gave this a thought...but I'm glad you guys did. Very interesting.
My mind is busy thinking about that Jarrett Fleming curly maple Pocket Pal that's coming in tomorrow.
I have enjoyed rooting for Apolo Anton Ohno in past years....amazing talent.
 
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