Chrome-Plated Blades (Fred Bartick)

Fred Bartick, a Minnesota-based (Bloomington, MN) skate technician with over 35 years of experience, continues his discussion of boots and blades with details about blade chrome and rust issues. (See Part 1 of the series here and Part 2 of the series here and Part 3 of the series here. See Part 4 of the series here.)

Fred notes that blades themselves are made of high quality and very hard “carbon steel” that is “tempered” or heat treated. After this heat treating, the blade is chrome-plated to help protect against rust and make the blade look nice. The chrome itself is relatively soft, which is why skate blades have a “chrome-relief” the entire length of the blade, ensuring that the chrome doesn’t touch the ice.

Where a blade is properly covered by chrome, it will not rust. But the bare metal can and will rust, so it’s important to dry the blades thoroughly and to store them in a cool dry place. Fred recommends not only drying blades at the rink, but again at home afterwards to address any condensation after leaving the rink (cold blades and warm and moist air outside rink).

Severely rusted blades cannot be fixed. Those with just a thin layer of surface rust are usually salvageable by a skilled sharpener. If a blade is going to sit for an extended period of time, Fred recommends putting a thin layer of oil or Vaseline on it as a barrier between the blade and the air.

Blades that have chrome issues are usually defective, and should be returned to the manufacturer (under warranty). Chrome issues are almost never a result of poor blade care. Chrome that is separating from the steel can be extremely sharp and dangerous to skaters or others who may touch the blades. Fred shows a blade with a chrome issue, so although this is not as much of a problem as it used to be, it still happens.


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