In the dark ages of our sport only superstition and black magic prevailed when the conversation drifted into skate blades, radius and bending needs or skate set up and tuning. Stopping just short of animal sacrifices and voodoo chants to explain away the unknown conditions wrestled with on an everyday basis, nodding heads simply whispered quietly and returned to their monk like suffering. This simply would not do.
It’s been over twenty five years now since Paul Marchese sketched his first draft for tools needed to overhaul the crude blade conditions others deemed acceptable. Emerging from a solid block of aluminum Paul fashioned the first handheld radius gage, incorporating a precision dial indicator to accurately measure and interpret the curvature of both the blade’s radius and bend. In one broad stroke the accuracy standard of the day swung from discussing feet and meters to splitting hairs at a minuscule 0.0001 inch, poorly constructed radius machines and templates were exposed and jettisoned as blade maintenance entered a precision engineered laboratory. Purpose built bending jigs and presses were constructed to painstakingly form the blade to the needed arc and could be documented and altered at will, repeatedly and accurately. Today we talk of radius numbers in tenths of one thousandth of an inch, charted numbers to see trend lines and radius/ bend designs created to arrive at the optimum “footprint” on the ice for each individual athlete. These are all products from the mind and hands of one obsessed individual.
Today’s gage follows in the design language of that first device, now milled from solid aerospace grade aluminum billet and precision machined with custom made tungsten carbide inserts to provide many years of trouble free service even when working with today’s hardened steel blades. When absolute perfection is what you demand this is the tool that will be drawn from nearly every skater’s and coach’s toolbox in the world. No slight of hand, no magic, no voodoo chants. Demand precision.