Reconstructing the Amsterdam skate, part 3

The skates work!

The skates work!

I finished putting the wood and metal parts together by scoring the end of the blade with a band saw, putting the skate in a vice, and hammering away. The wood part cracked a bit, but some glue fixed it well enough. Next time, harder wood and a thicker footbed are called for. The archaeological specimens are made from poplar and alder, which are both somewhat harder than the pine I used.

Once they were done, I tried them out on the ice. For boots, I used an old pair of Harlicks (not historically accurate, but quite practical). I tied them on with hockey skate laces.

The first skaters to use metal-bladed skates would have been familiar with bone skates and pole-pushing, not the foot-pushing technique used with modern skates, so pole-pushing seemed like a good way to begin. Pole-pushing works just fine.

Foot-pushing doesn’t really work. The skates feel like they don’t have edges—they don’t bite the ice when I try to push like modern skates do. The bottom of the metal runner is pretty flat, which I think is probably historically accurate.

These skates have more friction than bone skates, but also corner much, much better and feel more stable to stand still on. They’re less likely to slide out from under me when I’m not trying to slide anywhere.

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