when to tune your ski or snowboard

RECOMMENDED TUNING TIMELINE:

People are always asking me when should I wax or edge my equipment or how do I know when to have things done.

I have listed a few guidelines on how to determine when you need to have your gear tuned.

After each day on the snow, I recommend ...

1) Check both your base and side edges for nicks and burrs ... especially the inside front edges. deburr these using a deburring stone in conjunction with your bevel device or guide, followed by a polishing stone.

2) Check your base for gouges. If the scratch is shallow, you can either fill them now, or wait until your weekly tune­up. If they are deep, or you see fiberglass or core material exposed, fill them immediately. Remove excess repair material afterwards.

3) Check your base for dry or oxidized areas. This indicates that the base needs waxing. A hot wax is best, but rub-on liquid or paste wax will do in a pinch.

4) After hot waxing, let the base cool for 20-30 minutes. Then scrape off excess wax with a plastic scraper and brush. You want to remove as much wax as you can out of the base structure with a nylon, bronze or combo brush.

  • Fasten skis together using strap or base protector that keeps bases from rubbing against each other.
  • Wipe off ski or snowboard top with clean dry rag.

Once a week, or after 3-5 days on the snow, I recommend ...

  • All the above daily steps, plus ...
  • Lightly file side edges using a steel mill file in conjunction with a side bevel device or guide. This re sharpens the edge for better edge hold ... especially on hard pack snow.

3) Hot scrape bases to clean them. This is the same as a hot wax, but you use a soft (warm temperature range) wax, and scrape it immediately after ironing don't let the base cool first. This pulls dirt out of the base better than any other method. Follow this with a regular hot wax.

  • Check base for gouges fill any and all gouges if possible.
  • Pull liners out of your ski or snowboard boots to let everything dry out before putting them back together.

6) Spray a little boot binding lubricant on boots, bindings and ski or snowboard tops (but not bases) ... this will help prevent snow build-up.

Once a month, or after 15-18 days on the snow, I recommend ...

  • All the above daily and weekly steps, plus ...
  • Check your base with a true bar for flatness, and correct if necessary.
  • Check base structure for wear, and refresh or restructure if necessary.
  • Check binding mounting screws (but not release adjustments!) to make sure they're all snug.
  • Check poles for worn baskets, straps, etc., and repair as necessary. Do not forget to take care of your goggles as well.

tips for tuning ski equipment

New skies and snowboard's are generally not ready for use when you buy then off the shelf.

You should at the least wax the equipment and check the tune of the edges and re-sharpen as needed. It is only by hand tuning that you can obtain maximum performance from your equipment and by turning your own equipment it will bring your skill level up another notch because you will state to understand better the relationship between equipment and performance.

It seems that once a machine is created to reduce the work required to do a task, before you know it someone is selling us on the idea that the machines work is all you need. Example is ski shop equipment, ski tuning machines can make the base flat, square your edges or put a bevel on then, add structure to a the base, and now even do complete base repair, but these machines were designed to do a bulk amount of work and then for a skilled tech to complete the process by hand. Many times you are not getting the best tune for shops that only use machines.

Hand tuning is required to obtain optimum performance from your snowboard. Hand tuning can be economical and convenient. Knowing the information below will also help you choose an professional shop to get your work done at.

The following is a guide to basic tuning and repair tips for maintain the investment in your equipment and allowing you to better and increase your enjoyment on the slopes. Experienced skiers, boarders will tell you it is not any fun being on the slopes with equipment that is not prepared, waxed, and sharpened.

Waxing and tuning of the bases and the edges can really be technical and quite an art form. However, this information will give you the basic skills and information to obtain greater performance and longevity from your equipment.

(Note: I worked and ran a ski shop for 10 plus years, when I first started working I was "taught" the basic's by an old Italian guy who had been doing ski repair for 15 years. The only problem was he had never been skiing so we had a few different ideas on what made a good tune. He was using the ski machines and doing what the factory rep for the machine said to do but that was it, he did not take into account the style skier the conditions of the week, nor the quality level of the equipment. After two years of working together I finally convinced him to come skiing with me and. Just teaching him the basics of on the first day showed him the difference is ski performance based on a tune, his ski work went to a new level and he started seeing the customers of the shop different.

GETTING STARTED

There are only three general steps to a solid beginner maintenance program:

Edge Sharpening

Base Repair

Hot Waxing

NOTE : Always remember to do your repairs and waxing in a well-ventilated area. If at any time during the tuning process you are unsure of any situation, please Consult a qualified professional at your local shop.

Pre-Tuning Inspection :

Before you begin preparing your board, you should inspect the contour ·of the base of your board. Your goal is to achieve a FLAT base with the edges.

Why : The base should not be concave and the edges should not be higher than the base or the rails. A concave base or railed edges encourages the board to run straight and impairs the turning ability of the board. Conversely, the bases should not also no be convex. Convex bases (base is higher than the edges) will cause your board to wander and make it difficult to put them on edge or grip the snow.

How : To determine if your bases are either concave or convex, run a straight edge at a 90° to the base. If you see light between the straight edge and the center area of the base, your base is concave. If you see light on the sides of the base, then your base is convex. If either of the two cases exists, then take your equipment to your loci shop to have the bases flattened. Then continue on with the following steps.

EDGE SHARPENING :

Edges allow you to stop, carve a turn and hold a line on steeper and icier conditions. Well tuned (filed) edges greatly enhance ski performance, which will allow you to better enjoy your time on the snow.

When regularly done, filing your edges is simple and quick procedure.

There are two sides to the edge to sharpen, flat filing for he base edge and side filing for the side edge.

Flat Filing :

The base edge needs to be filed only once for every 7-10 times you •• side file or when it is damaged by rocks or rust.

Why : A filed base edge allows the board to glide and turn easier. •

How : Lay the Pro File on the base of the board at a 45° angle to the edge. For filing the tip and tail sections that curve up on you equipment, place the file at a 90° angle to the edge, to prevent the file from rocking and which enables you to flatten the edges to the base. Press the file on the edge you are sharpening with your thumb. Use long smooth strokes with the Pro File (approximately 1/3 rd of the length of the board), overlapping each section to maintain a uniform edge from tip to tail. If you are unsure as to how much edge to remove, mark the edge with a black magic marker and then file the edge until the marker is gone.

Side Edge Polishing :

If you are having difficulty turning or holding an edge on the ice or hard ·packed snow, or you know your edges have not been sharpened the last few times out on the slopes.

Why : Sharpening the side edge will give you control, the ability to stop and "turn on icy or hard packed conditions.

How : The Ice Buster edge sharpener allows an amateur to achieve professional results, easily and quickly. Use long, smooth strokes (approximately 1/3 rd of the length of the board) with the 88° or 90° , overlapping each section to maintain a uniform edge from tip to tail. If you are unsure as to how much edge to remove, mark the edge with a black magic marker and then file the edge until the marker is gone.

Also : Wipe the edge filings off the base after every two or three strokes to "prevent grinding the edge filings into the base. Periodically use the File Cleaner Brush to remove the edge filings that accumulate in the file and Ice Buster.

Edge Polishing :

Once you have sharpened the edge, use a diamond stone, hard stone, "or gum stone to polish the edge and remove the burrs created while filing.

Why : A clean, polished edge is sharper and will last longer than a burred "edge.

How : Using the same techniques as when filing the edge, rub a stone along "the base length and the side edge length of the edge. One to two passes over the entire edge will be adequate.

Detuning Tip and Tail Edges :

After each time you sharpen your edges.

Why : De tuning the tip and tail reduces over turning and grabbing of the tip and tail.

How : use the hard or gum stone to detune the edges at the tip and tail. To detune you hold the stone at a 45° angle to your edge and rub it back and forth two to three time lengthwise to remove the sharpness of the edge at the tip and tail ends. Round the curved section of tip and tail and approximately 30 to 10 centimeters beyond the point where the board make final contact with the snow. If you are unsure where those two points are, place your snowboard on a flat surface and mark the points where the edges make contact. Then detune from the tip and tail to 30 to 10 centimeters past those points towards the center.

You may want to experiment to find your preference, start with 3 centimeters and you can always do more on the slopes with your pocket stone.

BASE REPAIR :

If you have scratches and small gouges in your base. For large gouges, take your equipment to your local shop.

Why : Scratches in your base impede the gliding ability of the base. You will want to remove all scratches in your base to obtain optimum turning and gliding performance. Large scratches can act like rudders.

How : Scrape the base with a Plexiglas wax-scraper to remove excess wax.

"Then spray the base with Bio Citron Base Cleaner (will not damage your base) and wipe clean with a rag to ensure good bonding of repair material to base. You are now ready to begin filling in the scratches in your base.

Use the PRO FIX KIT, STAINLESS STEEL SCRAPER, and SLICK REPAIR STICKS. The Pro Fix Kit allows you to repair the scratches with a harder material that will last much longer and bond better to modern bases.

Heat up the repair iron, press the material into the damaged scratch, cool, and scrape level with the Steel Scraper. For a professional finish use KUU base sanding paper (220 - 320 grit). Wrap the sanding paper around a file and sand over the repaired area.

HOT WAXING THE BASE :

Ideally you could wax your base before each time you go on the slopes. But since most of use are not PRO racers we only need to wax the board every third or fourth snow day. If you are riding on artificial snow you might need to wax more often due to the quicker break down of the wax.

NOTE: If you are taking your board to a shop and they are belt waxing you will need to wax each time out.

Why : The bases are made with a porous plastic material that will dry out if not regularly hot waxed. If your base dries out, it will not perform well and will tend to stick to the snow.

How : the first step to waxing your base is to clean your base from residue of old wax, the edge filings, and other debris created from the base repair and sharpening. To do this, use the Citron Base Cleaner. Spray the base liberally with the Bio Citron base Cleaner. Leave the base cleaner on for about one minute (wipe base clean before it dries). Use a clean cloth to remove the excess base cleaner and dirt from the base and you are ready to begin hot waxing. Once your base is clean, the next step is to choose which wax to use. Once you have chosen a wax, plug in your Hot Wax Iron and wait for it to rise to the temperature to where the wax melts easily, without smoking. If the wax is smoking, the iron is too hot. Use an iron without steam holes, as they can be damaging to your equipment. When the iron is sufficiently hot, hold the iron over the base with the tip pointing down to where you want to drip the wax. Put the bar of wax to the bottom of the iron and drip the wax onto the base. Run a bead of wax on one side of the base and then the other side. Once done dripping the wax on the base, just spread the wax out so that you cover the entire base. Wax from tip to tail and allow approximately three inches of wet wax to trail the iron during the spreading of the wax.

After the wax has hardened use a sharp Plexiglas wax scraper and remove the excess wax from the base and edges. The base material is porous and has retained all the wax you need, so scrape off all you can. The base needs to be level so that proper gliding and turning ability is achieved with your equipment. It is a combination of your base and wax that will give your the optimum gliding properties.

With experience, you will get a feel for how much wax too apply and you will get quicker.

Conclusions & Tips :

There are a couple of things you can do after each time out on the slopes that will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend repairing your equipment. First is to wipe the base and edges dry when the day is over and store your board base up against a wall or on the floor. Take a dry cloth and wipe off all excess snow and water to prevent rusting.

Drying and storing base up prevents the melting snow from dripping on to the edges and creating rust, which translates into more work for you.

Second, take your dry board and quickly sharpen them after or before each time out. This will take only 5 - 10 minutes if you do it each time, as opposed to 20 ­30 minutes, if left for a prolonged time. For those that snowboard in central or eastern parts of North America, sharp edges are a must and filing everyday is required (unless your get a powder day). For those of you that snowboard in the western mountains, using a file everyday may not be necessary, but using a stone everyday to remove burrs from the stone nicks and to keep the edges sharp is recommended. Waxing everyday is also recommended and every three or four days is the minimum to maintain base performance and prevent the base material from drying and possibly separating from the edges.

I hope this information will help you maintain your snowboard and increase your enjoyment on the slopes. This may all sound a bit involved, but once you have done it a few times it is really quite simple, and can be quite fun to do with your friends while telling lies ... uhh ... stories after a day on the slopes. You are now ready to roll, rip, tear, fly, smoke, whatever word you use, it is all about having fun and making friends with gravity. With a bit of experience tuning and waxing your board, you will understand how others were able to do what they did and you will also understand why you weren't getting along with gravity as well as you are now.

basics of waxing techniques for skies and snowboards

Waxing skies and snowboards

As the ski season approaches, I receive more and more questions about how to set up new skis and what is the proper waxing technique.

Various wax manufacturers have different approaches to the process. The big question is WHICH PROCESS IS BEST FOR YOU? In reality, most processes can work well as long as the approach is consistent.

Remember that waxing skis can be as much science as art; therefore, the process can be as important as the wax. Just as one wax is not optimum for all conditions, neither is one ski flex or base structure. Waxing is a learnt process. Every time you wax and test your skis, the greater your reference base for prepping your skis the next time out. Therefore, every time you wax and test your skis, the faster your skis should become. Not only are you attempting to optimize the waxing process, but you’re also optimizing the base structure and ski flex for the various ski conditions.

So never miss an opportunity to improve. Take a minute to glide test your skis. If yours are consistently the fastest in the crowd, congratulations! However, if your skis are slow, maybe you could use some help.

Technical Information

Getting Started

To get started, a few things are important (Note: Most wax rooms contain a washer and drier and standard equipment)

A waxing station is helpful. A permanent area for ski preparation and waxing helps control the mess, and most important, provides you convenience. A tray around the wax bench and a shop-vac are also helpful in controlling the wax shavings. There are a variety of adjustable waxing benches on the market, any will do nicely, or you can build one yourself. It also helps if you can mount the waxing bench to a solid stand for ease and stability of scraping.

A good waxing iron is important. Although they may seem expensive, an iron developed for waxing skis is a good idea. To use a cheep iron and burn a $300.00 pair of skis is a sad day. Today, ski waxing irons have enhanced temperature control and can improve the flow of the wax onto the ski. Always turn the iron on at least 15-30 minutes before waxing. This will allow the iron temperature to stabilize and ensure even wax penetration.

Vent the waxing station. A home made fume hood over the bench with a heavy duty kitchen exhaust fan clears the air and prevents fumes from entering the household living quarters. I cannot over emphasize the importance of making the waxing station convenient and safe.

The next items are much less expensive; a metal and plastic scraper, ski brushes (fiber and brass), and a selection of waxes for various ski and snow conditions. Optional equipment can also include a sanding block with sanding paper and structuring tools.

To start with, choose three basic waxes; a cold wax 10 F and colder, an intermediate wax 15 to 25 F and warm wax for 25-35 F. Learn the temperature ranges and conditions these waxes work in first. The wax arsenal can be expanded as experience is gained. The main thing to learn is why skis are fast, so the process is repeatable.

A large inventory of wax to start with will only confuse the process and result. At least in the beginning, use the “KISS” method - keep it simple stupid. Too many waxes early in the learning process are almost guaranteed to complicate you life and provide less than consistent results.

Waxing Instructions

When waxing skis, always work the ski from tip to tail (scrape, brush and iron), never in the reverse direction. As skis are made fast by layers and layers of wax, never use wax remover to clean the glide zone of a ski, unless extreme conditions prevail; skied through oil, cow pies or something equally nasty. Instead, clean the ski by melting and ironing in a soft layer of wax on the base, then scrape it off immediately with a plastic scraper. Repeat the process if necessary.

If the base is damaged, now is the time to make any repairs. Remover gouges with a metal scraper, remember to scrape in long sweeping motions with even pressure from tip to tail. Then you’ll need to remove any ski base fibers with an abrasive pad. In the event of major damage, take to your skis to a local ski shop for an assessment. A more aggressive metal scraping may be required or possibly stone grinding.

Set the ski base structure for the ski conditions. (Structure is the height and number of hills and valleys within the ski base.) New skis generally come with a medium structure and works well under a wide variety of ski conditions. The exceptions being extremely cold, dry snow or warm, wet snow conditions. Softer waxes generally require more structure and hard waxes less structure.

General Wax Application

First select the appropriate wax and skis for the desired conditions. After melting wax onto the ski base (take waxing iron and hold it perpendicular to the ski dripping wax onto the ski base, making sure enough wax is available to cover the total ski base from tip to tail), iron the wax into the base using light pressure, moving the iron from tip to tail in a continuous motion. If you have adequate wax on the ski and the waxing iron is at the correct temperature, you’ll pull a molten bead of wax about Yz-2 inches behind the iron. The speed of the iron should be slow, but steady. If the wax starts smoking or if it’s necessary to move fast to keep the bead short, the iron is probably too hot.

Fast Wax Technical Information

Wax coverage should cover the total width of the ski base. If the ski is gapped on one side or the other, this is an indication the base may not be flat or you may need to drip more wax on the ski. If the ski has wax gaps, additional metal scraping may help or stone grinding will be necessary to flatten the ski base. Sanding may also flatten the base; however, sanding a ski base is somewhat a lost art since the development of stone grinding. I would not recommend sanding a ski without getting some experienced help.

Allow the ski to cool completely before scraping the ski with the plastic scraper (never use a steel scraper here). Ideally, the ski should be allowed to cool in a warm environment (it may be OK for you to go from the sauna to the snow but is not advised for your freshly waxed skis). This is especially true with soft waxes, as they crystallize slower and take more time to set up. If you’re applying more than one coat of wax, scrape the ski between each waxing. The scraping process opens up the micro-structure of the ski base and the ski will be able to absorb more wax. For racing skis, give the ski a minimum of two oats of wax.

Step-by-Step Waxing Instruction

1. Always work the ski from the tip to the tail (never in revere direction)

2. Clean the ski

Melt wax onto the ski base and iron in from tip to tail

Scrape warm with a plastic scraper

Repeat the process if necessary

3. Base Preparation

If the ski base is damaged remove the gouges with a metal scraper or stone grind

Remove the fibrils with a Scotch-brite pad

Structure the ski base for current conditions (see section on tips)

After structuring remove fibrils with a Scotchbrite pad

4. Wax

Wax for current conditions and allow ski to cool completely before scraping with a plastic scraper.

5. Repeat step 4 at least once

6. Brush the ski with a fiber brush to clean the structure a. Polish with fiber cloth

Wax Selection

When selecting a wax, sometimes we have to trust the weather report. However, even with our super weather forecasting models, occasionally an unexpected front comes through in the middle of the night changing conditions. If the skis must be waxed the day before a race and conditions are uncertain, try to select a wax slightly colder than the expected conditions and apply a lighter structure than required. This way, if the temperature change is warmer than expected, structure can be added at the race site with one of the new, easy to use rolling rilling tools on the market and your skis will be OK.

The best bet is to have a back up pair of skis waxed for alternate conditions. Try not to error on the side of waxing too warm. Going from a warm wax and large structure to a cold wax and polished skis is difficult to accomplish at the race site.

tips and tricks to flattening the base of your skies and snowboards

In the past, the bases of traditional side cut skis were pretty easy to get flat from edge to edge with the help of a stone grinder, wet belt sander, or hand tools like the base flattener tool, steel scraper or sandpaper and block. But the advent of wider powder skis, wide-tipped shaped skis and snowboards has made achieving a flat base more difficult and, in some cases, impossible.

Constructing wide body skis and boards makes it tougher for manufacturers to prevent a certain amount of warpage from creeping in during the curing process. The result is slightly concave or convex tips and tails. If this curvature is very slight, it can usually be removed with base flattening tools ... but if more pronounced, it can be difficult to completely remove without also removing unacceptable amounts of p-tex or steel edge material in the process. Until ski and snowboard technology improves, a less-than-perfectly-flat base may have to be accepted as a compromise between what's workable and what's trash.

BASE SANDING TIPS

You can use silicon carbide sandpaper to flatten p-tex bases. To flatten a convex (high or crowned) base, start with a coarse (100 grit) paper wrapped around a sanding tube or block to quickly remove excess p-tex material. Then switch to progressively finer grits (120, 150, 180, etc.) to finish. After sanding, be sure to remove p-tex "hairs" on the base by brushing with a brass, bronze or copper brush ... followed by medium and fine scotchbrite or fibertex ... followed by an omni-prep pad. Finish by waxing bases as usual. You can also structure bases with sandpaper. In general, use a coarser grade (l00 tol50 grit) to create a coarse structure (best for wetter snow) ... and a finer grade (150+) for a fine structure (best for drier snow).

EVEN-HANDED

Sanding paper and scotchbrite pads are very helpful for base work, but if you don't apply even pressure across the full width of the base they can do damage. If you don't have a sanding block for this, just use the wood handle on your wax brush. And to get rid of p-tex micro hairs if you have nothing else, grab a Gillette shaver and give it a whirl.

SCRAPING BASES FLAT

Steel scrapers have long been used to flatten p-tex bases especially before the advent of stone grinders and other new hand tools. They still are popular among some technicians although they require more skill to use properly. Two important tips for using steel scrapers are:

keep them sharp with a good burnishing tool

if you use a thin scraper, hold a file behind it to prevent it from flexing and cutting unevenly into p-tex material.

FAST OLD BASES

Many racers think that stone grinding is the key to fast skis ... but this can sometimes be a mistake. At the World Cup level, skis are rarely stone ground ... sometimes only once at the beginning ofa season. Instead, they are well-waxed and brushed on a regular basis. Although the structure wears down over time, the surface of the base becomes more polished and faster as a result.

A VOID THE "FUZZ"

Getting bases to glide faster is the perpetual quest of any serious tuner or racer. One key to this is thoroughly removing microscopic p-tex fuzz or hairs on your p-tex base.

After structuring (whether by hand or stone grinder) there are literally thousands of polyethylene hairs left attached to a p-tex base. To remove these, the base first needs to be lightly scraped with a sharp metal scraper (Swix's razor scraper is ideal for this). Next, rub the base with a fine scotchbrite or fibertex pad backed by a rigid scotchbrite holder or sanding block to ensure even pressure is applied across the full width of the base. Follow this with rubbing the base with an Omni-Prep pad. But now, even after all these steps are taken, there may still be some p-tex fuzz left on the base, what do you do? Ski them off! According to the Fischer Nordic technicians, the Italian Nordic Ski Team hires people to ski 30-40km until the bases ski fast. The Norwegians do the same, but feel it takes more than 30-40km. So the snow abrades away the p-tex hair and the skis get faster.

REMOVING P- TEX HAIRS

Here is an easy way to remove unwanted p-tex hairs from your ski or snowboard base. Take a propane torch with a flame spreader tip, and, using a soft (cool) flame, make one pass down the base. Keep the flame about 2' above the base and move it along as if you were painting with a paint brush. The base will stay cool, but any p-tex hairs will melt into little balls. At this point, hot wax the ski, let the wax cool and scrape it as usual the scraping will completely remove these p-tex balls.

REMOVING P- TEX HAIRS IT

You can sometimes help remove unwanted p-tex hairs by hot-waxing your base with a very cold hard wax (Swix blue or colder). Iron it on just enough to melt the wax, but try not to heat up the base much. Then take the ski or board outside to rapidly cool it. This makes the wax more brittle. When you scrape, p-tex hairs will sometimes "pop" offwith the flakes of excess wax.

MORE SPEED MORE QUICKLY

In the past, many race skis seemed to take whole season of fiber texing, waxing, scraping and brushing ... plus quite a few days being skied ... before they got really fast. But with some new preparation techniques, skis can be made to get faster quicker. This was demonstrated in the nordic ski racing circuit recently when a world championship race was won by champion Bjorn Daehlie on new skis fresh from the factory, followed by a little preparation. Although this occurred on nordic skis, the same procedure would likely prove true on alpine skis and snowboards as well since they all use similar (p-tex) base material.

Here. is a summary of what steps were taken. First, the skis were stone ground the day before the race by a world-class nordic technician ... followed by rubbing with an omniprep pad. Then they were waxed, plastic scraped and brushed 25 times with a soft high-fluoro wax, before applying many layers of the wax of the day. In testing, these new skis proved faster than any of Bjorn. s older race skis. Not all of us, of course, have access to world-class stone grinding or unlimited supplies of high- fluoro wax! But the use of omniprep pads to remove p-tex fuzz (microhairs on a base) after fiber texing can probably help improve glide significantly on almost anyone. s skis or boards after stone grinding. And the repeated application of wax to a base (the best quality you can afford), followed by scraping and brushing, cannot be overemphasized. Granted, rarely can we afford the time or wax to make 25 applications of wax ... but, if possible, make at least three, and wait thirty minutes or so before scraping each time. In test after test, and race after race, it has been proven time and again that frequently waxed bases will outperform those less-frequently waxed.

SCRAPER SHARPENING

To sharpen a steel scraper, I clamp a lathe file (face up) in my bench vise so it sits about 1/8' below the top of the jaws. This ensures the edge of my scraper won't slip off the side of the file as I draw it along to sharpen it. To keep my steel scraper rigid so it won't flex when scraping bases, I clamp a side edge file guide (#TEQ-O for example) to the back of the scraper about 1/4' above the scraper edge with two I' c-clamps. I leave this on even when sharpening the scraper with a file.


FINER FINISHES

Although the finished condition of ski and snowboard bases when they leave the factories has greatly improved over the years, it's still wise to look them over good before buying. Some factories take more time finishing bases than others. Volkl, for example, runs their race skis through a stone grinder 16 times (at increasingly finer settings) to produce some of the silkiest bases and edges. K2, Head and Blizzard make about 12 passes through stone grinders with their skis, and Dynastar makes 10-12 passes with a belt sander that begins with a rough 80 grit belt and gradually works up to a smooth 320+ grit belt. Here's a few quick ways to check the base finish in a shop. First, check for base flatness (side-to-side) with a true bar ... run it down the base from tip to tail looking for high or low spots, concavity or convexity. The base should be absolutely flat.

Second, lightly drag a fingernail across the base from center to the edge. Do this without looking at the base and try to feel any change in the finish when you go from P-tex to steel edge. Ideally, you shouldn't. .. the edge should be polished smooth without striations or roughness left by factory grinding wheels or sanding belts.

Third, if you have a small hand lens, check the base for the presence of any loose P-tex hairs ... none should be visible (they may be hard to spot since the bases were probably buff-waxed at the factory). And speaking of this, be aware that new skis are only buff-waxed at the factory ... not hot-waxed with an iron. Buff-waxing is fast and convenient for manufacturers, but does not melt wax deep into the base material, so it wears off very quickly. Take time to hot wax your new bases repeatedly before taking them out on the hill.

TWISTER

Always check skis to make sure they are torsionally flat and true ... you don’t want a twisted ski because it'll never perform correctly. They traditional way to check this is to hold both skis base-to­-base as lightly as possible (don't squeeze. em tight or you'll cancel out any twist that may exist). Then check if the skis contact each other all the way across the base at both the tip and tail. If so, good .... but if not, and the bases rock slightly against one other, at least one ski is twisted. Another way to check is to hold each ski against a large flat mirror or window. If each ski sits flat on the glass when lightly held against it (don't press), then they're okay. If either ski rocks even slightly, check out another pair of skis because you can't correct this structural problem.

TRUE BAR TIP

Always try to use good backlighting when checking bases with a true bar or roll pin, otherwise these tools are hard to read accurately. A bright window, fluorescent overhead light, or even a 60 watt bulb positioned a foot or two beyond the ski or snowboard tip will do the job.

LINEAR BASE WAVES

Most commonly found on nordic race ski bases, these are ripples or waves that appear down the length of a ski base. They can usually be spotted by holding a ski base up with one end held up to a window or light source, and the other end held near your eye. They detract from good glide and therefore should be removed. This can be done by taking your skis to a shop technician who is very experienced with stone grinding, or by hand using a base flattener tool, steel scraper or sanding paper and block. .. all of which are positioned and worked at an angle diagonal (rather than perpendicular) to the length of the ski. This helps remove the tops and troughs of waves or ripples.

GETTIN' RID OF RIPPLES

To remove base ripples that make your skis act funny on snow, wrap sandpaper around an absolutely flat 10" file. Holding the file at an angle across the base, pull it in long smooth motions down the base. Then reverse the angle and pull in the same direction. This will help flatten a base and remove ripples.

TRUE BAR TRICK

When checking for flatness on a clear p-tex base that you suspect is concave, it is sometimes hard to determine if the light under the true bar is from the concave area or just light reflecting through the p­tex. Try placing the true bar in the middle of the base, parallel to the edges, and then slowly rotate the bar 90 degrees until it sits across the width of the base. If the base is flat, the true bar will rotate smoothly ... but if it is concave, it will catch on the edges of base material as it turns. Also, ski straps or watch bands are handy for bundling up excess electrical cords that otherwise sprawl across your workbench.

LONG SMOOTH STROKES

A common pitfall that you should avoid when base sanding is a "back and forth" movement...it results in twice as much sanding in the middle of the stroke as on the ends. To sand evenly, wrap silicon carbide paper around a sanding block and use long, one-way, overlapping strokes ... always in a tip-to-­tail direction. Start with coarse grit and progressively work up to a finer grit. Be sure to scrub the bases with a Scotchbrite pad afterwards to remove p-tex hairs created by the sanding.

POPPING P- TEX HAIRS

Here's a trick for removing excess p-tex hairs created while base sanding or structuring .. .iron on a layer of Swix Extreme wax additive just enough to melt the wax but not heat up the base. Then take the ski outside to rapidly cool it. This makes the wax brittle. Scrape the ski and the p-tex hairs will "pop" off with the wax.

ROLLING PINS

Ever have problems with your roll pin (used to check for base flatness) rolling off your workbench or ski? Try dripping a small blob of wax onto the roll pin at some point ... this small speed bump will stop the pin from rolling away.

TWEAKED BOARDS

Many snowboards, regardless of core material or construction, will warp up on the front toe edge and the rear heel edge after being ridden a few times. This is unavoidable given the board's width. Always· flatten these bases by hand and follow this natural warpage, otherwise you'll remove too much base material and affect the board's flex and strength.

EVEN PRESSURE

Sanding paper and scotchbrite pads are very helpful for base work, but if you don't apply even pressure across the full width of the ski base they can do damage. If you don't have a sanding block for this, just use the wood handle on your wax brush. And to get rid of p-tex microhairs if you have nothing else, grab a Gillette shaver and give it a whirl.

ACHIEVING FLAT SNOWBOARD BASES

By and large, many snowboards have convex bases when new. If they're only slightly convex, they can be flattened by hand or machine. If they're extremely convex, don't try to scrape or grind them completely flat unless you really want to see what your snowboard core looks like. Instead, strike a compromise and flatten it part way ... for freestyle riders and spinners, a little base convexity actually makes the board easier to ride. If you're a racer, however, flat is where it's at, so shop around until you find a board with a base that looks flat as Kansas.

TRUE BAR TRICK

When checking for flatness on a clear p-tex base that you suspect is concave, it is sometimes hard to determine if the light under the true bar is from the concave area or just light reflecting through the p­tex. Try placing the true bar in the middle of the base, parallel to the edges, and then slowly rotate the bar 90 degrees until it sits across the width of the base. If the base is flat, the true bar will rotate smoothly ... but if it is concave, it will catch on the edges of base material as it turns. Also, ski straps or watch bands are handy for bundling up excess electrical cords that otherwise sprawl across your workbench.

LONG SMOOTH STROKES

A common pitfall that you should avoid when base sanding is a "back and forth" movement...it results in twice as much sanding in the middle of the stroke as on the ends. To sand evenly, wrap silicon carbide paper around a sanding block and use long, one-way, overlapping strokes ... always in a tip-to­tail direction. Start with coarse grit and progressively work up to a finer grit. Be sure to scrub the bases with a Scotchbrite pad afterwards to remove p-tex hairs created by the sanding.

POPPING P-TEX HAIRS

Here's a trick for removing excess p-tex hairs created while base sanding or structuring .. .iron on a layer of Swix Extreme wax additive just enough to melt the wax but not heat up the base. Then take the ski outside to rapidly cool it. This makes the wax brittle. Scrape the ski and the p-tex hairs will "pop" off with the wax.

ROLLING PINS

Ever have problems with your roll pin (used to check for base flatness) rolling off your workbench or ski? Try dripping a small blob of wax onto the roll pin at some point ... this small speed bump will stop the pin from rolling away.

TWEAKED BOARDS

Many snowboards, regardless of core material or construction, will warp up on the front toe edge and the rear heel edge after being ridden a few times. This is unavoidable given the board's width. Always· flatten these bases by hand and follow this natural warpage, otherwise you'll remove too much base material and affect the board's flex and strength.

EVEN PRESSURE

Sanding paper and scotchbrite pads are very helpful for base work, but if you don't apply even pressure across the full width of the ski base they can do damage. If you don't have a sanding block for this, just use the wood handle on your wax brush. And to get rid of p-tex microhairs if you have nothing else, grab a Gillette shaver and give it a whirl.

ACHIEVING FLAT SNOWBOARD BASES

By and large, many snowboards have convex bases when new. If they're only slightly convex, they can be flattened by hand or machine. If they're extremely convex, don't try to scrape or grind them completely flat unless you really want to see what your snowboard core looks like. Instead, strike a compromise and flatten it part way ... for freestyle riders and spinners, a little base convexity actually makes the board easier to ride. If you're a racer, however, flat is where it's at, so shop around until you find a board with a base that looks flat as Kansas.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE SKI GROOVES GONE?

Only a few alpine or tele-mark skis are still made with a center groove down the base. Most manufacturers claim it's unnecessary for recreational skiing and most racing ... unless you ski at extremely high speeds when it helps a ski track better.

LOTS OF LIGHT

To best check the bases of your skis or snowboards, use natural light. Hold them in a base-up position, pointing the tip toward a window (rather than a light bulb), with your eye near the tail and sight down the length. This will let you more clearly see nicks, uneven bumps, concavity, or anything else you may want to repair.

GETTING A GOOD SHOP TUNE

If you take your gear to a shop for tuning, check out the quality of their work by asking to see other examples of their work. . .like on a recently tuned demo ski or snowboard. Check the edges with your fingernails to see how well it's been filed, de-burred, and polished. Ask how much the base and side edges were beveled (and why). Check the base with a true bar to see if it’s been stone ground flat, and if the structure is clean and crisp (with no p-tex hairs visible). The shop tech should also ask you questions ... such as where and how well you ski or ride to determine the best tune, and also inspect your ski or board to diagnose and suggest appropriate repairs. If you don't like what you see or hear, go to another shop, or better yet, do your own work at home and get the tune you deserve.

DOUBLE UP

Base flatness is critical, yet flat filing is a primary source of convex bases ... even for experienced technicians and racers. The cause is flexibility of the files. Two files together, however, are virtually unbendable ... so I rubber band two files with a wood paint paddle in between together. The wood prevents the files from dulling each other and you still have two file surfaces to work with.

DAMPENING

I use a piece of inner tube between the ski vise jaws and the ski sidewall when base planing. It reduces vibrations and unwanted skipping of the plane blade.

BINDING SUCK

Frequently you'll find two concave pockets on the base of a snowboard that correlate directly to bindings mounted on the top. Commonly known as 'binding suck', this is a condition created by the binding screws pulling up those sections of the snowboard. Don't bother trying to sand or stone grind your snowboard base perfectly flat in hopes of removing this concavity it'll remove much too much base and edge material from the rest of your board. Just tune your bases as though these areas didn't exist...chances are you won't even notice them when you're shredding'.

AN INSIDE STORY

Snowboard cores are usually made from wood ... about one square foot (l 'xl 'xl') of it, in fact, including waste material. It provides about 25% of the board's structural integrity, with the fiberglass wrap and top sheet providing 70-75%. Usually the wood core is made of one or more types of wood with varying degrees of hardness laminated together. These laminates can be as few as 10 veneer layers, or up to 80. The strength of the board is found in the glue of the veneers, which is usually a wood glue. Some manufacturers use soft woods in the middle and harder woods elsewhere ... while others use a medium hardness wood for the entire core. An example of a softwood is aspen; maple and pine are hardwoods; poplar and spruce are medium. Hardwoods usually come from older-growth forests, while medium or softwoods come from younger forests.

follow us

General

  • About Us
  • Advertise with us
  • Privacy Policy