Tuning your own skis/snowboard is an important step in skiing well, especially useful for instructing as you dont want to be caught out by a hidden patch of ice with blunt edges! Also you can save loads of money by not having to take your skis/snowboard into the repair shop for a tune every couple of weeks.
For the cost of a few shop tunes, you can outfit yourself with the tools you need to keep your skis/snowboards performing in top condition. With just a little practice, your tunes will be consistent, eliminating one variable in your performance.
Bring the skis/snowboard in out of the cold.
After a long day of shredding, you will want to bring your skis/snowboards inside to raise them to room temperature. If you proceed to wax a ski/snowboard while it is still cold, there’s a chance that you will bubble the base and create a lot more work for yourself.
Prepare skis/snowboard for waxing.
Once your skis/snowboard are at room temperature, put the skis/snowboards on a tuning bench, and secure the skis/snowboards to it with a vice. Dont have a vice? Get two chairs, and rest the skis/snowboards upside down on the two chairs. Plug in your iron, setting at a temperature appropriate for your wax. Waxes that are used for higher temperatures generally require a lower iron setting than waxes for colder temperatures. If you make the iron too hot, the wax will smoke, and too cold, it won’t melt effectively.
Next, tie the brakes up with brake retainers.
Know what the best are? Big, thick rubber bands that you can buy at OfficeMaxfor about $2.50 for a package of 10. If you are using the two chair method, you dont need to tie the breaks back, just put one of your boots into the bindings. Snowboards – you dont have breaks so you obviously dont need to tie back them back!
After the skis/snowboard are secure, use a cloth to wipe any remaining liquid or dirt off the base. Follow this by inspecting the skis/snowboard for any scratches or core shots.
Repair scratches if necessary.
If you do not find any deep scratches, then proceed onto step 5, but however if you do then continue reading. If the scratches go all the way down to the metal, they need to be welded, and you should take them in to your shop, if there are lighter scratches that need repairing, then you will need to get a stick of P-Tex, a lighter, and a scraper. What you need to do first is light the P-Tex stick, hold the lighter to one end until it is lit like a candle (It will light a little faster if you first whittle the tip into a point). The burning end will begin to drip, you want to just touch this end to the scratch, so that the melted plastic drips off onto the ski/snowboard. Try not to let the first few drops land on the ski/snowboard, as they will be burnt and not hold as well. Fill the scratch completely, but don’t overload the area, that just makes the next part harder. Wait until the P-Tex is cooled and hard, this shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. When it is dry, use the scraper at about a 45 degree angle to scrape off any excess P-Tex until it is as flat as you can get it. It is best to take it to a shop where they can do a full base grind, but doing it yourself will save you a lot of money on smaller scratches.
Edge the skis/snowboard
Ski/snowboard edging Tip – Use a Marker
A good ski filing tip to remember, is to run a magic marker down the edge of the ski/snowboard before you begin to file. When you file the mark off you can be sure you are close to finishing that part of the edge, and you will know where to start your next stroke. Make your file strokes in lengths that don’t strain your arm by pulling the tool 16-18 inches, then overlapping. Always file in the same direction – from tip to tail.
File in the Same Direction – Tip to Tail
You can get a ski/snowboard angle file from your local snow shop. Theses files have the angles pre set, so you wont blunt your edges which is possible using a conventional file!If the file feels like it is not cutting, clean off the file with a wire brush or adjust it in the bevel tool to a new spot. If it is still not cutting get a new file. Test the sharpness of the edge of your file by rubbing a fingernail gently across the edge. A finished sharp edge will remove a visible wrap of your nail, while a dull edge will not.
Fine Tuning Your Skis/snowboard
Once both edges of a ski/snowboard are done, run a fine diamond stone or piece of fine bit of sandpaper (emery paper) over the edge.
Wax the skis/snowboard.
It’s finally time to wax your skis/snowboard. First you must select your wax. To do this, you must look at the upcoming forecast and choose a wax that corresponds with the temperature for that day. It is better to err on the cold side, because if you put on a wax for a higher temperature, your skis/snowboard will become sticky and won’t glide nearly as well on the snow. What I do, is go into the local repair shop and ask them what wax they use, they know the conditions the best, much easier than trying to predict it yourself. After you select your wax, apply it generously across the ski/snowboard by placing the block against the iron and dripping it on. Once you have applied enough wax, “iron” it into your ski/snowboard, being careful not to stay on one spot for too long and continuously moving the iron. After you have completely ironed the wax into the base, set the ski aside and wait for the ski to cool for about 25 minutes before continuing on. While you wait for the ski to cool, tune the other ski until this same point.
End of Season??
Stop here if its the end of the season, and you wont be using your ski/snowboard for another 6 month. The think layer of wax helps protect the ski. Continue with the following steps at the beginning of the next season!
Also, to help keep your bindings in good condition, some people loosen off the dim setting. This helps rest the spring in the binding. PLEASE NOTE! Get a professional to reset the dim setting for you at the beginning of the next season. A dim setting set incorrectly could potential lead to some very serious injuries.
Scrape off excess wax.
After the skis/snowboard have sufficiently cooled, place the ski/snowboard back in the vice and use a plastic scraper to scrape the excess wax off the ski/snowboard. Although there are metal scrapers on the market, there’s a possibility that these will destroy the base structure of the ski/snowboard, making it much less effective in the snow and thus much slower. Always scrap the ski/snowboard from tip to tail, as this is the way your ski/snowboard will move over the snow, and always angle the scraper towards you as you move down the ski/snowboard. Scrape the ski/snowboard until there is very little wax coming off with each pass.
The next step in tuning is brushing the remaining wax from your base. Start with a stiff brush, such as horse hair, and again brush beginning at the tip of the ski/snowboard and ending at the tail. Brush the ski/snowboard out again until very little wax is coming out, and repeat this process with a nylon brush if you want to get a perfect wax. Sound too hardout? dont have these brushes? Some people miss this step out, but what I do and is also quite common is use a Scotch Brite Pad, purchased from the supermarket! It works really well.
If you have done everything correctly, you now have a perfectly tuned ski/snowboard that is ready to rip it up on the slopes! Have fun!