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Ski and Snowboarding Basic Tuning Guidelines!

Ski Care and Maintenance

Like a car, if you don't keep up on the maintenance, your skis or snowboard won't perform properly. Maintaining your equipment properly will assure your continued pleasure with your equipment. Sharp edges give you control. Clean waxed bases make it easier to turn. Proper tuning ensures easy turning and control for the beginner to intermediate and more control and performance for the expert. Your tuning efforts will assure you of all the performance and enjoyment your equipment has to offer.

Do It Yourself Ski Tuning

Maintaining your skis or snowboards is simple. But before you start, you'll need some basic tuning equipment.

Basic tuning equipment should contain:

  1. A ski/snowboard Mill bastard 8" or 10" file (Do not use a file from a hardware store. Your edges are made of much harder steel than these files.)
  2. File cleaner
  3. Steel scraper
  4. Plastic scraper (heavy duty)
  5. Base repair candle
  6. Base wax
  7. Base cleaner
  8. A deburring stone or pad
If you get more involved, invest in a vice, brake bands, true bar, beveler, hot wax iron and temperature wax. Once you have your basic tuning equipment, here are some steps on how to go about it.

Preparation

Make sure your equipment is at room temperature and clean before work begins. Remove old wax and dirt from the bottoms with a good base cleaner. DO NOT use gasoline or household cleaners as they can damage your bases. If you are doing filing, make sure your equipment is secure with a vice.

Base Repair

Remove any loose material by scraping it away with a metal scraper. Clean the gouges then fill by dripping a base repair stick in the gouges. Start by lighting the base repair stick with a match or lighter. Once lit, keep the flame low by holding the base repair stick close to the metal scraper. Make sure to rotate the repair stick while it's lit on the metal scraper until the flame is blue and carbon (black soot) free. Then drip the base repair stick into the damaged area. It's best to fill a little at a time and in layers until the gouge is full. Allow the repair to cool completely and then level excess with the metal scraper. Large damaged areas are best left to a shop that have the proper tools and experience.

Edge Repair

Damage caused by rock impact can be removed from the edge by using a file or deburring stone. Use the file and stone alternately until the edge is smooth before you move to normal filing procedures. If the edge has pulled away, it's best have a specialty ski shop do the repair.

Basic Edge Sharpening

To enhance control and performance of your equipment, use the file to make the bases flat and the edges sharp. Place the file between both hands and pull the file in one direction only with overlapping strokes. Keep the file flat by placing your thumbs on the file where the file touches the edges. Always try to file from tip to tail. If you can not, your last strokes with the file should be from tip to tail. Keep the file clean with the brush to maximize cutting and prevent the filings from being forced into the base.

Continue until the base is flat with the edges. Use a true bar to determine the ski base flatness. Make checks in several spots along the ski. When the whole length of the ski is flat, use the file on the side edge. With both hands, hold the file 90° to the base, file each side edge tail to tip. Round off the edge of the tip and tail beyond the snow contact point. This will prevent the skis from hooking and grabbing. With very light strokes and at a 45° angle, use the stone to remove burrs left by the filing process. The edge should now be sharp enough to shave your fingernail!

More advanced tuners will bevel their edges at this point to increase control and performance. This is done by using bevel sleeves or bevel tool.

NOTE! The file cuts in one direction only. Drawing it backwards quickly dulls the file. To cut, move the file away from the tang (pointed end). When tuning your equipment, work in an area such as the garage or basement where excess wax and metal shavings can be cleaned easily off the floor. Also, tuning vices are recommended to secure your equipment while you work on them.

Hot Waxing:

There is no substitute for a good hot wax. This allows you to turn easier, glide faster and adds to base durability. Rub on waxes or liquid waxes last for a few runs to a day but don't offer the protection a hot wax can offer. You require very few tools and for the cost, it's the best thing you can do for your skis or snowboard.

Before starting, make sure your skis or snowboard are up to room temperature. It's best to wax on a bench over a concrete floor as you'll probably get some wax drippings which are next to impossible to get out of a carpet. Then secure your gear in a vice. Next, clean your base with a base cleaner or wax remover. DO NOT use gasoline as this can damage your base. Select a proper wax according to the temperature or use a good universal wax.

Ski Waxing Step by Step Instructions!


Drip Wax

Wax melts best with a waxing iron.Melting ski wax drips onto the base which then must be spread out into a thin layer with your waxing iron.
Select the iron temperature (usually between 115 - 120 degrees) that enables the wax to drip off the iron but does not cause the wax to smoke. If the wax is smoking, turn down the temp! Hold the wax against the bottom of the iron and drip the wax onto your base. Use less wax at first as you'll have less to scrape off later. You can always add more wax until you get the feel of it.

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Smooth Wax

Melt ski wax with a waxing iron for best results.
After you drip the wax on your bases, start melting the wax drips with the iron and smooth the wax into the bases. (You do not have to wait for the wax to cool.) Make sure you keep the iron constantly moving. Moving the iron too fast will not allow the wax to melt. Take care that no area gets too warm as you can damage your base. When done correctly, the melted wax will look like a thick layer of clear water on your base. Make sure the entire base is covered.

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Scrape Wax

Wax scrapers will scrap off excess wax when the scraper is sharp.
After a complete cooling, (about 20 minutes) use a plastic scraper to remove the excess wax from the base. Keep your scraper at a slight angle. Also, don't forget to scrape the excess wax from the sides. 
TIP! Keep your scraper sharp! 
A sharp scraper will remove excess wax much easier.

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Buff Wax

Brush off excess wax after scraping your skis or snowboards.
Many skis and snowboards are tuned with a stone grinder and have a structured base. (These are the fine lines in your bases.) This structure allows the base to glide over the snow easier. When you wax your bases, these lines are still filled in by the wax after you scrape. By using a buff pad or brush, it will remove the excess wax the scraper failed to get and will give you the final finish.

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Video Tutorial Coming Soon!