Ski & Snowboard Tune-up Protocol

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Ski & Snowboard Tune up Protocols

 The do-it-yourself minor repair, structure, tune and wax guide

 

Preparation

Wear light maneuverable gloves: Gloves prevents oil from your hands contaminating your base as well as minimizes the chance of getting metal shaving splinters or cutting your hands on the sharp edges or tools.

Ski Brake retraction: We'll start with the easy one. Use a big fat rubber band to hold your ski brakes up, or get a couple of the pre-formed rubber ski brake retainers designed for the job.

Support: If you can position your skis or snowboard so that both ends are supported by something, you will do a better job. The easiest thing is four short pieces of 2 x 4 stacked, nailed together, and the top covered with a rag. In a pinch lay them across an open large box.  If you are going to do any tuning it is better to make sure the skis or board is not going to move while filing or scraping.  A bench with ski/snowboard stand, and a vise is advised.

Cleaning the Base

Clean the base:  Do this in a well ventilated area. Must clean the base before you do any base repair, tuning or waxing. Bases constantly going over grime, debris, pollen and oils.  The oils in the man-made snow can gum up your skis, even in cold weather the traces of goo from man-made snow accumulates on the base. Pollen from the tree embed in the base act like velcro on the snow.  With a cloth (lint fee if possible) wipe down the entire ski or snowboard especially the base. Remove any old wax off your skis prior to any maintenance. Use a scraper to scrape off as much old wax as possible, then clean the bases with base cleaner or if you do not have base cleaner other substitutes are listed below, then wipe clean with a cloth (best to use lint free cloth). Wipe the solvent on the board wait about 15 to 30 seconds and wipe it dry.  Repeat 3 times.  Make sure the board is thoroughly dry before proceeding to work on the equipment. Then use a copper or brass or bronze or soft, fine steel brush and vigorously brush out any grime and / or old wax I recommend going tail to tip with the brushes as the stiffer brass or bronze or soft, fine steel brushes especially will cause fine cuts in the plastic polyethylene base forming micro plastic hairs.  By moving the brush from tail to tip it results in the hairs lying with the forward direction of the ski or board minimizing their resistance affect. After brass or bronze brushing rub vigorously the base with a Fibrertex or Scotch-brite or best yet with a Omni-prep pad to rid any plastic micro-hairs created from especially the bronze or brass brushing or soft fine steel brush. note brushing with the softer copper brush produces little to no micro plastic hairs.  The use of Brass or bronze bristleor soft, fine steel  brush is necessary if hard wax is used on your base. 

Substitutes to base cleaner:  Basically,  wax can be dissolve by non-polar solvents as well as citrus oils.  Here are some suggestions from other people but, I have not tried many of these since I typically have recommended base cleaner. But if you are in a pinch these maybe options but take care, we are not responsible for damages regarding there use: Orange degrease solvent, Citra Kleen, citric-naptha wax remover, d-limonene,  mineral spirits, methylated spirits, Chevron 350B, lighter fluid, paint thinner, kerosene.

Use all solvent products carefully some are toxic, carcinogenic, flammable, corrosive and hazardous so use sparingly remembering that base cleaning fluids can tend to dry out the base accelerating oxidation and may leave an oily film which can hinder wax adhesion and absorption to the polyethylene base.  This is why I recommend even if you use a base cleaner to do a Hot Wax Scrape cleaning process before you wax your skis. The Hot Wax Scrape technique will recondition, revitalize and refresh the base pores as will as remove further grime out of them. It will also begin a good foundation for attachment for further layering of wax.

As a basic practice a good equipment hygiene we recommend wiping down the ski or snowboard after each day of riding with a clean cloth, preferably a lint free soft cloth.  Wipe the whole equipment dry and clean. This will minimize rusting of edges, reduce the grime penetration on the base and extend binding function.  For base cleaning with a copper brush see wax section below.

 

Truing the base

Flat Base: Make sure your ski bases are flat. You can do this with a true-bar or straight edge or if you have a good steel scraper, just run it along the base and look for gaps. Make sure you have some backlighting so you can see light seep through any cracks between the straight edge and the base.  Recommend hold the ski or snowboard up to a light with the base up and lay the straight edge across the shovel  and then run the straight edge back to the tail see any light shining between the straight edge and the base.

If you have bumps (convex base) in the polyethylene remove the excess -tex with a steel scraper preferably one that has been burnished. Always work in one direction, I recommend tail to tip again because so if you form a small cut the slope side faces forward.  However, technically you will need to make the whole length of the base smooth but real life says you will have some imperfections so lets have the imperfection with minimal impact to our riding.   If polyethylene base is removed there most likely be a need to restructure the base (see below base structuring.)  The base structuring will also smoothen the base flat.

If the steel edges are higher than the base (concave base) then use a double cut file or a panzer file to remove large excess steel edges to level it with the the polyethylene base. If just a little edge needs to be removes you can use a single cut file or even a coarse diamond stone. File one edge at a time. Laying the file flat on the edge at a 45 degree angle across the ski or snowboard with the file tail (tang) pointing towards your direction place one hand on the file portion over the ski's base. The file cuts in one direction and with the file tail (tang) point towards your direction you will have to push the file away from you to cut the edge.  If you are more comfortable pulling the file then point the file tang in the direction away from you keeping the file at a 45 degree angle to the ski or snowboard.  Do not put pressure on the ends of the file as you are filing that will cause you to bevel the edges. The file strokes should be a length that you are comfortable with, overlapping the strokes as you move along the ski or snowboard. Pressure just enough to make smooth even filing.  Clean the teeth of the file with a file card or wire brush after every few strokes. Wipe the filings off the base gently with a fine brush or cloth so that they do not cut or embed in the polyethylene base. Remember the base is clean and there should not be any wax on the base for this operation. If initially using a double cut file or panzer file as the edge becomes very near to the level of the polyethylene base switch to a single cut file or a coarse diamond stone and finish the edge down to the level of the base.  The edges are now ready to be beveled.

 

 Minor edge repair

 

 Edges get dulled to some degree every time you ride, and occasionally experience other damage due to snow abrasiveness (especially man-made snow, frozen corn or ice), snow contaminants (dirt, ash, cinders), hard objects (rocks, metal stakes, etc.) or by accidentally slapping or scissoring tips together in a turn or off-balance recovery. The extent of this damage ranges from major (bent or broken edges…), to moderate rock nicks or dings, to minor dulling, small scratches or vertical edge burrs.

 

Burrs- are nicks or jagged rough sections on the ski's edges.  Hitting rocks that was hiding under the snow. Burrs can result in trouble initiating a turn, or not holding a straight line on flats.  A good policy is to deburr your edges after each day of riding or at at least before every waxing of your ski or board.  Using a coarse gummi stone (usually Grey in color) or a medium grit honing stone or a medium grit diamond stone remove the burr by first wetting the stone with water or water/alcohol mixture then laying the stone flat on the metal by the burr and then rubbing the burr area.  For large burs may require a panzer file followed by a sharpening /honing stone.

For micro-burrs such as after filing use a fine gummi stone (usually red in color)

 

Pressure Harden edges- the pressure and heat of impact on the edge causes the metal to become “work-hardened” (case-harden) and files just slips right over the area subsequently too hard to cut with a file. Stones either a ceramic or diamond stone can soften the work-harden metal. These case harden areas can dull the file when sharpening the edges by chipping the cutting teeth of the file.

 

Rusted edges- A Grey Gummy  (coarse) stone is great for removing rust as well as burrs. Emery cloth also works well.

 

A good policy is to check your edges for deburr or work-harden areas or rust on your edges and remove them right after they occur or after each day of riding and at the very least before every waxing of your ski or board.

 

 

 

Minor Base Repairs

 

P-texing: Check to see if you need to fill in any gouges. Remember, most p-texing is really not required. Minor -- even medium -- grooves in your skis will not hamper performance, unless your racing.

Deep gouges should be repaired. First clean the gouge area with base cleaner and then emery cloth the gouge groove to roughen it and increase the surface area in the gouge. Then clean the gouge once again with base cleaner and let it dry completely (at least 15  minutes to be on the safe side). I like to hair dry the area of the gouge to make sure the solvent has all evaporated and it warms the area for added p-tex repair. Choose the appropriate color P-tex stick (P-tex candle) and light the stick on fire, soften it up, blow out the fire, roll off the burned part on a piece of wood, and press the clean molten p-tex into the hole. The easier way is to just drip it in while it's flaming, but this increases the chance of drips of blacken burned carbon onto your skis. To reduce the burned carbon keep the flame at a blue cool color by holding a steel scraper near the flame to cool the temperature around the flame down by drawing heat. While this is happening molten hot p-tex is dripping so do this over some type of catch that is safe.   Either way works, of course, but the burnt carbon residue is undesirable weakening the hold capacity of the new p-tex to the base. Also it look ugly if your base is another color other than black. Fill the gouge with molten p-tex until the new p-tex bulges higher than the base surface.  You can then press the p-tex with a metal roller or metal rocker weight.  You can also use the metal scraper and press down on the bulging hot p-tex by laying the scraper flat on the new p-tex.  Allow the p-tex to harden, shrink and adhere to the base. You want the newly added p-tex to stick out higher than the base after it cools down. This can take more than 60 minutes to cool down but it is important to let the p-tex contract (shrink) to its fullest.  Next, use a metal scraper (preferably with a burnished edge but in any case make sure the edge is filed flat so it is sharp in order to cleanly scrape the excess p-tex off, and leave the filled part even and flat with the surrounding base of the skis.  Ribbion p-tex is harder than the candle p-tex and is a superior way to go if you can get it and also have a hot iron tool to melt it and apply it.

P-tex can also be used to fill in gouges in the top sheet -- if you feel you must. It isn't the ideal material for this, but it'll work to keep moisture out of the ski preventing it from delaminating.

Oxidiized base- If you been riding but haven't been waxing your skis or board you will notice that the the polyethylene base will take on a dull grey or white dry look color.  Oxidization of the base will breakdown the polyethylene causing it to lose its elasticity and flexibility.  Severe oxidation will make the base brittle.  Oxidized base will minimize adhesion of wax to it as well as damage the porous nature of the base to wax. The polyethylene base when new is amorphous or absorbs wax easily.  If oxidized the base will not absorb the wax as easily.  To remove a top layer of oxidize base and expose a fresh layer wrap a piece of 220 grit silicone carbide sandpaper around a true bar or file, and make numerous passes with this ‘sanding bar’ down the length of the base from tip to tail. This will clean away any grunge or leftover wax, as well as help expose the base structure. Then follow this with several passes with a brass brush and then with vigorous aggressive Fibertexing (Omni-pad works best but Fibertex pad is good). The purpose of Fibertex or Omni-pad is to remove any remaining base oxidation and microscopic polyethylene hairs that occur from steel scraping, sanding, or stone grinding. The fibertexing can be done by hand for 10-15 minutes per ski. When looking at the base under a microscope you will find the base covered with polyethylene hair. It is very important for good glide that these hairs be removed.  Traditional fibertex reduces the size of the polyethylene hairs, but also creates more, smaller, hairs. OmniPrep pads is very effective at removing the polyethylene hair without creating the smaller hairs.

 

Base Structuring

Base structure:  Is a pattern of little grooves on the bottoms of your skis or snowboard. Structuring is the practice of creating a series of very small, parallel grooves on the entire surface of your ski or snowboard bases. The purpose of structuring is increase glide under different conditions of snow crystal shapes, snow hardness, snow humidity, liquid water content, etc... Skiing or boarding is actually riding on a thin layer of water more than just sliding on ice crystals so that the theoretically proper amount of water is needed between ski and snow to provide optimal glide. it is typically determined that for glide structure it needs to be small grooves when snow temps are cold, and they need to be bigger when snow temps are warmer.  

Structure Type: In cold, dry snow you want to increase the amount of water present between ski and snow for maximum glide. You do this by increasing the friction between the ski base and the snow. By increasing the area of base that touches the snow, you increase friction...so, you want to have lots of grooves to create enough water to slide. The more, the better. To increase the number of grooves, they have to be small (.5 mm between ridges or less).

An easy way to create this structure is by taking it to your local stone grinding ski shop or if you are a do-it-yourselfer here are some guidelines.  You have to hand sand the ski bases with increasingly fine grades of silicone carbide sandpaper...start with 120, and work your way to 220. Use a sanding block to keep the bases flat, and sand from tail to tip of the ski. A tail to tip sanding would make any loose p-tex hairs to lay flat pointed toward the tail of the ski for less friction.    Follow up the sanding by rubbing the skis down with a plastic bristle pad such as Fibertex or Scotch-Brite, a cleaning pad available in most grocery stores. Follow this with Omni-prep pad another specific type of pad that is the best for removing very fine plastic mirco-hairs. These pads are critical to rid of the plastic "hairs" created by sanding which will cause slowing of the ski or snowboard on snow.  If you can not get omni-prep pad, Fibertex or Scotch-brite pad will do a very decent job of eliminating most of the micro hair.  You may just have to be more vigorous with the scotch-brite polishing.

 In warm, wet gloppy snow you have the reverse problem. Too much friction creates too much water which sucks your skis to the snow, makes 'em feel "sticky." Now you need coarser structure, we want to try for grooves spaced .75 mm apart or more. Now we work with 80 grit or even 60 grit sandpaper. Another way is to use the edge of a file, or by brushing with a stiff, sharp-bristled steel wire brush. Follow up the sanding by rubbing the skis down with a plastic bristle pad such as Fibertex or Scotch-Brite and then followed by omni-prep pad. This is done to get rid of the plastic "micro-hairs" created by sanding as mentioned right above.

Other ways to create base structure by hand is using a riller bar that looks like a file and you press in grooves as you run it along the base. Riller bars come in different size grooves for cold to warm weather. 

You can also use  a regular file that has a fine or medium or coarse filing to create structure.  The file is placed on its narrow side and slightly tilted and run along the base to create the grooves.

Always run a Fibertex or Scrotch-brite pad and then an Omni-prep pad on the base to remove any fine micro-hairs that it may have produced.

Another tool is a skiver tool that cuts in grooved patterns.  This tool has sharp teeth that cuts into the base making a more longer lasting pattern than the riller or file that just presses in the grooves.  Though the manufacturer claims no micro hairs are produced in this pattern cutting method, I still recommend running a Fibertex or Scotch-brite pad and then an Omni-prep pad to remove any micro-hairs that just maybe produce in the process.  Won't have to rub as hard with the pads. 

Remember that after you structure and rub out the micro-hairs with Fibertex or Scotch-Brite pad and Omni-prep pad you need to base "Hot Wax Scrape" at least 3 times to remove even more fine hairs created by the structuring process and by the pads themselves. 

Note about Waxing and retaining base structure: Wax naturally fills in all the grooves but brushing with a nylon brush after waxing gets the wax out of the grooves, in other words, it should "coat" the grooves -- not fill them in.

Structure eventually wears down. How long it lasts depends on the frequency with which you ski and also on snow conditions. You can eyeball your bases and just re-do the structure if it appears to be worn down

 

Edge Sharpening

 Sharpening the edges:  Scrape off any excess wax from base, otherwise it will gum up your file.  Better yet clean the base.

Obtain a regular mill bastard file. Because the metal edges are hard steel a more expensive Chrome file will maintain its file cutting teeth sharper longer than the regular files. So if you can afford it get the Chrome files.  File lengths recommended are 6 and 8 inch for sides and 8 or 10 or 12 or 14 inch for base.  I typically use an 8 inch for both side and base edges.

Best to have a ski stand and vice or a snowboard stand with rubber caps to hold the ski and board securely.  Another way is to make a block stand (make sure the stand lifts the binding high enough so it does not hit the table or bench) with wood blocks with a rubber like cap on top to hold the skis or board.   Position the shovel of the ski on one block, and the tail of the ski or board on the other This allows the ski or board to flex as you go, but still enables it to keep the skis stable and steady while you cut the edges with the file.

I like to start with the sides.

First of all make sure that your side walls do not interfere with the edge sharpening.  If it does you need to trim down the side walls.  You should only trim down just enough to be able to sharpen the side edge.  Using a side wall trimming tool you can run it along your side edge and it will trim off the side wall.  If you do not have one then I use the tail end or tang of the file.  The file tang has a hard edge to it and you can use the hard edge of the tang to shave off the side wall. Again do not remove too much at a time.

Now that you have the side wall out of the way you can proceed with he edge sharpening to the correct bevel angle.

Using an edge filing bevel tool first make sure it is set at the correct bevel angle.  Then place the tool properly on the edge with the file in the correct direction for cutting and run the tool from tip to tail.

If you do not have an edge sharpening bevel tool then to do the sides of the ski, hold the file flat against the side edge (as flat as you can on the side edge) and carefully file down the edge from tip to tail. If you are somewhat skilled in feeling the edge's flatness with the file you will be fine matching the angle of the edge or be close enough.  To help guide you on the side edge filing use a marking pen on the edge and then file it off evenly.  When all the ink is removed evenly you know that you have achieved some form of even filing matching the previous bevel angle. By sharpening the sides first, you make use of the bottom flatness, to  "trues up" the sharpening when you sharpen the base edge that is if you do not have a edge sharpening tool.

To sharpen the base edge, use the base bevel tool guide to set the file for the correct bevel and run the file on the guide tool down from tip to tail. Keeping the file flat against the guide and the bottom of your skis with two hands, and draw it along the base.

If you do not have a base bevel tool then here are two ways. To Obtain a close 1º bevel on the bases, hold the file on each side, press hard on each side, and the slight flexing in the center of the file (over the center of your ski bases) will naturally create a very slight bevel. Another way is to wrap blue painters tape or duct tape or masking tape twice around on one end of the file.  Allow the tape to rest on the base near the opposite edge that you sharpening so that the file makes an angle on the edge you want to cut. That will raise the file up enough to give you approximately 1 degree bevel. If you use the wrap tape to give you a bevel angle do not press down on the ends of the file to make it bend otherwise you will create a larger angle than 1 degree.

To use a file: Hold the file flat down on the base at an approximate 45 degree angle, if you are filing away from you, the tang (pointy tail end or rat tail) end of the file should be pointing toward you, if you are drawing the file back the tang should be pointing away.  Clean the file teeth with a file card or wire brush after a few strokes will make the cutting go faster. The amount of pressure applied to the file is the key to a smooth even tune. Your file strokes should be only as long as you can comfortably make them, overlapping each other along the length of the edge.

For base filing, may want to try three passes down the ski with an 8"mill file. The first pass is made using 3 or 4 overlapping file strokes with fairly light pressure. The second pass is made with heavier pressure, but again making 3 or 4 overlapping strokes. On the third and final pass, make one long stroke down the entire length of the base. After filing one base edge this way, then flip the ski around in and bevel the other edge, but this time working from tail-to-tip so as not to change your body position or filing movements.

As a general rule on sharpening your edges on skis that are well kept up, since files are better suited for initially cutting and establishing side and base bevel angles. Files should only be used afterwards to occasionally re-sharpen side edges…and never base edges, where they can all-too-easily remove too much steel and p-tex material, thereby inadvertently creating excess base bevel.

Caution: Too often or over sharpening and base grinding can reduce the life of your ski or board and thin the edges and bases exposing the equipment to greater damage.  Rock damage can be more severe as they can penetrate a thinner base or edge to the core and making the repairs much more difficult or impossible due to lack of remaining material for patches or replacement to adhere to.

Caring for your file: 1. Do not back slide your file. Files are meant to cut in one direction and backsliding or drawing them can cause the cutting teeth to break. 2. Remove all case-harden areas from the edge with a diamond stone before filing.  3. do not store files stack on each other.  They will wear each others cutting teeth down.  4. Brush the files clean using a file card often.  5. Chalk the file by rubbing a thin layer of chalk on them, making the file slide easier along the base, reduces loading, and absorbs hand oil.  6. rejuvenate the files by soaking them in file sharpening solution (usually overnight).  It will remove away old duller teeth and metal and expose sharper teeth. Can double the life of a normal file. However, will not work for Chrome files. 7. To remove wax fro you file teeth try warming the file up with a hair dryer and then brush out the wax.

De-Burring edges.  After filing the edge burrs are created on the edges by the filing process.  Run a gummy stone along the edges to knock off these small filing burrs.  Wet the gummi stone before use with water or water/alcohol mixture. Make a quick pass along the entire length of your ski or board's edge with the Gummi Stone to remove burrs after you sharpen your edges Do the side edges then the base edges..  The hard red Gummi Stone works better for deburring edges.

 Note on deburring: is the process of removing rough burrs from the side and base steel edges of skis or snowboards every time you either file 'em or after a day of ridin' 'em on the slopes. It's done with a deburring stone. This helps keep edges smoothly sharp, and free of nicks, rust, raggedness and roughness. Using a coarse gummi stone (usually Grey in color) or a medium grit honing stone or a medium grit diamond stone remove the burr by first wetting the stone with water or water/alcohol mixture then laying the stone flat on the metal by the burr and then rubbing the burr area.

Polishing the edges- This helps maintain sharp crisp edges as well as provide a smoother surface that glides faster and resists rust better.

A simple fast way to polish the edges is use a bit of emery cloth or 400 grit sand paper to polish the edges.

A better way is to start with a 325 to 400-grit diamond stone for side edges, and a 400-grit hard stone for base edges. Use them with a bevel guide and make light overlapping strokes from tip-to-tail. Then repeat the process using finer (600 grit) stones to repeat the same process, finishing with light, full-length tip-to-tail passes.

For serious racers then progress up to ultra fine 1500-grit stones for mirror-like results, for less serious racers  it is adequate making finishing passes on both side and base edges with a 600 or 1200-grit ceramic stone, or a hard or translucent Arkansas stone.

Important to spray water or a water/alcohol mix on stones before using to provide lubrication and help “float” away excess grinding debris minimizing loading up up the stone reducing cutting and polishing capability.

The difference between a fine ceramic or Arkansas stone vs a diamond stone is that a fine ceramic or Arkansas stone will hone the edges instead of ‘sanding’ them. The diamond stone, is more like sanding or ‘softening’ the edge surface, (it is more rougher and takes off more metal even with the same grit as the ceramic stone) so finish with a hard stone to smoothly hone it to final race-ready condition.

De-TuningDe-tuning is the dulling of your board or ski just ahead of and behind the running surface. This is to aid in transition and turning to prevent catching the tip and tail.  Detuning is more for straighter skis and less or not needed for shaped skis since the shaped skis use the contact points to initiate the turn.

The Gummi Stone is great for detuning your tips and tails, making it less likely you'll catch an edge while carving. The gray medium grit Gummi Stone works better for detuning.  If you do not have a gummy stone use a medium to fine grit whet or honing or ceramic stone or even diamond stone can be used. In fact if you have none of those try an emery cloth.

Remember detuning is a subtle dulling of an edge's sharpness or base bevel near tips and tails to intentionally adjust performance of a ski or board. On old traditional skis, detuning behind the contact points made a skis less grabby and "hooky" for easier control...but detuning a shaped ski can make the ski more "nervous" due to shortening the effective running surface, plus the skis won't initiate turns as desired due to the decreased radius and running surface. So for shaped skis find the contact point of the tip and tail (you can do this by placing the ski on a flat surface and marking the sidewall at the points that the ski contacts the flat surface) and detune from contact point forward on the tip and contact point backward on the tail.

Dulling - It's usually done on new skis or boards with a file and/or deburring stone to intentionally dull (or radically bevel) base edges at the very tip and tail where skis and boards lift up out of the snow. Edges here curve dramatically in toward each other, and should be addressed so they don't unexpectedly engage in bump troughs, ruts, crusty snow or other condition that redirects the skis's direction from the planned line of travel downhill.

 

Base Preparation Waxing

or

Hot Wax Scrap Process

Make sure you do this in a well ventilated room. For this you will need to wipe clean the base with a lint free cloth making sure you remove as much grime and any metal shavings (if you filed your edges).  If you had used very hard wax on your bases then you may want to clean your base with a base cleaner first (see above section on "Cleaning Base").  Now obtain a base preparation wax or a Spring ski wax or a soft all temperature ski wax. Turn the iron on...and set the temperature of the iron at low - medium heat (set it to 110 – 150 oC., if using a home iron here is a guide line: rarely do you need to set the clothing iron for waxing purposes higher than "Cotton Blends".  For regular waxing no higher than "Rayon".  Higher settings above Rayon usually result in excessive wax fumes and potentially smoke from burning wax. Recommend setting the iron between "Acrylic" and "Nylon/Silk". Let the iron warm up for 15 minutes first at this low setting.)  Test the wax against the iron...make sure that the wax melts freely, but does not smoke. Smoking means you are changing the properties of the wax making it a less effective glide wax.  The smoke is also hazardous and you do not want to breath in any smoke. Make sure you have good ventilation and a appropriate respiratory mask to be worn is recommended in case of fume generation.

Note the  melting point of p-tex base can be as low as 135 °C and the epoxy resin used for laminating the layers of the skis or snowboard is aprox 152°C. so there is not much play between melting wax and melting the bases or damaging the construction. The key is not to let the iron sit on the base but keep it moving (slow is ok) and make sure there is always wax between the iron and the base.

The base preparation wax is soft and has a lower melting temperature than most other waxes so the set the iron at the low end around 110oC.

I now let the iron set for a while in a safe area to stabilize its temperature.  While the iron temperature is stabilizing I crayon the base preparation wax on the base of the ski or snowboard covering the whole base surface.

Now I will add a bit more base preparation wax by dripping melted wax on top of the crayoned wax. Holding the iron vertically take a stick of the Base Preparation wax and touch it directly to the tip of the iron so the wax melts and runs off the iron and onto the ski without having to drip all the way down the iron. Once the wax drips on the ski, move the iron in a circular motion and then down the length of the ski, so that you have a number of little drops of wax on the bases. You do not need much dripping wax just a few drips just to make sure you have good wax coverage when you melt the wax into the base on the next step.

Next, Start at one end of the ski or snowboard and iron in the wax to spread it evenly the wax on the base all over the ski or snowboard base. Once this is done go back and start at one end of the ski, turning the iron sideways, set the iron down on the ski and move it slowly and steadily down the entire length of the ski. Very slowly...as you move you should see about 4 to 6 inch of melted wax tail behind your iron. if need be make one more pass with the iron.

Note warming the ski or snowboard bottom opens up the pores of the base and actually draws the wax into the base! During the ironing the base material usually reaches a temperature of 100-110 degrees centigrade allowing the pores to open up absorbing in the wax. It is best to work the ski in sections so as to avoid over-heating the ski and the base. As you are ironing if you see dry spots develop, as the base absorbs wax, add more wax. You never want to run a hot iron over dry ski base.

If you have fiberlene paper you can also enhance the distribution of the wax and maintain a more constant melting temperature by placing the fiberlene paper between the iron and the wax on the base as you iron.  Just pull the fiberlene paper and iron together melting the wax under the fiberlene paper.  Maintain a 4 to 6 inch tail of melted wax following the iron just as you would above. (Typically I do not use the fiberlene paper for the Hot Wax Scrape process but use it when applying my Base Foundation and Hot waxing stage as well as Top Wax layer if it requires a hot iron, but I mention it here for those who feel it should also be done in the Hot Wax Scrape process.) If you use the fiberlene technique you will discover that there is a timing technique required to pulling the fiberlene paper with the iron to avoid too rapid a cooling of the wax and making the fiberlene paper stick to the waxed base. If it stick do not pull and tear the paper just allow the iron to sit a bit longer on the paper and the wax will melt underneath and you can freely pull the paper with the iron on it.

While the wax is still warm scrape as much of the base wax off with a plastic acrylic scraper .  The warm wax will pull out any impurities out of the base pores cleaning the base at the same time as coating the pores with the base wax. 

Then with a brass or bronze brush or copper brush, brush the base. The brush will pop out any base wax out of the pores.  For soft wax use copper brush, for harder wax you may need to use brass or bronze. Brush the base out thoroughly in the opposite direction (tail to tip).  This way if micro polyethylene hairs (fuzz) are produce during the brushing they will lay with the direction of the running base. The copper brush is softer and will not create as much micro polyethylene hairs (fuzz) as the brass or bronze brush.

Use a fibertex pad or scotch brite or better yet use a Omni-Prep pad to remove any 'fuzz' created by the brushing. Vigorously wipe the base.

 Note: If hard wax was applied to base: use a base cleaner then wipe off.  Let dry and then brush with a brass or bronze or soft, fine steel brush for removing any remaining hard waxes. Follow with fibertex or Scotch britepad or better a Omni-Prep pad to remove any micro hairs created by the brass, bronze or steel brushing. Then proceed with the Hot Wax Scrape.

Do this Hot Wax Scrape Process three times if necessary to remove grime, oil and debris out of the pores of the base. If you are working on a brand new race ski then do this at 20 to 40 times to really condition the ski.

 

Base Foundation

Priming the base-Now to set in the Base Preparation Wax into the pores of the base as a first layer protecting the pores and also providing a strong base foundation layer for the next wax to adhere strongly to again apply the base wax as before but this time allow the wax to cool and the wax/base to cure (at least 20 minutes and best over night curing).  Just follow the Hot Wax Scrape Process for applying wax except allow the wax to cool for 20 minutes before scraping.

Curing: This process opens the pores of the base and pulls the wax into it. Once you've completed three passes, set the ski aside, and let it cool for about 20 minutes. It must be cold to the touch before you scrape. The longer you allow the wax to cure with the base before scraping the better bonding it will have with the base.  Overnight curing is best.  If you can place the skis and board in a warm or hot box made specific to maintain a temperature of 50-55oC for overnight would be even better allowing the wax to saturate the pores.

If you have fiberlene paper you can also enhance the distribution of the wax and maintain a more constant melting temperature by placing the fiberlene paper between the iron and the wax on the base as you iron.  Just pull the fiberlene paper and iron together melting the wax under the fiberlene paper.  Maintain a 4 to 6 inch tail of melted wax following the iron just as you would above.  If you use the fiberlene technique you will discover that there is a timing technique required to pulling the fiberlene paper with the iron to avoid too rapid a cooling of the wax and making the fiberlene paper stick to the waxed base.  If it sticks do not pull and tear the paper just allow the iron to sit a bit longer on the paper and the wax will melt underneath and you can freely pull the paper with the iron on it.

Then scrape the wax off as much as possible. Do not brush at this stage.

You can now proceed with hot waxing.

Note: The Base Preparation establishes a base foundation, replaces the factory wax establishing a stronger bonding base for other waxes, refreshes old, oxidized or dry bases and the soft Base Preparation wax can also be used as an excellent summer storage wax or travel wax. If used for storage or travel wax do not scrape off excess wax until you are ready to put on the next layer of wax. 

Hot Waxing

Wax on: First Crayon on the wax that you want as your key layer to the base.  I typically use an All-Temperature wax for this stage. If the wax seems hard to crayon on, touch the wax to the iron to warm it up a bit and then quickly press the warm wax on the base crayoning it on.  Be careful not to burn yourself and just touch the wax to the iron so use a good size wax bar.  Repeat the iron touch then crayon on the base until the whole base is crayoned with a thin layer of wax.

Then holding the iron vertically upside down take a stick of the same wax (in my case the All Temperature wax) and touch it directly to the tip of the iron so the wax melts and runs off only the iron tip and onto the ski. Once the wax drips on the ski, move the iron in a circular motion and then down the length of the ski.  You do not need much wax dripping since you have a thin crayoned layer of wax on the base and we a just adding to make sure we have enough wax.

Next, Start at one end of the ski and iron in the wax to spread it evenly all over the ski. Once this is done go back and start at one end of the ski, turning the iron sideways, set the iron down on the ski and move it slowly and steadily down the entire length of the ski. Very slowly...as you move you should see about 4 to 6 inches of melted wax behind your iron. After the second pass, you should be able to feel warmth underneath the shovel or tip of your ski. Do this three times.

If you have fiberlene paper you can also enhance the distribution of the wax and maintain a more constant melting temperature by placing the fiberlene paper between the iron and the wax on the base as you iron.  Just pull the fiberlene paper and iron together melting the wax under the fiberlene paper.  Maintain a 4 to 6 inch tail of melted wax following the iron just as you would above.  If you use the fiberlene technique you will discover that there is a timing technique required to pulling the fiberlene paper with the iron to avoid too rapid a cooling of the wax and making the fiberlene paper stick to the waxed base.  If it stick do not pull and tear the paper just allow the iron to sit a bit longer on the paper and the wax will melt underneath and you can freely pull the paper with the iron on it.

Curing: This process opens the pores of the base and pulls the wax into it. Once you've completed three passes, set the ski aside, and let it cool for about 35 minutes. It must be cold to the touch before you scrape. The longer you allow the wax to cure with the base before scraping the better bonding it will have with the base.  Overnight curing is best.  If you can place the skis and board in a warm or hot box made specific to maintain a temperature of 50-55oC for overnight would be even better.

Scrape: Use a plastic acrylic scraper, place the scraper across the width of the ski or board base holding it either with the top edge slanted towards you or away from you and scrape down the length of the ski. Start at the tips, work your way to the tails. Scrape a couple of times until only slight wisps of wax come off.

Scraper maintenance: It is important that the scraper's edges are sharp and not dull.  Maintain a sharpen scraper's edges by running the narrow side of the scraper flat along a wall paper sanding grid or if you don't mind cleaning out the acrylic from the file or a coarse diamond stone they can also be used to keep the scraper side edges sharp.

Edge Cleaning: Using the notch of the corner of most ski and snowboard wax scraper clean the wax off the edges moving the scraper from tip to tail.  Then use a plastic pot scraper sponge to remove any wax dripping or excess wax on metal edge or sides.

Buff and Polish: First with the Fibertex or Scotch-Brite buff the base. Wipe the pad from tip to tail until you produce a nice buffed surface.

Next brush the base with a Nylon brush to remove wax out of structure.  Brush from tip to tail overlapping your brush strokes.  Spray a tiny amount of water on the base to make the brushing smoother and easier.  You will see little white dandruff of wax coming off the base. 

Then polish the base and structure with a Horsehair brush. Polish from tip to tail overlapping your brush strokes.  Spray a tiny amount of water on the base to make the brushing smoother and easier.  You will again see little white dandruff of wax coming off the base. 

Finally, use the Fibertex or Scotch Brite pad to wisp off and clean any of the small dandruff looking wax off the base.

The base should now have a sheen to it.  Test the base out by spraying water on the base and watch the water bead up on the base surface.  

 

Top Wax

 

For a top wax repeat the waxing procedure right on top of the previous wax.  This is usually a temperature specific wax or Spring wax or a racing wax.  If it contains a high fluorine content please be aware of special precautions, handling and application.

Different climate, weather, snow temperature, moisture content, terrain conditions, etc...might require different types of ski wax? Although the universal all-temperature waxes are usually suitable in a wide temperature range, skiers that desire optimal performance in specific conditions may want to consider a temperature-specific wax as a top wax.

  •  Cold ski wax is most suitable for snow temperatures of approximately 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius) and below. It is composed of a mix of paraffin and synthetic paraffin's. You will notice that cold wax has a harder texture than all-weather wax. That’s because hardening agents have been added to the mixture. The paraffin used may also be  more saturated (this is a fine line as saturation also increases the melting temperature of the wax.) This makes the wax more durable and resistant to the abrasion that is sometimes the result of the sharper snow crystals you find in cold weather conditions.

  • Midrange wax is most suitable for snow temperatures between 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius) and 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius). This mid-temperature wax does a good job at neutralizing the effects of moderately dry and wet friction.

  • For optimal skiing in snow temperatures of 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius) and above, consider using one a warm weather specific waxes. It is a softer wax that is composed of a mix of paraffin and silicone. Additionally, hydrophobic additives make this type wax water-repellent. Warm temperature wax is best for neutralizing the effects of wet friction.

Fluro Wax: Using a fluoro-carbon glide wax, typically hot waxing it in is not advised (unless it is done under specific care) because fluoro fumes are toxic.   Avoiding high heat to cause fumes, fluoro wax is instead applied by vigorously buffing by hand with a natural or synthetic cork until it takes on a glazed appearance. The excess wax is removed with a plastic scraper then the base structure is exposed with a nylon brush and finally polished using a horsehair brush.  If you smoke wash your hands thoroughly before touching a cigarette.

 

For recreational skiers and boarders who encounter various conditions throughout the day the fundamental all temperature wax can be a good wax choice.

 

Top and side wall of skis and snowboards can also receive some TLC.  Remove any plastic burrs with a sharp knife and file smoth.  Add some liquid or paste wax to the sidewalls and top to keep snow from sticking and dragging. 

At the end of the day: After each ski or board day clean the base bottom with a copper brush.  The Copper brush is the softest brush available. It does everything that any other metal brush does (remove wax, any hardened residue on the base, and dirt) except create structure therefore it does not create micro-plastic hairs that will slow the ski down, especially in powder snow. Therefore, the Copper brush is used for general wax removal. If a hard cold wax is used for its removal follow with nylon brush as well as for removal of an HF wax in very dirty snow where it is critical to remove all paraffin based wax out of the base.

 

Storing

After wiping down the equipment, removing any rusts on the edge (this just maybe running a gummi stone along the edges), doing a nice base cleaning (a Hot Wax Scrape and copper brush), then add a base foundation wax as described above except do not scrape off the wax. Allow the wax to remain on the edges as well and if any exposed edges rub the wax on them.  Allow the wax on the base to cool then place in a travel or storage bag and store in a cool, dry and safe unforgettable place.

 

When it is time to use the skis or snowboard just scrape off the storage wax, then hot wax your regular wax on, scrape, buff and polish and you are ready for either a top coat wax or ready to ride.

A good wax job will last longer producing better control and glide.

For Emergency Travel tool's list for taking on a ski/snowboard trip click Travel Kit