Ski and Snowboard Tuning / Waxing
After you invest in a nice pair of skis or a new snowboard, you should treat your new equipment with the respect they deserve. With proper upkeep, your equipment will be able to withstand the usual wear and tear that can result from being on the mountain. Frequent use of your skis or snowboards can lead to scratches on the edges and base that require periodical repair. It is important to keep up with maintained because these small scratches can lead to major cuts that can be costly to fix.
Although you can take your skis or snowboard to a shop for tuning, it is often cheaper and sometimes more rewarding to repair it yourself. With a standard tuning kit, some free time and patience, you can achieve basically everything a shop can do! However, if there are big cuts, sometimes it is best to leave the tuning to the professionals.
When Does My Equipment Need Tuning?
When you look at the base of your skis or snowboard, if you see gouges and the bottom looks grey and dull, your equipment should be tuned. The dull, greyish coloring means that the original wax is gone. The lack of wax will make your skis or board stick to the snow which will make it difficult to control.
Next, you need to ensure that the base of your skis or snowboard is flat. If your base is not flat, then you are either constantly on the edges or riding on just the base, which also causes control issues. An easy trick for checking this is placing a flat bar against your equipment. If light comes out on the sides, then the base is either concave or convex and should be repaired.
Finally, your edges should be sharp, as sharp edges improve your grip and edge control. Over time, the edges will naturally wear and become burred. Slowly run your finger across the edge of your equipment; if you feel any rough spots, it means the edges need to be sharpened and deburred.
You need to first ensure that the equipment is room temperature and that your equipment is secure (placing in a vice is recommended). When the equipment is ready, start with a quick wipe with a standard wash cloth to remove all the dirt. Next, apply the specialized cleaner that comes with your tuning kit. This cleaner brings hidden contaminations to the surface and also dissolves the old wax currently on the board. After letting the cleaner sit for roughly 10-15 minutes, wipe it off with a cloth.
Now you are ready to repair the scratches on the base. Your tuning kit will have a P-Tex repair candle; light one of the ends of the candle. Carefully let the drops fall into the cuts until they are full. Wait until the P-Tex is completely cooled on the board, then use the metal scraper to remove the excess P-Tex and smooth out the surface. As noted earlier, it is sometimes best to have the experts fix the large gashes.
For both skis and snowboards, you always want to work from the tip to the tail. The first step is deburring the edges by dragging a diamond stone along the edges. After a few rounds with the stone, the edges will be deburred and smooth.
You will next use a file to sharpen the base edge. Special files will ensure that your are filing at the angle you want for the base edge. More advanced skiers and riders can manipulate the base angle when filing to increase control and performance, but we suggest that beginner and intermediate level tuners do not apply any major changes to the angle. Remember to file from tip to tail along the entire base, and when you are finished ensure that the base is flat.
Now move the file to the side edges. Again, file from tail to tip on the edges of your skis and snowboards. When you file the actual tail and the tip, round off the edges where necessary to prevent your skis or snowboard from catching too early on turns. When you complete your filing, use a whetstone to remove the burrs left from the file.
The final tuning step is applying hot wax onto your equipment. Hot wax allows you easily glide and turn your skis and snowboard, so this is an important step in the tuning process.
- Apply the Wax - Place your wax bar against the hot iron that is set to around 120° so the wax does not smoke. Allow the wax to drip along the base of the ski or snowboard.
- Spread the Wax - With the wax drips on your equipment, smooth it out with the iron. A thin layer of wax should be spread across the base, and allow this to cool and settle.
- Remove Excess Wax - After the wax is completely cooled, use a plastic scraper to remove the excess wax. To complete the process, run a brush or abrasive pad across the board to remove all the excess wax the plastic scraper left behind.
If you follow these simple steps, you can successfully tune and wax your equipment without any problems! When skiing or riding with your newly finished equipment, you should feel a noticeable performance difference. Upkeep is important, as it prevents the minor dings from becoming major problems.