The objective of structuring is to impart grooves into the base material. This removes suction that a perfectly smooth base would produce, especially in wetter snows. The structure also channels water that is produced by the friction between the ski or snowboard base and the snow. A finer structure is desired in colder snows as it holds the smaller amount of water longer and helps the glide. Changing the structure frequently is not practical and should be done relative to major trends in the snow temperatures and time of year.
Shop base grinds with a precision machine and reliable operator can reestablish base flatness and level base edges in addition to imparting a uniform base structure. This may be your best option if your bases have had a lot of repairs, the base is out of true and numerous other reasons. The downside is that base grinds remove base material and will eventually wear down the bases. Any build up of an optimal glide from frequent waxing will also be removed and need to be recreated over time and numerous wax cycles.
Here’s a riller bar, used as a gauge, and a new ski’s factory base structure:
The home tuner can easily impart or abrade base structure with minimal base removal after base repairs, change of snow temps/season with a variety of structuring options. Coarse sandpaper, stiff metal/brass brush, Ski Visions Base Structuring tool, coarse file edge or rilling bar. Care needs to be taken to not trash the edges while structuring. Abrading the bases with coarse sandpaper, wire brushes, riller bar, saw teeth, files, etc definitely need to be cleaned up with finer sandpaper, fiber pads, scraper, etc to get rid of the ‘hairies’ and rough spots. This will reduce the initial structure depth and base impact.
After hot waxing and scraping or liquid wax applications, the structure needs to be ‘freed’ and polished to optimize the glide by brushing. Occasionally, rigorous brushing with a stiff metal brush is encouraged to freshen the structure and general cleaning.
Update: Monday, November 3, 2008 – 05:22 PM
A typical follow up question: for the cold mid-winter snow, what’s your advice for getting back a less aggressive/less coarse texture to handle the harder,dryer snow from the more aggressive/coarse spring texture I created??
Getting a base grind is the ‘correct’ method of getting your new structure and flattening your base, followed by any edge needed edge work and multiple wax cycles to resaturate the base. Perform any base repairs first.
If inclined to to do it yourself, simple DIY options (while using common sense) to reduce the structure include:
1) scraping with a sharp metal scraper or skiver
2) flat filing with a panzer/body, multicut or super coarse
3) sanding, followed by nylon fiber pad and freshening with a wire brush and/or a fine toothed rilling bar
4) using a Ski Visions base flattener and structuring tool with medium or fine structure
Preceding any of the above with a base cleaner/wax remover could be considered, but depending on how much base material removal really needed (possibly negligible), you might be better off not removing wax unless it becomes obvious. This way, you have fewer wax cycles to get your bases resaturated.