As an art, mixed with science and opinion, tuning, waxing, base preparation and other ski and snowboard related issues have been long debated, continually evolve and……..often don’t……….SlideWright’s Blog is an attempt at addressing frequently asked questions and esoteric topics pertaining to tuning, waxing, base preparation and other tasks. It’s all as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. Drop us a line if you have questions, comments or suggestions. Relax, have fun and find your own way. Let us be your guide.
“There are few absolutes.”…. and….”For every 6 tuners, you’ll get 7 opinions and 8 will be wrong.”
Following are miscellaneous topics that are not necessarily in the Blog Entries:
At what level do you or do you want to learn to maintain, repair, wax, structure and giving some love to your boards? What amount of effort do you wish to employ? What level skier or rider are you? What level of results are acceptable for your personal needs & goals?
Leisure/Casual/Recreational-wants to protect their investment and do the basics only to keep it simple and fun.
Performance-recreational & pros-depending on priorities and other factors can range from the highest standards to allow for some ‘rationalized’ or acceptable ‘slop’, but still want very good performance and maintain gear.
Serious-racers, pros (makes a living on skis or snowboards) and performance-minded recreational, etc, where only the highest standards of tuning, waxing, repairs, tasks tools and supplies are considered and practiced.
I’m putting together an Edge Tuning and Waxing Kit and am confused with all of the choices for files, diamonds, stones, guides, scrapers, irons, etc. Where do I start and what should I buy?
Determining what capabilities or level of tuning you are after will help decide on tuning or other tools. What level tuner are you and want to be; Leisure/Casual, Performance or Serious?.
If you looked at building a tool kit whether it’s files, diamonds guides, brushes, waxes, etc as you looked at building your quiver of skis, you wouldn’t necessarily get everything you can to start.
There are simply too many variables to grasp without time and experience, cost and other considerations. As with skis and other gear, you can always buy more and there are various grades or calibers of tools. For the recreational skier and tuner, getting every one of the finest tools may be overkill and an unnecessary expense. But if you appreciate fine tools, and start out purchasing them, it’s hard to go back to lessor caliber as you become spoiled.
For the ‘all mountain’ capabilities for main files & diamonds which you can build on, we suggest:
1) Bastard or 2nd Cut File-for beveling/setting edge geometry, coupled with an edge guide. The coarser the file, the faster the cut and filings stream off easier. For this reason, it should rarely be used for edge sharpening to prolong edge life. Use diamonds or stones for cutting and polishing/sharpening unless there is an obvious need for lots of cutting.
2) Panzer/Body file-for removal of side wall (edge off-set), quick removal of edge when establishing edge geometry or removing excess base material. Also great for plexi scraper sharpening.
3) 200 & 400 Grit Diamond-for de-burring, maintenance sharpening, finishing and polishing edge
4) Aluminum Oxide Stone-inexpensive ‘beater’ stone for knocking down case/work hardened edges before using metal files and diamonds, de-burring, knife sharpening, misc tasks, etc.
5) Gummy Stone-de-tuning and rust removal
6) Base and Side Edge Guide-used to secure files, diamonds and stones accurately to set edge geometry (bevel angles) and can be used for maintenance sharpening with diamonds or stones
For starting out and I’d bet for the majority of recreational tuners (and if you’ll also need other tools), a Tools4Boards Deluxe Tuning Kit or SuperStation, coupled with a diamond and gummy stone will be more than adequate, can be built upon and is a great value. The 3 in 1 Xact or Razor in our kits are solid and highly versatile. Later, if you decide to purchase more dedicated angle guides, for side and/or base edges, the 3 in 1s will still be a nice tool to keep handy for sidewall planing, scraper sharpening, bevel measuring and as an additional guide. Over time you’ll realize that having more than one guide expedites each job, especially when you are maintaining several pairs.
Do I need to purchase the Terminator tuning stand to mount the Tools4Board vises?
No you don’t. The Tools4Boards vise: Cinch, CordLoc, Pro500, & BoardLoc are designed to integrate with the tuning stand rail for easy sliding and repositioning to optimize their capability. The include clamps also allow them to be mounted to virtually anything a conventional sli or snowboard vise can mount to like benches, stands. tables, counters, etc. The added benefit of the Tools4Boards vises is many can be bolted using holes, slots or tracks. Adding a low profile knob will allow several of the vises to be rotated or repositioned quicker than with clamps.
Can the Tools4Boards Cinch and other vises be mounted to my workbench or stand?
Yes. The included clamps increases the T4B vises versatility by allowing their attachment to virtually any work surface.
What are the advantages of roto-brushes versus manual brushes?
Any roto brush expedites the brushing and overall job compared to manually brushing, tenfold, and possibly more. The benefits and considerations to get out the door quicker and easier:
-reduces the amount of scraping
-you can brush more than one ski at a time with a wider roto brush
-you can mount (2) different 10cm brushes on a 20cm shaft
-you can vary the pressure and rpms of the brush relative to wax type and desired results
-you can quickly clean the bases
-you can use a stiffer steel or brass brush for structuring
-a quick release handle is real sweet for swapping brushes
A nylon, a hard horsehair, minimally, and ideally a brass brush, along with a roto cork would cover the basics fairly well for roto-brushes. Maybe adding a felt later and others in between the range if you find the need.
Add liquid wax to the mix and, you’re out the door to ski or in bed sooner the night before and have more time for other things, with far less time and effort.
Is edge steel different on different skis? Do some makes come with steel edges that are “softer” than others? I have a pair skis where the edges seem not as hard as edges on other skis I have. I found this while edge tuning. Could the ambient temperature affect this?
Almost all manufacturer’s get their edge material from the same place, so all edges are pretty much the same, regardless of temp, etc. Some manufacturer’s have altered the edge over the years ie. Fischer introduced a ‘plasma edge’ where the edge was ‘case hardened’ using a plasma jet. The idea here was to extend the life and sharpness of the edge, but I don’t think they do this any longer.(RW)
Case hardening can also occur when the edge strikes other objects and can physically alter the metal, making it harder. This could be harder metal than your files are in spots and should be hit first with an older file or stone and then tune.
“How about putting on wax and then scraping it all off when still soft for removing old wax? I heard of this technique, but still don’t quite believe it works. I always use cross country skiers de-waxer until the base looks really dry before ironing in the new wax.”
I’ve used warm wax as an alternative (not replacement) to cleaners/wax removers with positive results. I also question the thoroughness of the cleaning, but feel it works OK on a temporary basis and will try to get a more in depth answer and post it when I can.
Using a soft wax (for warmer snow temp) does work to clean the base. It works to remove debris and dirt from the base when scraped off warm. If he doesn’t believe it works ask him to test this procedure with a pair of dirty bases. He’ll be surprised. Also a good idea to use a mid temp wax as a ‘travel wax’ to protect the base. (RW)
“So to clarify: It’s good for cleaning the base, but what about the old wax? Does it have to get removed at all?”
It depends if the wax used to clean the base is temperature compatible with the wax required for the conditions. If you are waxing for cold conditions you should use base cleaner, if waxing for warm it’s no problem to leave the wax on as long as its clean. (RW)
“Do you happen to know if the Pro500 works with Freeride AT bindings?” (CM)
The Explore, Express, Titanal II & III, Freeride, Pure, & Easy Go all definitely work with the Pro500. The Pure took a lot of force to engage by hand and may be considered less than optimal by some. Due to the shape of the Pro500 boot compared to the binding shape, the boot size gage does not match actual boot sizes and some tweaking is required. I would characterize the Pro500 boot fit in the binding as less than optimal, but definitely usable and very secure. Some limited sanding, grinding, or filing of the Pro500 boot is possible if someone wanted a better fit or a bit smoother action in the binding.
“Assuming there are no obvious signs of dirt on a snowboard base, how much effort and time should I take to clean the base before waxing. Is it sufficient to wipe the base for a few seconds with a dry cloth or should I clean the base thoroughly with a citrus cleaner and wait to dry?”
The other things you are trying to accomplish with cleaning is removing oils, haze, old wax, and other stuff you can’t see to open pores and allow for wax to adhere better and have a place to go. As they say, it’s an art and not and exact science. Personal experience and judgement comes to play, your time frame, motivation, what you’ll be doing, etc.
A quick rub and wipe with cleaner assures you cleanliness, but may not be absolutely necessary, and doesn’t add that much time. You can expedite drying by wiping excess with lint free towels, etc. Humidity will affect the drying time as well, though. Note: some cleaners leave a haze and may need to be wiped off with water as well.
Needing a quick fix to go skate skiing, I dry wiped my clean looking skate skis to find a little bit of dirt/wax/oxidation come off. Spraying cleaner and wiping took off tons off ‘gradoo’ (tech term). Letting it sit half a minute, I wiped with dry towel and got more until dry. 2-3 minutes tops. Sprayed on some Maplus Universal Wax, changed, and went. Surprisingly excellent slide for the quick and east fix and workout.
“We’re looking for an easy application wax for ultra cold conditions as we will not have access to hot waxing and scraping benches and tools or it will be very inconvenient during our trip?”
Extensive testing has determined that fluoro wax does not perform well in very cold conditions with little or no humidity, (typically with high static electricity). A straight paraffin wax, possibly with graphite as an additive will perform best under these conditions. It would therefore be best to use a hard cold paraffin wax or paraffin graphite ie. MW0600 or MW0620. Taking into consideration you do not want to use an iron for application, the best option would be MWN0106 (PS-1 Cold Spray) and to bring along a cork (MT0110). Basically applying this spray will leave a ‘micro powder’ on the base (after the solvent evaporates) that will work in these conditions but will not stay on the base very long. I’d suggest you also vigorously cork after applying the spray to mechanically ‘push’ the wax into the base while generating a small amount of heat to maximize durability. And to help you stay warm. 🙂
“Here’s a tuning tip. I made a tuning bench with heavy duty folding metal sawhorse with adjustable legs. Mounted a 1 x 10 , 6′ long with bolts (the sawhorse had some holes on top). Sanded the wood and put some clear coat on it; countersunk the bolts for a smooth surface. I now have an adjustable height bench that I can fold up and store easily.”
Another alternative: Using two foldable saw horses and securing a 1x or 2x with the vises to the ends, you also have the remaining length of the saw horses to lay skis. Very handy when working on multiple pairs or even one pair. You can wax or drip p-tex on the skis laying on the saw horses all at once. And exchange them with the vises very quickly and conveniently. And the saw horse legs are not in the way while scraping, filing, etc. If you keep the bolt attachment simple, you can seasonally remove the top and use the sawhorse(s) for other purposes as well.
“Yeah, well I just picked up a cheap carpet and do my repairs / waxing on the floor in the “gear room” of my apartment. Unless the weather is nice then I use the firewood pile outside as a workbench. Not that I wouldn’t like a more pro set-up, I’m just cheap.”
Been there, done that. At least make yourself a saw horse stand. We’ve also discussed the value/trade-offs of offering the cinch clamp only. You could even use ski boots or books or 2x blocks, etc. to elevate the skis above any table. Using the lasso clamp to secure the ski to the supports makes a huge difference and shortens time required and will get you a better job. Adding the vises later could be considered a phased in step for later. The sturdiness, collapsibility, and light weight of the Terminator Tuning Stand is great for small spaces, easy storage, and portability and could be considered another phased in upgrade you won’t regret.