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SkiVisions Base Flattener & Structuring Plane

(Updated 11/2/12: Revised instruction and NEW instruction videos at the bottom of the page)

A ski base must be flat for optimum ski performance.  The SkiVisions Base Flattener is a powerful planing tool designed to quickly flatten and structure a ski base with a minimum of expertise, effort and potential for error.  (Patent # 4,884,343)

Is base flattening and structuring with the SkiVisions Base Flattener expensive?  NO!  It is true that you have to make the initial capital investment in the tool and inserts, but thereafter all inserts are re-sharpenable an infinite number of times and RARELY need replacement.  We show you how.

What is unique about the SkiVisions Base Flattener?  It is the only effective hand tool ever produced that provides a superior alternative to stone grinding or flat filing.

Why is this uniqueness important?

  • Flat bases are a critical element for properly tuned skis
  • Convex (base high) bases are rounded and the edges will act dull
  • Concave (edge high) bases will make the edges grabby

How is the uniqueness accomplished?

The Base Flattener is a large and powerful planing tool that can eat either plastic alone or plastic and edge metal, depending on the blade used.

The Ruby Stone Blades (see description below) are 6 inches long and come in  medium and coarse grits for different structures cut into the base plastic while you are flattening it.  The Ruby Stone Blades require no skill to use.  Since they cannot cut metal to any significant degree, you cannot cause problems that aren’t easily corrected.

The steel blade requires some skill and care when using it, but it is a powerful blade that can slice through steel and plastic on ski bases simultaneously and can be re-sharpened an infinite number of times (see “Stone/Steel Inserts Maintenance).  However, we now prefer using the File Base Flattener on metal edges and just use the steel blade for final finish on the p-tex.

How to use the Base Flattener

The Base Flattener is a push tool which means you push it down the ski base from behind the tool.

The Base Flattener is pushed in the tip to tail direction only. Use only light pressure with the steel blade, moderate pressure with the Ruby Stone Blades. Use overlapping strokes and pull the tool back between strokes.  The primary pressure is applied with your back hand on the large hump. The front hand on the small hump is primarily there to guide and control the tool.

Look at the picture to the right closely and you will notice that the stone blade is lifted off the ski base, yet the front black glide bar is still on the ski.  We recommend that when you are pulling the Base Flattener back in the backstroke that you leave the front of the tool on the ski base, but that you pick up the back of the tool slightly so that the blade does not touch the ski base at all during the backstroke phase.

You will not make hairs on your base if you make sure that the blade is not touching the base on the backstroke.  You will make base hairs if you pressure the tool on the backstroke.  DON’T PRESSURE THE BACKSTROKE!

The Ruby Stone Blades only cut base plastic when the grit is exposed, the grit  gets quickly clogged with base plastic and the stone needs to be cleaned frequently by brushing with the brass brush which comes with the Base Flattener.  Always clean the wax from your base with wax remover before using the Ruby Stone Blade as wax will clog the grit more readily than will polyethylene.

The 6 Inch Ruby Stone Blades

The Ruby Stone Blades are completely different from the old stone blades. They are sharper, more powerful, easier to use, produce far better results, leave an incredibly clean and hair free base, and can be re-sharpened numerous times, which re-sharpening returns them to near new performance.  If they are sharpened so many times they no longer fit in the tool, folded paper shims can be made so they can still be used.  They have a very long usable life.

The Ruby Stone Blades come in medium and coarse.  The tool comes standard with the medium grit blade, the coarse blades are accessories.  Which blade is best for you?  See Base Structuring Decisions below, which also describes varying the amount of structure each blade imparts on the ski base based on the amount of pressure applied to the Base Flattener.  Also, note the lines at each side of the stone. They are critical to how the blade is positioned in the Base Flattener and how it is re-sharpened according to the instructions below.  (See Stone/Steel Inserts Maintenance)

The coarse blade is primarily used for efficiently removing plastic from a convex (base high) base.  It is a very aggressive blade and should be followed with the steel blade to de-structure the base.

The new Ruby Stone Blades are aluminum oxide stones, the highest quality aluminum oxide grit there is, and they have two unique characteristics that make them particularly effective.  First the grit is much sharper than standard aluminum oxide so they cut more rapidly.  Second, the grit fractures to new sharp points, much like the diamond grit on a fine diamond file, so that when the Ruby Stones are re-sharpened, their performance remains consistent with (although not quite as sharp) as a brand new stone, the sharp new points being replenished every time it is sharpened. They take only minutes to re-sharpen, which also re-flattens them,  so doing it frequently really pays. They are, quite frankly, the best of all worlds.

The Ruby Stone Blades give skis better performance than stone grinding.  Why? One of the important aspects of sintered polyethylene bases is that they are porous. The porosity naturally allows the base to absorb more ski wax, and it helps reduce surface tension thereby increasing glide.  Because a Ruby Stone cuts the polyethylene so cleanly, the pores are left open.  Stone grinding, on the other hand, causes the polyethylene to move laterally (smear or creep) on the base due to the speed and pressure of the stone, resulting in the pores getting partially covered up with plastic “creep”.

Using the Ruby Stones is a “no-brainer” approach to base flattening and structuring.  Just keep them off the metal edges, which cause them to wear excessively.  You can feel when the stone is on the metal edge, use the steel blade or the SkiVisions Ski Sharp to bevel the edge before continuing with the Ruby Stone, or better yet, use the File Base Flattener to bring the steel edge flush to the base.

Also, when the ski is convex (base high), always flatten it with the Ruby Stones, never the steel blade, the steel blade is for concave skis when you want to take down metal, or the File Base Flattener.  The coarse stone blade is the most efficient and effective insert when taking down a  base high convex base.

Always clean the wax off your base with wax remover before using the Ruby Stones, wax will clog the grit.

Base Structuring Decisions

What is structure on a ski base?  It is the process of roughening it to reduce surface tension.  If your base is very smooth, surface tension, simply put, is suction from a lack of air between the base and the snow, which slows its glide.  Very smooth bases tend to be very slow bases.

As a general rule, you want to use the coarsest structure to minimize surface tension because rougher surfaces have less surface tension.  However, it isn’t that simple.  New snow crystals are sharp and will dig into a coarse structure causing considerable drag.  The rules need to be followed:

1.  In new, cold snow the structure needs to be fine. The newer and colder the snow, the finer the structure.

2.  As snow gets older, the crystal points start breaking down,  so you can then go to a medium structure.

3.  As snow goes through multiple freeze and thaw cycles the crystals lose their sharpness and so a coarse structure works best.

A simple rule to follow is to use medium stones in early and mid-winter, medium and coarse structures in late winter and early spring.  If the medium structure is too coarse for very cold fresh snow, just de-structure with the steel blade.  (See Tuning Routines)

Using your true bar

A true bar is a critical, must have ski tuning tool, it is used to inspect ski base flatness.  They are easy to use but you must have a strong background light to “read” the base.  We like inexpensive drafting lamps where the light can be focused at the tip.  Tip the true bar up on edge as seen in the picture when reading base flatness.

As long as you have a decent true bar and a strong background light, reading your base is very simple and obvious.

If a ski is flat, there will be a solid, unwavering light band across the width of the base. It will be very obvious that is it flat.

If the ski is concave, there will be a greater amount of light coming through at the center of the base than at the ski edges (“edge high”).  This will be very obvious.

If the ski is convex so that the base in the center of the ski is higher than the edges (“base high”), the light band will be more narrow at the center of the base, wider over the edges. The Ruby Stone Blade is used to correct the convexity.

Keep in mind that you can also observe your base flatness just by the structure pattern.  If it is consistent the entire base, it is flat.  Inconsistencies disclose high or low spots and are generally easy to see.

Advanced Techniques:

BASE WAVES:

It is common for ski bases to have waves on them, and stone grinding will not remove them because the stone rides up and down with the waves. The waves have to be cut off from an angle.  Also, they cannot be seen.  If you use the Base Flattener at an angle as shown in the picture, you will find there is more drag in certain spots than others. Those spots with extra drag are base waves.  As you continue to make additional passes on the base you will find the drag at that point becomes progressively less and that finally it disappears, the wave is removed.
SKIP MARKS:

Skip marks can ONLY be put in the base with the steel blades, NEVER the Ruby Stone Blades. Skip marks are caused by

  • pushing the tool down the base with too much speed
  • pushing on the tool with excessive pressure
  • using a blade that is too dull, it needs sharpening
  • The base is too smooth and slick, roughen it with the Ruby Stone
  • Trying to do too much work too quickly
  • you have a rock hardened/damaged edge section next to the mark

You won’t put in skip marks if you keep the blade nice and sharp and use the tool with a lighter touch, letting the tool do the job rather than over-muscling it. If you have a rock hardened/damaged section it needs to be polished out with the Ski Sharp Stones before flattening with the steel blade.

If you do put in skip marks, they won’t damage the performance of your skis. They just don’t look very good.  To remove, angle the Base Flattener and use the Ruby Stones, the angle used coming from the opposite angle as the skip marks in the base, they have to be cut off from a cross-angle.

Due to the curvature of the ski at tip and sometimes at tail (flip tail skis) using the Ruby Stone Blade by hand can sometime work better than in the Base Flattener.  Just keep the blade up on edge and follow the contour of the base to get a uniform structure across the width.

If your ski is very concave it is best to use the File Base Flattener, the steel blade is best kept for fine detail work rather than using it for heavy work.

It is VERY IMPORTANT to polish off the burr that is left whenever you work on metal ski edges, a burr makes the skis over-sharp and dangerous. We recommend the SkiVisions Ski Sharp for such purpose, or you can polish the edges by hand with a stone.

The steel blade falls from the tool when the retaining screws are loosened. It is sharp and heavy and should be done over your bench carefully.

Maintain a firm grip on the tool when running it off the tail of the ski so you don’t drop it.

Keep your fingers on the tool and out of the way of the sharp metal ski edges.  Your ski must be held in a ski vise when using the Base Flattener.

(Note: reprinted from SkiVisions with permission.)

The following videos relate to using the Base Flattener and maintaining the cutting inserts:

SkiVisions Flattening bases with the Base Flattener Part 1

SkiVisions Flattening bases with the Base Flattener Part 2

SkiVisions Maintaining Cutting Inserts, Base Flattener Stones, HS Steel Bar & Files

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Prepping for Sweet Corn & Crust

One of life’s simple pleasures is getting out for skate skiing, touring or making turns on a warming bluebird day, with an inch or so of wet sweet corn on firm crust or solid base. Spring & summer predawn hikes on crust to harvest morning corn is right up there.

The best corn comes after a freeze of transformed, wet snow from the day before. The snow is no longer flakes or crystals, but saturated ice ‘kernels’ known as frozen corn. Depending on timing, aspect and other factors, this can start out like a coral reef, a very abrasive crust, sun-cupped, or ‘icy’, among other consistencies. As it melts and transforms again to wet corn, how do you prepare your boards to perform well all day in these variable conditions?

If you wax with a warmer & softer wax for the warmer, wet conditions, you can easily wear off the wax on highly abrasive, colder snows, while you wait for conditions to moisten and soften (or not). If you wax with cold wax, you may miss out on the best glide and enjoyment when it becomes prime time.

One option is to simply wait until conditions soften and you hit it when the conditions are best and wax accordingly. This may be easier said than done for some and as the unreliable weather can change, this plan may backfire.

We’ve found the best balance between ideal wax temperatures for glide and abrasive snows is to start with an aggressive base structure, wax with a very durable mid and broad temperature base liquid or solid wax like Briko-Maplus BP1 Violet or Colder and harder BP1 Blue or Green, and top it with a warm temp Low Fluoros like Briko-Maplus Universal Hot or LP2.

The base structure doesn’t seem to matter relative to the coarse, frozen snow, but makes a huge difference when the snow becomes saturated by channeling water and reducing suction. The durable base wax provides a longer and better protection for the bases and runs very well in a wide range of condition if the softer wax wears off. Depending on how the day goes, the LF wax may be perfect for the entire day and will provide an extra bump in glide.

Additionally, since it is a softer wax, it can easily be reapplied if desired or necessary by crayoning/rubbing on solids, wiping on cream/paste or liquids, or spraying (most convenient and durable option) high-melt waxes and then corking and polishing with a brush.

If you are concerned about an aggressive base structure and temperatures and snow type reverting towards colder, the harder waxes can be still utilized, but not brushed out of the structure as much as when you need the structure for water channeling. This will effectively ‘moderate’ the base structure to closer match the colder snows.

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Base Prep, Brushing and Edge Bevels

From -Toko: Base Prep, Brushing and Edge Bevels Cheever and Willi Witz

Cheever on Base Prep and Brushing
Hello everyone, I wanted to do a myth busting eblast series. But I need to consult with the man before I attempt to blow everyones` mind. So instead for this early season eblast I want to talk about some base preparation and brushing. I should say, what I do for base prep and brushing…

My early season riding isn’t much different than most skiers and snowboarders. I’m on a glacier with varying conditions and trying to mimic racing as much as possible.

This time of the year usually calls for getting on a fast enough base that you can come close as possible to race speeds, but not slow down an actual race base. If you have the luxury of running a practice base… Awesome. But many people don’t, so you’ll be on your racers…or techs will be tuning racers.

It’s not quite panic time yet to worry about a structure you should have done a few weeks ago. With enough prep, your base will be brought to speed quickly. So it’s okay to carefully get on that racer. What I like to do with my race bases is make sure the wax is durable.
Duh… Put cold wax on the edges… But there is more to it.

Wax bonds to your base. Wax also bonds to other wax. My preseason routine is more than scraping off yellow then. Throwing on blue for durability.

I love toko red and the HF red. But let’s just stick with NF for now. Red can run in all conditions this time of the year. But more importantly it’s on my base as a bonder for any other temperature wax I’ll use for training. Before my snowboard gear is off I brush then iron on red. For my trainer board, I am comfortable just running with the red. But when I want to pull out a race deck, my routine starts the same with the red after I get off the hill, but I check my weather forecast and figure out what wax I want to bond with that red.

Say Pitztal is calling for colder weather and I am going to be in a blue/red range for tomorrow. I have my red on and methodically remove it.

Scrape. I scrape all the wax off. Scrape excess wax off my scrapers. ScotchBrite my scrapers clean so there is no gummy residue.

Brush step 1. Steely Dan. Toko’s oval steel brushes do the trick quite well for pulling the excess wax your scraper didn’t get and start pulling the residue from the structure of your base.

Brush step 2. Roto Horse hair. If you are subscribed to a toko eblast, I hope you have access to a roto brush. If not, I suggest investing. I use NO water for any roto brushing. The horse hair pulls most of the wax out of the base that you don’t need and leaves what you do need behind.

Brush step 3. Roto bronze. Now my roto bronze is used and is quite soft. It isn’t as aggressive as my horse hair, plus it’s used at a slower drill speed. No water here or for any roto brushing because water acts as a lubricant for brushing. If you want to pull excess wax out, the most efficient way to do it is without water.

Brush step 4. The grey toko board roto. This brush will remove just about any remnants that will slow me down and will leave what I need bonding to the board

Brush step 5. Toko’s black nylon roto. You want to polish that base and make it shine.

Brush step 6. If you have a paint brush, new of course, kicking around. Clean the tip and tail of your stick as they probably collected excess from brushing.

Step 7. Fiberlene. This final step microstructures your wax and cleans up excess junk left on the surface of your base.

Now that you know how I brush… Maybe after you put your next layer on try my method… Now I put on my red/blue combo for the next day. Repeat everything over once the wax is ready to be scraped. Roto brushing expedites the process and is more efficient than brushing by hand.

Go fast in training and faster racing,
Cheever
US Ski and Snowboard Tuning Legend Willi Wiltz on Prepping New Skis and Snowboards

US Ski and Snowboard Serviceman Legend Willi Wiltz on What Base and Edge Bevels to Use

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Not much has really changed since 1941

The more things change, the more things remain the same…..but get more complicated and expensive.

For training USA mountain troops in 1941. In this segment, we learn how to choose the proper ski length, how to choose and take care of boots, how to adjust bindings, how to care for ski edges and ski bottoms. Alan Ladd is one of the recruits.

 This clip from the Classic Film: The Basic Principles of Skiing

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Soldering Iron Base Repair

While skiing or riding challenging terrain or sparse snow coverage, it’s inevitable that your bases will get dinged. Core shots need to be sealed and protected, Gouges need to be filled to keep your bases running smooth.

The days of burning ptex candles are over. A weld is a far superior repair option. The use of a soldering iron and base welding materials is a quick and effective option for the DIYer.

Base repair tools and supplies can be found here.

(Note select the ‘HQ’ icon for Higher Quality video.)

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Ski-Mender RP105 Base Repair Gun

Update: To avoid a ‘cold weld’ that has the potential to tear out while finishing the repair or while sliding on snow, it is very important to make sure the Ski (and Snowboard) Mender RP105 has enough time to achieve proper temperature and to carefully heat the area around a repair before injecting the welding material. LDPE has a very low adhesive property, so we need the heating of both base and repair materials to form a proper weld.

You need about 430 degrees F/220 degrees C to get a proper weld, so it is important to let the smaller Ski and Snowboard Mender RP105 heat up for 20-25 minutes and then use the front or waxing iron on teflon sheet to preheat the base before injecting the material. DO NOT FORCE the trigger and the material. Wait until it is molten and easier to extrude.

The larger, professional grade ski and snowboard base repair gun (Base Mender RP 360) does run at a higher temp and heats the base of the ski or snowboard much faster.

Originally posted 1/30/08 (edited): We just received a few guns and performed some low tech initial testing of this new consumer level ski & snowboard base repair gun by Power Adhesives from the UK.

Talk about a nice size, lightweight, brainless and low tech. After less than ten minutes of heating up the 11mm/7/16″ welding rod/stick, it was smearing the material with it’s 440°F temperature. The directions say 10-15 minutes (which probably is wise to wait) and implied there was a switch, which there is not. I just tested it on the packaging plastic for better contrast for pictures. Without a damaged ski at the moment, I’ll try that out when the time comes and give the bases some mileage to see how long the repair lasts. It certainly isn’t a bomber/industrial grade tool, but like a decent glue gun that if taken care (ie, don’t drop on trigger) of seems adequately built for the home tuner and ought to last a while. No telling about the heating element though.

After initial extrusion and smearing of the provided proprietary welding material, I tried using the tip as a soldering/welding iron on metal grip, welding wire, ribbon & typical rod/stick (did not think to try it on ptex candle material). The tip is not as hot as soldering irons I’ve used and definitely did not smoke as much…very little in fact which was nice.

Regardless, it did seem to melt the material fine but not quite as fluid as the hotter irons have, though looks promising, especially for applying metal grip into the bottom gouges. I’m pretty sure the metal grip has a lower melting point than the other materials anyway.

Welding gun with metal stand. Fifteen minutes to heat up and melt 11 mm welding rod/sticks. Clean tip showing recessed fan shaped flow area. Linear smear of melted welding rod from gun & droplet/pool in background. Using heated tip as soldering/welding iron. Left to right: metal grip, welding wire, ribbon & rod/stick and smear through heated tip.

Below is a video on using the New RP360 and RP100 (now RP105):

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SkiVisions File Base Flattener

(Updated 11/7/12: Revised instruction and NEW instruction videos at the bottom of the page)

The File Base Flattener is a powerful planing tool that uses a file to flatten concave (railed, edge high) snowboards and skis.  It is a different application from the steel blade in the Base Flattener, the steel blade is for fine flattening work, the File Base Flattener’s purpose is to cut through concave metal and plastic quickly.

New boards and skis always have some concave sections; they must be flattened for the board or ski to function correctly. A base that is concave makes the board or ski grabby and hooky, not smooth.  They make edge-to-edge transfers difficult and sticky.  You cannot relax on a concave base; you always have to be prepared for its next bad surprise.

From the top, you can see this is a two-hand push tool (for both power and control), with your rear hand on the larger bump.  ALSO OBSERVE THE STRIP OF WHITE PAINT ON THE LEADING EDGE OF THE FILE, THE FILE MUST BE USED IN THE TOOL WITH THE WHITE PAINT AS SHOWN SO THAT THE FILE TEETH ARE IN THE CORRECT CUTTING DIRECTION.

From the bottom side you see a 7-inch double cut file held in place with a  powerful magnet.  The front of the tool has a glide bar so the file sits flat to the base.  Notice again that the file has a strip of white paint on the leading edge, the file must be placed in the tool with that white strip facing forward as shown.  If the file is in the tool backwards it won’t cut your base and using it that way will dull it quickly.

Several points to keep in mind when using this tool:

1.  Always use the tool in the tip to tail direction.

2.  Use only moderate pressure, the file will cut metal and plastic without excess effort.

3.  Use only light pressure when running the tool off the tail, otherwise a) the file can get popped off the magnet, and b) the file will dig into the plastic at the curve of the tail and leave file marks in the plastic.

4.  Clean the file teeth after each pass with the supplied brush, only clean teeth will cut.

5.  If the file gets clogged with wax, use wax remover with the brush to clean them.

6.  If the File Base Flattener isn’t cutting edge metal on concave skis or boards,   then you have hardened edges, that hardening can only be removed with the green stones in the Ski Sharp.  See Tuning New Skis in the index for a discussion and procedures for this problem.

When used on snowboards, you flatten one edge at a time; observe the position of the tool on the board.  You are cutting from the center of the base through the outside of the edge.  But remember, since the board is concave, the tool is really cutting just the high plastic and metal near the outside edge of the board.

You take one pass down one of the edges, clean the file out with the brush that is supplied with the tool, then take a pass down the other edge, always rotating edge to edge so that the tool is used in a balanced approach and the board gets flattened consistently.

You will feel the file cutting the metal edges as you work.  You will also feel when the file no longer cuts metal, that tells you that the edge is then flush with the plastic base.  However, the board may still have some amount of concavity.  To bring the base to a totally flat condition because plastic needs to be removed, use the SkiVisions Snowboard Base Flattener with the stone blade.  You will have to rotate between both file and stone Base Flatteners to remove both plastic and metal if the base is significantly concave.

So how flat does a snowboard need to be?

1.  If the board is concave, you can get it flat enough with the File Base Flattener and it will work well on the snow even if there is some concavity in the plastic.  That concavity will soon wear away as you use the board.  And remember, if you use base edge bevel (as you should, see Snowboard Edge Tuning) any concavity on the base will be reduced in effect by base edge bevel.

2.  If the board is convex (rounded) you want to remove plastic and bring the board to a flat condition with the Snowboard Base Flattener using the 12-inch stone blades, convex bases do not work well on snowboards.  (See Snowboard Edge Tuning)

Use your true bar frequently to check your progress, you don’t want to over-do.  You will also be able to tell how you are progressing by how the tool acts as you start to get flat.

It is both a very aggressive tool and very easy to use, but don’t get carried away.  Take it slow, check your work often; you will get it flat soon enough.

When used on a ski, the file covers the surface edge to edge.  However, you can also use it on only one edge at a time as used on snowboards, this can make the flattening process go faster.  But again, remember, go slow, check your work often, don’t over-do.

Only moderate pressure needs to be used on the tool, it does not require “muscling it”.  And remember, only light pressure when running off the tail (see above).

See Ski Base Flattener for a thorough discussion on flattening bases.

Concave Bases, the first problem:

New skis and boards ALWAYS have concave sections.  They are caused by the manufacturer not letting it cool and age before grinding it, or by shipping it in very hot cargo carriers.  Regardless of the reason, the concave sections need to be removed for it to work right.  They may look great when new, don’t be fooled.  Oh, and when you go to the shop to buy, take your true bar and inspect (a ruler will do if not too flexible).  Buy the one with the flattest base and save yourself a lot of trouble.

The File Base Flattener is the only hand tool up for the job.  It is powerful (you can easily put 50 to 60 pounds of pressure on the tool) and uses a very sharp double cut file designed to simultaneously cut plastic and edge metal.  It is the “heavy machinery” of hand tools.

When factories grind skis and boards, they chase speed and efficiency.  Unfortunately, that also translates into work hardened edges and plastic caused by too much speed and pressure with the stone, and it can become a real challenge getting the tune on a new ski or board right.

Hardened steel edges are hardened on the surface only, about .001 of an inch, very shallow.  But, until it is removed, files, carbides, or steel will not cut it.  It is best removed with our 4 inch green stone with tape wrapped on one end for bevel.  Whenever you have concave bases you generally also have hardened edge sections.

If you observe that the File Base Flattener isn’t working, that is, isn’t flattening the base, you have hardened edges.  You can tell when the edges just seem to get slick and shiny but aren’t getting cut with the file teeth, because they can’t.

Sometimes it is a good idea to mark the concave edge sections with a felt tip marker so you can concentrate on those areas and watch your progress.

The following videos show using the File Base Flattener:

SkiVisions Using our File Base Flattener Part 1

SkiVisions Using our File Base Flattener Part 2

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Toko (Red Creek) Rotating Brush Instructions

User Guide for Rotating (Roto) Brushes

Important:

To protect the eyes we recommend the use of protective glasses whenever working with rotating brushes. Make sure no one is standing close to the drill without eye protection.

 

With the exception of the brass and horsehair brushes having a rotating speed of approx. 800 per minute -the normal working speed is between 2500 and 3000 rpm without using any pressure on the rotating brushes.

 

Brushing out like professionals:

Before waxing:
Brass brush: To be used before waxing for the pre-cleaning of the ski base. The recommended rotating speed is approx. 800 per minute. Please work only with single shaft with plexi hood without
using any pressure.

– After drawing (scraping) off the wax layer using the acrylic glass blade (plexi-scraper):

First step: Remaining wax is brushed out of the base using the horsehair brush. This gives the base a matte surface whereby wax-residues remain at the depth of the base structures.

Second step: The remaining wax of the base structure is brushed out using the nylon brush until
no wax particles are visible anymore. Now the base has to be polished for getting a perfect High-Glass finish.

The black nylon brush is especially suitable for polishing with optimum finish for all waxes. Can be used as a universal brush.

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Plastic Kayak Welding

Plastic Kayak weldingOne option to repair splits and slices in plastic boats is hot air plastic welding with compatible plastic welding rod. Check out this excellent video on how to weld a plastic boat submitted by 4CRS  aka Four Corner River Sports. Check out 4CRS on YouTube videos for excellent paddling action:

This is also a very viable technique to repair all kinds of plastics in our gear, including ski boots (cracks and holes) and ski/snowboard bases. We’ve been experimenting with some base repairs with good results. One concern is controlling the temperatures and air dispersement so more than the repair area is not affected. With a digital heat gun and small nozzle, it’s been pretty straight forward and encouraging so far.

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Base Repair and Preparation

base structure thumbnailThe flatter, properly structured and defect free base will accept wax and glide better than one that is not. A better slide will also help the turn and basically overall enjoyment while out ripping it up on the snow. Keeping the bases in shape also prolong their lives and value.

One common misconception is that a mirror smooth base is the ideal. Try running a wetted finger down a mirror and notice the suction. Compare this to an irregular surface such as some types of shower glass. Notice that your finger moves easier over the surface.

Base structure, like scratches in line with the ski or snowboard, break the suction formed between the base and snow, along with the presence of moisture. Gouges and scratches against the running surface, in varying degrees, create resistance or friction.

A board that is not flat (convex or concave) will affect the ability to get on the proper edge and reduce turning ability.

After getting your bases in shape, after waxing and scraping, it is very important to ‘free’ the structure of the wax left by the scraper by brushing.

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True Bars

How flat (or not) are my bases? What are my base bevel angles? How straight are my scrapers, edge guides & tools?….are among the typical bits of information needed to perform and gauge quality of work and determine what work is required.
Like any tool we carry, there is a range of quality levels available to meet budget, personal goals and acceptable tolerances. From basic straight metal bars to precise, finely milled, high quality case hardened steel, the DIY tuner can achieve the desired and necessary level of precision using the fundamental tool known as a true bar.

For base work, a good backlighting source like a desk lamp, daylight, flashlight, etc is very important to help you see any variations between the bar and base. By clearly identifying irregularities and locations the guesswork is minimized.
The basic types are rectangular, square or round section bar stock of varying levels of precision and finishes for the recreational tuner, or a highly milled ‘knife edged’ precision true barfor those with tighter tolerances for their boards. A ‘hybrid’ of sorts, is a finely milled base skiver which can also be used for base repair and flattening tasks.

The narrower the section, the less ‘forgiving’ the lighting will be and increase accuracy. A wider square or rectangular bar will allow less light to pass between it and the base versus a round bar and far less than a knife edged bar.By turning a square or rectangular bar stock true bar on edge, you can increase the accuracy, as long as the quality of the bar stock is acceptable.

Typical base issues are flat, high, low (below) or both (as seen above). A perfectly flat base is ideal while some irregularity may be acceptable for some, depending on performance level or typical snow type. A backcountry or powder ski or snowboard has less of a need for perfection than a high performance race ski or snowboard.

Regardless, knowing ‘where they are’ is important.

Additionally, many new skis and snowboards are anything but flat.

A low base (concave) will cause

the edges to ‘rail’ or grab more readily than desired and harder to release, while high

bases (convex) will require more

angulation and time to get to an edge.

Achieving a flat base is also imperative if you also wish to achieve high precision while tuning edges since all bevel angles and tools are relative to an assumed flat base.

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Base Structure

(FAQ)

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.

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Base Repair Options

(FAQ)
4/8/09: New! Soldering Iron Base Repair video can be viewed here.

Long the low tech and easy to implement method for the home tuner to make temporary base repairs has been burning and dripping Ptex candles. Common problems are the inclusion of carbon and discoloration of clear Ptex repairs, burning hands and fingers and the simple fact the repairs do not last (largely due to the wax included in the material, reducing the bonding). Typically, repairs need to be frequently repeated.

If you get a core shot (through the base material and into the core), additional steps are necessary, either by adding epoxy or cutting out and gluing in replacement base sheet material.

A more durable and easy option for smaller repairs is Base Welding. Metal grip, with it’s heat actuated adhesive can be melted and adhere to core and edge material and serve as a primer for base repair materials that can provide a virtually permanent repair.

Welding can be performed with soldering irons, welding guns and hot air welders. The soldering iron approach requires a lower temperature iron than those used for conventional soldering. Though still fairly ‘low tech’ and easy, care needs to be taken to avoid damaging the bases Welding guns and hot air welders may be easier to use, but can get pricey.

Coupled with a welding option, cutting and finishing tools need to be employed to clean up and blend the repairs with the existing base and base structure. For a more detailed explanation and How to Repair Bases and tools & supplies needed, please visit our Base Repair page.

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Fiberlene or Shop Towels?……or Both?

(FAQ)
Fiberlene (or lint free) towels are excellent for removing dirt and old wax after using wax remover to clean the base or absorbing wax and dirt in base when placed between iron and base. It is also can be used as a final polisher and cleaner after waxing and scraping because of it’s slight abrasiveness.

Heavy duty shop towels are also durable, absorbent, readily available and handy to have around. They do not, however, stand up to heat as well as fiberlene towels. Though lower in lint (and more durable) than household paper towels, they are not ‘lint free’. If you are looking for those extra little performance enhancements, fiberlene is generally your better choice. If you are more pragmatic, the shop towels are a very good option for most cleaning tasks. If you cut the rolls in half, the 5 1/2″ (140mm) sections are a handier size and fit the width of skis and scrapers nicer.

Using heat from a temperature controlled waxing iron is one method used to reduce scraping and mess since excess wax can be absorbed. Couple that with crayoning, and you can get down to little or no scraping, depending on preferences. This also can be very helpful or desirable if you don’t have time or energy to deal with extra scraping and brushing required for hard waxes.

You could argue that it may be best to let the skis or snowboards cool so the wax hardens. Then when you reheat and use the fiberlene/wax removal approach, you might be more likely to draw the top layer of liquified wax.

This also can be used in lieu of hot scraping where theoretically, old wax, dirt and gradoo can be drawn off versus using base cleaners.

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Avoiding Carbon using Ptex Candles

(FAQ)

What is the best way to keep a p-tex candle from dripping carbon onto ski bases?.

Light the candle, then holding a steel scraper to the lit portion wait for all the carbon to drip onto the scraper prior to placing the candle along the base to fill in the gap.

Common sense with the candle will prevail. Holding the candle at a 45 degree angle and rotating the lit portion against the metal scraper works just fine to get rid of the carbon. This is applicable to clear material and is done more for aesthetic reasons. No difference between using a metal scraper or other handy surface (preferably metal) so you don’t set anything alight. Using p-tex is a ‘quick fix’. You will want to get a base welded or patched if there’s major damage.

Ptex candles contain wax some they can burn more readily after being lit. Welding material does not contain the wax and will create a more durable repair, though using Ptex candles with a soldering iron has proven to provide long lasting repairs.

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Base Cleaning: Hot Scraping

(FAQ)

Using a soft wax (for warmer snow temp) works very well to clean the base. It pulls debris and dirt from the base when scraped off warm. Also a good idea to apply a mid temp wax as a ‘travel or storage wax’ to protect the base.

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.

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Base Cleaning: Liquid Cleaners

(FAQ)

Maplus recommendations: Before applying the ski or snowboard wax, the base must be prepared in line with the latest criteria. Top results cannot be guaranteed if the skis & snowboards have not been prepared and cleaned properly: these ski or snowboard waxes are based on the very latest developments in chemical research into sliding products.

CLEANING THE BASE

If using perfluorinated wax (P4), the bases must first be cleaned using “Fluorclean” (a liquid detergent that removes all traces of fluorine) and then cleaned with ”Clean” (a liquid detergent that removes all traces of paraffin). If using paraffin waxes (Universal – Racing Base – P1) or fluorinated paraffin waxes (P2 – P3), clean with “Clean” only.

Always start cleaning the ski or snowboard from the tip, working towards the tail.

1. Spread the detergent evenly over the entire surface of the ski or snowboard using a paintbrush;
2. Wait 2-3 minutes for the detergent to work;
3. Manually brush the ski or snowboard using a soft brass brush to improve the action of the detergent;
4. Remove the dirt and wax residues with fiberlene wrapped around a Plexiglas scraper;
5. Dry the ski or snowboard with fiberlene.
If the ski or snowboard bases are exceptionally dirty, you may need to clean repeating the process with the “Clean” only.
Wait for the ski or snowboard to dry thoroughly (it should become whitish) before cleaning it again.

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