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Hone Ski and Snowboard Edges Sharp and Smooth with Diamond Stones

Hone Ski and Snowboard Edges Sharp and Smooth with Diamond StonesTools4Boards has just put out their second generation of Hone Ski and Snowboard Diamond Files & Duo Hone Diamond files. With a choice of two diamond grits, one on each side, the Tools4Boards Hone Duos are a unique option for ski & snowboard edge tuning. There is a very nice feel and feedback from the rigid cast aluminum backs. This is a sweet edge tuning option. Hone Ski and Snowboard Edges Sharp & Smooth with Diamond Stones is better than using metal files for routine maintenance. Files remove too much material, and are less forgiving than diamond files (aka diamond stones). Diamonds can be used in either direction. The progression from coarse to finer grits cuts and the polishes the edges to a smooth, sharp, consistent and longer lasting edge than a file will. This, without creating an irregular, short lived, burr sharp edge that files create. This is similar and desirable much like when you hone a knife sharp and smooth.

Another nice option is that the Tools4Boards Hone Diamond Strips can be replaced if and when they wear out. This is also somewhat unique. Instead of tossing out a used up diamond file and purchasing a new one, old strips can be heated and scraped off to make room for lower cost new diamond strips.

Following is a video from Tools4Boards on using the Hone Diamond Files to sharpen and polish edges:

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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,
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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Cool! New boards! Now what????

You just got some new skis or a snowboard. Now what?

Unwrap & drool, then inspect them to ‘get to know’ them

  • Check bases for flatness with a true bar and backlighting
  • Look for consistent base structure and for any gouges
  • Eyeball torsional squareness and general structure evenness
  • Measure the side and base bevels and record info
  • Check general consistent sharpness of the edges and for burrs or nicks. Also, check for rust
  • Detune the tips and tails around the shovel until they are no longer sharp and catch objects
  • Make any necessary (hopefully none or minor) fixes and tweaks
  • Clean, wax, scrape and brush a few cycle
  • Ski or ride ’em, repeat above and make any edge bevel tweaks deemed appropriate and test again

Periodically repeat above


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SkiMan SideWall Sharp Planer Information

SkiMan SideWall Sharp Planer InstructionsPurchase Ski & Snowboard Sidewall Planers here.

  • Ergonomic sidewall planer
  • Easy handling, steady grip, maximum  accuracy
  • Best results, minimum  effort
  • Adjustable  blade position and cutting  depth
  • Right and left hand  use
  • For ski and snowboard
  • SkiMan SideWall Sharp Planer Instructions

For Recreational, Snowsports Pros and Racers

The   use    of   the    sidewall    planer is   essential  to   remove   excess   of material  which may compromise  the file cutting  and  make  it  difficult  to obtain  the right angle.

It is necessary to use this tool before filing,  so  that  the  file  can  make  a precise  work on the edges.

Ski or Snowboard sidewall:

  • remove before filing
  • titanium blade steel
  • edge base
  • ski or snowboard  body
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Ski & Snowboard Side Edge Filling Using Various Tools4Boards File Technologies

Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 10.49.08 AMRick Weissenborn of Tools4Boards demonstrates edge filing with various Tools4Boards Metal file technologies along with some good tips on basic edge tuning.

Note that metal files remove more material than stones or diamonds and are used to set initial edge geometry or re-establishing very dull or roughed edges. Follow with a progression of stones or diamond files and remove the hanging burr on the base edge formed after filing the side edges. Don’t forget to plane or cut side walls that may interfere with the stone or file’s ability to cut the side edge. Also note that work hardened edge sections formed when hitting rocks or other hard objects, require using a stone before the files. Otherwise, your files will be dulled by these hardened edge sections.


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Basic Ergo Razor Side Wall Planer Instructions

Side wall removal is necessary to allow the edge cutting tools to cut or polish the edges. If you are seeing plastic in your files or stones, it’s time for you to remove the side wall where the top of the side edge meets the side of your boards (see image upper left). The SkiMan Ergo Razor Side Wall Planer works basically the same as variations and it’s cousins branded under several ski and snowboard tuning tool companies.

If disassembled, simply put the post in the hole in the planer body and tighten with the knob or included hex wrench so it looks like this:

You can flip the direction of the blade for pulling on the left or right side. The knob also controls the in and out location of the blade to position it relative to where the edge meets the side wall. The two screws on top are for setting the height. The blade should just skim/plane the side wall in thin slices. Adjust deeper as needed and as you use repetitive strokes. If it skips, it’s cutting too much and you need to back off.

The blade post can accept either a round blade or a rounded square for optimal planing depending on side wall shape. The hex wrench can be used to replace or rotate the blade to a fresher and sharper cutting edge.

After planing you may wish to touch up the planed area with a fine file, sandpaper and/or tex pad.

For more side wall planing and cutting tips, see: Planing and Cutting Back SideWalls.

Updated: 4/7/13 for additional information.

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SkiVisions Edge Tuning Tool

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

The SkiVisions Ski Sharp Edge Tuning Tool is a complex, multi-adjustable device, disguised as a simple, user friendly tool.  Its purpose is to give superb edge tuning results without requiring sophisticated edge tuning knowledge or skills; the tool itself provides the sophistication.

The Ski Sharp’s effectiveness is a combination of design (it works on both the side and base edge simultaneously) and the inserts (files, stones of different materials for different purposes and grits, and carbides) to give the desired edge sharpness and polish.

The Tuning Stick, which comes with the Ski Sharp, lets the novice or the expert precisely analyze the condition of the edges before tuning, the progress during tuning, and the sharpness and polish of the edge  desired at completion.

Is ski tuning with the Ski Sharp expensive?  Absolutely not.  It is true that you have to make an initial capital investment in the tool and inserts, but thereafter, all inserts  are re-sharpenable and RARELY need replacement.


It is the only edge tool ever designed and patented (#4,850,252) that sharpens both the base side of the edge and the side edge simultaneously, and at the same time has independent bevel selections for each edge from 0 to 3 degrees.  Say you want 1 degree base edge bevel and 3 degree side; no problem.  Also:

  • Edge bevels are absolutely precise and edge metal is polished
  • The tool is incredibly quick and easy to use
  • The tool requires no skill, especially when stones (we prefer) are used


Although flat bases are important, it is edge tuning that makes skis act magically.  A perfectly tuned edge has three characteristics:

1.  Grip.   The ability of the ski to grip the snow at an appropriate level for the snow conditions is very important — not too grippy in soft snow, but plenty of bite in hard snow.

2.  Slip.  This is the truly elusive component in edge tuning.  A ski must be able to slip if it is to be skied dynamically.  The great Alberto Tomba, who skied with incredible power, always had the same complaint when he lost a race: “My skis were too sharp!”  As powerfully as he skied, he still couldn’t overcome their “stickiness”; his tuner did not know how to tune for slip.  What is an example of slip? You are half way through a turn and suddenly your line won’t work.  A ski that won’t slip will lock you on that failed line.  Best case, you make a bad turn, worse case, this can get very dangerous to your ACL if you are locked on and get in the back seat. Bottom line, you don’t work an over-sharp edge, it works you. An edge that will slip will let you make very quick, micro adjustments to change to a line that works. Even though the ski is fully loaded and arcing a carve, just a slight flattening of your foot is all it takes to allow you to adjust your line.  The trick is to tune in both bite and slip.  You can do it, but only when you know that is your objective.  These instructions will show you how. The amount of sharpness is your call, since everyone is different.  But if you find you can’t flatten your foot a little and adjust your line, your skis are too sharp.

Snow conditions dictate how to tune for slip.  It may seem illogical, but new snow has very little slip, so you have to build slip into the edge tune.  That is why new snow requires a very polished edge or the they will be sticky and reluctant to slip.

Old snow on the other had has lots of slip.  You can run with far sharper edges and final polish is not so critical.

Everything in between new and old snow becomes a judgment call and personal taste plays a big part in the decision.

3.  Glide.  Edges, like bases, need to glide and act slippery.  Polished edge metal gives you that good glide, and the newer the snow, the more important the polish.

We think of ski edges as fine cutlery, nothing less.

For years we have had the above summary about grip, slip and glide.  Some of our customers understand it, some find it confusing.  So, let us try to attack this from a different angle.

Optimum edge tuning is very elusive until you find the benchmark, which is not obvious.  But, when you find the benchmark, you own the answer.

It is not an intellectual question; it can only be determined by personal experience, and your personal edge tuning experiments.

You analyze your muscles as you ski.  That is where the secret is embedded, deep in your quads, where the benchmark hides.

Your muscles need to be relaxed and fluid.  That is a product of your correct edge tuning.  A ski that holds you up in the turn with just enough muscle input to effortless hold you up and allow you to steer your skis.  But JUST barely enough.

If you are inputting EXTRA muscle just to hold you up in hard snow without slipping your edges are too dull, and, you will quickly wear down your muscle resiliency for the wrong reason.

Conversely, inputting extra muscle to try and force your over-sharp and sticky into the turn edges, your tuning is wrong also.  Again, muscles need to be relaxed and fluid.  Over-sharp and sticky edges eat muscle resiliency as efficiently as dull edges do, you tire yourself from fighting your edges.  And, they are far more dangerous than dull edges, especially to your ACL.

Where you can carve hard snow with a relaxed body, both as to confidence in your skis to grip, and confidence that your skis still have the right amount of slip, so your muscles can be relaxed and fluid, that is the benchmark, and it is easy to analyze.  Once you know this, you own it.


1.  Engineering.  First, the tool may appear simple, but it is a compilation of sophisticated engineering.  In over 25 years, no other ski tool has come close to duplicating it.  Second, the inserts, simple and precise.

2.  Instructions.  Edge tuning can be complex.  We simplify the process by carefully giving thorough instructions, both the why’s and how’s of edge tuning.  Nobody beats the thoroughness of our instructions.

How To Use

First, the purpose of the Ski Sharp is to maximize efficient edge tuning results.  None of us have time to waste.  We need results and we need them quickly.

Decide the amount of bevels you want for your base and side edges and turn the long screws at the bottome of the tool until the indicator bar shows you those degrees for both.  It is that simple and accurate.

When you apply the tool to the edges there are two types of strokes you can use, a single pass down the ski, which we don’t recommend, especially when using the stones, and over-lapping strokes, which we do recommend.  An over-lapping stroke is a forward stroke of up to 16 inches in length, then a back-stroke of about 12 inches, another forward stroke of 16 inches, etc., which means you are slowly moving down the ski by the difference is stroke lengths.  We prefer long smooth strokes rather than short choppy ones.  Do not pressure on the back stroke (see below).

It is important to know how to do the back-stroke.  If you are using files or the Carbide Skiver, don’t pressure the tool on the back-stroke because doing so will wear the insert out quickly.  On the other hand, you should pressure the tool on the backstroke when using any of the stones because the back-stroke does not cause them any additional wear, since they work in both directions.

Always remember, when using the Ski Sharp, use just a light touch. You don’t have to muscle the tool as the inserts will do the job without needing excessive hand pressure.

Finally, you have to decide your edge tuning strategy, so let’s review some basics :

1.  It is a good idea to designate your skis as left or right.  If we do that we only need to tune the two inside edges. The outside edges are beveled and kept polished, but never sharpened.  Sharp outside edges do you no good when skiing so sharpening them both wastes time and puts wear on the inserts and the edges.

2.  By keeping your outside edges polished and fresh, but not routinely sharpened, you can switch to them, designating them the new inside edges, when the previous inside edges get tired, rock damaged, etc. The outside edges will be new, fresh, and ready to be tuned as the new inside edges.  And, this approach saves lots of ski tuning time.  We mark the inside tip on the base side with a MarksaLot or a white paint pencil (depending on the base color) so we can see it easily when tuning.

Edge Tuning Procedures:

1.  Check your edge sharpness with the tuning stick (See All About the Tuning Stick below). Do so all along the edge because you need to know your starting point.  You will find the ski dullest under foot, with progressive sharpness out towards the tip and tail, exactly what you don’t want.

2.  Sharpen and de-burr with the green stones.  Use the procedure outlined below under Zoning It is the most important tuning procedure to follow. Start under-foot, not at the tip, and start polishing the edges with a back and forth movement with the Ski Sharp with just light pressure on the tool. The stones don’t need pressure to cut, you can feel them cutting and polishing through the Ski Sharp.  After about 5 back and forth passes under-foot, slowly start working your way out towards the tip and tail, adding more distance out after every several passes, until you have progressed all the way to tip and tail.

3.  Check the edge sharpness with the Tuning Stick, you should now find that the edge has become sharpest under-foot, with progressively less sharpening out towards the tip and tail.  This is exactly what you want.  The bite of the ski comes from its ability to bite under-foot.  Keep in mind, when you are tuning with stones, you are never removing excess edge metal as you can do with files — you are only removing enough to make them just right.

4.  If the edge is not as sharp as you want, you have two choices.  We first like to use the green stones to see if the correct sharpness can be achieved with them.  If not, and this is important, put a file or a Carbide Skiver in just the side file pocket, keep a stone in the base file pocket.  Again, start under-foot several passes and then work outwards towards tip and tail just as you did previously.  Don’t over-do!  Also, keep in mind, when you generally tune your edges with stones, the metal remains conditioned and cuts easily  with files or carbides. A little of this procedure goes a long way.  Stop frequently and check your progress with the Tuning Stick.  Then, return to the green stones and re-do the edge again, starting under-foot and working your way out.  By now you should have a very sharp edge with a micro burr.

5.  Edge polishing is next; the desire for the amount of polish varies both from skier to skier and the snow conditions.  This also is the point where the Tuning Stick really performs.  In new, fresh cold snow, always polish.  In old, icy, or hard man-made snow, you may like the finish of the green stones, they give you a distinct communication or feel of your edges on the snow. Highly polished edges won’t do that.  Everything in between is personal preference, you have to experiment and find what you like.

6.  Polishing tip and tail.

The final edge tuning step is to polish off the sharpness of the edges at tip and tail.  If the edges are sharp at the tip and tail they will be grabby and the skis difficult to control.  We recommend polishing the tip and tail plus one inch past the contact point, which is the point at which the skis are the widest at tip and tail.  When polishing one inch behind the contact point (going towards the bindings) you give the ski a little extra forgiveness without sacrificing performance.  The picture shows detuning at a 45 degree angle polishing the tip of the edge with our ruby ceramic polishing stone.  Once this is done they only need to be re-polished periodically if you use the Ski Sharp with our recommended techniques.

Does this seem like a lot?  It is not.  It takes us just several minutes to tune the edges of a pair of skis for the day.  Once everything is set up correctly, the daily work is very quick.  (see “Tuning Routines” in the Index)

All About Bevels

First, let’s look at exactly what bevels do:

1.  Base edge bevel makes a ski more forgiving and the edges less “sticky”.  They feel as if they have better glide and they transition better in the turns, so you “catch” edges less frequently.  Generally, this translates into a quicker and more forgiving ski, giving you greater confidence.  However, if a little is good, more is not better. Greater base edge bevel will make your edges feel less sharp on hard snow because they have to be angled higher for the tip of the edge to be able to bite.  You have to experiment to find what you like, and the snow conditions where you ski will influence your decisions.  For instance, hard snow skiers generally like less, powder skiers more base edge bevel.

2.  Side edge bevel has only one purpose: to adjust the sharpness of the edge, the greater the bevel (say 3 degrees) the harder the ski will bite, which is good for hard snow but too much for soft snow.  The hardness of the snow where you generally ski dictates how much side edge bevel to use.  Keep in mind, on the side edge, 1 degree is also 89, 2 degrees is also 88, and 3 degrees is also 87, all depending on your point of view.

3.  Beveling purposes and effects are no more complicated than that.  The Ski Sharp, together with the Base Flattener,  lets you experiment to find what you like.

4.  So what are the bevel selections for a very sharp ski?  Base edge bevel at 0 and side edge bevel at 3.  A selection that should only be made by very hard snow skiers.  This selection also makes for a very unforgiving ski, particularly if your boot canting is not correct.

5.  So what are the bevel selections for a relatively dull ski for soft snow and powder?  Base edge bevel at 2 and side edge bevel at 0.  This keeps the ski from biting too hard in soft snow.

You should always first tune your ski according to the manufacturer’s original bevel settings; your ski shop can get this information from the factory rep if it is not well known.  Using the Ski Sharp to maintain factory bevels is very easy to get started with when using the tool.  If you find you want the ski to act differently than it does with the factory settings, experiment, it is a little work, but well worth the effort, especially as you develop your own tastes.

Only the files or Carbide Skiver will cut in bevels, not the stones.  The files are OK for that purpose, but if you do a lot of edge tuning, get one carbide skiver – it will last virtually forever and cuts in precise bevels.

Only one edge bevel should be set at a time, particularly when cutting in base edge bevel.  That means only one file or Carbide Skiver in the base file pocket.  It is best to have nothing in the side file pocket when first cutting in base edge bevel, you want to feel the cut, and in particular, you want to feel when the cut is finished Then you know the bevel is set. Base edge bevel is cut in until the file or carbide skiver stops cutting. Both the feel of the tool in your hand and the sound it makes (or doesn’t make) will tell you when the bevel is cut in.

Side edge bevel is cut in using a file or Carbide Skiver in the side pocket and preferably a stone in the base pocket.  To cut in side edge bevel you can usually plan on taking about 10 passes per edge, but you cannot measure your progress, and the file or carbide will just keep cutting, so limit the number of passes down the ski – don’t get carried away.

Keep in mind, when you are cutting in bevels, you are creating micro burrs, and those burrs can only be taken out with lots of polishing the edges with stones, the finer the better.

Remember, once your bevels are cut it, they will keep their angles with normal tuning.  If you just tune with stones, you may want to check the base edge bevel periodically with a file or carbide, but the Ruby Sharpening Stones will generally maintain bevels through regular tunings.

All About the Tuning Stick

The Tuning Stick which comes with the Ski Sharp is a simple plastic rod, but don’t be fooled, it is a sophisticated analytical tool, it allows you to precisely “read” the sharpness of your edges and the presence of micro burrs.

As you are tuning your edges,  it is easy to get “lost”, that is, not really know where you are. The Tuning Stick solves that problem because it will always tell you the sharpness and burred condition of your edges, and you can always get consistency from ski to ski.  It takes the guessing game out of edge tuning.

Before you begin tuning, check your edges with the Tuning Stick.  You will see how they are more dull under foot than out towards tip and tail.  You will also find out that, unless you are in soft snow, one day is all it takes to lose the sharpness under foot and, keep in mind, under foot is where you want your ski to be sharp; it is where all the skis’ grip and bite and “sting” comes from.

Once you start using the Tuning Stick, you will quickly realize the benefits of frequent tunings. Daily is the norm unless the snow is soft.  You spend a great deal of effort and money to get on the hill, not taking every advantage once there does not make sense, tuning really pays when it comes to on the hill fun.  And once you get the hang of it, it only takes a few minutes.

We HAD to develop the tuning stick because our edge tuning techniques and advice are unconventional, so we needed to develop and easily observable way to analyze edges while they are being tuned and which could be used to parallel our advice without guesswork.  Hence, the tuning stick was developed for that purpose.

Our edge tuning methods are totally inconsistent with other tuning advice you are likely to hear, even the names the other tool manufacturers choose for tools indicate that they really don’t have a clue what edge tuning is really about.  In edge tuning, more is not better.  Better is better, and better only comes from an approach where ski edges are honed with precision and polish, not a mangling, using a tool size and insert lengths that interface correctly with shaped skis.

“Zoning” the sharpness of the edge, as discussed below, can only be repeated ski to ski if you have the capability of analyzing the edge; zoning cannot be executed effectively without the Tuning Stick.

Hold the Tuning Stick at 45 degrees to the edge and push down on the stick (don’t pull it up) with moderate pressure, something more than just light pressure, and shave plastic.  The Tuning Stick will give you three sensory  observations (see below) which allows you to be very precise with your edge tuning.  If you only use light pressure on the stick you will only be reading the burr, heavier pressure really shows you how the ski will bite, especially in hard snow.

When the Tuning Stick is scraped on the edge, it gives you a great deal of feed-back such as:

1.  If the edge is sharp and polished, the edge will shave plastic off the stick in a smooth and consistent manner, its sound will be smooth and consistent, and it will vibrate a little.

2.  The amount of shaved plastic will demonstrate the level of sharpness and is easy to observe.

3.  If the edge is dull, it will not shave plastic, and the dullness will be very apparent.

4.  If the edge is burred it will shave plastic very aggressively, and the Tuning Stick will also vibrate and make a squealing sound.

5.  The Tuning Stick gives you three sensory observations, visual (observe shavings), feel (vibration), and sound (range of smooth scraping to squealing).  There is no comparable method for analyzing your edges.

One of the problems with the Tuning Stick is that tuners can become so intrigued by it, and the way it shaves plastic, that they have a tendency to over-sharpen their skis, to over-tune their skis, playing with the stick.  If you notice yourself doing this, back off.

Keep in mind, the construction of your ski will determine how sharp you can tune it; it is a little known fact that not all skis can take the same sharpness.  Skis that are very damp can be tuned much sharper than skis without much dampening (powder skis and the like).  Why is this the case?  Because skis without dampening vibrate when you set your edges in hard snow, they then literally vibrate out of your edge set (you lose grip). If you tuned those edges very sharp, they then immediately bite in again but again vibrate out of the edge set.  Consequently, you get a very rough and unstable ride.  A dampened ski will bite with the edge set and won’t vibrate out, so the edge set holds for a great carving turn.  The point is, if you have an un-dampened ski, don’t try to make it a hard snow ski by making it very sharp, you won’t like the result.

Also, if you use your skis on the rails, you ruin your edges and they can’t be kept properly sharpened.  We suggest that if you like the rails, get a dedicated pair of skis and don’t bother tuning them, and never use your good skis on rails.

The Tuning Stick as a “Management” Tool

This is a special note to racers or others who don’t tune their own skis.  Even if you don’t tune your own skis, you need to be able to analyze your edges to see if they are properly prepared.  The Tuning Stick is your best way to do it.  You will be able to precisely analyze the job your tuner is doing for you, and, you can learn exactly how you like your edges.  In other words, you are no longer a “victim” of your tuner.  And, if you can’t get what you want, you might have to do it yourself, but then it is easy, we show you how.

The reason ski racers are so prone to blowing out  ACLs is because no slip is tuned into their skis.  Now we have no doubt every racer says, I don’t want any slip, it will slow me down, won’t let me hold a carving edge, won’t let me hold the arc of the ski, etc.  CORRECTLY TUNED IN SLIP DOES NOT COMPROMISE ANY OF THOSE CONCEPTS.  You can still carve without slipping, but you have a far larger quiver of possibilities when you have some slip built into your edges.

When skis have no slip it is easy to get caught in the back seat in a way that prevents the possibility of escape — you just keep getting dragged deeper into the back seat, until POP.  Goodbye ACL.  Slip gives you a degree of safety as well as agility and quickness.  Use the Tuning Stick to not only manage your tuning, but to also manage your safety!

You want to win races?  You think speed is about waxing?  Nope.  Winning is about confidence, that confidence comes from your edge tune, proper waxes just makes the most confident go faster.  Our edge tuning techniques are all about confidence in our skis, their performance is predictable, the edges have grip, slip and glide as we discuss.  And when you have absolute confidence in your edges, you are in the mental condition to win, to enter the zone.


If you really “get” that edge tuning is a perfect balance of grip, slip and glide, and you learn how to effectively analyze your edges with the Tuning Stick, the last step is “zoning”, the method to make your skis magical.

Ideal ski tuning makes it float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.  If you want that effect, zoning is required.  The beauty of the SkiVisions approach to zoning, though, is that it is easy; anyone can do it!  The sting comes from a sharp ski edge under-foot and the float comes an edge that is progressively less sharp out towards the ends.

So how do you zone tune the edges?  Let’s say the running surface of the ski is 60 inches in length. That can be broken down into approximately three 20 inch sections and tuned as follows:

1.  The 20 inch section under-foot is tuned sharp.

2.  The other 20 inch sections (shovel section in front, tail section in rear) are tuned progressively less sharp.  That is done by using overlapping strokes with the Ski Sharp wherein you do fewer repeats as to move towards the tip or tail. Fewer repeats means less work on the edge and less sharpening.

This is point loading.  There is nothing new with the concept of point loading and ski tuning, but the SkiVisions approach is both unique and the most effective method of producing and controlling point loading using the Ski Sharp, Tuning Stick, and the SkiVisions tuning techniques.

Keep in mind, when zone tuning the edges, frequently checking your progress with the Tuning Stick is critical to track your progress and to accurately compare your edge tuning from ski to ski.

The Ski Sharp Inserts

Ski Sharp Files.  These are the newest Ski Sharp files as of 10/2012.  They are designed to give aggressive edge cutting yet excellent finish.  It is the biggest, most aggressive file we have ever made for the Ski Sharp.  Note the black dots, the file must be placed in the tool with the dots facing the same direction and the tool used in that direction.  Files only cut in one direction.  This is not a chrome plated file so it can be re-sharpened  with the acid soak method shown in the maintenance video.
If you look carefully at the files in the picture you will see dots of black markings at the leading edge of  each file.  IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU FOLLOW THIS INSTRUCTION.  Those dots need to be facing the same direction and the tool needs to be also used in that direction for the files to cut edge metal.

It is important that you use the files in the correct direction only and that you do not pressure the tool on backstrokes when using over-lapping strokes; pressuring a file against its cutting teeth (facing the wrong direction) wears it out quickly.

Brush the metal filings out of the file teeth frequently. If they are loaded up they won’t cut.

When using the files, an important technique is not fully insert the file in the side edge pocket, but rather, to drop it down so that more of the file teeth are used. (See Maximizing the Life of the Inserts below)

The sharpening stones only work if you continually adjust the stones to a fresh section of stone.

This picture shows a Ruby Ceramic Stone that is NOT fully inserted in the side edge pocket.  It is important to move the side edge inserts up and down in the pocket frequently to maximize the life of the insert and to keep using fresh stone sections to maximize its performance.  The inserts also need to be rotated in the pockets to further maximize their usefulness.

So, after each pass down one ski edge, adjust the stones to a fresh section and continue.  Frequently changing the stones’ position to fresh stone grit is the secret of sharpening with stones.

Green Stones.  The green stones are aggressive silicon carbide stones that love to eat hard metal.  They are intended to replace files for general edge sharpening purposes.

NEW SKIS.  See the index regarding tuning new skis. These stones are for working edges that have been hardened at the ski factory from misuse of the tuning equipment.                                                                                     HARD SNOW. You may find you like the final finish of the green stones in very hard snow.

Polishing Stones.  The purpose of polishing stones is to allow you to polish your edges to a finer finish and to remove any traces of burr.

We have consolidated the ENTIRE polishing process into one stone, our new ruby ceramic stones, and have thereby eliminated the need for progressive stone grit polishing.  They are incredibly effective at accomplishing the entire spectrum of polish and burr removal in a single stone.  They are constructed of the finest ruby aluminum oxide and glass. We love simplicity, these stones get us there.

Carbide Skiver.  The Carbide Skiver is a cutting insert as are the files.  However, they are used only one at a time!  A stone can be used in the other pocket when using a carbide, never another carbide, it is too much, over-kill.  But unlike files, they can be re-sharpened (see below) an infinite number of times, and they can be rotated to use up to 16 cutting surfaces before needing re-sharpening.

You can observe these two cutting edges on the carbide that show wear, one edge more than the other.  As carbide edges wear, they get rounded and shiny.  This carbide will need re-sharpening soon. (See Maximizing the Life of the Inserts below) If you do a lot of cutting with the Ski Sharp, get a Carbide Skiver, they cut edge metal like butter and last forever.  They are a one time investment.

The Carbide Skiver feels relatively dull and ineffective if you roll it in your fingers, but don’t be fooled. It is a very aggressive cutter because of its relative hardness to the ski edge.  It is easy to “over-do” with the carbide so use it with care and be conservative with it.  Use it with a light touch, let it cut at its own pace, don’t rush it.

The Carbide Skiver is a flat carbide blank, this makes it re-sharpenable an infinite number of times.  However, a white plastic shim piece needs to be used with it to create a cutting tooth.  This is the Carbide Skiver in the base edge pocket.

This is the Carbide Skiver in the side edge pocket. Again, notice the white shim piece used to form a single cutting tooth.  Keep in mind, the Carbide Skiver is mostly used in the side edge pocket for sharpening purposes. The Carbide Skiver is used in the base edge pocket only when cutting in base edge bevel initially and perhaps occasionally when re-checking base edge bevel.

It is important to use this insert correctly when cutting in bevel!  Cutting in bevel requires a number of passes, taking some edge metal each time, until your bevel selection is achieved.  However, if you continuously use the carbide in one direction you will develop striation lines on your edges, small lines that look like skip marks.  You can avoid this by reversing direction with the carbide each pass along the ski.  Say the first pass down the edge is cutting from tip to tail. You should then reverse the carbide in the Ski Sharp and cut from tail to tip.  This way you prevent the striation marks in your edges.

The Carbide Skiver leaves a very nasty burr.  After using it, major polishing is required to remove the burr; you can also polish it out lightly by hand.

The Carbide Skiver is not for cutting through rock damaged edge sections. Rock damaged edge sections must first be polished thoroughly with the green or 180 grit stones.

The Carbide Skiver needs more care when re-sharpening since the process is done up on its narrow edge rather than on the flat surface.  There are 16 cutting edges that you can use on each carbide, and you can observe when they are all worn. Close inspection will show worn areas and a shiny edge.  When re-sharpening it, it is important to hold the edge very balanced on the diamond file while rubbing it back  and forth so that there is no rocking the carbide side to side.

Maximizing the Life of the Inserts

There are two ways to maximize the life of the inserts.

1.  First, moving the inserts up and down in the side file pocket:

We are showing the Ruby Ceramic Stone raised up in the side edge pocket, that is, not fully inserted.  This allows you to get extra life out of the stone and to make quick, frequent adjustments to the stone so that fresh stone grit is always being used on the side edge. The side edge is where all the real work in edge tuning is done.  This technique is used when using either files or stones.

2.  Second, re-flattening and re-sharpening the stones and the Carbide Skiver (see Stone/Steel Inserts Maintenance).


Rock Damaged Edges

We call rock damaged edges invitations to obsessive behavior. Many tuners think they have to polish them out, that edges have to be pretty to be correctly tuned.  Don’t do it! 

You can clearly see the sheen of a finely polished edge and the ugliness of a rock scar.  Every time you hit a rock you diminish the effectiveness of your edge.  That is just the way it is.  Don’t make it worse (expand the damage) by fiddling with it.  Polish it out to the extent you can with the green stone IN THE SKI SHARP and some final polish with the ruby ceramic stones and that is all. Leave it alone beyond that.  Why?  If you attempt to polish it out by hand, you will also round off some of that nicely polished edge, exactly what you are trying to preserve.  Don’t make your edge tuning a version of cancer surgery where you have to take some good tissue to prevent the spread of the damage!  Remember, you can sharpen a rock scar so the edge then works, you just cannot make it pretty.

And, as you continually flatten the ski and tune the edges, eventually the rock scar will  disappear.  Let it go at that.  Don’t polish it by hand. 

Cutting Back the Edge Protector

This is the SkiVisions tool for cutting back the edge protector.  It is the SkiVisions Base Flattener steel blade and it is very sharp, we grind each corner of the bar so there aren’t any sharp edges that can dig into your ski sidewall.  The ends of the bar are very sharp and easily skives off edge protector plastic.

There is a narrow strip of plastic just above the top of the ski edge and you can observe it in this picture.  The problem is that, as you are tuning the ski, particularly if you use side edge bevel, that plastic clogs the inserts and slows the tuning process.  We like to skive it off on our skis a little at a time so that it is still there, doing its job, but it is out of the way when tuning.  By angling the steel blade we can push it down the edge, easily skiving off the plastic only so that it is out of our way.  Since we only take off a little at a time, this needs to be repeated from time to time, but it only takes a minute to do.

Note, some manufacturer’s use a plastic type coating on their skis, cutting back the plastic coatiing is more easily done using the same technique but using one of the Base Flattener Ruby Stone Blades instead of the steel blade.  If the steel blade is reluctant to bite and cut, wants to jump once it is cutting, or generally doesn’t want to make smooth cuts, try the Ruby Stone Blade instead using the same technique — it will work better.

Some Technical Stuff

We know not everyone is interested in technical stuff, so this is just for those who are.

Lubricants.  Should you use lubricants when tuning ski edges?  Lubricants range from water to honing oils, etc.  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Why?  While it is true that lubricants help the cutting action of stones, the problem is, when you are tuning edges you are constantly producing “trash” in the forms of metal and dust, if you use lubricants, you promote driving the trash into the base pores, whereas if the stones are used dry, the trash can simply be wiped off.  All of the SkiVisions stones are designed to be used dry, never with lubricants.

Checking base edge bevel and converting to degrees.

To measure base edge bevel all you need is an automotive feeler gauge like the one shown, and a true bar.

You are reading the gap between the true bar and the tip of the edge.  If the feeler gauge can insert into the gap, go to a thicker gauge, until it no longer can be inserted into the gap. The prior thickness is then the amount of bevel in thousandths of an inch. You can convert that gap to degrees using the chart below.

It is unfortunate that base edge bevel was originally expressed in degrees because it is meaningless without also identifying the starting point, 1 degree with a 3/32 of an inch starting point in from the tip of the edge, as we have used on the Ski Sharp, is a good measure for base edge bevel in degrees, and is the basis for the conversion in the chart below.  If the start point was, say, 1/2 inch from the tip of the edge, the ski would have so much bevel it would be un-skiable.  What is important when measuring base edge bevel is the distance as measured by the feeler gauge shown above rather than the degree of angle.

The following chart shows the thousandths of inches measured by the feeler gauge comparison to the degree setting on the Ski Sharp (base edge).

Degree setting                .5        1        1.5        2        2.5        3

Inches (thousandths)    .0015    .003     .004     .005     .006     .007

Keep in mind, anything over .005 (2 degrees) means that the ski has to be tipped very high on edge to get the edge to bite, something that should only be done by tuners looking for a specific effect.
Also, keep in mind that if you frequently ski very hard and man-made snow that your inside edge will wear very quickly, meaning, the base edge bevel will INCREASE due to that wear.  When that happens, you need to flatten the entire base with the SkiVisions Base Flattener with ruby stone blades to bring the entire base and edges in proper plane with each other.  The easiest way to track edge wear on the inside edge is by using this feeler gauge technique.

Setting base edge at true zero

We carefully set each Ski Sharp base edge file at true zero, it is the basis for the accuracy of the tool and we designed adjustability into the base file clip for that purpose. Here is how we do it.

To check if your Ski Sharp base edge is set at true zero, first turn the base edge bevel screw on the top to zero and tighten the screw on the underside all the way so the base plate is snug to the base file holder.  Then using a true bar, slide it along the base edge file and along the base piece of the tool to see if the true bar just “kisses” the file, it brushes the file so that you know it is precisely on the same plane as the base piece of the tool AND  as you pass the true bar off and back onto the file there is no “clicking” at the edges of the file.  Remember to once again loosen the screw on the underside about 1/2 to 1 turn so there is some play for the adjuster range.

If the true bar is not “kissing” the file, and/or it clicks as it travels off and onto the file, the base clip needs adjusting.  Using a #1 Phillips screwdriver, adjust the two small screws until the true bar makes precise but not excessive contact with the file.  Any turns of the screw are VERY minor, usually less than 1/16 turn.

Safety Rules

Maintain a firm grip on the Ski Sharp and keep your fingers away from the sharp metal ski edges. As said before, and as your Ski Patrol knows, edges are cutlery.

Your ski must be held in a ski vise when using the Ski Sharp.

Keep the tool clean and replace any worn or damaged parts.

The following videos relate to how to use the Ski Sharp.

SkiVisions Edge tuning with our SkiSharp Part 1

SkiVisions Edge tuning with our SkiSharp Part 2

SkiVisions using our tuning stick

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

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Hanging Burr


After performing base grinds, machined edge sharpening or hand side edge sharpening with a file, a hanging burr can be formed which may feel like a razor sharp corner. This can create hooking of the edge and unexpected edge action. Removing the burr is necessary and and easy final edge tuning step.

Burr detail

By placing a hard stone on the base edge, and run along it, the burr can be knocked off and the edge corner polished smooth. A rubber abrasive (dressing, grinding rubber or gummi stone can follow to smooth the sharp corner further.

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Race Tuning Videos with Willi Wiltz Added to Toko Videos

5 New Race Tuning Videos Featuring Willi Wiltz Added
5 new race tuning videos featuring renowned ski and snowboard technician Willi Wiltz have been added to the  Willi serviced Tommy Moe, Daron Rahlves, and Bode Miller to their medals and biggest successes.  Additionally, Willi has worked with snowboarders Nate Holland and Shaun Palmer with great results too.  Learn from the best at your own pace at


Video Index

Metal Edges (Alpine Skis and Snowboards)

Recreational/All Mountain Edge Tuning

Recreational/All Mountain Waxing

Race Tuning w/ Willi Wiltz

Race Waxing

Cross Country Skis


Grip Waxing (Advanced)

Glide Waxing Racing Skis

Home Home

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SkiVisions 4″ Ski & Snowboard Edge Tuning Stones

SkiVisions also makes their specialty stones for those other guy’s edge tuning tools:

The stone on the left is our green stone, it is the most aggressive of the three and is designed to cut very hard metal, including edge metal that has been hardened from hitting rocks or misuse of stone grinding equipment.

The middle stone is our 180 grit which is used for general sharpening purposes.

The last stone is our Ruby Ceramic Stone, used for final burr removal and metal edge polish.

There is a great deal of information about these stones in other instructions on this website so we aren’t going to repeat it here, take a look.

Also, take a look at the tuning stick discussions under “Ski Sharp Edge Tuning Tool” and how it is used to analyze your edges.  You won’t be able to really appreciate the job these stones do unless you also get the tuning stick.  We also make packages of these stones and include the tuning stick for free.

These stones can be used in the various file guide tools, multi-tuners, or can be used freehand.

These stones are better than diamond stones for a multiple of reasons, including:

1.  They last much longer; diamond stones only last until the backing plate they are mounted on is reached; our stones are solid grain throughout so they last a very long time.

2.  Our stones can be refreshed to like new condition over and over since it is grain throughout (see Stone/Steel Inserts Maintenance).  They are designed to last many years.

3.  The grits cut as effectively as any diamond grit.

But understanding how the grains of stones and diamonds work is most important.

The cheapest diamond stones use the lowest quality grains, which when they fracture break into new DULL points, meaning they wear out very quickly, they actually loose their effectiveness before the backing plate is reached.  They are relatively inexpensive.

Good quality diamond stones use a good quality grain, which when they fracture break into new sharp points, so they can remain effective until the backing plate is reached.  They are generally more expensive.

All our stones use grains that are, in fact, the highest quality grain available, and they break into new sharp points when they fracture.  That means they are effective as cutting stones throughout the stone, and remains as effective as new even after the stone has been re-dressed numerous times.  The grit on the surface of the stone is prepared so that it isn’t too aggressive when new, and maintains its consistency as it is re-dressed.


(reprinted from SkiVisions with permission.)

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SkiVisions Stone and Steel Inserts Maintenance

There are three different methods you can use to maintain the SkiVisions inserts:

1.  Coarse emery (silicon carbide) paper, in 60 to 100 grit or so.  Emery paper is good for maintaining all the stones EXCEPT the green stones.

2.  The SkiVisions high speed steel dressing stone, which is used to dress the Base Flattener steel blade and can also be used on all the SkiVisons stones EXCEPT the green stone.

3.  Diamond file.  This is the ONLY method for maintaining the green stones and can be used on all the SkiVisions stones.


This is a ruby ceramic stone showing multiple cut paths and metal embedded.  This stone has done a lot of work and needs to be re-lapped so that the face is returned to a new, flat condition, and all the cut paths removed.






It is  literally as simple as lapping any of our stones (other than the green, see below) on a sheet of emery paper.  This stone was returned to like new condition in a few swirls on the emery paper, you can see the stone grit on the paper that was removed in bringing it back to clean and flat.

The Base Flattener stone blades are dressed the same way as the edge tuning tool stones.

Lay the emery paper on a flat table and lap the stone blade on it until it is returned to a new, clean, sharp condition.  This not only refreshes the cutting edge sharpness, but also maintains the flatness of the blade.  MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT LAP THE GRIT SIDE.  Lap the sides that has the lines shown next to the M or C, those are the non-grit sides.  If you lap the grit sides the stone blade will no longer impart structure into your base.

The steel blade is re-sharpened with the SkiVisions steel dressing stone.  This is a very aggressive silicon carbide stone which will eat very hard metal.  The stone is used in a back and forth rubbing motion while it is kept VERY flat on the steel blade.  We tried in this picture to show how deep this stone can cut into the metal, if you look closely you can see deep scratches in the steel blade.  THIS STONE IS NOT TO BE USED ON SKI OR BOARD EDGES, IT IS TOO AGGRESSIVE.  If you use this stone on your steel blade very regularly and keep it very sharp, it should never need replacing.

The green stones MUST be re-dressed only with a diamond file. Just lap the green stone on the diamond file and it will quickly return to a clean and flat condition.

You can do any of these dressing procedures wet or dry, but if you do them dry you should wash the stones afterwards to remove the dust.

Don’t breath the dust, not good for the lungs!

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

(Reproduced from SkiVisions with permission.)

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Snowboard Edge Tuning

Vic Wild laying it down.

From the Toko Snowboard Tech Manual found here:

The base edge on a snowboard should have a bevel of a half to one degree. A little base bevel makes the board easy to ride and transitioning from toe edge to heel edge without being “grabby”. Base bevel of more than one degree makes the board feel “slippery” and turns have to be skidded because the edge is not close enough to the snow to hook up.

Side edge bevel on a board will depend on the conditions and the rider’s ability. One degree of side bevel is enough for softer conditions and forgiving to beginning to intermediate riders. Two degree side edge grips better on harder snow, this lets a stronger rider lay over in a harder turn. For racing or carving on hard icy slopes a side edge bevel of three degrees will hold, but will take some muscle to control.

From a recent Toko eBlast:

Vic Wild Checks in from Parallel Slalom WC in Yongpyong, Korea

Tough race today just wasn’t able to figure out the course.

The snow here is artificial, old and dirty. Ran HF blue on the edge of the base and HF grey over the rest. Most important for me are edges, I run a .5 degree base bevel and 2 on the side. On very aggressive and grippy snow I like to use fiber-tex to smooth and detune the edge this can be done on the slope its quick and you can adjust the detune and sharpness of the edge with just a few passes.

Vic Wild

As noted, it doesn’t take much to detune an edge and generally, you may be better off leaving your edges sharp. Before considering detuning, be sure to eliminate the possibility of a hanging burr if you are experiencing ‘hooky/grabby’ edges. With a smooth and sharp edge, you have better control over more variable snow conditions and terrain while rec riding than what you would find in a typically consistent race course. It takes little time to adjust side edge angles to try out either a 1° or 2° to find your preference. Reducing base edge angles requires base material removal and is far more difficult than side edge adjustments. Focus your tuning on the side edges. Detune as a last resort after spending time on a variety of conditions and trying to feather into carves.

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Adjusting Side Edges 1 Degree

Out of curiosity and a recent discussion with a customer prompted me to perform an unscientific experiment to provide a ‘meter’ for tweaking edge geometry. I think many are over thinking how much is really involved with removing 1° of edge material. It is in fact, fast and easy because little material removal is involved. Hopefully, this will help people to get less concerned about obsessing over angles and experiment on your own.

The conventional wisdom for setting or adjusting edge geometry is to use a progression of files, before changing to stones or diamonds for final polishing and honing. Depending on coarseness, files take off more material, much faster than stones or diamonds. This can be advantageous on one hand while a problem for some on the other hand for the same reasons.

Diamonds are far more forgiving and less intimidating than a typical bastard file and a 100 grit diamond is considered a ‘cutting’ tool, much like a super fine file.

So….under super clean, ‘highly technical’ conditions, I went from a 3° to a 2° and back on all four edges using an Ice Cut bastard file, 2nd file and 100 grit SVST on different edges. After removing the side walls and marking the edges with a Sharpie and following all options with a 200x, 400x and 600x diamond, I generally found:

-Bastard file- one overlapping pass got me close, a second more than changed the angle. One overlapping pass, followed by a few passes with a 100x should be adequate.

-2nd Cut file-3 overlapping passes followed by a few overlapping passes with the 100x and the other diamonds.

-100x diamond-5 fast, overlapping up and downs (10 passes).

By the time you clean files and swap cutting tools, the options were in relatively the same neighborhood of a couple minutes. If the edges were more chewed up, the files would have been much faster. To assure minimal material material removal, use the 100x diamond. To make more than sure, use a bastard at least twice, possibly followed by a pass or two with a second and then diamonds.

Following is a rough video using a bastard file on one edge to adjust edge geometry and then a diamond to Change Edge Angles on the second edge:

(You may need to refresh your screen to view. Firefox seems to have trouble loading this video.)

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Edge Tuning-So Easy even an Adult Can Do It

The following ‘in process’ school video project may provide you and others with visual aids and another perspective on diamonds, files and edge tuning. The edge tools used in this video can be found here.

For those parents whose teenager knows more than you do for all things technical, here is:

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Edge Tuning Geometry Beveling, Sharpening and Polishing

pastedGraphicSharp and smoothly polished edges, with correct edge geometry (aka properly ‘tuned’) are critical to maximize the carving capability and overall performance of your expensive board(s). What tools and techniques do you employ?

There are simply too many variables to grasp without time, experience, defining personal goals, cost and other considerations. As with skis, snowboards 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 recreational enthusiast, a 1 degree base and 3 degree side is probably the most common edge angle for most skis and boards and works particularly well on ice and hard man-made snow (conditions the majority are faced with, particularly out East). That’s of course assuming the edges are sharp and polished.

A 2 degree side bevel could be considered for softer snow – typical conditions most of the time in the Rockies. Many feel that there is not a downside to using a 1/3 (base/side) bevel angle for recreational skiers and that it is not acute enough of an angle to reduce sharpness quickly on abrasive snows and ice.

Many performance minded skiers on hard snows may prefer a .5 or .7 degree base bevel. It is easier to increase the base bevel versus reducing if you are experimenting since you will need to remove base material to reduce the base bevel angle.

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Base Bevel Measuring w/Feeler Gauges

A straight forward, low tech method for measuring base bevels is to use feeler gauges or other objects of known thicknesses (0.5mm, 0.7mm, 1.0mm, etc).

The direct ratio between typical bevel angles, is the metric height (mm) of the angle, at the accepted distance and easy to remember distance of 60 mm/6cm from the edge (actually 57.3mm).

The SVST WC Tru Bar has an engraved line at this location to facilitate easy and quick base bevel measurements. Any true bar can be marked at this location and used to measure the base bevel angle by measuring the height above the base when the bar is parallel to the edge.

If a feeler gauge isn’t handy, a typical credit card measures 0.8mm and 1.25mm at the raised lettering.

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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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Asymmetrical Edge Geometry

A common question is ‘What are the side and base bevel angles I should tune my boards for proper edge geometry?’ Like many similar subjective questions, one way to find out is to experiment to find out what works best for you.

For skiers, with two skis you have basically (2) pair of edges (inside and outside). By trying (2) different side bevel angles, say 2° and 3° you can easily find out for yourself on the same pair of skis, on the same run and the same conditions by simply switching right and left skis. After this you can experiment further, leave them as is or set them both to the same side edge angle as desired.

Last spring, with highly variable conditions throughout the day, I gave it a shot. The difference between various snow types and slopes was very noticeable. The 2° side edge was smoother to transition to and from and fine for softer snows and bumps, while the 3° was noticeably grippier on firm, steep runs. Both can be adjusted too for a given set of conditions, but having the option of two side edge angles on the same pair of skis was nice to have, IMO. YMMV, but since there is a high level of variability in snow types, terrain, type of turns etc, instant gratification to make subtle changes is literally underfoot.

Doing the same to the base bevel is not as easy to consider as side edges. Changing side edge bevels from 2° to 3°, 3° to 2° or something else is pretty straight forward since you are only dealing with the angle of the side edge. The side edge geometry has more to do with grip, while the base bevel geometry affects the angulation and time required to get on the edge, ie responsiveness.

For base bevels, you must also consider that to reduce a base bevel, you will need to remove base material, including all the wax you have saturated into your bases. If you wish to consider a more responsive, less forgiving base bevel of .5 or .7° than the most common 1°, this needs to be taking into account. But like the side edge asymmetry, there may be some advantages to be discovered by experimenting with this concept for the base bevels. Using some older skis, may be one approach.

Be sure to clearly mark which edges are which with grease pencil, tape, sharpie, etc to eliminate guessing or future tuning mistakes. A reliable multi-angle tool, multiple bevel guides or guides with shims , along with a file and a couple diamonds or stones will be necessary to perform the edge work required.

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Planing and Cutting Back SideWalls


While sharpening and polishing side edges and in order to cut the metal side edge only, the sidewall material needs to be planed or back-filed. Otherwise the cutting tool will get clogged with the sidewall material and reduce the efficiency and possibly the accuracy of the desired bevel.

A Sidewall Planer with a round carbide blade or bit will remove a nice, clean fillet along the edge which can be further sanded to smooth out any irregularities and provide a smooth surface.

Here’s a clip from the SVST Tuning & Waxing DVD on SideWall Planing:

As a specialized tool, it can be a bit pricey for the casual tuner, however. A viable alternative is to use an adjustable multi-angle guide or a dedicated edge guide with a short panzer or coarse file to cut back the sidewall so the diamond, stone or file cutting tools are not obstructed.
The Tools4Boards Razor or Xact work very well as multi-angled tools when set from 5° to 6°. So do dedicated edge guides of 5°/85°/95° to 7°/83°/97°.

The T4B Razor is shown


1) Position of the panzer or coarse file in Razor to just get past the sidewall:

2) Side view of 5° peg position and tilted razor beyond the edge and contact with the sidewall.

3) Side view of file on sidewall.

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Diamonds & Stones vs Files


Long held as the primary edge work tool, files are being replaced with stones and diamond cutting tools for edge sharpening and polishing and prolonging edge life. Diamonds and stones tend to remove less material than files, are more forgiving and polish the edge while cutting and sharpening.

Here’s a clip from the SVST Tuning & Waxing DVD on Diamond Stones:

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Measuring Edge Bevels

Accurately measuring and recording edge bevels is necessary to match or select proper dedicated edge guides or mult-angle guide tools & settings for efficient edge work. This will give you a point of reference in making adjustments relative to skiing or boarding feedback, or for maintaining consistency while maintaining sharp and smooth edges. It’s a good idea to measure and record the edge angles of new ski or snowboards so you know where they were when you got them. Later, you’ll be glad you did.

As a precision base and side edge bevel meter from SVST, the Pro Bevel Meter snaps to the metal edge with a strong magnet that then quickly and accurately rotates the finely machined tool meter and shows you your side or base bevel angles. This sets the standard for precision measuring, ease and speed.

Also a finely machined tool, a machined side edge bevel meter, can be placed against the base of the ski and quickly measures the side edge with (4) preset angles: 1 thru 4° (89 thru 86°/SVST 91° thru 96°). As with all measuring devices placed against the edge, requiring visual clues of the tool relative to the edge, good visibility and backlighting is necessary to compare the edge to the tool. Magnify glasses help in the visibility department.

(Note: the side edge angles 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc are the angles cut inward from the side edge relative to a 90° degree corner. Thus, the European standard is 90, 89, 88, 87, etc, while SVST/US standard is the dedicated edge guide designation to create the side edge bevel, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, etc.)

Base bevels are simpler in that they are designated relative to flat: 0, 0.5, 0.7, 1.5, 2, etc….

The most common bevel angles are 1° base bevel & 3° side bevel. Designations always should include base bevel angle first, followed by side edge angle: 1:3 for 1° BB & 3°SB, for example.)

Metal or plastic protractors can also be used as can T-bevels, coupled with protractors to return reasonably accurate measurements, but require extra care and time to assure a good measurement. The plastic protractors require extra care as the sharp ski or snowboard metal edge can modify the plastic protractor edge.

A very handy way to see if you have a match to your edge guide is to run a marker of some sort along the edge, leaving a thin ink film. By running your guide over the ink with a fine stone (to minimize edge material removal), the removal of all the ink will indicate a match or near match, while ink removal on one side of the edge or the other will indicate there isn’t a match and you’ll be able to determine if the guide is too steep or shallow relative to the edge.

A reliable multi-angled tool is very useful for this as a low cost measuring device used in this manner, since you can try different angles and zero in on the angle the edges are.

Another method for measuring the base edge bevel is to use a true bar and measure the height or use feeler gauges at 60mm to determine the angle. As the following graphics show, it is actually 57.3mm mathematically, for the given heights, but 6omm is generally considered acceptable since it is easier to remember (and marked on the above true bar, from the right edge).

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Is De-Tuning Passé?


De-tuning is the dulling of the sharpened edge to reduce the bite of the edge and ease the transition of the edges at the tips and tails with a diamond, aluminum oxide, ceramic or natural stone.

Traditionally, this has been the typical method to finish a ski or snowboard edge after sharpening and polishing. With modern skis, this is now considered unnecessary by many, as it is desirable to utilize the whole sharp edge for carving turns. Slight increases of base bevel geometry, called feathering, at the tips and tails can be used instead to control the transitions into and out of a turn. This is specially true for carving skis to maximize the performance built into the skis.

De-tuning still may be necessary or desired if the tips and tails catch or to make initiating and ending turns easier, especially for novices, extreme or off-piste skiing, park tricks or snowboarding. Rockered skis can also benefit from either de-tuning or increasing the base bevels at tips and tails to avoid catching them when riding on hard-pack or icy conditions.

If you wish to de-tune, start from tip or tail to contact point (where the tip shovel or tail end first contacts the snow surface when on edge), initially, and increase the length only after skiing or boarding to test. It is far easier and fast to de-tune than sharpen and a little will go a long way. This can be done very easily and quickly, a little at a time between or even in the middle of a run as you feel the skis or snowboard and can make minute adjustments relative to current feedback, until you are satisfied. This extent can then be applied in the shop the next time you sharpen, after you ‘know’ what you need.

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T4B Razor or Xact Multi-Angle Tool?


Multi-angled edge guides offer an economical and versatile solution for accurate edge work as well as other uses. Both the Tools4Boards Xact & the Razor are made from very durable polycarbonate (Lexan), include a small file, offer accurate side and base angle work, bevel angle measuring, sidewall cutting & wax scraper sharpening. If later, you find that you’d prefer a dedicated guide or two for side or base work, your multi-angled tool still can be used as an additional guide or for it’s secondary functions.

The Razor uses (replaceable) pegs with graduated lengths to provide 1° increments for side edges from 0° to 6° (90° to 84°/90° to 96°) & 1/2° increments for base bevels from 0° to 3°. It will accept virtually any length stone, diamond or file up to 6mm thick in it’s two integrated clamps. One clamp screw is swapped between the side and base edge clamps as needed. The pegs can leave a slight mark along the base if the tuner bears down too hard. These can be easily remove with a fiber pad and do not damage the base. Here are PDF instructions for the Razor.

The Xact uses an asymmetrical ceramic knob with a roller to dial virtually any angle between 0° to 6° (90° to 84°/90° to 96°) & for base bevels from 0° to 12°. Additionally, the side edge clamp can accept virtually any cutting tool while the base clamp and set screw only accepts the small file included. Since the base bevel needs little maintenance after it’s establishment, this is a minor issue for many. Here are the PDF instructions for the Xact.

For sidewall cutting either guides can be loaded with a panzer or coarse file and set from 5 ° to 6°.

For scraper sharpening, the side edge is set to 0°/90° for the Xact and no pegs for the Razor, coupled with a coarse or panzer file. Hold the tool in one hand or a bench vise and run the plexi-scraper across the file and against the side of the guide.

For measuring angles, mark the edge with a marker and run the guide over the edge with a fine stone or diamond. If the removal is even there is a match to the angle set. If there is removal on one side or the other, adjust the angle until there is even removal.

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Tuning Kit & the Basics


Skis and Snowboards perform at their best when the edges and base are maintained on a regular basis. Tuned skis & boards are much more fun and responsive!

The TOOLS4BOARDS TUNING STATION KIT comes with a high quality edge tool, file blades, file brush and stone to remove excess side-wall material and bevel, sharpen and polish both the side-edge and base-edge of skis and snowboards. Please refer to the edge tool instructions included in the kit (or download: Razor or Xact) for details on proper edge tuning. Go to your Tools4Boards dealer for more information on tuning or to find kit replacement items.

Waxing Skis and Snowboards

-Always wax in a well ventilated area.
-Never leave wax iron on unattended.
-Use ski and snowboard vises.
-Pay attention. Sharpened edges can be harmful.


Start with a well-ventilated, clean and unobstructed area free of debris. Use a ski and/or snowboard specific vise mounted to the table-top of a solid workbench. The TOOLS4BOARDS CINCH vise is ideal for holding both skis and boards. When traveling a portable tuning stand like the TOOLS4BOARDS TERMINATOR is an ideal platform on which to mount vises.
Wash your hands and make sure your ski or snowboard is securely fastened base-up in the vise. Run the sharp edge of the PLEXI SCRAPER down the length of the base to remove old wax and dirt. Brush the base vigorously with a NYLON BRISTLE BRUSH and wipe the base clean with a sheet of MAPLUS LINT-FREE TOWEL. Run the towel down the each edge to remove any rust
NOTE: To keep your scraper sharp use the edge tool included In the kit. Simply place the side-wall cutter blade in the side-edge slot of the tool and with the bevel angle set to 0′, pull the tool along the side of the scraper a few times to reestablish sharpness.

There are two methods used to further clean the base:
1) Rub the warm temp MAPLUS WAX (White) like a crayon covering the entire base with a thin layer of wax to protect the base from initial contact with an iron to prevent scorching, then using the MAPLUS WAX IRON or similar with the temperature setting around 120′ C and, positioning the block of wax a few inches above the base, gently hold the wax against the iron to start the wax dripping. Move the iron along a few inches above the entire length of the base reversing
direction 3 times so there are 3 lines of wax from tip to tail. Run the iron down the length of the base and keeping the iron moving make a few passes (each pass around 5-10 seconds) to melt the wax into the base. A thin layer of liquid wax Should now coat the entire base. Wait a few minutes until the wax begins to harden and then use the plexi scraper to scrape the soft warm wax off the base. Removing this soft wax wilt also remove dirt and contamination and clean the
base. Brush the base vigorously with a NYLON BRISTLE BRUSH and wipe the base clean with a sheet of MAPLUS LINT-FREE TOWEL
NOTE: If the wax smokes the iron temperature setting is too high. Always keeping the iron moving along the length of the base to prevent burning or scorching of the base material.
2) Use MAPLUS CLEAN wax removing detergent spray to cover the length entire base and then wipe clean using a sheet of MAPLUS LINT-FREE TOWEL. Brush the base vigorously with a NYLON BRISTLE BRUSH

NOTE: To remove any micro hairs from the base material run the SCOTCHBRITE NYLON ABRASIVE PAD down the length of the base, rubbing and pressing.

NOTE: To re-establish base structure, simply wrap 3M SAND PAPER around one length of the PLEXI SCRAPER, then make a few passes down the length of the base pressing the paper against the base materiaL

Depending on snow temperature rub on either MAPLUS HOT (White -5° to 0° C) or Cold (Green -10° to -5° C) temp universal paraffin wax like a crayon over the entire base to create an even wax layer. Then cork in the wax by vigorously rubbing and pressing the cork back and forth along the length of the base or, if a wax iron is available, set the iron temperature to around 120∑ C and, positioning the block of wax a few inches above the base, gently hold the wax against the iron to start the wax dripping. Move the iron along a few inches above the entire length of the base reversing direction 3 times so there are 3 lines of wax from lip to tai. Run the iron down the length of the base and keeping the iron moving make a few passes (each pass around 5-10 seconds) to melt the wax into the base. A thin layer of liquid wax should now
coat the entire base. Wait 20 minutes until the wax has hardened and ski or board has completely cooled and then use the plexi scraper to scrape most of the wax off the base. Run one end of the scraper down each side of the ski or board edge to remove any excess wax that may have overflowed onto the sides when ironing.

NOTE: Ironing wax into the base is the most effective way to apply wax to maximize performance and durability. Consider investing in a MAPLUS WAX IRON if you don’t already own one.

NOTE: If the wax smokes the iron temperature setting is too high. Always keeping the iron moving along the length of the base to prevent burning or scorching the base material.

Using multiple overlapping strokes in one direction from tip to tail, vigorously brush the base until shiny using a NYLON BRISTLE BRUSH. The more you brush the faster you go.

Always use MAPLUS ALPINE SKI STRAPS to protect bases and prevent skis from scissoring during transport.

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What Edge Bevels Should I Use?

(enlarge)For the recreational skier, 1 degree base and 3 degree side is probably the most common edge angle for most skis and boards and works particularly well on ice and hard man-made snow (conditions the majority are faced with, particularly out East). That’s of course assuming the edges are sharp and polished.

A 2 degree side bevel could be considered for softer snow – typical conditions most of the time in the Rockies. Many feel that there is not a downside to using a 1/3 (base/side) bevel angle for recreational skiers and that it is not acute enough of an angle to reduce sharpness quickly on abrasive snows and ice.

Many performance minded skiers on hard snows may prefer a .5 or .7 degree base bevel. It is easier to increase the base bevel versus reducing if you are experimenting since you will need to remove base material to reduce the base bevel angle.

Those unsure about what bevels to use or without a preference should maintain the edge bevels the manufacturer has placed on their skis or board, which vary according to manufacturer and model. Racers have different requirements and precision tolerances for their edges as every 1/1,000 sec matters, whereas for the majority of recreational skiers or boarders, the higher precision is far less of a noticeable concern that affects performance and enjoyment.

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