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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:


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 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 Cleaning Hot Scrape or Cleaner??

There is a school of thought that base cleaners/wax removers should never be used on the ski bases and hot scraping is the only method to employ for cleaning ski and snowboard bases. The thinking is cleaners will absolutely dry out the bases and destroy the wax saturation level and optimal glide achieved through repetitive wax cycles. How much wax is removed is highly variable from zero to a fair amount depending on duration, how aggressive is the cleaner and how much brushing and elbow grease is applied.

This is an ‘old wives tale’ or hearsay at work (that endlessly gets perpetuated on the internet and via word of mouth) when it comes to the debate over using cleaners vs. hot scraping with a soft wax. From a technical standpoint sintered bases are basically inert and do not bond well with anything. The surface of the base in contact with the snow is amorphous and random in nature. Structuring the base creates lines in the base material and establishes a pattern, but the underlying material is still amorphous and random.

Wax (or base cleaner for that matter) only penetrates a very small amount into the base, about 15 microns and only where random voids exist. 15 microns is a very small measurement (1% or so of base thickness~15 to 20 microns is about 0.0006 to 0.0008 inch). How can base cleaner possibly “dry out” the base if it only penetrates 15 microns? The answer quite simply is it doesn’t. Base cleaner, or at least Briko-Maplus base cleaner is basically detergent dissolved in a solvent. The solvent almost entirely evaporates and the detergent works to properly clean the base. When you take your dirty car to a car wash do you wax it first or clean it with detergent and then wax it? I’ve tried both and the later definitely seems to work better.

A distinction should be made between paraffin and perfluorinated waxes. A specific base cleaner called Fluorclean should be used to remove perfluorinated waxes as it is designed to remove all traces of fluorine from the base. Hot scraping at best blends new wax with a combination of old wax and contaminants in the old wax. I admit you will notice some contaminants being drawn out of the base when hot scraping if the base is dirty, but the iron is not a magnet and does not magically remove all contaminants using wax as a conduit. Residual wax left on the base after hot scraping will still have undesirable stuff in it.

Additionally, duration and type of cleaners can be employed judiciously to expedite and provide clean bases, ready for the next coat of wax. The longer a wax remover or solvent sits on the base, the more it can cut into the wax and any contaminates. Also, a more aggressive cleaner can also be used to remove the surface contaminants in little time and use of materials while eliminating the hot scraping steps and mess. Diluted (1:5) household cleaners like Simple Green can provide adequate cleaning. Biodegradable citrus based cleaners can be great options for cleaning the base and removing wax when harsher solvent based cleaners are not needed or desired. For base repairs, base cleaners are necessary, coupled with some sanding and cutting of the base material.

So, back to the original question. The best way to clean the bases is the method that is best for you, your preferences, time available, costs or beliefs: either hot scraping, base cleaner or a combination. If you are concerned about base cleaner remnants on the base, you can also hot scrape afterwards or simply wipe off with water.

A caveat to keep in mind is that skis and snowboards tend to run better and faster after more wax cycles and time on the snow. So, more aggressive cleaning would require more wax cycles to optimize the glide than a less aggressive, more topical cleaning.

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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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Measuring for Binding Screws, Drill Bits and Taps

DSC05554Whether you lost a screw, adding shims, have a tear out or want to swap bindings between multiple skis, we have any array of ski binding screw options to help you do it yourself.

Please note it is impossible for us be on top of every screw head type, length, shims, cants, rail system, and nuances for every binding and situation. So please try to resolve screw by going through the steps below issues prior to calling or emailing.
See more Binding Topics for more insights on mounting, binding and screw questions.

The Binding Freedom machine screw chart is a reference that may help you compare lengths and head types.

Here are some tips to help you answer your own questions regarding Drill Bits:

  • By CE regulation, all current skis have the recommended drill size printed on the ski, either in the mounting area, on the adjacent sidewall or on the tail with the ski dimensions. If there are no drill sizes provided on the ski (ie, custom skis), contacting the manufacturer for their recommendations is your best course of action. If unsure, drill with 3.5mm diameter tip. If metal is present, then use a 4.1mm bit.
  • The general rule on alpine ski drill bit sizes is 3.5mm for non-metal skis and 4.1 for metal. There are exceptions, such as a metal binding plate in a non-metal ski, carbon fiber top sheets, etc
  • The outside diameter of an alpine screw thread is just over 5mm. The inside diameter of the screw thread (shank) is just over 4mm which matches the tip of a 4.1 diameter bit. Softer materials such as wood or plastic will compress when driving a screw into a 3.5mm hole. Non-compressible materials like metal and carbon should be drilled with the larger diameter, 4.1mm hole so the shank does not compress and damage the material while being driven into the ski.
  • Binding Freedom & Quiver Killer stainless steel inserts & heli-coils require a 1/4″ tipped bit.
  • The minimum depth for a screw for a binding mount is 6mm/1/4″. Measure the screw less the binding thickness will provide you minimum drill tip length.
  • It is better to err towards a longer tip than one shorter than the embedded screw section length so the bindings can lay tight to the ski.
  • Make sure this will not exceed the thickness of the ski or snow board.
  • The excess depth of a hole deeper than the length of screw will be filled with the glue.
  • Long shank alpine drill bits are 1 3/4″ (4.5cm) longer than standard bits for use mounting jigs and drill guides.


Here are some tips to help you answer your own questions regarding measuring Binding Screws:

  • Screws are relatively cheap and can be modified to some degree. Order additional lengths and types if in doubt.
  • Flathead Screws are measured from tip to top. Pan heads, buttons and sockets are measured from tip to bottom of the head.
  • Older skis probably used longer screws as the skis were thicker and newer skis typically require shorter screws.
  • The thread pitch is unique to binding screws and optimized for skis and snowboards. A typical hardware store machine screw is NOT a recommended alternative.
  • Tapping metal top sheets or mounting plates is highly recommended. Some also recommend tapping non-metal top sheets.
  • Glue can fill in a deeper hole than screw length.
  • Minimum screw depth is 6mm/4 thread bite into ski, Typical hole drilling depths required by ski manufacturer range from 7.5 to 9.5mm. Look for recommended drill depth on the ski or manufacturer’s literature.
  • The alpine screw heads are 10mm and can be ground to a smaller diameter. Place the screw in a plastic anchor in a drill chuck. Secure the drill and while spinning the screw, hold a stone or diamond against the head.
  • If you need longer screws, stainless steel inserts for M5 x .8mm pitch machine screws are an excellent option

Alternatives and procedures for measuring. Calipers are best and have depth gauges. Measure depth of toothpick, nail, screw, etc inserted into :

  • Measure existing screw if available
  • Measure existing hole diameters
  • Measure thickness of binding at screw location
  • Place screws in bindings to help determine binding thickness and screw projection
  • Measure hole depths.
  • Is the screw a flathead, tapered or have a shoulder (panhead)?
  • Place non-alpine screws with similar heads types into bindings as measuring aids.


Here are some tips to help you answer your own questions regarding measuring Alpine, Stainless Steel Inserts & Heli Coil Taps:

  • Tapping skis with metal and carbon top sheets using a 12AB tap is recommended. Tapping all holes regardless of topsheet type or drill tip diameter is recommended. The same tap works for 3.5mm & 4.1mm diameter holes.




(More to come)

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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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Efficient Hot Waxing, Scraping and Brushing

Following, are two videos, a few minutes long, showing various hot waxing techniques, along with minimal scraping and roto-brushing to bang out waxing tasks in little time and with little mess. Not including cooling and hardening time (20 minutes, minimum) the total time involved could be easily under 15 minutes and possibly 10 per pair or snowboard. Using liquid wax, the time could be 5 minutes:
(Note select the ‘HQ’ icon for Higher Quality video.)

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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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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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Stainless Steel Screws for Threaded Inserts

BFsmall_headThe common question regarding the screws needed for stainless steel inserts (Binding Freedom & Quiver Killers have the same threads) and particular bindings
hopefully can be answered here. It is impossible for us to remain on top of every screw for every binding and there are variables that can be at play depending on your particular set of circumstances (ie, insert installation depth, shims, binding thickness, etc).

Measuring your binding thickness and adding that to your insert depth is your best guide.

Ordering more screws than you think you’ll need is always a good idea. BFlow_headAlso, you can always reduce the length of screws that are a little long. If in doubt, erring towards longer screws with the possibility of minor modifications by grinding or filing allows some flexibility.

Using a threadlocker like Vibra-Tite or Loctite is highly recommended.

Binding Freedom has a Screw Length Chart that will be updated from time to time, along with the following screw measuring tips and images.

Tips on Measuring your bindings for screw lengths
Flathead and Smallhead screws are measured as the total length of the screw, while Buttonhead screws are measured as the length of just the threads
Fasteners should protrude 4mm MIN and 6mm MAX into a threaded insert.  To determine the idea fastener length, press an existing screw into the binding hole. Make sure it has bottomed out in its hole. Measure how far it protrudes below the base of the binding.
Measure the screw itself as well. Subtract the protrusion length from the length of the screw. Add 5mm to that length. Find the closest size fastener that is within 1mm of that number. In this example, 13mm – 9mm + 5mm = 9mm. Either an 8mm or 10mm flathead would be appropriate for this binding.


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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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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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Glide Waxing and Anti-Icing Backcountry Climbing Skins

As counter-intuitive as it sounds, glide waxing climbing skins improves efficiency while backcountry touring. By improving the glide and preventing ice build-up and snow clumping, wax may quicken your pace while reducing effort. On rolling slogs improving the speed you carry on slight downhills is a nice benefit and in some cases, you won’t need to spend the time to remove skins for a short slope and then need reattach them.

Rub-on solids, paste, liquid and spray waxes are easy to apply and coat the skin fibers, but are short lived compared to hot waxing solid glide wax. Like adding heat to wax applications on skis and snowboards, you will typically achieve higher durability (read, longer glide). Of course there is the concern of adding too much heat and possibly damaging your skins or melting the skin glue. But by using as low of a temperature you can to melt and apply the wax of the day (same as on your ski or splitboard bases) to the skin, you can benefit from the easy process as shown in this Toko video. Follow it with a light brushing against the nap after the wax cools to open the nap again.

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Binding Freedom & Quiver Killer Stainless Steel Threaded Insert Installation

Binding Freedom Insert

Binding Freedom Insert Courtesy of Drew

For all intents and purposes, regarding materials, tools, screws and installation procedures, Binding Freedom & Quiver Killer stainless steel threaded inserts are virtually interchangeable.

(Click on the adjacent images to enlarge.)

The main difference between the two is that the Binding Freedom inserts have a notch across the top. This allows for the use of a slotted driver or Binding Freedom’s 3 in 1 Installation Tool. This slot also allows for the removal of the insert without ruining the interior threads while using an extraction tool with reverse threads.

Quiver Killer Insert

Quiver Killer Insert Courtesy of Drew

Stuff happens and occasionally you may need to remove an errant insert so always order more than you think you need…just in case. It is also possible that the slot in the BF insert can also get stripped or compromised and an extractor may become necessary. A jam nut in conjunction with a threaded installation tool or shoulder screw can also be used for installation and extraction for both inserts.

Dimensions: Both Quiver Killer and Binding Freedom inserts are nominally 9mm length x 8mm (5/16″) diameter. The actual diameters for both average 7.85 mm. The lengths QK inserts average 8.55 mm & the BF inserts average 9.15. This is a minor 0.6 mm average difference which may be important for some but inconsequential for most. A little deeper hole will fill with epoxy to nullify any voids.

Both have the same outer (same tap & handle) and inner threads. The inner threads accept M5 x 0.8mm pitch machine screws. The pitch indicates the travel distance of the screw for each revolution. Both inserts are within 0.2mm of the same effective average screw depth of over 6 revolutions (QK=6.5 and BF=6.25) which is around 5mm screw length engagement inside the inserts.

General Binding Insert Installation Tips:

  • Practice on old skis or scrap wood before attempting on your current skis.
  • It is highly recommended that you redrill existing holes for binding inserts after testing the binding location and skis with a conventional alpine binding mount.
  • Even though existing holes may have been fine for alpine or telemark mounts, does not necessarily mean they are free from accuracy errors. Alpine screws can be off a little bit and work fine. The tolerances for threaded inserts are less and be sure to double check existing holes before blindly drilling away. You can use a paper binding template with the holes punched out as a quick gauge.
  • Only attempt installations when you have time, focus and mojo. If you are pressed for time, tired, distracted, inebriated, among other factors, errors are more likely to occur.
  • Despite all of the care in the world, you can still be off just enough to create a problem once the epoxy sets. We recommend that you ‘lightly’ install your bindings with appropriate screws to align the binding holes with the inserts while the epoxy cures. It is possible to ‘tweak’ the installed insert location just enough if there are slight errors. Double check the overall alignment.

Also see:

Drilling Holes: 1/4″ (0.2500″) or F (0.2570″)? Some recommend using a 7/1000″ larger ‘F’ drill bit while others prefer the more standard 1/4″ drill bit which fit in our standard drill guides to assure vertical and accurate drilling. The F bit fits the Binding Freedom guide block better.We consider 7/1000″ well within the reasonable margin of error so either will work. The SVST stepped drill bits measure 1/4″ (with 5/16″ shank), as do our straight jobber or brad tip bits. A brad tip bit is very accurate for initial hole drilling, but not recommended for re-drilling existing holes.

Tapping: After the holes are accurately drilled, carefully tapping the holes to create interior threads for the inserts is required. The inserts are not self-tapping like wood and alpine screws (though some alpine screw installations require tapping (some tap their ski binding holes, regardless). Using a drill/tap guide with a stop collar or other visual aid is recommended. You want to be assured that you tap vertically and do not continue to tap a hole after the tap hits the bottom. It will strip the threads if the tap stops at the hole bottom and the tap keeps rotating.

Epoxy: Generally, a longer curing epoxy is best for more strength. Either the Hardman General Purpose  Epoxy (Blue) or the higher strength, Hardman Very High Peel Strength Epoxy (Orange) work well. The General Purpose is a light amber color and finishes clean and hard. The Very High Peel Strength finishes flexible and gray. Be sure to clean the inserts to free them of any oils or other material that may affect the bonding of the epoxy. A bike or chain degreaser is a good option. After filling the holes with mixed two-part epoxy, use a tooth pick to remove bubbles and coat all surfaces in the tapped holes.

Installing Inserts: The installation of threaded stainless steel binding inserts can be accomplished by hand with a dedicated insert installation tool and tap handle or a threaded shoulder screw, hex bit, driver and jam nut. The Binding Freedom inserts can also be installed with their dedicated 3 in 1 tool. After installing an insert with the threaded options and you are backing out the tool, you may feel the insert also backing out. A quick counterclockwise rotation of a driver or tap handle usually releases the tool and leaves the insert in place. If not, utilizing a jam nut and wrench in a clockwise direction while backing out will hold the insert.

For extractions, as mentioned previously, the Binding Freedom 3 in 1 tool can be used with the slot of the BF insert. A jam nut locked to the insert with a wrench with the threaded tool can be used. If that does not work, a reverse threaded extractor may be required. This may or may not damage the threads. Heating the insert with a soldering iron often softens cured epoxy enough to facilitate the extraction.

Be sure the inserts are installed flush or just below the top sheet. If you find later that one or more is just ‘proud’ of the top sheet, it can be filed or ground flush.

Screws: Flat, Button & Pan head stainless steel screws are typically used with the inserts to replace the original alpine screws. See the Stainless Steel Screws for Threaded Inserts post for more information.

Threadlockers: Loctite and Vibra-Tite VC-3 are recommended threadlockers that must be applied to the screws and let cure before screw installation. There have been issues with Loctitie and some plastic parts on some bindings. Generally, it is not a problem, but Vibra-Tite does not create these problems and is generally given the edge as the better of the two options.

Periodically reapplication of a threadlocker will be necessary if bindings and screws are frequently removed and reinstalled into others for binding swaps. Not much is needed, but be assured that the screws do not work themselves out.

If you have questions or wish to post a comment, please do so below.

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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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Plastic Wax Scraper Sharpening


Like any cutting tool, you need to keep sharp for quicker, easier & better results. Why waste the material and just toss them when they can be used for years. Having a few sharpened scrapers around is also nice when you have a lot of scraping.

A plexi-scraper works best when it’s edge is straight and smooth and the corners are sharp without burrs or jagged areas. Very much like wood, plastic can be cut and formed with a variety of methods and tools to achieve desired results:

1) A dedicated scraper sharpening guide with a file, ceramic cutters or a carbide blade.
2) Setting up a 90° dedicated or multi-angled side edge guide with a panzer or very coarse file.
3) A large, flat or panzer file secured to a bench or in a bench vise
4) Power tools: belt sander, jointer, router table, etc
5) Coarse sandpaper or drywall screen on flat surface
6) Securing a plexi-scraper in a bench vise and quickly scraping edge with sharp metal scraper

7) Or: Ski (also Snowboard) Scraper Sharpener with carbide bit for long life and fast reliable edges for production scraping and convenience.

Edited: 9/1/11

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Maplus Universal Green (old) = Red (new) & Hot White (old) = Yellow (new)

For those who grew fond of the Maplus Universal (Green) and Universal Hot (White) solid waxes in the past can rest assured that the formula, glide and durability is the same, but the colors changed over the past season and can be found here.


Maplus Universal (Green) is now Briko-Maplus Universal (Red)

Maplus Universal Hot (White) is now Briko-Maplus Universal Hot (Yellow)

This is also true for the Universal Fluoro and Universal Fluoro Hot series.


Economical  Universal wax. -15 to 0 degrees C (5 to 32 degrees F) and above.

Universal (red) hard, high melt paraffin snow temperature -15 to -5 degrees C. Ideal as initial base prep wax when snow temperature is cold or snow is abrasive ie. man-made snow.

Universal Hot (yellow) soft, medium melt-point paraffin glide wax for saturation and protection of ski and snowboard bases. Ideal as an initial base prep wax when snow temperature is warm, as a first wax after stone grinding base and hot scraping. Snow temperature -5 to 0 degrees C.

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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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Trimming & Waxing Climbing Skins


Measuring and cutting climbing skins can be easily facilitated and more convenient by securing the ski to a vise. With the ski secure, attach the tail as directed by the manufacturer and pull towards the tip to measure the bend at the tip bale in place. Cut the excess and peel back and cut off 12″ (30cm) or so of the backing with the trimming tool. Lay the tip section on the ski base to assist the tracing of your tip template.

Pull back the tip section, leaving an inch or so to keep the skin attached to the ski to help trimming the tip. Once the tip is trimmed, peel off the remaining backing and pull from tip to tail and lay the skin down, centered on the ski, and secure the tail clasp.

If trimming to fit a shaped ski, apply reasonable pressure to the side of the cutting tool against the ski edge with a finger while slowly and continually running down the length of the ski, trimming the skin to match the ski profile. Disengage the tail clasp & pull upward with the skin tip secure, and lay it back down on the ski, with the trimmed edge 1/4″ (6.4 mm) from the edge onto the base. Repeat the trimming process on the untrimmed edge. After it is trimmed, reposition the skin on ski. You should see equal edge exposed on either side of the skin.

Black Diamond PDF Instructions

Black Diamond skin trimming video.

Rub on bar wax to increase glide and reduce ice build-up. Paste wax or spray-on may also be used if you are at room temperature, but bar wax may be more practical when out and needing to reapply. The paste wax or spray may cover more of the skin fibers than a rub on will providing a little more waterproofing and coverage and might be worth some experimenting.

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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 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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General Shop Setup Tips


Every home tuner needs a decent permanent or portable work area, ski and snowboard securing system and general shop tools and supplies to perform a variety of tasks.With a good set up that works for ones personal needs and budget, tuning, waxing and base prep tasks become easier, quicker and more enjoyable.

Good lighting, power, tunes, mess containment and storage are typical requirements. These are also typical requirements for anyone that needs or wants to also perform home improvement or maintenance tasks. Keeping that in mind while setting up your shop or work area can allow for year round, multi-purpose use. Others prefer a dedicated tuning area, while still others need more portability or easily storable options.

Acquiring an array of general tools and supplies is equally important to help the DIYer achieve desired results in less time and effort. In short, if you have a good shop or work area, you are more inclined to take care of your gear to maximize performance and useful life. This will continually save you money, time and effort….and increase enjoyment.

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Frequently Asked Questions and Common Topics


As an art, mixed with science and opinion, tuning, waxing, base preparation and other ski and snowboard related issues have been long debated, continually evolve and……..often don’t……….SlideWright’s Blog is an attempt at addressing frequently asked questions and esoteric topics pertaining to tuning, waxing, base preparation and other tasks. It’s all as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. Drop us a line if you have questions, comments or suggestions. Relax, have fun and find your own way. Let us be your guide.

“There are few absolutes.”…. and….”For every 6 tuners, you’ll get 7 opinions and 8 will be wrong.”
Following are miscellaneous topics that are not necessarily in the Blog Entries:

At what level do you or do you want to learn to maintain, repair, wax, structure and giving some love to your boards? What amount of effort do you wish to employ? What level skier or rider are you? What level of results are acceptable for your personal needs & goals?

Leisure/Casual/Recreational-wants to protect their investment and do the basics only to keep it simple and fun.

Performance-recreational & pros
-depending on priorities and other factors can range from the highest standards to allow for some ‘rationalized’ or acceptable ‘slop’, but still want very good performance and maintain gear.

Serious-racers, pros (makes a living on skis or snowboards) and performance-minded recreational, etc, where only the highest standards of tuning, waxing, repairs, tasks tools and supplies are considered and practiced.

I’m putting together an Edge Tuning and Waxing Kit and am confused with all of the choices for files, diamonds, stones, guides, scrapers, irons, etc. Where do I start and what should I buy?

Determining what capabilities or level of tuning you are after will help decide on tuning or other tools. What level tuner are you and want to be; Leisure/Casual, Performance or Serious?.
If you looked at building a tool kit whether it’s files, diamonds guides, brushes, waxes, etc as you looked at building your quiver of skis, you wouldn’t necessarily get everything you can to start.

There are simply too many variables to grasp without time and experience, cost and other considerations. As with skis and other gear, you can always buy more and there are various grades or calibers of tools. For the recreational skier and tuner, getting every one of the finest tools may be overkill and an unnecessary expense. But if you appreciate fine tools, and start out purchasing them, it’s hard to go back to lessor caliber as you become spoiled.

For the ‘all mountain’ capabilities for main files & diamonds which you can build on, we suggest:
1) Bastard or 2nd Cut File-for beveling/setting edge geometry, coupled with an edge guide. The coarser the file, the faster the cut and filings stream off easier. For this reason, it should rarely be used for edge sharpening to prolong edge life. Use diamonds or stones for cutting and polishing/sharpening unless there is an obvious need for lots of cutting.
2) Panzer/Body file-for removal of side wall (edge off-set), quick removal of edge when establishing edge geometry or removing excess base material. Also great for plexi scraper sharpening.
3) 200 & 400 Grit Diamond-for de-burring, maintenance sharpening, finishing and polishing edge
4) Aluminum Oxide Stone-inexpensive ‘beater’ stone for knocking down case/work hardened edges before using metal files and diamonds, de-burring, knife sharpening, misc tasks, etc.
5) Gummy Stone-de-tuning and rust removal
6) Base and Side Edge Guide-used to secure files, diamonds and stones accurately to set edge geometry (bevel angles) and can be used for maintenance sharpening with diamonds or stones
For starting out and I’d bet for the majority of recreational tuners (and if you’ll also need other tools), a Tools4Boards Deluxe Tuning Kit or SuperStation, coupled with a diamond and gummy stone will be more than adequate, can be built upon and is a great value. The 3 in 1 Xact or Razor in our kits are solid and highly versatile. Later, if you decide to purchase more dedicated angle guides, for side and/or base edges, the 3 in 1s will still be a nice tool to keep handy for sidewall planing, scraper sharpening, bevel measuring and as an additional guide. Over time you’ll realize that having more than one guide expedites each job, especially when you are maintaining several pairs.

Do I need to purchase the Terminator tuning stand to mount the Tools4Board vises?

No you don’t. The Tools4Boards vise: Cinch, CordLoc, Pro500, & BoardLoc are designed to integrate with the tuning stand rail for easy sliding and repositioning to optimize their capability. The include clamps also allow them to be mounted to virtually anything a conventional sli or snowboard vise can mount to like benches, stands. tables, counters, etc. The added benefit of the Tools4Boards vises is many can be bolted using holes, slots or tracks. Adding a low profile knob will allow several of the vises to be rotated or repositioned quicker than with clamps.

Can the Tools4Boards Cinch and other vises be mounted to my workbench or stand?

Yes. The included clamps increases the T4B vises versatility by allowing their attachment to virtually any work surface.

What are the advantages of roto-brushes versus manual brushes?

Any roto brush expedites the brushing and overall job compared to manually brushing, tenfold, and possibly more. The benefits and considerations to get out the door quicker and easier:
-reduces the amount of scraping
-you can brush more than one ski at a time with a wider roto brush
-you can mount (2) different 10cm brushes on a 20cm shaft
-you can vary the pressure and rpms of the brush relative to wax type and desired results
-you can quickly clean the bases
-you can use a stiffer steel or brass brush for structuring
-a quick release handle is real sweet for swapping brushes

A nylon, a hard horsehair, minimally, and ideally a brass brush, along with a roto cork would cover the basics fairly well for roto-brushes. Maybe adding a felt later and others in between the range if you find the need.

Add liquid wax to the mix and, you’re out the door to ski or in bed sooner the night before and have more time for other things, with far less time and effort.

Is edge steel different on different skis? Do some makes come with steel edges that are “softer” than others? I have a pair skis where the edges seem not as hard as edges on other skis I have. I found this while edge tuning. Could the ambient temperature affect this?

Almost all manufacturer’s get their edge material from the same place, so all edges are pretty much the same, regardless of temp, etc. Some manufacturer’s have altered the edge over the years ie. Fischer introduced a ‘plasma edge’ where the edge was ‘case hardened’ using a plasma jet. The idea here was to extend the life and sharpness of the edge, but I don’t think they do this any longer.(RW)

Case hardening can also occur when the edge strikes other objects and can physically alter the metal, making it harder. This could be harder metal than your files are in spots and should be hit first with an older file or stone and then tune.

“How about putting on wax and then scraping it all off when still soft for removing old wax? I heard of this technique, but still don’t quite believe it works. I always use cross country skiers de-waxer until the base looks really dry before ironing in the new wax.”

I’ve used warm wax as an alternative (not replacement) to cleaners/wax removers with positive results. I also question the thoroughness of the cleaning, but feel it works OK on a temporary basis and will try to get a more in depth answer and post it when I can.

Using a soft wax (for warmer snow temp) does work to clean the base. It works to remove debris and dirt from the base when scraped off warm. If he doesn’t believe it works ask him to test this procedure with a pair of dirty bases. He’ll be surprised. Also a good idea to use a mid temp wax as a ‘travel wax’ to protect the base. (RW)

“So to clarify: It’s good for cleaning the base, but what about the old wax? Does it have to get removed at all?”

It depends if the wax used to clean the base is temperature compatible with the wax required for the conditions. If you are waxing for cold conditions you should use base cleaner, if waxing for warm it’s no problem to leave the wax on as long as its clean. (RW)
“Do you happen to know if the Pro500 works with Freeride AT bindings?” (CM)
The Explore, Express, Titanal II & III, Freeride, Pure, & Easy Go all definitely work with the Pro500. The Pure took a lot of force to engage by hand and may be considered less than optimal by some. Due to the shape of the Pro500 boot compared to the binding shape, the boot size gage does not match actual boot sizes and some tweaking is required. I would characterize the Pro500 boot fit in the binding as less than optimal, but definitely usable and very secure. Some limited sanding, grinding, or filing of the Pro500 boot is possible if someone wanted a better fit or a bit smoother action in the binding.

“Assuming there are no obvious signs of dirt on a snowboard base, how much effort and time should I take to clean the base before waxing. Is it sufficient to wipe the base for a few seconds with a dry cloth or should I clean the base thoroughly with a citrus cleaner and wait to dry?”

The other things you are trying to accomplish with cleaning is removing oils, haze, old wax, and other stuff you can’t see to open pores and allow for wax to adhere better and have a place to go. As they say, it’s an art and not and exact science. Personal experience and judgement comes to play, your time frame, motivation, what you’ll be doing, etc.

A quick rub and wipe with cleaner assures you cleanliness, but may not be absolutely necessary, and doesn’t add that much time. You can expedite drying by wiping excess with lint free towels, etc. Humidity will affect the drying time as well, though. Note: some cleaners leave a haze and may need to be wiped off with water as well.

Needing a quick fix to go skate skiing, I dry wiped my clean looking skate skis to find a little bit of dirt/wax/oxidation come off. Spraying cleaner and wiping took off tons off ‘gradoo’ (tech term). Letting it sit half a minute, I wiped with dry towel and got more until dry. 2-3 minutes tops. Sprayed on some Maplus Universal Wax, changed, and went. Surprisingly excellent slide for the quick and east fix and workout.

“We’re looking for an easy application wax for ultra cold conditions as we will not have access to hot waxing and scraping benches and tools or it will be very inconvenient during our trip?”

Extensive testing has determined that fluoro wax does not perform well in very cold conditions with little or no humidity, (typically with high static electricity). A straight paraffin wax, possibly with graphite as an additive will perform best under these conditions. It would therefore be best to use a hard cold paraffin wax or paraffin graphite ie. MW0600 or MW0620. Taking into consideration you do not want to use an iron for application, the best option would be MWN0106 (PS-1 Cold Spray) and to bring along a cork (MT0110). Basically applying this spray will leave a ‘micro powder’ on the base (after the solvent evaporates) that will work in these conditions but will not stay on the base very long. I’d suggest you also vigorously cork after applying the spray to mechanically ‘push’ the wax into the base while generating a small amount of heat to maximize durability. And to help you stay warm. 🙂

“Here’s a tuning tip. I made a tuning bench with heavy duty folding metal sawhorse with adjustable legs. Mounted a 1 x 10 , 6′ long with bolts (the sawhorse had some holes on top). Sanded the wood and put some clear coat on it; countersunk the bolts for a smooth surface. I now have an adjustable height bench that I can fold up and store easily.”

Another alternative: Using two foldable saw horses and securing a 1x or 2x with the vises to the ends, you also have the remaining length of the saw horses to lay skis. Very handy when working on multiple pairs or even one pair. You can wax or drip p-tex on the skis laying on the saw horses all at once. And exchange them with the vises very quickly and conveniently. And the saw horse legs are not in the way while scraping, filing, etc. If you keep the bolt attachment simple, you can seasonally remove the top and use the sawhorse(s) for other purposes as well.

“Yeah, well I just picked up a cheap carpet and do my repairs / waxing on the floor in the “gear room” of my apartment. Unless the weather is nice then I use the firewood pile outside as a workbench. Not that I wouldn’t like a more pro set-up, I’m just cheap.”

Been there, done that. At least make yourself a saw horse stand. We’ve also discussed the value/trade-offs of offering the cinch clamp only. You could even use ski boots or books or 2x blocks, etc. to elevate the skis above any table. Using the lasso clamp to secure the ski to the supports makes a huge difference and shortens time required and will get you a better job. Adding the vises later could be considered a phased in step for later. The sturdiness, collapsibility, and light weight of the Terminator Tuning Stand is great for small spaces, easy storage, and portability and could be considered another phased in upgrade you won’t regret.

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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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T-Track Tuning & Waxing Bench

Extruded aluminum T-tracks are commonly used by woodcrafters for setting up jigs, guards, stops, router and saw tables and other shop tasks requiring unique clamping capabilities.
The Tools4Boards ski & snowboard vises (Cinch, CordLoc, BoardLoc & Pro 500) which are designed to integrate with the Terminator tuning stand also work great with T-tracks, knobs & T-bolts mounted into a workbench or homemade tuning stand. This is a time saving, highly versatile and unique approach to securing skis and snowboards compared to the conventional system of clamping vises with jaws to a bench or tuning stand to perform base repair, tuning & waxing tasks….even binding mounting and adjusting.

Probably the minimum length of T-track needed is around 4’. Less can be used if used in strategic locations relative to the lengths of skis and snowboards to be maintained. The Cinch, CordLoc & BoardLoc vises have a 3/8” diameter hole in their base. One option is to bolt one vise support to the bench and place the other in a 2 or 3’ foot section of track. Ideally, a 5 or 6’ T-track allows maximum flexibility.

A groove can be cut or routed into a bench top as long as it is well supported and thick enough for the track and necessary screws. A strong epoxy can also be used to permanently attache the track to the bench. Building up on top of an existing bench to just above the thickness of the track is another method of installing T-track.

The most common T-tracks accept either 5/16” or 1/4” T-bolts or modified hex bolts. A modified 3/8” bolt can also be used. Since the 3/8” hole in the vise bases are 3/8”, we feel the 1/4” bolt allows a little to much ‘play’, but is workable. The 5/16” is probably the best size since there are many accessory options available, along with track, bolt & knob availability. The best length bolt is 1 inch to fit the Cinch, CordLoc & BoardLoc vise bases. The low profile knobs we carry are the only ones we’ve found that will fit the vise bases and quickly secure or loosen to adjust location and orientation of the support base.

Once installed, the T-track and Tools4Boards vise system will provide a quick and secure method to help you take care of your boards.

For another description of installing a T-track in a door used for a bench top, please visit Backcountry skiing blog and website by Lou Dawson.

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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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Base Structure


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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Wax Application: Hot Waxing Basics

Cleaning and regularly waxing your bases is the most common and easiest ski and snowboard maintenance task. It will protect your boards and optimize the glide and turns.


Basic Hot Waxing Steps:
1) Bring the skis or snowboard to room temperature if possible.
2) Place the board(s) on a good work surface that can secure them for scraping.
3) Clean the bases with base cleaner or hot scraping.
4) Drip, crayon, hot touch & crayon or hot touch iron smear solid wax onto clean and dry base. Less wax requires less scraping, brushing & mess to clean up.
5) While keeping the iron moving, spread and melt the wax evenly over the entire base. A trail of liquid wax should just follow the iron.
6) Work the wax in again to assure coverage
7) Let the wax cool and harden for a minimum of 30 minutes.
8) Scrape wax down to base with a sharp plexi scraper to an even, thin film.
9) Free the base structure by brushing out the micro-grooves/structure of the bases and polish to a nice sheen with manual or roto brushes (or both).
10) Clean up the mess and then go glide fast and make smoother turns!

However you wax your boards, be sure to clean the bases very well and pay attention to structuring to reduce suction for better slide, especially in wetter conditions. The Maplus liquids and sprays will achieve a higher level of saturation and durability than hot waxing with solid waxes by simply applying and rubbing in with cork or felt. Saving lots of time and effort, they are easier to apply and control amounts, less or no scraping or brushing is necessary for high performance. For optimal performance, add heat by moving a iron down the ski or snowboard, over a saturation. After at least 10 minutes and the wax has hardened, polish the excess wax with horsehair or nylon brush to expose the structure. When waxing, realize that you are trying to get the wax into the base, not on the base. Scraping and brush polishing removes the excess and exposes the base structure.

-We recommend cleaning the ski or snowboard bases with Maplus detergents and then applying a hot Maplus Racing Base after each race or after preparing the ski or snowboard bases and edges.
-All traces of basic wax must be thoroughly removed before applying racing wax: scrape off the wax and then brush and polish thoroughly.
-If you clean the ski or snowboard bases with a detergent immediately before applying racing wax, we recommend heating the wax so the detergent can evaporate completely.

-We recommend the following iron temperatures to melt Maplus ski or snowboard waxes:

-120°C (248°F): Universal;
-130°C (266°F): (Soft – Soft Graphite)Racing Base, (P1-P2-P3) Hot;
-140°C (284°F): (P1-P2-P3) Med; Race Base Medium
-150°C (302°F): (P1-P2-P3) Cold;
-160°C (320°F): (Hard – Hard Graphite)Racing Base, P4.

If used improperly, the waxing iron can damage the ski or snowboard construction.

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Wax Iron vs Clothes Iron


The clothes iron has always been used as a low cost method for melting and applying wax to ski & snowboard bases. An amusing irony regarding tools versus gear, is that many skiers will go to great lengths and expense to purchase performance ‘tools’ for their feet, and great lengths to spend very little for 2nd and 3rd rate tools for their hands to take care of their expensive gear, trashed day in and day out. I’ve been no different, but once you use a nice tool, irons a case in point, and realize it’ll do a better job, in less time, it’s hard to go back.

-If it’s only about cost, a conventional iron will work OK, but requires extra time, steps and attention to making sure the holes don’t retain old wax. While still warm, use a lint free towel to draw out wax and do it a again when you fire up for the next waxing.
-Wrapping with tin foil or filling the holes with JB Weld and smoothing is an option for some.
-If it doesn’t have an accurate thermostat, you’ll be guessing. If it’s smoking, it’s too hot.
-Likely end game going cheap is it’ll end up in the land fill and you’ll buy a better one later.
-Fiber pads work great for cleaning iron bases

-Better is a conventionally shaped iron without the holes, with an accurate thermostat, but still has an edge that scrapes the wax.

-Best is an iron with an “Arc” shaped iron plate which allows wax to flow to the center of the iron reducing waste and overflow with an accurate thermostat and a thick sole plate to retain consistent heat and evenly distribute wax.

Different waxes have different temperature requirements and work best when applied with recommended temperature settings.
.Many feel using a clothes iron is a Really Bad Idea, whether it’s a new or old iron. Basically, you really have no idea what temperature you’re getting, so you risk either burning the bases or not getting enough heat to get the desired wax saturation. Additionally, a clothes iron has a much broader temperature swing whereas a dedicated wax iron as much tighter temperature tolerances. You’re paying hundreds of $$$ for skis…why subject them to a cheap iron?

It can also be not hot enough and be as effective if you are too conservative guessing the temperature. Defeats the purpose somewhat if not getting complete liquefaction and flow.

Can you accurately (or care enough) to set the temperatures in this range for instance:
-We recommend the following iron temperatures to melt Maplus ski or snowboard waxes:
-120°C: Universal;
-130°C: (Soft – Soft Graphite)Racing Base, (P1-P2-P3) Hot;
-140°C: (P1-P2-P3) Med; Race Base Medium
-150°C: (P1-P2-P3) Cold;
-160°C: (Hard – Hard Graphite)Racing Base, P4.
If used improperly, the waxing iron can damage the ski or snowboard construction.

One method gauge iron temperature is whether or not the wax smokes when touched to the iron. Generally, if it’s smoking, it’s too hot for the wax and possibly the base. Never let the iron sit for any length of time on the base and keep it moving. Using a teflon sheet between iron and base helps to protect the base. Using a lint free fiber towel between base and iron can also provide some protection and draw off excess was to reduce scraping.

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