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 Race Base Medium, and top it with a warm temp Low Fluoros like Briko-Maplus Universal Hot or LP2 or Toko Dibloc LF.
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.
(Minor revisions & updated links 3/26/13)Continue Reading »
With the new season fast approaching with expectations of much more snow than last year, here is the 2012-13 Briko-Maplus Wax and Tool catalog. As with all of our tools and supplies, if it is not found in our store we probably can order it for you. So drop us a line if you have questions or are looking for something.
Here is the Briko-Maplus Waxing Manual for detailed instructions for waxing applications. This covers hot, liquid, powder & grip waxing from recreational to elite racers. waxing
Updated: 2/15/13Continue Reading »
The File Base Flattener is a powerful planing tool that uses a file to flatten concave (railed, edge high) snowboards and skis. It is a different application from the steel blade in the Base Flattener, the steel blade is for fine flattening work, the File Base Flattener’s purpose is to cut through concave metal and plastic quickly.
New boards and skis always have some concave sections; they must be flattened for the board or ski to function correctly. A base that is concave makes the board or ski grabby and hooky, not smooth. They make edge-to-edge transfers difficult and sticky. You cannot relax on a concave base; you always have to be prepared for its next bad surprise.
From the top, you can see this is a two-hand push tool (for both power and control), with your rear hand on the larger bump. ALSO OBSERVE THE STRIP OF WHITE PAINT ON THE LEADING EDGE OF THE FILE, THE FILE MUST BE USED IN THE TOOL WITH THE WHITE PAINT AS SHOWN SO THAT THE FILE TEETH ARE IN THE CORRECT CUTTING DIRECTION.
From the bottom side you see a 7-inch double cut file held in place with a powerful magnet. The front of the tool has a glide bar so the file sits flat to the base. Notice again that the file has a strip of white paint on the leading edge, the file must be placed in the tool with that white strip facing forward as shown. If the file is in the tool backwards it won’t cut your base and using it that way will dull it quickly.
Several points to keep in mind when using this tool:
1. Always use the tool in the tip to tail direction.
2. Use only moderate pressure, the file will cut metal and plastic without excess effort.
3. Use only light pressure when running the tool off the tail, otherwise a) the file can get popped off the magnet, and b) the file will dig into the plastic at the curve of the tail and leave file marks in the plastic.
4. Clean the file teeth after each pass with the supplied brush, only clean teeth will cut.
5. If the file gets clogged with wax, use wax remover with the brush to clean them.
6. If the File Base Flattener isn’t cutting edge metal on concave skis or boards, then you have hardened edges, that hardening can only be removed with the green stones in the Ski Sharp. See Tuning New Skis in the index for a discussion and procedures for this problem.
When used on snowboards, you flatten one edge at a time; observe the position of the tool on the board. You are cutting from the center of the base through the outside of the edge. But remember, since the board is concave, the tool is really cutting just the high plastic and metal near the outside edge of the board.
You take one pass down one of the edges, clean the file out with the brush that is supplied with the tool, then take a pass down the other edge, always rotating edge to edge so that the tool is used in a balanced approach and the board gets flattened consistently.
You will feel the file cutting the metal edges as you work. You will also feel when the file no longer cuts metal, that tells you that the edge is then flush with the plastic base. However, the board may still have some amount of concavity. To bring the base to a totally flat condition because plastic needs to be removed, use the SkiVisions Snowboard Base Flattener with the stone blade. You will have to rotate between both file and stone Base Flatteners to remove both plastic and metal if the base is significantly concave.
So how flat does a snowboard need to be?
1. If the board is concave, you can get it flat enough with the File Base Flattener and it will work well on the snow even if there is some concavity in the plastic. That concavity will soon wear away as you use the board. And remember, if you use base edge bevel (as you should, see Snowboard Edge Tuning) any concavity on the base will be reduced in effect by base edge bevel.
2. If the board is convex (rounded) you want to remove plastic and bring the board to a flat condition with the Snowboard Base Flattener using the 12-inch stone blades, convex bases do not work well on snowboards. (See Snowboard Edge Tuning)
Use your true bar frequently to check your progress, you don’t want to over-do. You will also be able to tell how you are progressing by how the tool acts as you start to get flat.
It is both a very aggressive tool and very easy to use, but don’t get carried away. Take it slow, check your work often; you will get it flat soon enough.
When used on a ski, the file covers the surface edge to edge. However, you can also use it on only one edge at a time as used on snowboards, this can make the flattening process go faster. But again, remember, go slow, check your work often, don’t over-do.
Only moderate pressure needs to be used on the tool, it does not require “muscling it”. And remember, only light pressure when running off the tail (see above).
See Ski Base Flattener for a thorough discussion on flattening bases.
Concave Bases, the first problem:
New skis and boards ALWAYS have concave sections. They are caused by the manufacturer not letting it cool and age before grinding it, or by shipping it in very hot cargo carriers. Regardless of the reason, the concave sections need to be removed for it to work right. They may look great when new, don’t be fooled. Oh, and when you go to the shop to buy, take your true bar and inspect (a ruler will do if not too flexible). Buy the one with the flattest base and save yourself a lot of trouble.
The File Base Flattener is the only hand tool up for the job. It is powerful (you can easily put 50 to 60 pounds of pressure on the tool) and uses a very sharp double cut file designed to simultaneously cut plastic and edge metal. It is the “heavy machinery” of hand tools.
When factories grind skis and boards, they chase speed and efficiency. Unfortunately, that also translates into work hardened edges and plastic caused by too much speed and pressure with the stone, and it can become a real challenge getting the tune on a new ski or board right.
Hardened steel edges are hardened on the surface only, about .001 of an inch, very shallow. But, until it is removed, files, carbides, or steel will not cut it. It is best removed with our 4 inch green stone with tape wrapped on one end for bevel. Whenever you have concave bases you generally also have hardened edge sections.
If you observe that the File Base Flattener isn’t working, that is, isn’t flattening the base, you have hardened edges. You can tell when the edges just seem to get slick and shiny but aren’t getting cut with the file teeth, because they can’t.
Sometimes it is a good idea to mark the concave edge sections with a felt tip marker so you can concentrate on those areas and watch your progress.
The following videos show using the File Base Flattener:
SkiVisions Using our File Base Flattener Part 1
SkiVisions Using our File Base Flattener Part 2Continue Reading »
(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 readly 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 useable 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 sharpmess 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.
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
Continue Reading »
To protect the eyes we recommend the use of protective glasses whenever working with rotating brushes. Make sure no one is standing close to the drill without eye protection.
With the exception of the brass and horsehair brushes having a rotating speed of approx. 800 per minute -the normal working speed is between 2500 and 3000 rpm without using any pressure on the rotating brushes.
Brushing out like professionals:
Brass brush: To be used before waxing for the pre-cleaning of the ski base. The recommended rotating speed is approx. 800 per minute. Please work only with single shaft with plexi hood without
using any pressure.
- After drawing (scraping) off the wax layer using the acrylic glass blade (plexi-scraper):
First step: Remaining wax is brushed out of the base using the horsehair brush. This gives the base a matte surface whereby wax-residues remain at the depth of the base structures.
Second step: The remaining wax of the base structure is brushed out using the nylon brush until
no wax particles are visible anymore. Now the base has to be polished for getting a perfect High-Glass finish.
The black nylon brush is especially suitable for polishing with optimum finish for all waxes. Can be used as a universal brush.Continue Reading »
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.)Continue Reading »