Asymmetrical Edge Geometry

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

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

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

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

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

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