I have been waxing my own skis since I was in high school but got lazy in my old age and have let others do it in the last few years. It didn't help my laziness that the company I work for opened a full service ski shop. Despite that, I really enjoy the process of waxing and it definitely enhances the ski experience knowing that I am responsible for the performance of my ride. Now that I finally set up a little work area in the back room of the SBR HQ, I purchased a ski vise and some fresh wax, dug out the iron and assorted other tools and got back into it. I'll do hot waxing and minor base repairs but still am content to leave grinding and edge tuning to the pros. Though I have to admit, I did take a belt sander to an old pair of skis once and was surprised at how well they turned out.
If you have never tuned your own skis, think about it. You can easily set yourself up for under $100, toddle off to the basement or garage with a frosty beverage and save LOTS of money in waxing and tuning fees. Be prepared for some smoke, a mess of wax shavings to clean up and always remember to KEEP THE IRON MOVING.
Anyway, here is my setup. I am curious to see/read what others in the HR collective do to their boards at home.
Essential items, from left to right: freezer covered with plastic to keep Ms. SBR happy; Prophet 100 freshly waxed and ironed; ancient iron with no temp control other than unplugging and no holes in the bottom (key to success if you are too cheap to buy a real waxing iron); Kuu brand hardwax three-pack (I blended red & green, don't ask why); Super-Degooper for base cleaning (any citrus-based cleaner will do - don't get sucked into buying ski specific products); Creemore Springs Urbock (seasonal beverages not essential but highly recommended); rag; Swix base brush for structuring after scraping (an important step often left out by the home tuner); Red brand (aka Burton) triangular scraper (easier to hold than the standard rectangle scraper); Scotch-Brite pad (coarse version, from the hardware store, handy for base prep and edge cleaning); plastic container to store tools. Not shown: source of tunes for entertainment; ski vise (see below).
My Swix ski vise and the setup I use to keep ski brakes out of the way: combo of ski strap and giant rubber band that comes with every pair of Atlas snowshoes. Works well but if anyone has a better system, let me know.
Bravo, As you know I own a ski shop and tune tons of skis. I am so happy to see people take care of their investment. It kills me to see someone buy an expensive pair of skis and not tune them. If anyone want to come to the store we are always happy to show you how its done. It is not hard if you take your time.
T'was the night before Christmas, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...
I started it a couple years ago. Like the others said, a piece of cake, not long before you're doing a more in depth job than most 20 pesos tunes- Hey! what do you want for 20 clams? Once you learn to do it and lay some serious love on your stick, you'll be one happy wiener!
Horse hair brushes rock, cheap stones are lame, racer wax is F A S T and pricey.
Ever see whiteish areas on you base? That's oxidation from some j'moke not keepin them waxed. Oxidation bad - it will not hold wax! Usually a Scotch brite brand pad( brand new one j'moke!) will clean off oxidation. ALWAYS RUB/SCRAPE/BRUSH UR STICKS TIP TO TAIL. If the Scotch brite pad doesn;t cut the oxidation, use your metal scraper or SBR's Black and Decker belt sander OR hit the Gear shop for a belt sand.
ALL bases need cleaned. New ones, last year's whatever. Dirty skis do not slide well. DO NOT use chemical cleaners, gthey dry out your base. Hot wax cleaning is THE best. Use a warm weather(low melting point wax) for this. Keeping the wax melted, scrape it off, then rewax/scrape etc till the wax comes off clean. You can see the dirt in the scrapings and you'll be surprised how dirty your babies are. Dirty skis slide slower. This also conditions yo base. Then apply the top wax of your choice.
Circuit racers wax their skis like maniacs. Maybe 70, 80 times before the season even starts. This gets wax deep in the base so it can weep out as you rip. They claim their skis get even faster as the season progresses. Deep waxing is not only faster but easier to ski on.
You can duplicate multi wax jobs ( Ha!) by applying the wax, letting it cool, re-ironing( feel the top sheet is warm), repeat up to 4 or so times adding wax as needed. This helps get the wax deeper without all the labor/cost of multi complete wax jobs. This is much like the " Hot Box " waxings shop charge mega bucks for.
The idea is to heat the base. You can feel the topsheet as you do this to ensure it doesn't get to hot, warmish+ is ok when waxing. The average wax job will not over heat your skis, keep the iron moving, if you have a good iron and half a brain, you'll never smoke your wax or over heat the skis. SLOWLY raise the temp until it melts the wax and it stays so as you move the iron. The iron's setting will very slightly depending on warm weather, cold weather wax and the other types. Then scrape the wax off really good. You ski with the wax IN you skis as opposed to wax '" on "your skis. As they cool they will squeeze out wax. Then..
Brushes! They vary from brass, nylon, horsehair. Mostly you'll use various nylons and horse hair. Brass is for creating base structure and removing hardest wax. Nylons will be the most common used, varying from hard wax to soft wax brushes, but they create static electricity that attracts dirt to your skis. Always finish with a horsehair brush to remove static and put a nice polish down. Short Horsehair brushes will do the same job as most nylons, finishing with long horsehair makes it all nicey, nicey. Some spray water down as they use the nylons.
Brushes get gackified. Clean them in the oven, lowest temps( maybe oven off and on, door open) on a cookie sheet, bristles down on paper towels. The wax melts off. You'll get a feel. Sometimes I turn my ski iron upside down, paper towel and place brushes on it to clean them.
Sharpening, skip the files, use stones. Files are old school and but are also used for base removal and adding base structure. You need to buy extra tools etc, to use files. GOOD stones will subplant files for sharpening. Files are mostly used for removing harden spots on edges, spots where you hit a stone while skiing. With better stones, a 100 or 200 grit will quickly remove harden spots on your edges, no need for files, etc. You can feel a harden spot," bump bump " as you run the sharpener down the edge. Remove it.
Base edges are set from the factory, basically leave alone or see the shop! Side edges are what you sharpen, usually they're 3 degrees, Volks 2.5?, kid's maybe less. Any doubt, ask the shop. Racers go 3.5 or more. Basically, use a 400 or so grit, then higher grit stone to sharpen edges. A few passes with each grit is all you need. Keep the stone well lubed with 50/50 h20 and alcohol. A dap from you finger will do it. Clean the stones with the brass wire brush that comes in the kit and the h2o/alcohol mixture. Frequent sharpening can just use the higher grits quick WHEN YOU HAVE GOOD STONES. Skip the gummies.
http://www.racewax.com/ had the best, most complete kits when I bought mine. Their iron works great, Don't buy a high dolloar one as it's not needed.
You don't need to get too anal about various wax types either, they're myriad. Racewax's warm temp or low temp waxes work great. Low temp wax helps protect the bases at colder temps. They're universal wax is just like it says and works great, If you wanna get crazy, the various types and additives will add a marked degree of performance AT A PRICE $$$. Most of us don't need it. Good Racing waxing/additives properly chosen for the day's conditions will haul azz, you be flying and easily glide across the flats of Gore.
Really it's easy and you'll love the wax job you give yourself! If you have a family of skiers it helps even more.
Mega hats off to the Gear Source for the way cool offer of showing us how to tune skis. That is way beyond the call of duty. Word. I think I'll donate old gear for him to sell at will and he can keep the coin.
My set up both in the flatlands and at HRHQ are temporary - meaning I don't really have the room to leave the vises set up on a full time basis. Also I really don't know what I'm doing. For me it is more about the stoke.
I took this picture the night before my first attempt at skiing the slides. I was pretty nervous about it and was really just burning off the jitters by waxing, and cranking down on my bindings.
neveballcat (<--*details below)
As stated above, I'm a bit clueless on how to handle the edges. I'm pretty sure I'm doing the hotwax part correctly. I use a stone to take off the burr that naturally forms when you've skied on ice, but was never sure if this was proper.
I also have never been sure how to treat a patterned base on xc skis. I'd clean whatever gunk out with some kind of citrus cleaner and then use a maxiglide wipe on it.
Like I said, more about the stoke than actual results. Sound like y'all could teach me alot.
JMP - you'll be seeing me soon for some Ptex. Something about an ill advised detour onto the workroad.
Cool thread SBR!
(*was out making coffee and came back to find our four year old typing on the keyboard. Since it was a first, I felt it shouldn't be deleted).
"You just need to go at that shit wide open, hang on, and own it." —Camp
Excellent responses everyone! This thread is turning into the complete wax nerd-out I hoped it would!
@ JMP: like Snowballs said, good on you for that offer. Here's an idea, why don't you ramp it up a bit and offer a ski tuning clinic for customers? Do it after hours on a Saturday so you can get the weekend warrior crowd, offer some snacks and refreshments, get Snowballs to help. Have a draw for folks to get their skis tuned for free in the demo. Lay out the Swix (or Toko or whoever) catalog and take orders for tuning supplies, or even make it easy for people and put together a package. You could have the SBR-approved entry level combo: wax iron, scraper, nylon brush, base cleaner, three-wax system, then the Snowballs signature pro-model advanced racer level package with all the extra goodies. Wax is a consumable item, so the DIY tuners will keep coming back to the store
@ Snowballs: Great tips, especially the one on cleaning brushes. And I second the tip-to-tail dictum. Man, you are INTO it! I get similarly carried away on cross-country skis but prefer to keep it simple on the alpine gear. If anyone needs to know how to put hard wax on top of klister, I'm your man.
@ Harv: Stoke is as good a reason to wax than anything. Just curious, are you using the Primus stove instead of an iron? That is hardcore. Keep that kid typing, her style is excellent. I recommend subbing in a nice micro-brew lager for the Vitamin Water, it will help calm your nerves.
@ anyone: So to keep the nerd level up, I have a question. I read somewhere that if you iron in a zig-zag pattern (as opposed in a straight line down the ski), it lines up the wax molecules in such a way as to reduce suction and thereby increase speed. Has anybody else heard this theory? I do this religiously, figuring it can't hurt.
Thanks SBR, like you, just trying to help folks out. I suspect most people are nervous about tuning their own skis, afraid they'll damage them. I was, but quickly found out it's easy.
I gather tuners have a plethora of tricks they use. That's cool. Never heard of the zig zag ironing trick, but I'm a bit of a newbie and like you said, can't hurt. Ironing is one thing were I say, ah what the heck and iron both directions to get the wax spread out, but finish with tip to tail strokes. All other things i'm tip to tail.
It's so cute Neve typed on Daddy's web site!!! I suppose it won't be long till she's offering up her own thread for the pre-school crowd with updates on the Bunny slope and Day care.....
" Bearcub skied real good today. The Poma went green at 9:00. Mommie and I were the first ones up that bad boy and ripped it royally. After that, I hit the Day Care ( where they have great snacks! ) for a nap and some playtime. "
Very cute Harv.
"@ Harv: Just curious, are you using the Primus stove instead of an iron?"
Hahahaha!!! Glad to see more comedians on here SBR! ..... Just lay the bar of wax on the wood stove and slide the ski over it? Think I'll use my palm sander to add some structure to my base. My Ol lady once used a gravel walk path to do hers. She's not near as sharp as the gravel she skied onto.
I also have never been sure how to treat a patterned base on xc skis. I'd clean whatever gunk out with some kind of citrus cleaner and then use a maxiglide wipe on it.
Harv, you are doing exactly the right thing on your patterned XC base. Do not however, under any circumstances, try to hot wax the fish scales! I do recommend hot waxing the tip and tail of your fishscale XC skis and keep up with the wipe-on stuff for the grip zone. Like Snowballs said about clean alpine bases, fishscales work much better when clean and won't clog up so much in the stickier snow. Swix makes a great product called Easy-Glide for this purpose.
Here's another pro-tip from the Hinterland for you tele and XC skiers. Check out your local hardware store for spray-on products designed to keep snowblower augers from getting clogged up. My buddy Telemark Dave found something called "Sno-Shooter" at our local Canadian Tire store (fondly known to we Hinterlanders as "Crappy Tire"). He did use it on his snowblower but also sprayed on all his XC and tele bindings. It really helps prevent icing up. I bought several bottles when it went on sale and have been experimenting with in various applications. The results: DO NOT use it as a substitute for Swix Easy-Glide as described above, it is very greasy and makes a huge mess. DO NOT spray on the inside of the wheels of your winter tires, thinking it will help prevent snow sticking in there. When you start driving, the centrifugal force generated will drive the Sno-Shooter out of the wheel and then it oozes all over your tires. On a positive note, it disappears eventually. DO spray it on the bottoms of all your toboggans.
This just in. The nice folks at Swix have some great on-line video tutorials at the Swix School. Just do what the lovely Norwegian woman tells you, and watch and learn. For hot waxing, click on the "sport" or "racing" tutorials. Clearly, their tips are designed to promote their products but it will help you get a handle on the steps and techniques involved. I still use the old-school method of melting the wax on the iron and drizzling it on the ski. I've tried their method of rubbing hard wax on the base and melting through a piece of "fibrelene" and found it a pain in the butt. It does, however, use way less wax, generates no smoke and few fumes plus requires much less scraping. Fiberlene is a special kind of paper towel, made by Swix, that I have not found an "aftermarket" substitute for. It does not leave ANY residue on your ski.
DO NOT spray on the inside of the wheels of your winter tires, thinking it will help prevent snow sticking in there. When you start driving, the centrifugal force generated will drive the Sno-Shooter out of the wheel and then it oozes all over your tires. On a positive note, it disappears eventually.
I wonder how he figured that one out?
Sick Bird Rider wrote
DO spray it on the bottoms of all your toboggans.
Yea,Yea...I've seen that in the movies. Clark Griswald used it. That stuff really rips.
I'm liking this SBR. He thinks outside the box, unbound by convention or herds of Lemmings. That's how innovation happens.
Nice thread. I've been tuning my skis for 9 years now, and it's something that every serious skier should do. When you get the hang of it, you can feel exactly what you did right or wrong, and even make corrections (with a small stone or whatever) right on the slopes. OTOH, every once in a while you need to bring them into the shop to put them on a stone grinder or a belt sander.
My experience so far -- the Moonflex stones are about a million times better than DMT stones, and that's not an exaggeration.
As far as people who took a belt sander to their skis -- REALLY? The very idea scares the heck out of me.
Finally, the whole idea of a clinic is great. My old ski club ran one every year, and I learned a ton there. I always tell my friends who want me to tune their skis for them (for free) about "give a man a fish, teach a man to fish," but they never take me up on it. So --- they don't learn and I don't do it for them. If Jeff does do a clinic, he's entitled to some compensation since he's running a business, right? There should be a reasonable fee or a kitty where everyone can put in a little cash.
"They don't think it be like it is, but it do." Oscar Gamble