This post is an oldie but a goodie. Originally published by WenOut Staff on 12/29/2011.
Our low-snow start to winter has some of us tweaking our equipment more than normal. Improving the condition of our bases, better waxing, and sharper edges all make old-snow skiing more fun. And this season’s higher likelihood of nicking stones or tree branches if you deviate from the groomed runs, means you may need to fix some dents added to your gear. Don’t get overly uptight about causing some damage — skis were made to be used, but do learn more about fixing the damage you inflict. Toward that end, here’s some good how-to info we found at Backcountry Magazine (a magazine skiers will enjoy viewing from time to time) and that we asked Jack Moore for his permission to excerpt.
Ski Maintenance 202 by Jack Moore founder of Tognar Toolworks
Check ski and snowboard topsheets for dings and nicks. If large enough to expose underlying fiberglass layers or core material—such as wood or foam, fill them using a two-part epoxy or urethane glue (to which you can also add color pigments to better match topsheet cosmetics). Slightly overfill any dings or nicks, then let the glue set up and dry thoroughly before removing any excess with a small flat-blade chisel. Finish up using 220 to 400 grit sandpaper, along with a sanding block, to blend the repair in.
Apply a layer of paste wax (offered by all major wax companies) to ski and snowboard topsheets and sidewalls to protect them like car polish protects the finish of your auto. This can also help deter unwanted snow buildup on topsheets, and provide faster glide along sidewalls as well.
Inspect sidewalls for dings, cracks or delaminations. If you see dings, repair them the same way as topsheets. If you see cracked sidewalls or edge delaminations, consult with a shop, since hidden structural damage may have been sustained.
Check bases for gouges and scratches. If they’re deep enough to be easily detectable with your fingernail, fill ‘em with base repair material (small wood burning-type irons and p-tex string or ribbon are available to make very durable repairs at home), or go to a shop for help. This is especially critical when underlying fiberglass or core material is exposed, since water can then penetrate and cause deeper damage when it freezes.
Check bases for flatness and appropriate structure. Snow can be unmercifully abrasive—especially icy corn and glacial snow, and grind away base material like sandpaper. Use a true bar to check base flatness (there should be little or no concavity/convexity), and check the base structure. If you can’t detect it visually or with your fingernail, it may need refreshing. Likewise, if you’ve switched to a coarser structure for wetter spring snows, you may want to re-establish a finer structure for next winter’s cold snows. There are several hand base-flattening tools and structure tools to handle these tasks at home, or take your gear to a good shop for a stonegrind.
Snow abrades steel edges as well as base material, so check to make sure your base edge bevel angle hasn’t increased due to wear, and that the side edge bevel angle is still correct. Both base and side edge surfaces should be clean, deburred and polished. You can do this at home with a bevel guide, file, and stones, or have it done at a shop.
Your bases pick up a surprising amount of dirt during the season; especially in spring when accumulated dust, cinders, pollen, grooming machine lubricants and other gunk in the snow resurfaces with a fury. Dirt creates drag and robs you of speed, so it needs to be cleaned out. The best way to clean bases is by hot-scraping. Use a wax iron to heat a liberal amount of hydrocarbon base prep wax (offered by all major wax companies) into the base, and then immediately scrape it off using a plastic scraper. This pulls out dirt and old wax from the deepest recesses of the base. Repeat this process until no discoloration or darkness is visible in the wax scrapings, then use a soft brass brush to clean out the base structure. Now your base is truly clean.
Hot wax bases by applying a generous coat of hydrocarbon base prep wax using a wax iron. If you’re storing the skis over the summer, but don’t scrape off excess wax. It’s okay if some wax dribbles over side edges since this helps deter rust. When you’re ready to ride of ski (come winter) scrape off excess wax to reveal a clean, well-nourished base that’s ready to ride.
The tools you use to maintain your skis also need maintenance to perform at their best.
- Ceramic Stone: scrub gently with a brass toothbrush, using Ajax or Comet cleanser with water (or vinegar and water) to cut away grime.
- Diamond Stone: scrub gently with a nylon toothbrush and a splash of wax remover or lighter fluid until shiny clean.
- Steel File: clean teeth frequently with a steel or brass brush. Some tuners also rub a little chalk into file teeth occasionally to help deter residue build-up.
- Plastic Scraper: frequently wipe away any excess wax build-up and resharpen using a flat pansar file, drywall sanding screen, or scraper sharpening tool.
- Steel Scraper: occasionally file the cutting edge with a flat file, deburr with a stone, then impart a fine uniform burnish along one edge using a burnishing tool.
- Base Repair Iron or Pistol: clean the application tip (warm, not hot) with an old scotchbrite pad.
- Riller Bars/Structure Tools: clean out teeth and ridges on structure bars/blades using a bronze or brass wax brush.
- Hot Wax Irons: wipe off wax and dirt from the bottom of warm iron (not hot) with a soft clean rag, shop towel or fiberlene paper. Store in an upright position.
- Scotchbrite, Fibertex, Omni-Prep Pads: Rinse pads under hot water (180°F.) to melt away old wax.
- Wax Brushes: Clean away old wax build-up with hot water, or let stand briefly in a shallow pan of base cleaning solvent.