Why? Because as you ski, the edges dull and the base wax scrapes off. How rapidly the edges dull and wax scrapes off depends upon snow conditions. If you’re only skiing powder (lucky you), your edges and base are going to last longer. If you’re skiing hard pack snow (or ice), your edges will wear down quicker and you’ll miss their sharpness more.
You can tell if your edges need sharpening by lightly sliding your finger along the edges of the skis. If they feel rough, or “burred”, it’s time for a tune. Well-waxed bases should shine. If they look dry, it’s time for a tune.
Time for DIY!
If you ski a lot, knowing how to do basic ski maintenance can save you some money. It’s not hard. In fact, our boys have been waxing our skis since they were about 10 years old.
Here’s what you need:
- A scraper
- Three Brushes — Stiff brass, horsehair, nylon
- A file and edge tool
- An Arkansas stone
- An iron
- Giant rubber bands
- A bench, preferably with clamps.
To round-up all of this stuff, visit your ski shop and see what they sell.
Or for all-in-one ease, check out the Demon Complete Tune Kit, with everything you need to tune skis or snowboards. The $89.99 kit includes an edge tuner, tuning stone, wax scraper, flat file, wire brush, mini iron, polish pad and Ptex. They also sell wax.
Speaking of wax (and tools and more), other resources include the Holmenkol and Swix websites. The tools on these sites are bigger and more durable, designed for pros and families that tune a lot of skis.
Ski Tuning 101
Once you’ve got the tools, the fun begins. Seriously, it is fun.
1. On Your Mark.
Set up your table or bench. Retract the ski bindings out of the way. Secure ski to the table or bench.
2. Get Set.
Scrape your skis from top to bottom (always go in just one direction, tip-to-tail, for the entire length of the ski). Repeat 5-10 times.
Brush the bases in one direction. Start with the stiff brass brush. Repeat 5-10 times. Repeat with the horsehair brush and then the nylon brush.
Sharpen the edges with the file and edge tool. Repeat until the edge is sharp enough to lightly cut your fingernail (the big flat part) as you run it along the edge. Only do the top edge. Aside from waxing, all base work needs to be done by a pro.
Run the Arkansas stone lightly along the edges to smooth out any burrs or rough spots.
With an iron, drip wax along the base of your skis. Smooth out the wax with the iron. Let the skis rest for about 2 hours so the bases can absorb the wax.
Scrape off the wax. Use the scraper, the stiff brass brush, the horsehair brush and the nylon brush, in that order. Repeat 5-10 times with each tool until you aren’t brushing up any colored wax. Then, wipe your skis off with a soft cloth and you’re done!
- Waxing While the Summer Wanes, August 26, 2010.
- Summer Ski Wax 101, April 26, 2011.
- Should You Tune Your Own Skis? November 26, 2011.
- Wax Your Skis for Proper Summer Storage, April 15, 2013.
- Spring Cleaning: Store Your Skis, Poles and More, April 26, 2013.
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