By Dave Potter
Well, we’re now more than half way through the ski season. If you’re like me, you’ve been out quite a few times to enjoy the great snow we’ve been receiving. And like your best friend, it’s time to give your skis some TLC so they can make it to the end of the season.
Of course, you can do it the easy way. You can drop them off at one of the local ski shops, or the High Performance Shop at Holiday Valley, and have their experts repair and tune your boards in time for your next ski outing. If you’re a bit more adventurous, like me, you can do your own tuning at home with a few gadgets.
The first question you’re going to have is “How do I do this?” If you’re lucky, you have a knowledgeable friend who can show you — even better, a friend who will tune them for you. But barring that, there’s the internet. Just Google “ski tuning” to pull up screen loads of many helpful results. There are also many educational videos on YouTube.
One of the first tools you will need is a ski brake retainer. In other words, some sort of device to hold your ski brake out of the way while you’re working on your base and edges. You can buy these at any of the local shops or you can use a very heavy-duty rubber band.
Now that your brakes are safely out of the way, the next step is to sharpen your edges.
Most sites will tell you that you need a bevel guide. Ski edges are not filed to 90 degrees anymore. The edges are beveled, or angled. The angles are determined by your level of ski ability and the ski manufacturer’s recommendations.
I tune most skis with a 1-degree base bevel and a 2-degree side bevel. And I don’t use a bevel guide. They’re expensive and I’m cheap. I use an edge tool made by FK/SKS called the Multi Edge Tuner. With this tool, you can sharpen your base and side edges to the exact angles, though not at the same time. The tool comes with a mill file to take off a fair amount of material. And it also comes with diamond stones to finely hone your edges and to take off any case hardening you might have from hitting rocks — not that there have been any this season. Most of the local shops sell this tool.
The next step is to wax your bases. Hot ironing is the preferred method. To do this you’ll need a waxing iron, a scraper and the appropriate wax, of course. Alternatively, you can buy a paste wax that rubs on, which is a lot simpler and really, anyone can do it. Plus, it’s cheaper. When I’m in a hurry, that’s what I do. My preferred product is Swix F4 Paste Wax. Again, most local ski shops sell some form of paste wax.
By buying some minimal equipment, it is possible to inexpensively give your skis a quick tune — just in time to enjoy the rest of the season.