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DIY Ski Tuning

VTKilarney

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I'm debating learning how to tune my own skis for next season. How many of you do this? Are you pleased with the results compared to what a shop will do? Is it worth the time and effort for a recreational skier who doesn't need to shave a few tenths of a second off of his time?
 

Scruffy

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We either need a sticky on this or a separate forum category, because it keeps coming up.


Yes, it is worth it to learn to tune your own skis, and it's not hard at all. Especially if you ski in the northeast where there are so many variable conditions from ice to powder to spring corn.


You need sharp edges to safety and effectively ski ice. You need the right wax to ski soft slush spring snow. You're not going to take your skis into the shop every week or so, it's not only expensive, it's a logistical issue.


So yes, get a ski tuning bench, buy a few tools and learn. Get a stone ground tune from a shop once in a while ( 1 – 2 years ) the rest of the time take care of your skis yourself.
 

bistrohenry

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ARTECH in New Hampshire, http://www.artechski.com/#gsc.tab=0 is a great reasonably priced resource.
need: vise, bench to put it on, waxes ( base prep, I use all purpose and mix hard & softer depending on temp & humidity), wax scrapers (scraper sharpener useful tool) base bevel tool (1 degree usually, .5 for slalom skis) files, diamond stones, side edge file guide ( 92 & 93 degree depending on your ski), structure brushes, sidewall planer. The payback is probably 2 years, based on the fact that most people ski on under tuned gear. The benefit is properly waxed and sharp skis.
Have fun, make sure you set up a nice workspace with good tunes for tuning...
 

Sum1

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Thanks for the link, Scruffy.
I've been meaning to search out a better angle guide device.
My current one appears to slightly warp a bit once I tighten the file piece into place, so I question the actual angle of contact.
 

Sum1

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Agreed with Scruffy and Bistro.

The initial investment is expensive -
3 piece Toko Ski Vise set $150
Quality Wax Iron $50 - $60
Quality (fine) edge file - $30
Quality Edge Angle Guide - $50
Bulk Organic All-Temp Purl Wax (No PFC's) - $20
Medium and Fine diamond whetstones - $30
Soft Red Gummy Stone for smoothing nicks and gouges on edges - $13
Plastic wax scraper - $5
Base brush - $15 -$30 (depending on nylon, horsehair, or bronze)

But the end result of an almost frictionless glide combined with a confident connected feeling on your edges is very satisfying and a definite performance improvement in typical NE conditions (ice).
Once you do a thorough initial edge tune at the beginning of a season, you can follow up with a lighter maintenance tune once every 4 - 5 days of skiing. Of course, this is highly variable depending on the conditions in which you ski: Powder vs Ice vs Park-n-Pipe vs Trees/Glades, as well as, moderate speed vs Mach speed.

As I've become more efficient with waxing, it requires less time and I tend to do an application every two days on the mountain. Hard to measure if it actually extends the life of the ski base, but it definitely makes a difference in the glide and friction underfoot.

A full wax and edge tune at a shop is somewhere in the the $30's plus tax.
A base wax and machine finish (without edge tune) has got to be at least $20.

If your ski days per season are 0 - 6, then you're likely better off with a full shop tune-up and let it ride for the season. But, once you go into the double-digits and want your skis to feel like an extension of your feet and toes, then it's personally rewarding, and over time the $$ spent are recovered and you begin to save money via DIY.
 

dlague

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We ski about 30-40 times per season and to bring an entire family work of gear to get tuned up regularly get expensive - so I decided to put the money in to my own setup!

built my own work bench
built blocks (U shaped) to hold skis for edges (the U) and lat flat for ironing.
use a regular vise with magnetic rubber grips
adjustable block that locks into binding (for vice) $15
bought smaller blocks of Swix wax $10-12 each 5 total 1 for each temperature range
bought one of each bronze, nylon and horse hair brush $17 each
bought a scraper 4mm $5
Swix 6 way edge and bevel tool $30
regular home iron (will be replaced $40)
cheese cloth for dusting off wax dust

I got into it as cheaply as possible and found it to be worth it. There are a variety of techniques on youtube and while the tools may differ the concepts are all about the same. The used my bench for major tuning otherwise I did everything in the comfort of my family room and vacuumed afterwards.

The nice part of having stuff around? Quick wax changes, quick debur and edge sharpening! I often touch up by using the bronze brush to remove the existing wax followed by scraping and dusting off. Then I rub the desired wax on and brush it our with a nylon brush, remove dust, and then horsehair brush and remove dust. Do not buff it out! Prior to wax touch ups I do a quick edge sharpening if conditions will be hard/frozen in up coming weeks - otherwise I leave them alone. Touch ups are quick and your skis ski nice no mater what the weather.

I also carry wax and a brush in my boot bag!

Upgrade for next season? Roto-brushes
 

dlague

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ARTECH in New Hampshire, http://www.artechski.com/#gsc.tab=0 is a great reasonably priced resource.
need: vise, bench to put it on, waxes ( base prep, I use all purpose and mix hard & softer depending on temp & humidity), wax scrapers (scraper sharpener useful tool) base bevel tool (1 degree usually, .5 for slalom skis) files, diamond stones, side edge file guide ( 92 & 93 degree depending on your ski), structure brushes, sidewall planer. The payback is probably 2 years, based on the fact that most people ski on under tuned gear. The benefit is properly waxed and sharp skis.
Have fun, make sure you set up a nice workspace with good tunes for tuning...

My goto source as well!
 

Scruffy

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Nadda. Been there done that. That tool is like bringing a knife to a gun fight in terms of getting a good sharp edge.

Another reason this is not a good tool, you do not want to file your base edge. Even thought that tool has a dial a base edge angle, pressuring the tool wrongly can actually cause you to wind up with a base edge angle degree larger than you wish. Your skis will come from the factory set at 1 degree base edge. There is no reason in the world you want more than that. Side edge angle, OK, you can adjust from 1 to 3, but base edge should be 1 or less, ~ .5 if your a expert racer; anymore and you will compromise your ability to hold a carve on ice. Under normal wear and tear ( skiing on ice, diamond stoning burrs, etc.. ) you will most likely wind up with more than 1 degree base edge anyway. No sense in helping it along by filing it.
 

Puck it

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Nadda. Been there done that. That tool is like bringing a knife to a gun fight in terms of getting a good sharp edge.

Another reason this is not a good tool, you do not want to file your base edge. Even thought that tool has a dial a base edge angle, pressuring the tool wrongly can actually cause you to wind up with a base edge angle degree larger than you wish. Your skis will come from the factory set at 1 degree base edge. There is no reason in the world you want more than that. Side edge angle, OK, you can adjust from 1 to 3, but base edge should be 1 or less, ~ .5 if your a expert racer; anymore and you will compromise your ability to hold a carve on ice. Under normal wear and tear ( skiing on ice, diamond stoning burrs, etc.. ) you will most likely wind up with more than 1 degree base edge anyway. No sense in helping it along by filing it.


Sorry, I did not realize I was talk g to a World Cup skier.
 

Cannonball

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For a good tuning bench

Get a sawhorse kit that allows the 2x4 or 2x6 to be set flat, not edge up. like this
http://www.lowes.com/pd_127079-3289...=1&currentURL=?Ntt=sawhorse+bracket&facetInfo=

then get http://www.tognar.com/profi-ski-vise-alpine-dynafit-nnn/

Since I don't know a ton about tuning it seemed like some great info in the previous posts (thanks for that). But this post is now making me skeptical. Building sawhorses or a bench is one of the simplest tasks in the world. Buying a kit to do it is overkill and overpriced. Makes me wonder if maybe the same is true for the tuning gear you are recommending.
 

Scruffy

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Since I don't know a ton about tuning it seemed like some great info in the previous posts (thanks for that). But this post is now making me skeptical. Building sawhorses or a bench is one of the simplest tasks in the world. Buying a kit to do it is overkill and overpriced. Makes me wonder if maybe the same is true for the tuning gear you are recommending.

Oh fercripsaks! Building a sawhorse without a kit, is easy as falling off a log. Yes, of course it is - any 10 yo can do it. So is tuning your own skis; however, some skiers, apparently, are not as handy as others; otherwise you'd all be tuning your own skis or snowboards. I just threw it out there as a quick and easy option to get a tuning bench up and running - take it or leave it.

I guess I should have said: "you can build your own bench or use one of these kits if your carpentry skills are lacking"
 

dlague

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We ski about 30-40 times per season and to bring an entire family work of gear to get tuned up regularly get expensive - so I decided to put the money in to my own setup!

built my own work bench
built blocks (U shaped) to hold skis for edges (the U) and lat flat for ironing.
use a regular vise with magnetic rubber grips
adjustable block that locks into binding (for vice) $15
bought smaller blocks of Swix wax $10-12 each 5 total 1 for each temperature range
bought one of each bronze, nylon and horse hair brush $17 each
bought a scraper 4mm $5
Swix 6 way edge and bevel tool $30
regular home iron (will be replaced $40)
cheese cloth for dusting off wax dust

I got into it as cheaply as possible and found it to be worth it. There are a variety of techniques on youtube and while the tools may differ the concepts are all about the same. The used my bench for major tuning otherwise I did everything in the comfort of my family room and vacuumed afterwards.

The nice part of having stuff around? Quick wax changes, quick debur and edge sharpening! I often touch up by using the bronze brush to remove the existing wax followed by scraping and dusting off. Then I rub the desired wax on and brush it our with a nylon brush, remove dust, and then horsehair brush and remove dust. Do not buff it out! Prior to wax touch ups I do a quick edge sharpening if conditions will be hard/frozen in up coming weeks - otherwise I leave them alone. Touch ups are quick and your skis ski nice no mater what the weather.

I also carry wax and a brush in my boot bag!

Upgrade for next season? Roto-brushes

Bump

Wanted to post this a while back but here is my tuning station complete with cooler! It is covered with wax scrapings now!

tuningbench.jpg
 

goldsbar

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To answer the original question from a couple of years ago: Yes, it's worth it to buy your own stuff.

Rule #1-10: Never file your base edge (unless you've had your skis ground flat and you really know what your doing). Unlike side edges, the way the base edge is situated means every time you file it, even with a guide, you're creating a bigger angle.

Wax - it's really kind of optional on hard snow if you're not looking for every second. Spring slush - use the floro (sp?) stuff. Makes a big difference. Don't melt it on as the fumes are toxic.

Side edge - I use the set steel guides from SVST. The adjustable plastic systems are just fine as long as you can fit in diamond stones as well as a file. 1-2 degrees for all mtn., 3+ degrees for carving on east coast ice. "Files shape, stones sharpen." I don't completely buy that quote, but it's good to follow the file with a diamond stone or two, and maintenance can be done with just stones. Hint: You many need a sidewall scraper to remove excess material from the side of the ski to allow the stones to work.
 
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