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The diamond stones are used in ski and snowboard tuning, to quickly polish and maintain the edges, which are usually a harder steel.
The main criteria for choosing these stones is their hardness:
- 100 or coarse, for repairing dings and hardened steel when the edges hit rocks or other edges etc
- 200 or medium, used after filing, to smooth out the edge, good enough for training
- 400, 600, 1000 and higher are used to polish the edges, for racing, go as high as you care to go...
The different manufacturers and styles of stones have color codes, but these are different, so pay attention and try to stay within one brand. As a review for the many brands/types of stones I have tried, in the order of preference, they are:
- Moonflex - these are the best and most expensive. Quick work, good bite and last a long time. Get a yellow 400, stick it in the 1 degree base bevel guide and leave it there.
- Tools4Boards - you can find them from 16$ to 30$ and are good. Lots of diamonds, pattern similar to moonflex and sturdy metal backing. Too wide/thick to fit some base bevel guides though and a bit cumbersome to use, but I like them.
- Swix - good price and quality, nice to use. Their red 200 feels more like a rough 100, but they are good stones and will fit pretty much any tool. The only issue with them is a funny pattern on the back, which gives you some hassle with some guides, but not a big deal. Note that they have cheap plastic stones and more expensive ones with metal backing. Both work well.
- DMT - cheap but also won't last long
- Kuu - they have a DMT-like stone with the same properties but diamond shapes instead of round like the DMT. They wear off quickly.
There are generally short and long stones. I tend to use the short ones, but there are some base guides that only accept the long stones. At the same time, I ended up with an SKS adjustable base bevel guide that does NOT accept the long stones (which are wider) so do your research.
You can find most of these online, for decent prices, at www.mec.ca and www.racewax.com.
All the stones above need a solution of 50% water and 50% rubbing alcohol. I have a small plastic spray bottle (I think it was for eyeglass cleaner originally) and filled that with this 50-50 mix and spray on the stones frequently.
I have settled into the following procedure:
- do the ski in 3 sections: front, under binding and tail
- slightly reposition the stone and wet it before each section - the idea is to wear the stone equally and also expose a clean area every time, for a consistent finish
- work each section maybe 5-10 times back and forth
- reposition the file slightly (pull it out a bit), squirt some water on it and move to the next section
- wipe the section you just did with a piece of paper towel. Check that there is a black soot coming off the edge.
While working it, pay attention to how it feels and also look for a dark paste to form, from the water and metal particles, indicating that the stone works fine.
After using the stones, always clean them: spray with the sollution, brush with an old toothbrush or a small brass brush and dry with papertowel - they will last a long time this way.
If you get some wax and/or plastic on the stone, spray it first with base cleaner, give it a minute and then clean it.
With the metal backed DMT stones, make sure you don't use them when the diamonds are gone - I have seen people use them until the metal backing was gone as well. Get a new set of stones every season, eh?
Don't bother going tip to tail: diamond stones cut properly in both directions.
Go from left to right on one edge, flip the ski and go right to the other - it helps wear off the stone equally.
Read on for even more Ski Tuning Ideas.
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