Ski Tuning - new skis Subscribe Pub

See also this collection Ski Tuning Guides.

New skis require special attention, to get them to glide and carve properly. By new I don't mean only straight from factory, but also second hand skis that you just got at a swap and have no idea how they were maintained. Sure, you can measure their angles and inspect their bases... forget it!

Just get them to a good reputable store and tell them to grind the bases and set the proper angles. 0.5/1 base and 3 edge is common - see Ski_Tuning_-_edge_bevels.

Base should be flat

If the base is not flat, not only will you have trouble tuning the skis, but also carving them!

IF you don't feel like spending the moneys on a base grinding - which I honestly strongly recommend you do (after you find a good shop), here's what to do:

  • clean the base with wax cleaner and then alcohol. This is the only time I use wax cleaner - base repair works better on a clean base and you also won't clog the files and/or sandpaper with wax.
  • repair any problems with the bases
  • file the bases until you get them perfectly flat and get rid of imperfections (deep scratches etc). Yes, I said file the bases - it's faster than sandpaper... you use two aggressive files banded together to make sure they're flat.
  • set the base structure (using sandpaper or a tool)
  • clean the base now from hairs and whatnot. If you used sandpaper, this step is a lot of work...
  • set the base bevel with the file - when you flattened the base, you removed or reduced the base bevel, so you have to set it again. Be very careful using files on the base edge: it is easy to over do it.
  • set the edge bevel with the file (make sure you tape the base to keep it clean)
  • hot scrape and brush with steel, brass and fibertex at least 3 times

This may take up to two nights of hard work. I'll come back and add more details here. Here's an idea of what we're talking about:

Base structure

The skis glide better when the base is not just absolutely flat, but also when the base has a structure - look at a new ski and see the structure. There are a few types of structures and there are some tools to create these structures.

The simplest structure is a straight one, which can be created with sandpaper - it is hard work because the sandpaper creates many tiny "hairs" that then have to be removed. Instead, you can use a tool like the SkiVisions Base Flattener which uses a Ruby stone blade instead of sandpaper, avoiding creating the hairs. I have this tool and it's not that hard to use - I use it on the training and coaching skis sometimes. The "real" racing skis always go to a shop, for proper grinding.

Resetting the bevels

Most new race skis come with appropriate edge bevels, like 0.5/3 for SL and 1/3 for GS. You may need to adjust these and in fact, you should reset them yourself.

I suggest that you take the ski to a base grinding session, which will also reset the base bevels, if the shop can do the 0.5 degree bevels. This will also flatten and structure the base.

For the edge bevel, do it by hand, see Changing the side edge bevel:

  • first measure the bevel (use a marker)
  • starting with a file
  • move to diamonds

One other thing that is important for race skis, is stripping the sidewall. Most racers strip the sidewall completely and polish the sidewall with fine sandpaper, to ensure a smooth glide. Stripping the sidewall completely aids in edge hold, as the edge has an easier time digging into the ice (less surface to distribute the pressure).

I've heard concerns that doing so will reduce the life of the edges, as they're allowed a little more bend, since there is less support for the metal edge. Also, some are concerned that the edge may flex a little and in effect increase the base bevel. That is possible, but I have not experienced either.

Since we're talking about race skis, the sidewall should be waxed as well, so it glides well when on edge. This is not relevant for technical skis.

Saturating the base with wax

Fill the bases with base wax: use either special base wax or a regular soft wax, give it 5-10 layers and hot box the skis. There! After that, you're ready to begin waxing them!

Swix says you can do 4-5 layers of wax without scraping (melt it 4-5 times), they recommend a red wax (not the softest) and also recommend to finish with a layer of hard wax, melted 2-3 times:

Others say to scrape and brush off each layer and give it 12 hours to completely cool off and harden.

I actually go through this routine at the end of every season, for all the training/coaching skis. Not all of them require extensive base repairs - usually it's localized deep gouges and alike. For the serious racing skis, it's a shop grind at the beginning of next season, if needed. When you have 12 pairs to maintain, getting a shop grind for all of them is not an option, not with my budget.

Further reading

Here's a great post detailing the need to "break in" the structure: Ten step new ski prep.


Read on for even more Ski Tuning Ideas.

The process of scraping & brushing will help to beat down the structure, smoothing the micro-level sharp edges & allowing the skis to run faster.

Was this useful?    

By: Razie | 2012-11-12 .. 2018-03-01 | Tags: post , tuning , base , edge

See more in: carving-blog Subscribe

Viewed 2691 times ( | History | Print ) this page.

You need to log in to post a comment!