Getting your skis and snowboards for the slopes |

Getting your skis and snowboards for the slopes

Sam Bauman

This is a little late but then many have not hit the slopes because of the lack of good snow on the runs. I’ve been up twice and now will wait for more snow.

Yes, a tune up on the boards is a must for fun on the hills.

You can do it yourself and have a little fun, or take the boards to a local ski shop and fork over $50 and up. But you can do it yourself. Here’s what you need to do the job:

A jig or fixture to hold skis base up (never did a snowboard so don’t know how to hold one in place, but I’m sure you can work it out)

Ski wax, a good hunk will cost around $29

A plastic scraper tool

A quality file or an edge precision sharpener tool

A heating device: you can pick up a used laundry iron at second-hand shops. Or buy a pro tool off the Internet if you’re serious and rich..

A Colorado stone or soft stone

A wire brush, Brillo cloth

A steel straight edge or ruler

One cautionary note: after you’ve moved back the tension indicator on your bindings to last year’s reading, you won’t be able to tell if the binding is functioning correctly or if due to changes in your body, skill or age you need a different setting. Without buying the torque”foot” used in ski shops, you won’t know if the bindings are still functioning correctly. Since few of us have the torque device, and buying it is costly, you should have the bindings tested first time on the hill at a mountain resort facility. Cost is maybe $5 to $10 and worth it. (Of course this doesn’t apply to snowboards, but a good check of the binding straps there is a fine idea.)

OK, so you’ve got your ski base up and firmly locked in position (one at a time, please). Take the plastic scraper and going from tip to tail, scrape off last season’s wax. Do it until you no longer get old wax curling up. Then heat up the iron (not too hot; wax should not smoke when touched to the heel of the device) and holding the wax against the hot surface dribble melted wax onto the base, just splattering along moving quickly. Just dribbles are enough. Idea is to get the wax on the base roughly in blobs so that during the next step it will spread and cover the base.

Let the wax cool for an hour and then with the heated iron go over the base, melting the wax smoothly, the width of the base. Keep the iron moving; stay in one place too long and you risk popping the P-tex base. Make sure the melted wax covers the width of the base. Put the ski outside for an hour or so to let the wax harden.

Back inside, with the ski base up, use the plastic scraper going from tip to tail, scrape the wax off the base. Go over the base several times until wax no longer curls off the ski base.

OK, I know. What’s the sense of adding wax and scraping it off?

What the melted wax does is fill in the pores of the P-tex, small openings that when moved across the melted snow suck up water and slow movement. You scrape the wax to force it into the pores. Waxing skis makes them go faster, of course, but more importantly the skis will move easier across the snow making turning less tricky. You wax not just for speed but for better control and more fun on more demanding runs.

Next step is to eyeball the skis. Holding one at an angle upwards, sight along the edges, looking for bulges. If you spot such or if the ski seems to be misaligned, you’ve got problems you can’t solve; take the skis to a pro shop.

If not, run a finger along the ski edges, feeling the burrs or gouges. You’ll want to take those out with your file. Be sure not to change the bias of the edges; the manufacturer put the right bias (that is, the angle of the edge to the surface of the base) for the ski there and you don’t want to change that. (This may not hold for racing skis; bias is tied to a skier’s style and preference.)

After smoothing out of the edges, take the Colorado stone and smooth out the edges again.

Also take the straight edge and hold it across the base of the ski; it should show that the base is flat. If the center is high, the ski will tend to skid and pivot; if the edges are high, the ski will tend to move as if on railroad tracks. In either case, the calls for a ski shop resurfacing the ski to flatten the base; can’t do that at home.

Then take the wire brush and run it down the length of the skis; you’ll pick up wax anew. This is coming from the cross hatching of the base, designed to funnel the melted show out from under the base as you ski. Finally, take a Brillo-type cloth and go over the bases once again.

And that should finish the job. Don’t forget you have to repeat this process several time during the season; wax doesn’t last a whole winter.