Ski Tuning Instructions

Ski Tuning Instructions
Have you ever felt like your skis weren't moving down the slope? Have you ever found turning more difficult than it usually is? The solution may be a simple ski tune. Ski tuning is the process of sharpening your edges and repairing and waxing your bases, and it can be done in the comfort of your own home. Learn how to keep your skis the way you prefer and save money from all those shop tune-ups. A good ski tuning can make a significant difference on the slopes, and the more you practice, the better your skis will feel.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Vise
  • Rubber bands
  • Cloth
  • Ski scraper
  • P-Tex stick (for scratch repair only)
  • Lighter or match (for scratch repair only)
  • File and file guide
  • Diamond stone
  • Iron (such as an old household laundry iron)
  • Wax
  • Cork
Step 1
Bring your skis inside and let them warm up to room temperature. Place them on a bench and secure them to a vise with the bases facing up. Hold the ski brakes up using a specifically designed ski brake retractor--or simply use rubber bands, which do the same job for a much lower cost.
Step 2
Wipe the bases with a cloth to remove dirt and water. Inspect for scratches as you clean. Scrape off excess wax using the ski scraper.
Step 3
Repair any scratches. Deep scratches (such as those to the core) need to be repaired in a ski shop, but shallow ones can be fixed with a P-Tex stick. Light the P-Tex like a candle and melt it into the scratch so that it is completely full. Let it cool, and use the ski scraper to remove excess and level the base again. Note that minor scratches will not adversely affect the performance of most skiers, and thus P-Texing is often not necessary.
Step 4
Sharpen your edges. Insert the file into the file guide and run the file along the ski edges from tip to tail. Make sure that you are using the appropriate bevel. The bevel, or edge angle, varies from 1 degree to 3 degrees, so check with your manufacturer to see which is appropriate for your skis. After filing, use the diamond stone in the same manner to remove any burrs.
Step 5
Apply wax. Wax can be rubbed on cold for a quick tune-up but hot wax is much more durable. There are an overwhelming number of wax types, so check with your ski manufacturer to see which is suitable for your skis. Apply the wax by placing the block against a heated iron and letting it drip onto the ski until there are many little drops of wax on the bases. Be generous with the wax application.
Step 6
Iron the ski as if you are ironing clothes. Place the iron on the base of the skis and ensure the temperature will melt and not burn the wax. Move the iron in slow, small circles, and then up and down the length of the ski, until you have melted all of the wax drops into a uniform surface cover.
Step 7
Allow the ski to cool and apply a second layer of wax. Once the ski is cool again, use the scraper to remove any excess wax and level the base surface. Scrape until very little wax comes off the skis. Buffer the bases with a cork or soft cloth.

Tips & Warnings

Professionals tune their skis every day. New skiers tune their skis once a year. Find a happy medium to keep your skis in peak condition.
Scrape from tip to tail, because that's how your skis move down the slope.
Be careful when handling newly tuned edges--they will be very sharp.

Article Written By Jackie Stenson

Jackie Stenson is a mechanical engineer working on small-scale simple technologies for developing countries. She graduated from Harvard University and is currently volunteering in eastern Africa on a post-graduate fellowship. Stenson was a hiking trip leader for both her university and a summer camp in Maine.

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