If you’ve been skiing for a while, it’s time to learn how to tune skis yourself. Getting them tuned at a shop gets expensive in the long run.
How important is tuning? Well, it’s crucial if you want to pour the speed on or make sharp turns without snags. So, you’ll get a lot of use out of knowing how to tune skis at home. And get this! It’s easy.
HOW TO TUNE SKIS
A basic ski tune-up consists of a few simple steps. Tuning the edges is the main event. However, touching up the base and applying new wax are also important steps.
Learning how to tune skis is simple. And if you use a complete ski tuning kit, the whole process will be smooth.
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REPAIRING THE BASE
Base damage is pretty much inevitable when you ski. When rocks and other hard things in the snow leave scratches and dents, it affects the way your skis glide. Thankfully, it’s easy to fix.
What you need
A base repair kit gives you most of these things. The rest is easy to supplement.
CLEANING THE BASE
Keeping things clean is essential when learning how to tune skis.
First, scrape the base to remove any excess base material. If there’s a stubborn piece, use a knife. Then, brush the base to remove any dust and debris. Go over the whole ski.
Next, we need to remove some wax around the damaged area. So, put some base cleaner on it and let it sit for a few minutes. Lastly, put some rubbing alcohol on a towel and use it to remove the base cleaner residue.
REPAIRING WITH P-TEX
Once the base is clean, we can start the repairs. Light one end of your P-tex stick with a lighter or a match. It starts dripping quickly, so make sure to hold it over something you don’t mind dripping on. The metal scraper is a good idea.
Since you’re dealing with molten plastic, you must be careful not to burn yourself. This is the only hazardous step of how to tune skis.
Next, drip your P-tex into the gouges and scratches of the base. Keep the dripping tip close to the surface to prevent splashing. Also, don’t hold the P-tex stick directly against the base, or it may burn it.
First, let the repaired base cool a bit. Then, scrape off the excess P-tex with your metal scraper.
That’s it for base repairs. Now for the main part of how to tune skis.
TUNING THE EDGES
Burrs and rust along the edges make your skis slower and may worsen handling. Cleaning and sharpening these edges is the main element of how to tune skis.
What you’ll need
There aren’t many tools you need for this. An edge tuning kit covers everything you don’t already have at home.
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FIND THE NICKS AND BURRS
The easiest way to find the spots that cause drag is to run a towel along the edge from tip to tail. You’ll feel the towel catch on burrs, and you may even see some fibers left behind.
TUNING THE BASE EDGE
Tuning the base edge is the main part of how to tune skis.
So, wet your coarser diamond stone and use it to file down the burs with slow, gentle motions. Remember only to go from front to back and stay clear of the base material.
Then, use a finer diamond stone and make a few passes along the whole edge from tip to tail. Finish up by polishing the edges with your gummi stone to polish off any rust.
TUNING THE SIDEWALLS
Tuning the sidewalls is an essential part of how to tune skis. Also, it’s very simple.
First, wet your diamond stone and make a few passes from tip to tail. Keep it flat against the sidewall and use long, smooth motions.
Next, repeat the same process with your gummi stone. Now, all that’s left to do on the edges is to clean up. However, you may want to detune the contact points first.
DETUNING CONTACT POINTS
Detuning your contact points can make it easier to pop out of turns and avoid accidents if you’re a beginner or intermediate skier. The contact points are the spots where the ski edge rounds out on the thicker parts near the tip and tail.
You can detune a contact point by running a wet file or coarse diamond stone over it and dulling the edge. Start around two inches in front of it, and finish around two inches behind it.
Detune the base edge first, and then the sidewall. Lastly, smooth things out with a fine wet diamond stone and a gummi stone.
Before you move on with how to tune skis, it’s time to clean up. Using rubbing alcohol and a towel, remove any metal shavings along the edges.
WAXING YOUR SKIS
Even with perfectly smooth bases and tuned edges, there will still be friction if the wax isn’t good. Therefore, this is an important step in how to tune skis. Regularly waxing your skis is essential to optimal performance.
What you’ll need
It’s best to use a waxing iron. While a regular iron can work, it’s not ideal, and it could burn your skis. The easiest solution is to get a complete tuning kit with a waxing iron.
CLEANING THE BASE
Is there any visible dirt on the base? Then use a wire brush to clean it.
When there’s no visible dirt, run your plastic scraper from tip to tail twice to scrape off any grime or excess wax. Then, wipe the whole base down with rubbing alcohol and a towel.
ADDING NEW WAX
First, heat up your iron. Touch the wax against it from time to time to see if it’s hot enough. Once it’s able to melt the wax, it’s ready. If there’s any smoke, your iron is too hot.
Next, hold your wax and iron over the tip of the ski. Then, bring them together to start dripping wax onto the base. Continue down the ski in a zig-zag pattern.
Now, bring your iron to the tip and start ironing the wax. You don’t need to press it hard. Keep moving down the length of the ski at an even pace.
If you move it too slowly, you may damage the base material. However, moving too fast won’t let the wax penetrate the ski properly.
At the ideal pace, the trail of molten wax behind the iron should be a few inches long, but no more than five. Also, make sure that the ironed wax covers the whole width of the ski. If not, you’ll have to add more wax and start over.
SCRAPING AND BRUSHING
Before you continue, the ski must cool for about an hour after waxing.
First, use your plastic scraper. Hold it at a 45-degree angle and scrape in long strokes with firm pressure. Start from the tip and use overlapping strokes until there are no more wax shavings.
Next, it’s time to clean the sides. For this, use the short ends of your scraper to avoid damaging the main scraping edges.
Then, use your nylon brush to clean out the tiny ridges in the base. Keep brushing until there are no wax flakes. Polish off the result with the horsehair brush. Take your time, because it gets better the more you brush.
FRESHLY TUNED SKIS!
Now you know how to tune skis like a pro. It’s easy if you get a proper ski tuning kit.
Paul Grove has been passionate about hunting for as long as he can remember. He recalls hunting squirrels with his dad’s trusty Winchester Model 63 as early as age 9. As he grew older, his hunting interests, tactics, and gear have refined. He was also fortunate enough to be born in Wisconsin, thus having unhindered access to some of the nation’s best whitetail deer hunting spots. When he’s not chasing deer or other large to massive game on public lands, he is field-testing various fishing gear in a never-ending quest to find that perfect fishing setup. Is his passion for hunting and fishing innate or acquired? Paul believes that it is more about passing down a family tradition.