20 Tuning Tips
Whether you’ve already been on snow or still waiting for the snow to fall it’s the perfect time to check your tuning gear. Are your files dull or diamond stones worn out? Is the running plate on your file guides scored or dirty? Is there anything in need of repair from last season? Do you have enough wax? Now is the time to repair, clean, replace and stock up on necessary equipment. You should also think about how you’re storing your tools. Are your tools all thrown into one bag or box or are they separated into compartments. We recommend you store them in a manner where they don’t touch each other? High quality tools are expensive and the majority of them should last a long time with better organization.
Similar to tuning a race car you need to know its current state & condition before you start adjusting certain things. We recommend looking at 6 fundamental parts: to be sure all are in good working order. 1) Bases: check the flatness of the base with the true bar and inspect the condition (are there big scratches and is your base grind visible throughout the whole ski), if there's any major imperfections you’ll need to fix them. 2) Edges: Are they sharp? are they smooth? is there edge missing? is the edge separating from the base? if there is de-lamination occurring causing the ski to not perform as well as it could? 3) Sidewall: Is it smooth? are there gashes/holes? is there too much sidewall near the edge? 4) Top sheet: are there gashes that could be smoothed out? is the top sheet cracking? 5) Plate: are the screws holding the plate onto the ski tight or loose? is there movement between the plate and the ski? are the plates centered on the ski? 6) Bindings: Are the bindings positioned properly on the ski? are the binding screws tight? are the DIN settings correct? are there any cracks visible on the bindings? This only takes are couple of minutes but it’s very important to assess so you can take the necessary steps to fix or replace anything before you get out on the mountain again.
You can't tune what you can't see so make sure your tuning environment is well lit with lots of high powered lighting. There’s many choices in regards to lighting these days so be sure to choose one that it best for your health and the best visibility to prevent an unnecessary tuning injury.
When tuning your skis or board it's important to be aware that there are multiple ways you can injure yourself . Whether it is a sharp edge, a slip of the hand, or lack of concentration, sooner or later a cut is going to sneak up on you. Since most of the tuning is done with your hands it is highly recommended to use cut-resistant Kevlar lined gloves. Secondly, tuning can get a little messy at times especially when using edge lubricants and different waxes. Wearing gloves will also protect your skin from these potential irritants. Lastly, wear an apron to protect your clothes. This way you won't have to worry about getting wax or dirt on them.
Tuning skis creates contaminants in the air such as smoke, metal dust and fluoro-carbons from certain waxes to name only a few toxins, and not all tuning rooms have the necessary filtration & ventilation systems required to keep the air clean. Tuning skis can create contaminants in the air such as smoke, metal and wax particulate, fluoro-carbons to name only a few toxins and even though they are often in very low quantities, not all tuning rooms have the necessary filtration and ventilation systems required to keep the air clean. Therefore, wearing a respirator is an essential tool to have in your tuning kit to help shield your lungs from unwanted particles and toxin in the air. We recommend to wear a mask that blocks out not only dust particles from waxing but also all volatile organic compounds. So whether you’re using an electric edge grinder, waxing, or brushing (especially with rotos) a face mask is always the way to go.
After waxing we often just leave our iron to cool and many layers of wax builds up near the bottom of your iron. We often unplug our iron after waxing and just leave it to cool. You can tell who those tuners are by the numerous layers of wax build up near the bottom of their iron. Leaving wax on the iron just makes it a stronger magnet for dust and debris making it easy to transfer to your bases slowing them down. The best solution is to get a shop towel and wipe down the entire iron once it's unplugged. Start at the base and work your way up to the sides then the handle. This will be easiest when the wax is still soft. ***BE CAREFUL*** since the iron will still be hot. So be sure you wipe quickly with the folded towel.
A lot of the time we leave a build-up of excess wax drippings on the tuning table and scrape it off infrequently. The leftover wax collects dust, particulate, and edge filings and leaves you with a dirty tuning environment. We often allow excess wax drippings to build-up on the table. The leftover build-up of wax drippings collects edge filings and other debris leaving you with a dirty tuning environment that can transfer to your bases. One way to save time cleaning is to make a cardboard cut-out that will cover your table while you wax. Simply cut a long strip of cardboard or multiple short ones and tape them together so that they are as long as your skis or board and a few cms wider. Cut out slots so that your vices fit through and you’ll never need to scrape old wax off your table again! Simply remove the cardboard when you aren't waxing and you'll have a nice clean tuning table.
Tuning, waxing & scraping your skis and boards can be very messy. The best way to clean is done by a simple paint brush. Whether it's brushing off edge filings, wax scrapings or wax dust after brushing, a paint brush is an essential tool for cleaning. We suggest at least a couple different shapes and sizes with thinner softer bristles for getting in tight areas around the bindings and also when brushing the bases and top-sheets.
Over time brushes can get a build-up of old dirty wax, oil from your hands and debris from tuning your edges that will spread back onto your bases when brushing. The best way to clean them is to use a shop vacuum or high pressure air. These are both great at getting rid of all excess material stuck in between the bristles! Hanging your brushes up, not setting them face down on your bench and putting them in their Sidecut Brush Bags after each use are other ways to help keep them clean and last many years longer.
This is mainly for steel and brass brushes but can also be done with nylon and horse hair. Sanding brushes helps reduce the aggressiveness of new brushes and may also revive older used ones. Start off by taping a large piece of 600 grit silicone carbide sand paper to a hard and flat surface. Begin brushing the sand paper just like you would the base of the ski except with light pressure. Make sure to sand the brush in the same direction as you would when brushing your bases. If you are using multi-directional brushes then we recommend either going back and forth or in a circular pattern. The same procedure can be done with roto brushes as well. Just be sure your drill is on the lowest speed setting and only very light downward pressure is applied. By sanding the bristles you are reducing the edge at the end of the bristle allowing you to produce a better polish on your bases. Remember to store all of your brushes in our supplied protective bag.
When sharpening your edges small filings can get lodged between your file guide and the base. As you press the file guide onto your base you can push these filings into your base or worse... SCORE YOUR BASE as you slide your guide. Be sure to inspect the running surface of all your guides (file, diamond, sidewall and top-sheet guides) prior to each tuning session. If dirty scrape them with a plexi scraper followed by a quick polish with your blue then green gummi stone to remove any superficial markings. If your SS plate is scratched or has a burr it’s essential your remove it prior to tuning. Start off with 600 grit silicone carbide sand paper and work your way up to 1000 grit ensuring the sand paper is on a hard and flat surface. If you’re unsure check the flatness with a true bar to get a better indication. You can choose to do this wet or dry. Wipe clean and you’re ready to tune. Remember to store all of your guides in such a way that they won’t get bumped by other tools.
When sharpening your edges small filings can get lodged between your Guides and the base. As you press the Guide onto your base you can press these filings into your base or worse... deeply mark YOUR BASE as you slide your guide along. The great way to protect your base is to apply a strip of painters tape directly on the base close to the edge & down the full length of your ski. Once you're done one side simply peel the tape off and re-apply it to the other side. The tape may leave some residue which can be easily brushed out.
Similar to keeping your bases and edges scratch free and polished, keeping your iron polished will help increase performance. It’s also important to know that scratches on your iron could be transferring to your bases causing unnecessary damage. Start off with 600 grit silicone carbide sand paper and work your way up to 1000 grit ensuring the sand paper is on a hard and flat surface. If you’re unsure check the flatness with a true bar to get a better indication. You can choose to do it dry or wet. Make sure you follow the contour on the base plate of your particular iron. For example go around the curved edges to assist with spreading the wax evenly over your ski or board. Once your iron is polished, clean it off with a paper towel and a few drops of isopropyl alcohol. You know you've done a good job when you can almost see your reflection on the ironing surface! A sanded and polished iron will make waxing that much easier and more enjoyable as it simply glides over your bases. Be sure to store your iron in such a way that protects the base plate.
It’s very important to maintain your sidewalls if you want to be faster on-snow. Similar to the ski base, the sidewall makes a huge amount of contact with the snow and therefore needs to be very smooth to reduce friction. After using your sidewall remover it is very important to go over the sidewalls with 200-400 grit silicone carbide sand paper. This will take care of any imperfections you may have after removing your sidewall or left over marks from the factory. If necessary you can work your way up to a 600 grit sand paper or a fibre-tex pad as a finishing touch. Check out our website for a complete and detailed how-to video on preparing your sidewalls.
When applying wax with an iron it can often flow over the edges onto your sidewalls particularly in the center where it’s narrowest. The wax that drips onto your sidewall may also seep into your plates and bindings and is time consuming to clean after each wax session. An easy way to save time is to use masking or painters tape applying it to both sides of your ski before waxing. This helps keep sidewalls clean and bindings working properly. Lastly, do a final inspection ensuring all wax is removed, as the tape catches most, but sometimes - not all the wax.
Over time files & stones wear out and won’t sharpen your edges as easily as they once did. However, wax & edge shavings building up in your files and stones is most often the cause of poor sharpening performance. We recommend using a specific file brush to clean files and your isopropanol/water mixture (or Sidecut polishing oil) to keep your files and stones in pristine condition. Storing them in their separate containers, sheaths or wrapping them in cloths also extends their life and improves their performance.
How to fix rock damage on your edges.
How to clean your bases.
How to increase your files longevity.
What to do after your skis or board have been through the stone grinder.
© 2023 Sidecut Tuning All Rights Reserved