Ski’s and snowboards need a little maintenance to get the best performance from them and to ensure they will last. With the right tools it is possible to do most of this yourself but if you would rather the experts do it for you here is a guide of what to ask for and when.
New Ski’s / Snowboards
Most come from the factory ready to go, however the wax in the base is usually a very basic wax designed to protect the base material from drying out during shipping and while they are in the shop. I prefer to ski or board this off and then get them waxed after 1-2 days.
Wax and edge sharpening
Mid winter conditions - Every 5-7 days
Warm / spring conditions – Every 3-5 days
Summer / glacier conditions – Wax every day!
Base Grind, Edge and Hot Wax – Every 10–14 days
As and when needed. Look for scratches in the base and any other damage.
There is not really anything to do to maintain bindings other than give them a clean when they get dirty.
Storing your ski’s / snowboard
At the end of the season get a full service done ready for the next season and ask for storage wax. This is an extra layer of a basic universal wax that is added over the base and edges to stop the base drying out and the edges rusting. You will then need to get this extra layer scraped off just before you go.
Remove them from their bag and leave them standing up against a wall or in the back of a wardrobe. Do not leave them lying flat as they will flatten out and loose their shape.
What’s Wax for? How sharp do I need my edges to be?
Yep there’s a lot of jargon in servicing, keep reading to find an explanation of the different servicing options and what they do. If you need advice you are welcome to ask us!
This is essentially a rub on wax, sometimes it is a wax that is applied with a little heat and sometimes it’s a liquid wax that is applied with a pad.
A buff wax is a temporary solution that will realistically last 1 day and will need to be re-applied.
I would never pay for a buff wax. If you need a quick wax and don’t have time to leave it with the ski shop you can buy the rub on wax and do it yourself for the same price. Generally the bottle will last for quite a few applications.
Wax is applied to the base of the ski / board with a special iron, as the base material (P-Tex) is heated the wax is melted into the pores of the base material. As you move along the snow, friction melts the snow creating a thin film of water which sticks to the wax. Its this film of water that you run on. If you have no wax on the base the snow can feel sticky and you don’t go very fast.
There are lots of different compounds of wax that are for different snow conditions. If you have them done in-resort they will often use the wax for the current snow conditions. If you are having them done in the UK, ask for a wax that is appropriate for the time of year you are going eg if you are going in March ask for a spring snow wax.
Hot Box Wax
A Hot Box Wax is not something a lot of workshops offer but really should be. The base is hot waxed with an iron then the ski / board is placed in a “hot box” for a few hours. The heat over a longer time allows the pores in the base to absorb more wax. Meaning the wax lasts longer and you go faster too.
If the workshop offers this service I would highly recommend you get it. Its more expensive but once you get it done once you will get it done again.
The sharpness of the edges of the ski / board will determine how much grip you get on firm / icy snow. Now when we say sharp we don’t mean they can cut you, in-fact a properly serviced ski should never cut you! We are talking about angles and this is where things start to get complicated. Beware that if you want to change angles this will take material off the edge, reducing the life of your equipment.
Side edge angle – This has the greatest effect on grip when carving. The more angle you have here the more grip you get, but a sharper angle will wear quicker and need sharpening more often.
- 90° - Practically blunt
- 89° - Factory setting for most new equipment
- 88° - Good sharp angle suitable for most people
- 87° - Racer / Aggressive
- 86° - Serious Racer
- 85° - On the factory race team and get a new pair every week anyway.
Base edge angle (bevel) – This will affect home much grip you have when skidding / sliding. The more angle you have here the more forgiving the ski / board becomes (you must put the ski / board further over on its edge before it grips). It is easy to put more angle on the base edge, but if you want to go back the whole base of the ski will need to be ground flat reducing the life of your equipment.
- 0° - What? Are you crazy? This will give maximum grip but will catch edges very easily.
- 5° - Most will have this setting from the factory.
- 1° - This will make the ski / board more forgiving in edge grip. Better for less experienced skiers / boarders.
- 2° - Beginner. They will slide easily and be very forgiving.
- 3° - Freestyle – Putting more angle on the base edge will allow the ski / board to slide easily on the boxes / rails without catching edges.
- Round – Most freestylers use a file to round off the base to reduce edge catching.
Now here is where things get complicated, the combination of the two angles gives you an overall angle. A 90° side angle and a 1° base bevel gives you an overall angle of 91°, a 87° side angle and a 1° base bevel gives you a overall angle of 88°. The lower the overall combined angle the more grip it will give you.
The average skier / snowboarder will need somewhere between 88° and 89° side edge angle and 0.5° and 1° base bevel.
The workshop technician will grind the base of the ski / board flat. This will remove small scratches in the surface and help the ski / board run smoother. There are 2 main types of base grind;
- Belt grind - The base is run over a giant sanding belt which removes small scratches in the base.
- Stone grind - The base is run over a large revolving stone which cuts a pattern of small scratches (know as structure) in the base. The pattern can be changed according to the snow conditions.
There are lots of repairs that can be done, depending on what damage you’ve done. Scratches in the base can be filled, whole sections of the base can be replaced, cracked and ripped out edges can be replaced.
We will be working on a DIY guide to ski servicing in the future, in the mean time there are lots of instructional videos on Youtube about servicing that show you how to do most things. Just make sure its one made by a ski workshop that knows what they are doing!