Tuning Blog

by John Ellis, U14/16/FIS Coach, Gear
Geek, and SprongoMan.



  Where to start? Here's an
introduction to basic daily tuning

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  • 19 Oct 2011 9:26 PM | John Ellis (Administrator)
    If you don’t know me, I am a CMAC coach and gear geek. I have tuned several thousand pairs of skis, and can feel very minute differences between tuning settings on snow. So let’s get going!

    Pre-Season Setup:

    Q: “All our new gear is here- NOW what do I do with it?”

    A: Excellent question! You can bring it to your favorite Trusted Tuner (World Cup Skier Service and Sturtevant’s come quickly to mind). Or if you are more bold, pickier, a cheapskate or some combination of those three, you can follow my New Ski Prep!

    Tools required: The basics (Bench, Vise, Brake Retainers, Files, Stones, Plastic Scraper, Waxing Iron, Wax, File Guides) + Fibertex (Scotch Brite), Sandpaper, Sanding Block, Sharpie Marking Pen, Sidewall Puller, and True-Bar.

    1.) Scrape any wax off of the bases and brush the skis out completely. The bases must be free of surface wax.

    2.) Check the bases with a true-bar. Set a light on the tail of the ski pointing towards the tip so that the true bar will make an excellent shadow. If the base is flat, only stripes of light from the structure will show as you drag the bar along the base. Low spots will be bright, high spots dark.

    3.) Evaluate the results from above.

    A.) If the bases are quite flat, move on to #4.

    B.) If the bases are NEARLY flat, the high spots can be brought down in a reasonable time with a coarse file, sandpaper, and a scraper (or a base-flattening tool… if you have one). If you need more detail, ask!

    C.) If the bases are quite uneven, it is best to have a Trusted Tuning Shop grind them flat before moving on any further. Once flat, move to #4.

    4.) Set the initial base bevel. I generally set the bevel at ½ of the final setting.

    IE: initial setting= .5 degree, final setting = 1 degree. This is to keep the scrapers from riding on the micro-burrs on the edge. It simply makes the work easier. Start by blackening the edges with a sharpie. Then make 1 or 2 passes on each edge with a sharp file  in a guide. Two passes should be enough.

    5.) Pull the sidewall with a “sidewall puller.” Clever name eh? I try to only cut away the minimum material needed to file the ski. I can always cut more later,  but adding material is impossible.

    6.) Blacken the edge, then grab a coarse, very sharp file and your side edge guide. The ski should be on edge in the vise, with the base away from you. Always work from tip to tail if at all possible. With a tanged file, the tang should be pointing away from the direction of motion. So working from tip to tail, the tang would be towards the tip. Make long, overlapping strokes and smoothly cut the side edge until all the black has been removed. You should be quite close to your desired bevel now. Repeat on the other 3 edges, then smooth/polish all four with a diamond stone in the guide.

    7.) Begin Waxing/smoothing/conditioning of the bases. First, warm scrape (iron on wax, heat well, then scrape while still liquid) repeatedly until the wax coming off is the EXACT color of the wax going on. This process will remove most impurities from the bases.

    8.) Begin wax-cycling the skis. Wax the skis (with PLENTY of wax), iron in well (5-10 minutes a ski), allow to cool 45 minutes to 1 day, then scrape and brush completely. Repeat 5-10 times, and hot-box the skis with a very warm (soft) wax if possible.

    9.) Final prep the ski: Scrape, brush, and set the final bevel.

    10.) Go Skiing!!

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