Ski Tuning Tips

Read these 22 Ski Tuning Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Skiing tips and hundreds of other topics.

Ski Tuning Tips has been rated 3.2 out of 5 based on 1119 ratings and 2 user reviews.
What is the purpose of cold weather waxes?

Temperature-Specific Waxes

Did you know that different weather conditions might require different types of ski wax? Although the universal waxes are usually suitable in a wide temperature range, skiers that desire optimal performance in all temperatures and conditions may want to consider a temperature-specific wax.

  • Cold ski wax is most suitable for snow temperatures of
    approximately 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius) and below. It is composed of a mix of paraffin and synthetic paraffins. You will notice that cold wax has a harder texture than all-weather wax. That's because hardening agents have been added to the mixture. This makes the wax more durable and resistant to the abrasion that is sometimes the result of the sharper snow crystals you find in cold weather conditions.
  • Midrange wax is most suitable for snow temperatures between 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius) and 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius). This mid-temperature wax does a good job at neutralizing the effects of moderately dry and wet friction.
  • For optimal skiing in snow temperatures of 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius) and above, consider using one a warm weather specific waxes. It is a softer wax that is composed of a mix of paraffin and silicone. Additionally, hydrophobic additives make this type wax water-repellent. Warm temperature wax is best for neutralizing the effects of wet friction.

Why is ski waxing important?

Wax On/Wax Off

Waxing involves the application of a lubricant to the bases of your skis, which in turn allows it to glide smoothly and gracefully along the surface of the snow. If you have trouble getting any speed, even if you are pointing your skis straight down the hill, it might be time for a wax job.

Professional ski waxing will require a waxing iron. Make sure that it is set at the appropriate temperature. If it is too hot, you might ruin the bases of your skis.

Start by using a base brush to get rid of any excess debris. Then, heat your iron to a low temperature, and apply an inexpensive layer of wax. This will clean the base of your skis. Be sure to use your plastic scraper to remove this wax before it cools, since you will be able to use it to clean out the rest of the debris that might have accumulated on your bases.

Next, you should apply a warm hydrocarbon base coat to the bases of the skis. For your final step, apply a thin smooth top coat of wax to your bases. Most experts advise the use of a nylon brush to smooth out the coat. However, if you are a ski racer, you might want to consider a more expensive horse hair brush.

What is the purpose of a fluoro paste wax?

Race Wax

Race-specific waxes, often known as fluorocarbon wax, were developed in the 1990s. They are composed of carbon molecules with negatively-charged fluorine atoms. Fluorocarbon waxes are known for their enhanced ability to repel water. They do this by reducing friction between the bases of your skis and water content in the snow. They also aid in keeping bases cleaner by repelling negatively-charged dirt particles

Fluorocarbon ski waxes are available in both universal and temperature-specific formulations. For example, ski racers usually prefer low-fluoro for dry, low humidity conditions, mid-fluoro wax is for medium humidity and high-fluoro wax for wet and high humidity.

Ski racers who want a Bode Miller type of edge control should consider adding a low-fluoro type of paste wax. This will improve glide when high up on the edges of your ski. It will also prevent excessive snow build-up on the ski's topsheets. These overlay waxes are available as fluoro powders, fluoro blocks and fluoro liquids and pastes.

To avoid wind dispensation, fluoro powders should only be applied indoors. Applying fluoro powders requires a good deal of expertise, so this is one wax job you might want to leave to the tuning shop guys. Fluoro blocks are powders that have been poured into a mold and compressed under extreme pressure, and can be applied by hand. However, they are only advised for long- distance Nordic ski races. Fluoro liquids and pastes are the fluid equivalent of the fluoro powders and blocks. Their convenience is their advantage. You can simply wipe them on to the bases of your race skis, and then wait five minutes for the solution to dry.

What can I use for waxing my skis while traveling?

Ski Tuning Tools

It's time to face the facts. If you are a frequent skier, your skis are going to need frequent tuning. When you take into consideration the fact that an in-shop tuning can cost between $15 and $50 dollars, the idea of buying your own tuning tools does not seem like a big expense.

Here is a list of the tools you will need to hand tune your own skis.

Base Bevel Guide
After the bases of your skis have been grounded to flat, the base bevel guide is used in conjunction with a file, in order to cut the base edge to the correct bevel. The base bevel guide can also be used with a diamond stone. This helps you deburr your base edge without altering the bevel angle of your skis.

Edge Bevel Guide
When you want to sharpen the edges of your skis, the edge bevel guide is used along with a file. Its purpose is to hold the file at the correct angle.

Files are used to cut the base bevel and sharpen your edges. A file card can be used to clean your file.

Spring Clamp
The function of the spring clamp is to secure the file onto the edge bevel guide.

Whetstones and Diamond Stones
Whetstones and diamond stones are used to deburr the bases and edges of your skis. A diamond stone can also be used to sharpen your edges.

Hydrocarbon Wax
Hydrocarbon wax is used to keep your skis healthy, smooth and slick.

Plastic Scraper
After you finish hot waxing your skis, use a plastic scraper to scrape away the excess wax.

Ptex Candle
When your bases have had too many up close and personal encounters with rocks, you can use a Ptex candle to fill in the gouges. When you have finished, use a steel scraper to wipe away the excess Ptex.

Emery File
After you finish sharpening your edges, polish them with emery paper to make them glisten.

Cork can be used to rub the wax into the bases. It is particularly handy when you do not have an iron.

In order to heat your ski wax, you can use either a regular iron or a special waxing iron.

How do I know if I need to shapen my ski edges?

Sharpen Your Ski Edges

Let's face it. You've spent a lot of money for your skis, and you've also spent many good times together. Your skis have been good to you, and now it's your turn to return the favor. Where to start? On the edge. In order to carve a ski turn, your skis need to have sharp edges. Some skiers only skid their turns. While this can be due to poor technique or improper boot fit, it is often because of dull ski edges.

  • Start the edge sharpening process by making sure that your skis are warm and dry. Then, soak some Swix Fiberlene in a product called Citric Wax Remover. Use this mixture to remove dust and dirt from your bases.

  • The initial tuning of the side edges of your skis is done with a file. Begin by placing your ski in a vise. Keep the side edge turned up and the base turned away from you. You can keep your side edges sharp by honing them with a diamond stone on a daily basis.
  • To tune the base edges of your skis, they must be placed on a flat plane. If you are new to ski tuning, you might want to darken your edges with a felt tip pen before filing. Be careful. Do not file into the base material of your skis. A nice, shiny edge indicates that you have finished filing your base edges. Now, take your diamond stone and polish up those edges!

What type of wax is common for Nordic skiers?

Types of Ski Wax

Anyone who has ever visited a ski shop might find themselves overwhelmed by the variety of ski waxes that are displayed on the counter. So how do you decide which wax to use? Basically glide wax (which is used on alpine skis, Nordic skis and snowboards), is designed to make the best use of the membrane of water that separates the ski and the snow. Essentially, smooth skiing involves striking a balance between what is known as wet drag and dry friction. An excess of water creates too much suction, whereas a lack of water will create friction. By applying glide wax to the bases of your skis, you can neutralize this membrane of water for optimal gliding.

Grip wax is used by Nordic skiers that practice the classical technique. There are two distinct varieties of grip wax: kick and klister. When there is either new snow, or older cold snow, you want to look for a tin of kick wax. Icy conditions call for klister wax. It's easy to recognize. Klister wax comes in a tube that looks like toothpaste. When applied to the center of the ski, which is also known as the “kick zone,” grip wax will help this important section of the ski maintain its contact with the snow.

Where can I find ski tuning tips?

Finding the Best Ski Tuning Tips

The dedicated skier is always looking for an edge. If you think of yourself as an avid skier, you can find great ski tuning tips all over the place. Here are a few resources that you may not have checked out yet. Take a look and maybe you will find some ski tuning tips you hadn't thought of yet.

  • Mags – There are more skiing magazines being published today than I can possibly list here. From the large publications to the small ones, you can always find great ski tuning tips from the best professionals and the keenest amateurs.
  • Online – In case you have spent all of your time on the slopes for the last decade or so, there is this great resource called the Internet. You can find ski tuning tips that maybe only one person on earth has ever thought of by checking out skiing message boards and websites.
  • Manufacturers – This is the most overlooked resource for ski tuning tips. It is also the most obvious. Each ski manufacturer will have their own tips and advice for tuning their skis.

After all, they made them. Check with your manufacturer to see what they suggest for your particular model of ski.

Should I tune my skis?

Skier's Choice

You have a variety of ski tuning options. When deciding which way to go with tuning, take into account your finances, your skiing perspective (how and what you ski), and your talent with tools. You can seek out a special shop where an expert hand will hone your skis, go for a cheap (in the short term) basic tune, purchase the tools to do it yourself, or opt out of tuning altogether. (Choose the latter at your own risk – or at least your equipment's.)

Should I use all natural ski wax for my waxing?

All Natural Ski Wax

Advances in chemical processing and compounds have made many ski wax manufacturers introduce new makes of ski wax that are not so ‘green'. For the environmentally conscious skier, you can fulfill your ski wax needs with all natural ski wax. Using all natural ski wax will give you a good waxing and a little peace of mind that you are doing your part for the environment. Many manufacturers are providing all natural ski wax as an option. There is one that has been around for a long time and produces ski wax, as well as surfing wax and wax for other sporting gear.

All natural Bee's Wax is a leader in environmentally friendly ski wax for the mass market. The benefits to bee's wax are a string hold on your skis and a completely biodegradable chemical makeup. If you want to try Bee's wax on your skis, check your local ski shop to see what they have to offer. There are other brands and types of all natural ski wax, so try a few to see which works best for you. Costs will vary for all natural ski wax, so keep an eye on your pocketbook as well as your skis.

Should I try tuning my own skis with a ski tuning kit?

Do It Yourself with a Ski Tuning Kit

The regular skier will find that their skis need a tuning more often than most. If you fall into this category, you really have two options for your tuning; you can bring your skis to a professional, or you can try the job yourself by purchasing a ski tuning kit. Professionals are an easy choice, however, a good one will often be rather expensive for a tuning. Most of them will tell you the same thing anyways… if you are a serious skier, you should learn how to tune your own skis.

So there is the second option. Tuning your own skis can be very rewarding and save you dough at the same time. You can buy ski tuning kits from many ski retailers. The internet alone has tons of different places where ski tuning kits of all shapes and sizes can be bought for a low cost. Be sure that if you are purchasing a ski tuning kit, it comes with detailed instructions so that your little investment does not destroy your major investment in skis. Anyone can learn how to tune their skis with a ski tuning kit. Look for one that matches with your type of skis and tuning needs. Your manufacturer may even provide ski tuning kits that are specifically made for your brand and type. If they do not, there are many generic ski tuning kits that will work great. Give it a shot yourself.

When should I use all temp wax?

All Temp Wax for Various Skiing Conditions

With so many variations of ski wax on the market, how do you know which type to use? Variations for temperatures, skiing terrain, and so many other factors make choosing a wax difficult for any weekender or beginner.

If you are not sure what the skiing conditions are going to be when you decide to hit the slopes, use an all temp wax on your skis and you will have a good ski no matter what the conditions. All temp wax is made from a different compound than other ski wax. The mixture of natural and synthetic materials in the wax allows skiers to use all temp wax for all different skiing conditions.

There are many manufacturers of all temp wax that provide great protections on the slopes. If you are not sure of the forecast for your next ski trip, bring some all temp wax with you if you want to be covered no matter what.

What is the best type of file for ski edge filing?

Steel Files for Ski Edge Filing

For newcomers to ski edge filing, knowing the type of file to use is an important first step. Mill files are the traditional file of choice for edge filing. Steel mill files from six to eight inches are a relatively low cost and are best for side edge filing. If you are filing base edges, you should look to go a little larger, up to ten inches. You can go even longer still if you need to file fat skis or snowboards. Hand ski edge filing is something that takes a lot of practice to master.

For newcomers, try to get a routine worked out on an old ski. Steel files can do a lot of damage if not used correctly, so here is a great tip. Find a used or broken ski from a second hand store. Use this ski to hone your ski edge filing skills. Practice makes perfect, so don't threaten your skis without getting the right amount of practice at ski edge filing before trying it on your main set.

What type of ski wax brush should I use?

Types of Ski Wax Brushes

Skiers who wax their own skis are always looking for more efficient ways to apply their ski wax and get the job done. A great way to help the process go quickly without losing effectiveness is by using a ski wax brush. A ski wax brush is a handheld, stiff-haired brush that can help you strip off old ski wax as well as applies a fresh layer. There are several types of ski wax brushes and here are a few to take a look at.

First, a nylon ski wax brush is a good option. These are typically the lowest-priced brushes for ski wax removal and application. The nylon hairs will ensure a long life from your brush through several re-waxings. Another popular model of ski wax brush is a horse-hair brush. Horse hair is a natural alternative to the nylon brush that has all of the sturdiness. Horse hair makes for bristles that are stiff and will hold up under extreme conditions. The costs of a horse hair ski wax brush will be slightly higher, but the quality won't let you down.

For more information on ski wax brushes, you can check out popular ski magazines and websites. You can find plenty of opinions on different types of wax brushes, but the best bet is to try them out for yourself. You will find the grip and bristle type that fits with your comfort and needs.

What ski tuning supplies will I need to do my own tuning?

Essential Ski Tuning Supplies

For the skier who prefers to do their own tuning, there are a few essential ski tuning supplies that you will want to have handy. Some are easier to think of than others, so here is a quick list that you can use for reference. Obviously, you will want some quality ski wax. This should go without saying. You will also want some varied grains of sandpaper. You may want to sand before you wax to get off old wax and chips that show up in the ski. Another important ski tuning supply is a flat file.

Get a heavy grade file since the file should be used for tough jobs that the sandpaper cannot tackle. Also, do not forget to have some clean, lint-free rags around. If you get any lint in your wax, your ski tuning will not go so well. There are many other ski tuning supplies that you can get based on what type of tuning you need. If you need serious help, check with a professional who can help you tune your skis. No matter how many ski tuning supplies you have, if the job is too much for you, you will want their help.

Should I tune my skis?

Because You Really Want to Ski, Right?

This message is best written simply. Keep your skis tuned. You will ski better. Your skis will last longer. When you go into a turn, you want the cleanest edge and base under your feet. You don't need rust, pits, and gouges hampering your descent. Ski season begins well before the first snow, with a trip to your shop for a tune.

Should I tune my skis?

You Might Wish You Had

On the side of a steep trail, you push your boards – cutting nice, hard turns in less-tracked snow – when suddenly, your inside edge slips! You crash! Awkwardly! Has this ever happened to you? Regular ski tuning can help skiers avoid such mishaps.

What is 'kick' wax?

Kick - Ski Wax For Cross Country Skiers

Cross country skiing requires different types of gear and supplies. From skis to bindings, cross country skiing has its own industry. Ski wax is also something that cross country skiing has its mark on, and kick wax describes a variety of waxes that are specific to cross country. Kick wax comes in a couple of variations, ‘hard' or ‘klister'.

Klister ski wax is a semi-liquid wax that typically comes in what looks like a tube of toothpaste. This stuff is extra-sticky so be careful when using it to not let it get everywhere. It is difficult to apply and is not for the beginning skier. Hard ski wax is a lot easier to handle and apply. It is a more tar-like substance that comes in a can and is best used for fresh powder and below freezing temperatures. If this is your typical skiing condition, use hard ski wax for your cross country skis.

The main advantage of kick waxing is that it provides additional friction to skiers who need to propel themselves through rugged terrain. This is what makes it so great for cross country skiing where a skier will often need to accelerate when nature and the elements say they shouldn't. If you are a cross country skier, learn more about kick ski wax before you hit the trail.

What conditions will affect my ski wax and need for re-waxing?

Conditions that Affect Your Ski Wax

Many different weather and terrain conditions will affect your need to wax and re-wax your skis. Ski wax is a compound that is often made from a combination of synthetics and natural substances. Because of this delicate combination, you may find your ski wax needs will depend greatly on the conditions in which you ski. For skiers who are skiing in temperatures below freezing, ski wax will be affected by snow structure, snow temperature, the speed with which you ski, and the humidity of the air. Each of these factors in sub-freezing temperatures will influence your need for ski wax and regular waxing. In temperatures that are above freezing, ski wax is influenced by other factors.

Snow structure and skiing speed remain important factors, however, a new issue comes into play when temperatures are above freezing levels. The moisture of the snow will now play a large role in your ski wax needs. Because the temperatures are higher, the snow will be constantly melting. This will make for different levels of snow moisture. Not only will your quantity of ski wax be affected by this, but also the type of wax you use. Choose between a hard and soft wax carefully when dealing with moist conditions.

How do I hot wax my snowboard?

Using Hot Wax on a Snowboard

There are four main steps that you need to follow when applying hot wax to your snowboard. Here is a quick guide to help you apply hot wax to your snowboard without hurting yourself or your board.

  • Dripping – First, cover your area with a cloth or newspaper. Getting wax everywhere will not help. Get your board propped up with vices to keep it steady. Use a heated iron to melt your hot wax. Get it hot, but not too hot, too much heat can destroy the wax compound. Lay the bar of wax onto the heated iron until it begins to melt and then gently flip the iron over to begin the drip onto your board.
  • Ironing – Next, use the iron to gently massage an even coat of the wax across the entire board. An even coat is essential with hot wax on a snowboard because one missed area could result in a terrible spill. To avoid damaging your snowboard, keep that iron moving constantly.
  • Scraping – After you have let the hot wax cool for a bit on the board, get a scraper and begin evening the coat out. Move from nose to tail and get as much of the hot wax off as possible. You do not want too much hot wax to remain because it will just slow the rider down.
  • Buffing – To finish the job, get a god glide by buffing the board. All the excess hot wax should be removed at this point and the finished board should fly through the powder.

Can Ptex repair chips or cracks in my skis?

Ptex - Repair Your Skis With Ease

Avid skiers will often find that they do some damage to their equipment. Skis in particular are subject to massive amounts of abuse on each run down the slopes. If you find that you have chipped or cracked your skis, but not so bas as to warrant getting a whole new pair, Ptex repairs just this type of problem.

Here is a quick guide to Ptex repair for nicks in skis.

  • Once you have found the spot that needs repair, get some Ptex repair solution and a stiff metal scraper. You will want to brace your ski with a vice to hold it firmly in place.
  • Set the scraper near the area you will be using the Ptex repair solution on.
  • Use a lighter or match to light the Ptex until it begins to melt. When it is lit, Ptex repair solution makes an unmistakable color of orange.
  • Once the Ptex begins to drip, get a few drops into the area that needs repair.
  • After a few drops have fallen into the area, set the lit Ptex repair solution aside and begin smoothing the surface with the metal scraper.
  • Do this gently as to not do further damage to the ski.
  • You are done when the Ptex remains in only the damaged area and not in the surrounding spots.
  • Finish the job with a good coat of wax and your skis should be ready to ride.

What is an easy way to do edge tuning on my skis?

Simple Guide to Edge Tuning

Skiers who want to tune their own skis need to master all steps involved in the full tuning process. Edge tuning is an important step to get right, so here are a few quick steps to help you get your edge tuning down pat. First, use a steel file to flatten any burrs or nicks in the edges. This process is necessary to get a smoother surface for your sharpener.

Once these are taken care of, use a 90-degree edge sharpener along the length of the edges. The best technique is to start from the tip and to pull the file in one direction using overlapping strokes until you reach the tail. Most edge sharpeners only file in one direction, so when edge tuning, this single stroke method is essential. Once you have a few good passes with the sharpener, the final step in edge tuning is to get out the wax.

Apply your wax according to your style of skiing. Just be sure, no matter what type of skis you have, to get an even coat that will give you a good ride and keep you safe. Professional edge tuning is available in most ski shops, so if you are not up to the task, bring your skis in and let a pro do it for you.

What happens if my skis become "edge high?"

Edge High and Base High

Do you ever wonder why you should have your skis tuned? Here are just a few answers:

  • First of all, for optimum performance, the bases of your skis need to be flat. They should also have sharp, deburred and bevelled edges. This facilitates easier turn initiation. Although your shaped skis are designed for easy turning, they are often subject to a bit of abuse. The bases and bottom edges get worn down, and the bevelled edges of your skis become dull. This can result in either of two conditions: edge high and base high.
  • Edge high skis are “afraid” to get off their edges. When you make the transition from one edge to the other, there is supposed to be a brief moment when both skis are flat on the ground. Edge high skis don't like this special moment. As a result, their turn initiation leaves much to be desired. Their behavior is erratic and “edgy,” so to speak.
  • In contrast, base high skis are afraid to get up on edge. These “timid “skis prefer to skid through the snow, rather than allow themselves to experience the satisfaction of a good carve. The truth is, both base high and edge high skis are worn out and in need of a day at the “spa.” A ski tuning is a day at the spa for your skis.
  • The ski tuning specialist begins by performing a base grind. This flattens the ski base, which in turn prevents the suction and friction that often impedes the smooth gliding experience. Once an appropriate base is established, the tuner grinds the edges in order to enhance their grip. Finally, in order to prevent oxidation, a coat of wax is applied.

Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Skiing Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!

Guru Spotlight
Jolyn Wells-Moran