One of our new tools for this season and beyond is the Ski Visions Base Flatteneing and Structuring tool. here are the tool instructions:
A ski base must be flat for optimum ski performance. The SkiVisions Base Flattener is a powerful planing tool designed to quickly flatten and structure a ski base with a minimum of expertise, effort and potential for error. (Patent # 4,884,343)
Note the position of the M label on the Ruby Stone blade. Each Ruby Stone blade has two grit surfaces, two non-grit surfaces. It is important that the grit surfaces be positioned in the tool correctly for maximum cutting performance. However, if you position the stone in the tool incorrectly it will be evident by its reduced effectiveness. There are four cutting edges on each stone.
Is base flattening and structuring with the SkiVisions Base Flattener expensive? NO! It is true that you have to make the initial capital investment in the tool and inserts, but thereafter all inserts are re-sharpenable an infinite number of times and RARELY need replacement. We show you how.
What is unique about the SkiVisions Base Flattener? It is the only effective hand tool ever produced that provides a superior alternative to stone grinding or flat filing.
Why is this uniqueness important?
•Flat bases are a critical element for properly tuned skis
•Convex (base high) bases are rounded and the edges will act dull
•Concave (edge high) bases will make the edges grabby
How is the uniqueness accomplished?
The Base Flattener is a large and powerful planing tool that can eat either just plastic or plastic and edge metal depending on the blade used.
The new Ruby Stone Blades (see description below) are 6 inches long and come in fine, medium, coarse and extra coarse grits for different structures cut into the base plastic while you are flattening it. The Ruby Stone Blades require no skill to use. Since they cannot cut metal to any significant degree, you cannot cause problems that aren't easily corrected. Frequent true bar use to check your work is all that is needed while using the Ruby Stone Blades.
The steel blade requires some skill and care when using it, but it is a powerful blade that can slice through steel and plastic on ski bases simultaneously and can be re-sharpened an infinite number of times (see Blade Maintenance)
How to use the Base Flattener
The Base Flattener is a push tool which means you push it down the ski base from behind the tool.
The Base Flattener is pushed in the tip to tail direction only. Use only light pressure with the steel blade, moderate pressure with the Ruby Stone Blades. Use overlapping strokes and pull the tool back between strokes. The primary pressure is applied with your back hand on the large hump, the front hand on the small hump is primarily there to guide and control the tool.
Look at the picture to the right closely, you will notice that the stone blade is lifted off the ski base yet the front black glide bar is on the ski. We recommend that when you are pulling the Base Flattener back for the backstroke that you leave the front of the tool on the ski base, but that you pick up the back of the tool slightly so that the blade does not touch the ski base at all during the backstroke phase.
The Ruby Stone Blades only cut base plastic when the grit is exposed, the grit gets clogged with base plastic and needs to be cleaned frequently by brushing with the brush which comes with the Base Flattener.
Note: For the past several years the Base Flattener has been weighted for the purpose of dampening it when using it with the steel blade. With the new Ruby Stone blades and the three zoning technique described in the Advanced Techniques section, we no longer think dampening it is either necessary or desired. However, if you wish to dampen your tool, the internal cavities on the top side of the tool are filled with about 10 ounces of pea gravel, available at you local landscape supply, they will give it to you for free, remove all the screws. separate the tool, fill the upper, deep cavities, and re-assemble.
The New 6 Inch Ruby Stone Blades
The new Ruby Stone Blades are completely different from the old stone blades, they are sharper, more powerful, easier to use, produce far better results, leave an incredibly clean and hair free base, and can be re-sharpened numerous times, which re-sharpening returns them to near new performance. If they are sharpened so many times they no longer fit in the tool. folded paper shims can be made so they can still be used. They have a very long useable life.
The Ruby Stone Blades come in fine, medium and coarse. The tool comes standard with the medium grit blade, the fine and coarse blades are accessories. Which blade is best for you? See Base Structuring Decisions below, which also describes varying the amount of structure each blade imparts on the ski base based on the amount of pressure applied to the Base Flattener. Also, note the lines at each side of the stone, they are critical to how the blade is positioned in the Base Flattener and how it is re-sharpened according to the instructions below. (See Blade Maintenance)
New for 2008 is an extra coarse Ruby Stone Blade whose purpose is base structuring for spring snow conditions, and, a more aggressive blade for flattening convex bases quickly, just remember to de-structure the base with finer grit stones or the steel blade before setting your desired final structure. You can also reduce the coarseness by dressing ONE of the grit sides lightly which reduces its coarseness and it leaves better base finish. If you want to use the extra coarse blade as a flattening blade for convex (base high) edges, it is a good idea to dress one side, it will still cut quickly.
Note the position of the stone blade in the Base Flattener, it is important that the lines are positioned as shown. This gives four cutting edges for each stone as it is re-positioned in the tool. Two sides of the stone have exposed grit, two sides are smooth with no exposed grit, they are the re-sharpening sides. (See Blade Maintenance)
So what is so new and different about the Ruby Stones? There are two different types of stones that can be used in the Base Flattener, silicone carbide and aluminum oxide. Lets review.
Silicone carbide stones should NEVER be used in the Base Flattener. Their grit is sharp and their cutting action is one of tearing, tearing cutting action leaves very hairy bases, hairs on bases are bad, bad, bad.
Aluminum oxide stones have a cutting action more like polishing than cutting, hence, a much cleaner base with little in the way of hairs.
The new Ruby Stone Blades are aluminum oxide stones, the highest quality aluminum oxide grit there is, and, they have two unique characteristics that make them particularly effective. First, the grit is much sharper than standard aluminum oxide so they cut more rapidly. Second, the grit fractures to new sharp points, much like the diamond grit on a fine diamond file, so that when the Ruby Stones are sharpened as described below, their performance remains consistent with (although not quite as sharp) as a brand new stone, the sharp new points being replenished every time it is sharpened. They take only minutes to re-sharpen, which also re-flattens them, so doing it frequently really pays. They are, quite frankly, the best of all worlds.
The Ruby Stone Blades give skis better performance than stone grinding. Why? One of the important aspects of sintered polyethylene bases is that they are porous, the porosity naturally allows the base to absorb more ski wax, and, it helps reduce surface tension and thereby increases glide. Because a Ruby Stone cuts the polyethylene so cleanly, the pores are left open. Stone grinding, on the other hand, causes the polyethylene to move laterally (smear or creep) on the base due to the speed and pressure of the stone resulting in the pores getting partially covered up with plastic "creep".
Using the Ruby Stones is a "no-brainer" approach to base flattening and structuring. Just keep them off the metal edges, which cause them to wear excessively. You can feel when the stone is on the metal edge, use the steel blade or the SkiVisions Ski Sharp to bevel the edge before continuing with the Ruby Stone.
Also, when the ski is convex (base high), always flatten it with the Ruby Stones, never the steel blade, the steel blade is only for concave skis.
Always clean the wax off your base with wax remover before using the Ruby Stones, wax will clog the grit.
Base Structuring Decisions
What is structure on a ski base? It is the process of roughening it to reduce surface tension. If your base is very smooth, surface tension, simply put, is suction from a lack of air between the base and the snow, which slows its glide. Very smooth bases tend to be very slow bases.
As a general rule, you want to use the most coarse structure to minimize surface tension, rougher surfaces have less surface tension. However, it isn't that simple. New snow crystals are sharp and will dig into a coarse structure causing considerable drag. The rules need to be followed:
1. In new, cold snow the structure needs to be fine, the newer and colder the snow, the finer the structure.
2. As snow gets older, the crystal points start breaking down, so you can then go to a medium structure.
3. As snow goes through multiple freeze and thaw cycles the crystals loose their sharpness and therefore a coarse structure works best.
A simple rule to follow is to use fine and medium stones in early and mid-winter, medium and coarse structures in late winter and early spring, and extra coarse in spring
Even though there are four Ruby Stone Blade levels of coarseness, don't think you are limited to four results. With each blade, the amount of structure is not only dictated by the blade grit, but also the pressure applied to the Base Flattener when the stone is used. The best example is fine grit. If you want a very fine structure, you can achieve that result by using very light hand pressure on the tool with the fine blade, with light pressure you can get a very fine structure, heavy hand pressure gives you a deeper fine structure, you control your options.
Using your true bar
A true bar is a critical, must have ski tuning tool. It is used to inspect ski base flatness and to check the Ruby Stone Blades for flatness (see Blade Maintenance). They are easy to use but you must have a strong background light to "read" the base. We like inexpensive drafting lamps where the light can be focused at the tip. Tip the true bar up on edge as seen in the picture when reading base flatness.
As long as you have a decent true bar and a strong background light, reading your base is very simple and obvious.
If a ski is flat, there will be a solid, unwavering light band across the width of the base, it will be very obvious that is it flat.
If the ski is concave, there will be a greater amount of light coming through at the center of the base than at the ski edges ("edge high"). This will be very obvious. The hi speed steel blade and the three zoning technique (see below) is used to correct the concavity.
If the ski is convex so that the base in the center of the ski is higher than the edges ("base high"), the light band will be more narrow at the center of the base, wider over the edges. The Ruby Stone Blade is used to correct the convexity.
Keep in mind, you can also observe your base flatness just by the structure pattern. If it is consistent the entire base, it is probably flat. Inconsistencies disclose high or low spots and are generally easy to see.
Re-sharpening the Ruby Stone Blades is very quick, very easy, but you need a good quality diamond file to do it properly.
This is the SkiVisions diamond file. It is a very coarse 100 grit file used to aggressively re-dress the Ski Sharp stones and the Base Flattener Ruby Stone blades. To maximize its life DO NOT USE IT ON THE BASE FLATTENER STEEL BLADE AND DO NOT USE IT ON SKI OR SNOWBOARD EDGES, IT IS WAY TOO COARSE FOR EDGE WORK. When the diamonds are worn out, the diamond file can be replaced on the handle.
Re-sharpen the Ruby Stone Blades under running water with a diamond file holding it very flat against the blade and rubbing it back and forth the entire length on the stone blade using equal pressure and strokes along the length. Pay particular attention to the line markings on each side of the blade, they tell you which side to sharpen. DO NOT SHARPEN THE EXPOSED GRIT SIDE, IF YOU DO THE GRIT WILL BE PERMANENTLY LOST.
It is also a good idea to check the flatness of the Ruby Stone Blade before and after sharpening. Tilt the blade up on your true bar as shown in the picture then read the light band with strong background light between the true bar and the stone blade, if the stone blade is flat, the light band will be flat. This technique is the same as reading your ski base with a true bar. (See Using your true bar above). You can also use the Base Flattener steel blade for this test if you don't have a true bar.
If you look closely at the stone in this picture, you can see both the grit on the top side of the stone and the non-grit side which is smooth and multi-colored. What this picture is particularly designed to show is the grit on the very edge between the grit and non-grit side, see the roughness of the grit on that edge, that is what cuts the plastic and imparts the structure. That grit edge is restored to near new condition every time you sharpen the Ruby Stone Blades, that is why they last a very long time. But don't drop them, they are stones, they are brittle and can break. AGAIN, DON'T SHARPEN THE GRIT SIDE, IF YOU DO THE GRIT WILL BE PERMANENTLY LOST AND CANNOT BE RECOVERED.
We put a great deal of work into developing the Ruby Stone Blades and their results surpassed our greatest expectations. We think you will agree.
Sharpening the steel blade is done just like the Ruby Stone blades, except you use our sharpening stone instead of a diamond file, under running water, and you sharpen all four sides until the blade's sharpness is restored. It can be sharpened an infinite number of times, we are always amazed when we sell replacement steel blades, there rarely is a reason to replace them if they are maintained correctly.
This is the sharpening stone we make for sharpening the steel blade. It is an 80 grit green silica carbide stone and it loves to cut into very hard materials like hi speed steel. Also, when the grains of the stone break, they break into a new sharp point, much like a fine diamond file. It is best used in a circular honing pattern, rather than a back and forth pattern, which will put a sharper edge on the steel blade, just make sure you keep the stone very flat on the steel blade, no wobbling allowed.
It is a good habit to re-dress the steel blade EVERY time you use it, kind of like a barber sharpening his razor on the chair belt. Why? Because it will then cut much faster and cleaner and makes the steel blade a pleasure to use. If you use the steel blade this way, it will never wear out, will never need replacement.
If you flatten your skis regularly with the Ruby Stone Blades, you may not need this information. This technique is generally used used where you want to do lots of work on a tired ski base or one that is concave.
The three zoning approach with the Base Flattener is a technique that is used when you are needing to do a lot of work to a neglected ski, or, when the ski is concave (using the steel blade), or when you aren't getting a uniform structure pattern across the full width of the ski. You will notice in these three pictures, the amount of offset from the center of the ski for each zone is VERY SMALL. This is the Base Flattener in the right edge zone.
This picture shows the Base Flattener in the center zone, as it is normally used.
This picture shows the Base Flattener in the left edge zone. The reason for the three zoning approach is that it puts slightly more pressure on the blade directly under the center of the tool, so it quickens the flattening process.
Keep in mind, when working on the edge zones, a little goes a LONG way, and use your true bar to check your work after EVERY pass down the edge, you don't want to take off any more material than is minimally necessary.
When using the Ruby Stones to get a uniform structure on the base and to take down SLIGHT concavity, be sure to keep the stones off the metal edges. Beveling the base edge with the Ski Sharp helps.
Three zoning has two other benefits to be considered:
1. Three zoning means less muscle needed so it is a good technique for lighter skiers.
2. If it seems like you are not getting a uniform structure across your ski base, more structure in the center than out towards the edges, try three zoning, it should help.
It is common for ski bases to have waves on them, and stone grinding will not remove them, the stone rides up and down with the waves, they have to be cut off from an angle. Also, they cannot be seen. If you use the Base Flattener at an angle as shown in the picture, you will find there is more drag in certain spots than others, those spots with extra drag are base waves. As you continue to make additional passes on the base you will find the drag at that point becomes progressively less and that finally it disappears, the wave is removed. Once removed, they rarely return.
The Ruby Stone blades are the easiest to use to remove waves if the base is not concave and they aren't hitting the edges (the base edge is beveled).
You can also use the same technique with the steel blade, but you will increase the possibility of putting skip marks in the base if you do, the procedure is best done with the Ruby Stones.
Skip marks can ONLY be put in the base with the steel blades, NEVER the Ruby Stone Blades. Skip marks are caused by
•pushing the tool down the base with too much speed
•pushing on the tool with excessive pressure
•using a blade that is too dull, it needs sharpening
•The base is too smooth and slick, roughen it with the Ruby Stone
•Trying to do too much work too quickly
•you have a rock hardened/damaged edge section next to the mark
You won't put in skip marks if you keep the blade nice and sharp and use the tool with a lighter touch, letting the tool do the job rather than over-muscling it. If you have a rock hardened/damaged section it needs to be polished out with the Ski Sharp Ruby Sharpening Stones before flattening with the steel blade. However, if you like using the steel blade and you tend to put in skip marks, add the pea gravel as discussed in the note section just before the section "The New 6 Inch Ruby Stone Blades" towards the beginning of these instructions.
If you do put in skip marks, they won't damage the performance of your skis, they just don't look very good. To remove, angle the Base Flattener and use the Ruby Stones, the angle used coming from the opposite angle as the skip marks in the base, they have to be cut off from a cross-angle.
New skis generally have concave sections, why ski manufacturers can't solve that problem is a mystery, but they can't. If you get a new pair of skis and they are flat, you are lucky.
The problem with new, concave skis that needs particular attention is that the manufacturer may have accidentally hardened the edges with the stone grinder, making your job to flatten the ski difficult if you don't know how to solve the problem. Hardened edges cannot be cut with the steel blade, the Ski Sharp files, and sometimes not even with the Ski Sharp Carbide Skiver. If you notice that those cutters don't seem to be working on the edges, they are hardened. Fortunately, the hardness is only on the surface and is easily removed with the Ski Sharp Ruby Sharpening Stones and a little elbow grease. Usually you need to use the stones until the edge is completely polished with them, then test to see if the Ski Sharp files or the Carbide Skiver will cut the edges, if yes, proceed, if no, more stone polishing work.
Due to the curvature of the ski at tip and sometimes at tail (flip tail skis) using the Ruby Stone Blade by hand can sometime work better than in the Base Flattener. Just keep the blade up on edge and follow the contour of the base to get a uniform structure across the width.
If your ski is very concave, you may want to use the flat filing techniques as described in the Snowboard Base Flattener instructions. The techniques and types of files shown produce quick results and help preserve your Base Flattener steel blade for more precise work.
It is VERY IMPORTANT to polish off the burr that is left whenever you work on metal ski edges, a burr makes the skis over-sharp and dangerous. We recommend the SkiVisions Ski Sharp for such purpose, or you can polish the edges by hand with a stone.
The steel blade falls from the tool when the retaining screws are loosened, it is sharp and heavy and should be done over your bench carefully.
Maintain a firm grip on the tool when running it off the tail of the ski so you don't drop it.
Keep your fingers on the tool and out of the way of the sharp metal ski edges. Your ski must be held in a ski vise when using the Base Flattener.