Originally Posted by jimmy
Here's some observations and a question
You really need someone to spread the shell before you try to get your foot with the liner on it into the boot without wrinkling it.
Practice this BEFORE you heat the liner.
Heat/insert one liner at a time, i did not heat the shell.
I used a conventional oven with the liner wrapped loosly in foil.
Use an oven thermometer to check the temp.
I cut up some cotton socks to use instead of a plastic toe cap, taped the foot bed (not a custom) to my foot, and put my thinnest ski sock over it all.
I put my alpine wraps into new boots last year without reheating them.
What does the board do that clicking into the bindings on both skis won't?
There are very good observations here. I've done the DIY 3 times (so consider my limited experience) and boot fitter once (wasn't a boot fitter by the standards of this site - just happened to have the title at the shop I was in - my mistake). They have been since checked by real bootfitters and I was told I did a very good job. There is no slack or slop and I can only wear the thinnest of socks. At the start of the year, I can only wear sock liners until I get my weight down closer to 170. Throughout the day I have to adjust the buckles as my boots heat up and my feet sweat. The liners have no wrinkles or creases.
I used a convection oven and like mentioned I believe that is key. You should do a couple dry runs until you've encountered all the obstacles that WILL happen. Everything from footbed didn't go in right to being all buckled up, toe on the 2x4 and noticing you're beer is too far away to reach - that could have been devastating . Don't just do it in your head; actually go through the process minus the cooking part.
If you don't have a convection oven, go get a toaster convection oven. It's big enough and cheap. By used. You can probably get one for fairly cheap off craigslist or something and then resell it for the same price.
I was fortunate enough to have a ragged pair of intuitions that weren't going to be used so I got to practice on those.
Get an oven thermometer and go through the heating cycle a couple times so you know how long it takes to get to the correct heat and how long it will stay there. The knob on the oven with numbers on it has nothing to do with actual temperature inside the oven.
Know that if you used a small convection oven, the liners are going to expand and if you aren't careful, can touch the heating coil and burn your liner. Yes my good liners have a tiny scar. My practice liners were wraps and my new liner was a tongue style. On the tongue liners, the sides of the liners expand out. When laying on their side, that means up.
When the liners come out of the oven - THEY ARE HOT! They are also pretty close to jello so handle with care. I wore very thin work gloves. You can go without them but I didn't have to worry about burning my hands and it stalling me. I noticed when the shop did them, the person doing the molding quickly pulled his hand out of the liner a couple times because he touched the liner on the inside with the back of his hand while putting in the foot bed. This wasted precious time.
I made a boot spreader (even though I have a three piece shell). Just mounted some old bindings to a piece of 3/4 plywood with some hooks on it and was able to tie the boot "open". Practice the whole take it out of the oven, put in the foot bed through buckling boots a couple times. Skis with bindings will hold the boot but they won't help hold the boot open. You want to inflict the minimum amount of stress on the liners as possible while sliding into the boot. Practice.
Put everything right next to each other. My understanding/tolerant wife let me take the convection toaster oven into the basement for the night. In one area with nothing more than an arm reach away, I had the oven, chair to sit in with the board with bindings right in front situated so I was facing the tv (off until my boots were buckled) and of course my beer. The tools were laid out where I needed them (i.e. gloves on, panty hose on top of boot, shoe horn laying on binding board, 2x4 next to board).
Wear your ski boot on the other foot too. So if you're molding your right boot, already have the left boot on. You'll have better alignment.
I wouldn't do anything extreme in trying to get extra forces simulated. Stand straight, elevate the toe and make sure you heel is set.
Make sure there isn't anything that is going to snag the liner when you slide it in the boot. I used a panty hose (Shhh. Wife still doesn't know this is the reason she was missing a pair) and slid the liner into that once my foot was in. This needs to be practiced to get it to go smoothly.
Since I was doing this myself, I tried a couple different "get the liner in the boot" methods and went with the one I could do comfortably, but by trying others, if something happened, I had on the spot options to go to.
Do one boot at a time. Be meticulous. Move as fast as you can once the liners come out of the oven. You want them in the boot as fast as you can without damaging them.
I had a very long shoe horn that I got from Red Wing boots. This eliminated getting the heel of the liner snagged on the back of the shell. Again, practice.
Tell whomever is home what you are about to do and to not disturb you at all until you're done. I'm sure the bootfitters of this site could mold a liner, sell skis, and do calculus all at the same time. I had one shot at the title and had to focus in like a EOD tech trying to decide which wire to cut.
Toe caps are a must. Don't think you'll get a tighter (i.e. better) fit without them. What you'll get is black toe nails and cold toes. You need a little wiggle room.