Which one holds better? I'm sure that what boot you are using matters especially with bi-material boots, so assume a Dobie 150 :)
Grind then punch or punch then grind?
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no laser point answer.
if your question is related to technique and getting a punch to last, there is no relationship between a grind or a punch. meaning that the best way to get a punch to be permanent, is proper heating of the plastic. this is the most common failure. the assumption that because the outside plastic is smoking, the boot is hot enough to make a permanent stretch. we see it everyday at the shop, skier walks in and says that they have had the boot punched twice and it needs to be punched again. and when you look at the boot it is obvious that if it had been punched, the punch was no longer visible. that equals not enough heat into the plastic to make a permanent shape change.
if the question is about which way to go to get the best fit result, i would say that it totally depends on the size and location of the bony prominence.
if you are a centimeter short in length, you could get the centimeter by putting a nice toe punch in, then grind to suit for final adjustment.
if you need .5 of a centimeter, you could accomplish that in a dobi 150 with a grind at the back of the heel and a blind grind at the front of the toe box.
for me the choice looks like this:
if the spot needing room looks big, as in bigger then the shell wall thickness can accommodate, i will usually punch first, so i have room to touch up the size with a grind.
i will grind first if i have confidence that the size of the bony spot and the shell thickness are a love match. the reason for caution is that once you have ground the shell, making a perfectly clean aesthetically pleasing shell stretch becomes very difficult to make.
you can usually "touch up" a shell stretch by increasing the size of the punch, or by grinding a bit. if you have ground first, it can be more difficult to either stretch it or grind more.