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Not your average edge question.. (materials)

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
So I was out on the hill recently riding the lift with a buddy of mine, having a discussion about ski tuning. We both tune our skis regularily (almost every time we're out), anyway we were discussing specifically how long our skis held a good edge, and how convenient it would be to have a pair of skis that held an edge for more than a few days on hardpack or ice. I like my skis incredibly sharp, and I've been wondering for some time if ski manufacturers are making any effort to improve edges in general. I'm thinking more from a material perspective than from a design perspective. I've thought a lot about the pros/cons to using a harder metal, say stainless and what effects that would have on the ski's characteristics, and usability.

For instance, a stainless edge would hold an edge for much longer than a plain carbon steel edge, and of course would resist corrosion better. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] However, the increased brittleness of the stainless might prevent the ski from flexing as designers would like it to (but couldn't that be taken into account). Also, stainless edges would be a pain to sharpen by hand.
With the variety of high tech metals available today, you'd think that manufacturers would be able to find an alternate soultion for carbon steel.

To anyone's knowledge, have any of the manufacturers tried alternate materials for the edges of their skis?

post #2 of 19
Yes! they have!

Have you tuned Fischers?

'waste of good files!

By the way, Stainless Steels, as a family, are NEVER going to be as good as tool steels!

I don't really know who makes "ski edges", but I bet there are very few mfg. out there. Tooling $$$$

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by CalG:

By the way, Stainless Steels, as a family, are NEVER going to be as good as tool steels!
Just a side question. What's do you consider a "tool steel"? From my very limited material science experience I was under the impression that a lot of high grade stainless steels were used for tooling applications. I realize that "stainless steel" is a very broad category, but I'm curious as to what manufacturers have experimented with, and with what results? Do the fischers have "stainless steel" edges? Or are they just a harder than other brands?
post #4 of 19
Tool steel high carbon steel.
Carbon is the hardening agent, but these steels are vulverable to corrosion.

Chrome vanadium steels have enhanced toughness,

The industrial suppiers of knives (as in veneer knives in the lumber business)and band saw blades have the technology.
Starrett, Lennex Latrobe steel, etc are names in the field.

Schick and Gillette must have an "edge" on corrosion resistance, and also have the strip processing to an art.

No Fischer ski I have was fitted with SS edges. They all rusted.


post #5 of 19
Titanium has been finding it's way into a wide variety sports gear (e.g., bicycle frames and components). Does anyone know whether or not titanium would make good ski edge?
post #6 of 19
It won't
post #7 of 19
The steel materials used today seem to deftly walk the tightrope between, hardness and strenght and flexabiblity. They are easy to sharpen, the edge lasts for quite a long time (longer for less agressive skiers in soft snow, shorter for more aggressive skiers in hard snow and ice). They are durable and resist rock dings and they are low cost when compared to exotic materials.

My advice it get a good pocket file and touch up the edges every night.

I dont see any pressure to change the edge materials and doubt it will happen in the foreseable future.

post #8 of 19
There are lots things about stainless that are missunderstood . Brighter and shiny stainless it is not necessarily better than carbon steel , just different . At higher costs it wouldn't make sense to use a material that is not going to make a huge difference For instance stainless does not mean rustproof ,just resistance to varying degrees . A 440 series stainless ( good kitchen knives)would have no better edge quality than a 1095 hi carbon steel(tool steel)but likely less. Stainless in better grades that would be needed to hold an edge like carbon steel would need a higher carbon content , they will still oxidize and deteriorate in wet conditions and are more expensive . Stainless does have the advantage of being more maintenance free in some cases but as for sharpening skis it shouldn't be noticable . Personally I like stainless to work with but would rather have a high carbon knife over stainless for sharpness and lasting edge . I work with and sharpen all kinds of milling equiptment and prefer carbon steel over stainless for lasting longer.
As for the rust thing , well I think theres alot of worrying about some thing thats not going to make a huge difference , after all what we want is an edge that stays sharp longer and with that comes carbon and then the rust .........we'll all be gone before it would rust through anyway.
post #9 of 19
Just a few extra points. Tool steels are steels that have high percents of alloy ingerdients added to them to adjust thier hardness or toughness and are heat treatable. I will disagree with you Leeroy that a 1095 is not a tool steel but a high carbon steel that is heat treatable without the addition of carbon in the soaking stage (as done to 1018 for case hardening). A tool steel such as 4140 (chrome/moly) is tougher and harder them 1018 in its unhardened state and has a higher resistance to rusting due to the alloy additives. SS are tough as stated above and is just a plain pain in the butt to work with. Ti is a great metal as well but again more tough them hard. What is the steel used in edges I haven't got a clue with out detroying a pair of skis and doing some tests on the metal (heat treatment and hardness testing). I would hazard to guess something like a 1045 due to the hardness of the steel for its application and the sparks thrown during grinding.
Just my $.02 worth and then some
post #10 of 19
Artimus I stand corrected on the designation of 1095 , it's been a while since I have had to deal with those numbers . This has tweaked my interest though , now I am wanting to get the answer.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
So back to the original question.. Are any ski manufacturer's trying anything with new edge materials? Have any skis come out in the past with anything other that standard plain carbon steel?
post #12 of 19
Originally posted by Leeroy:
Artimus I stand corrected on the designation of 1095 , it's been a while since I have had to deal with those numbers . This has tweaked my interest though , now I am wanting to get the answer.
OK, Leeroy can't keep his metals straight and by his admission has some trouble telling milk from whiskey. Who to believe. Oh well debating the minutiae of metals is a nice disstraction of the usual debate of minutiae of the centre of mass versus the base of support. He keeps saying he'll prove his metallurgical talents but it's yet to be seen.
post #13 of 19
L7 , I knew that addmission of a glitch in the grey matter was going to atract your attention . And the shop is open buddy so bring the beer ........oh ya just so you know my centre of mass is directly over my base of support. ( except on New Years and other choice occasions).
post #14 of 19
Just to add to what Vita-Man had posted about the plasma edges on fishers.

One will only find plasma edges on lower end and intermedate skis. Advanced and race skis still have normal edges. The whole idea about super heating and hardening the edges on low end skis is that these are the skiers that don't understand that a ski shopuld be tuned. These are the skiers that haven't gotten it yet. I think it's a good idea.

If you want to tune these skis you are in for a lot of work, unless you know a trick to get started. Use a brand new coarse to medium diamond in your file guide. Run it along the edges a number of times until you can't see the black line from the plasma treatment. After this you should be able to use a normal ski file and sharped your edges to any degree desired.

Interesting topic. I enjoyed reading everyones posts. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

post #15 of 19
Ski edges are usually made of SAE 1070 steel (or a similar European grade) hardened and tempered to a hardness of 45-52 on the Rockwell C scale. This provides an edge that is durable, machinable, and not overly brittle.

Tool steel is what they make files out of, among other things. If you made edges of tool steel you couldn't sharpen them and they would crack when the ski flexed. Not good.

Stainless wouldn't corrode as quickly. That is the only advantage. It would dent more easily, and because it work-hardens so much it is much more difficult to machine and therefore to sharpen. It would be an excellent edge material if you never intended to sharpen your edges.

Titanium has a low elastic modulus compared to steel and a high yield stress, and it doesn't corrode easily. A titanium edge would probably resist dents pretty well and stay sharp for a long time, too. Again, if you could figure out a way to sharpen it with ordinary shop tools, you might have a nice material for ski edges. Expensive, though, and not noticably better than steel.

Plasma hardening is a way to produce a martensitic structure in steel without a large amount of carbon in the steel. Martensite is very, very hard. You produce martensite by heating steel to somewhere around 1550-1600 degF in a furnace or by induction heating, holding it at that temperature until austenite forms, then cooling it rapidly (often by dunking it into oil). If you cool it fast enough, martensite will form. If not, you'll get softer forms like bainite, ferrite, pearlite, or a mixture of them all. These are different phases of steel, so it is like freezing water to form ice, except that the "ice" is different depending on how fast you freeze it, and instead of the liquid water you start with another kind of a solid.

Hardening or heat treating is not the same as tempering. Tempering generally softens steel that has been heat treated to a high hardness and at the same time improves ductility and toughness. Very hard ski edges, regardless of how they were produced, would be more susceptible to chipping and cracking, more resistant to denting, and impossible to file without carbide tools. The whole thing is a compromise; a small dent can be fixed, a crack or a chip means you toss the ski in the dumpster.

The best thing to have is an edge that is resistant to being ruined, that can take a sharp enough edge, that is easy to tune, and that lasts at least as long as the rest of the ski. Steel does that as well as anything, at a reasonable cost.

(Caveat: I am not a metallurgist, but I play one on TV.)
post #16 of 19
Just had flash backs to my metallurgy class. I couldn't have said it any better.
post #17 of 19
Just a note:
high carbon bearing steels (tool steels) can be heat treated to a wide range of hardness values. From machinably soft, to glass hard. Files may be softened, reshaped, then rehardened and tempered to serve a new purpose.

"tool steels" are usually formed in a soft state, then heat treated (hardened and annealed) to suit the application.

Ski edge materials might be advanced by some of the new lamination processes. But, as indicated, the present use of steel is not too bad.

post #18 of 19
In a Bethlehem Steel test on cold-rolled sheet steel (I don't know what the carbon level was) they found that it took 24 hours under a continuous salt water spray to produce the first rust. That's a lot more severe than skiing on a salted glacier, at least as far as the steel is concerned, and I don't believe it is anything to be especially worried about. It wouldn't be a bad idea to wipe down the skis with a damp cloth and dry them after skiing, so any salt residue there may be doesn't sit on the edges for a long time.
post #19 of 19
How much would you (being anybody) say skiing on a heavily salted patch of snow, such as Mt. Hood or Blackcomb Glacier in the summer, affect the edges of a ski?
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