Edge Tuning GuideThe Edge Guide:
Many recreational skiers will argue that you do not have to tune a new ski. This philosophy is a good one unless you really know how to tune a ski. If so, you should follow the steps in this guide before you ski the skis and at least give them a light tune. Waxing is something that you should not compromise on, and new skis should be waxed at least 3 to 5 times before they ever see snow. Race skis usually require a base grind (unless the race room ships them prepped), a hand tune, and 10+ coats of wax.
Put your skis onto the vice with the bases facing upward. Scrape any excess wax from the base with the plastic scraper, and proceed to use the brass brush to get any remaining wax off the base. Wipe the ski clean with a rag and you should be ready to attack the edges.
Decide what bevel you will be using on your skis. It is best to have this bevel preset by a shop tune and to only be touched up when you have rounded the edge, or there are significant burrs on the edge. The base edge should not need to be done very often, and should not be done often, because excessive base edge tuning will result in a base-high ski, in which the edges to not touch the snow when the ski is flat on the snow.
Note: Before the process below, you may want to skip ahead to the side edge sharpening and use your side bevel and diamond stone to get rid of any burrs.
Put you ski into the vice with the base facing away from you (People will tell you to always work tip to tail, but this only matters if you’re really good with your left hand, otherwise you will never tell the difference between the edges that were tuned from the tip or from the tail.). Select you base edge bevel guide, and put the file into it with the tail facing up and away from you. Hold the guide on the base and pull toward you in long even passes down the ski. Very few passes should be needed, but you will be able to tell when the edge is sharp by pushing your hand down across the edge (parallel to the base).
Note: If burrs are present on the base edge you will have to use a diamond stone before using your file. Insert the diamond stone into your base guide, and run it along the base at your selected bevel. Diamond stones are multidirectional, so do not worry about running it the wrong way on the ski edge. Make sure you wet the edge or make a solution of alcohol and water as to not damage the edge or the stone during this process. Start with a course stone, and work down to a fine stone, or until burrs are not present. At this point you can start with the file as was stated above.
Strip the sidewalls if necessary, to gain full access to the edge. This will not hurt a cap ski. Companies actually make square of round blades depending on the type of ski you are planning on using the tool with. Usually cap skis like Atomic recommend the round blades, while sandwich skis seem to do well with the square blades. Run the tool along so that the blade is cutting just above the edge. Many people like to smooth the sidewall after this process is done, but if done properly, you should be left with a very smooth surface.
After stripping the sidewall (usually done only once or twice a season) use a diamond stone with your selected file guide to remove burrs and rust. Wet the side edge (water or a mix as described above) and place your diamond stone on your side edge file guide that you have selected. Run the file guide so that the diamond stone is in contact with the edge and will remove any burrs. The smooth surface of the guide will run along the base. The stone will sit on the top side of the guide, and pass along the edge (same for a file).
Once your edge is burr-free you are ready to start using your file. Place the file on the guide so that the tail is pointing away from you. Angling the file on the guide is usually a good tactic. Getting the feel for this process with take some practice. Pull the file/guide along the ski in smooth, even passes with your dominant hand. You will be removing material, as well as sharpening the edge. Make sure you are getting edge off the ski, but also maintain contact with the file guide and the base. The pressure should never be so much on the edge that you lose your angle with the file guide/base. Put the pressure against the base, and lightly on the edge (just enough to remove material). When you have made your initial passes with your main file, switch to your second cut file and lightly go over the edge. This will get rid of any burrs that the more aggressive files can leave. When the sharpness of the edge feels even (and sharp enough to cut you) you should be all set.
At this point you should be done. Wipe the edge with a rag every so often to make sure you are not grinding the filings into the edge. Your first tune may take a LONG time. Usually if an edge goes without a tune it becomes round - which takes a long time to correct. When you are done; make sure that the edge feels like a freshly tuned hockey skate. This type of tune will hold on ANYTHING. On ice it will wear to a normal edge after a day or two of hard skiing, but it will get you where you want to go in any conditions.
Try to learn the factory specs or manufacturer recommended specs for you edges for you skis. Many manufacturers will send your skis already set at the angle that they need to be set at, while others will send them at 0/0 and rely on the shop or user to tune them into spec.
Waxing is next…