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Building My Own Skis (AKA Diversion from Reality)

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruxpercnd View Post
We want pics! Can you tell us your design specs?
Alright, as an extension of the Ever make your own skis?
thread, as well as a diversion from studying for a final exam, here are my thoughts on building myself some skis.

I have a fair bit of experience working with composites (I worked for 5 years at Sabre Yachts (http://www.sabreyachts.com/), built two fiberglass canoes with a third in progress, plus I'm finishing a cedar strip canoe). Last fall when I started looking for some new skis, I thought to myself "I could probably make my own...", but soon gave up that thought. Then I picked up the September 2006 issue of Ski Magazine, and subsequently browsed the http://www.skibuilders.com/ site and realized that it is indeed a possibility.

Then winter came, I started skiing and forgot all about making my own skis. It's been in the back of my mind the whole time, but now that the school year is winding down (last exam tomorrow I'll finally have some time to work on this little project.

So far I have the plans drawn up for my mold. I will be using a vacuum system at first, for simplicities sake. I'm going to start out with wooden sidewalls, as many people have been having problems with the bonding of UHMW sidewalls. At my parents house back in Maine I've got a nice selection of ash, cherry and maple; right now I'm thinking a maple/cherry core with ash sidewalls. I was originally going to make a pair or two using Polyester Resin (the same used in boats, free to me) to get the process down, then switch to Epoxy, which has better flexibility and is hydrophobic (won't suck water into the glass, expensive). Giving it some more thought, I've since decided that with my previous experience I might as well go for a durable ski the first time.

I haven't yet decided on a final design for the ski, this is where i could use some advice. I'm 6' , 190lbs (will be biking a lot this summer, hope to lose some weight/gain muscle). So far I've only skied in the East (Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Smugglers Notch). Up until last year I was on a pair of Blizzard SC 20's at 180cm (before that I skied Salomon Evolution 9000's in something like 203cm for a year). These were way to soft, and it felt like I was always fighting (skidding) to make the tight turns that I desired. Even on wide open trails, I find myself sticking to the edges to get the fresh snow. My friends and I typically ski narrow, steep trails, they love the glades. I tended to stay out, as I never had the confidence that I could crank out a tight turn when necessary.

Then I bought the Metron B5's in 172 for last year, HOLY CRAP! Awesome edge hold, cranks out tight turns, gives me the confidence to ski anywhere, anytime. I'm not usually one to ski the bumps, but I found myself in some soft ones a few days in a row this last season and found myself coming back for more. The skis worked, but were a tad too stiff.

Therefore, I'm hoping to come up with something with about the same characteristics of the B5, but more bump friendly. Possibly a slightly longer turn radius as well. What do people think of as a good commercial ski for bumps and or glades in the east? I'm just looking for a shape to work from here, obviously the flex and edge hold will be determined by my construction techniques. If you've got the dimensions (tip/waist/tail) of a ski, let me have have 'em.

I'm supposed to start a new job (6 month Co-op at GE Inspection Technologies) Tuesday, but I'm not sure if the background checks have been completed. If not, then I'll have some time to head home for a few days to cut out materials and gather some tools. I'll have some lab space on campus available for the summer, so this really looks like it might happen.

Sorry about the long post, but when this project gets out of my head and onto the workbench in the next few weeks, I thought it might be fun to give some updates on the progress of the project, and, of course, a TR when I get on the new skis. If you've got some suggestions on what the best ski would be, share them and I'll see what happens. Who knows, isn't this how PM Gear came about?
post #2 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by krp8128 View Post
I haven't yet decided on a final design for the ski, this is where i could use some advice.

Have you had a look at this yet??
It's software for snowboard and ski design... haven't tried it yet, but I too am looking into custom skis... however I don't have the time this summer to work on skis.

Good luck with yours!
post #3 of 34
Thread Starter 
DJDave,

I think you forgot a link. I've got SnowCadX, as well as a trial of Boardcrafter Design. So far I like Boarcrafter better, as you can actually input parameters instead of draging things around.

That being said, I find them both to be somewhat quick and dirty, although their great if you've never used CAD before. I've used CAD since I could use a computer, and currenty have or have access to pretty much every current CAD platform out there.
post #4 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by krp8128 View Post
Who knows, isn't this how PM Gear came about?
sort of....And as well as Line, Praxis, Capitol, Igneous, High Society, Liberty...etc.

You'll have fun for sure.

Also, rather than create something completely new for your first try, you might want to try reverse engineering one of the skis you mentioned above that you really like. Might be a more efficient means of creating somethting skiable while you practise dialing in your processes.

The dudes on skibuilders.com will be very helpful for any questions that you have and you can even buy some basic materials right from their website (i.e. edges, VDS rubber, fiberglass, etc.)
post #5 of 34
You mentioned wanting to build something like the Metron B5. That would be an extremely difficult torsion box construction compared to the sandwich construction built by most small shops. The extreme side cut makes the need for lateral stiffness very high to provide edge-hold, and yet you also want a more flexible ski for bumps. For a first project bump ski, you might want to consider a ski that has less sidecut and focus on a design that is moderate in stiffness at the tip, more rigid under-foot and a flexible pin-tail. Traditionally, radical sidecut is undesirable in the bumps, and a ski that will release the tail and is soft enough behind not to buck the skis out from under you on the backside of moguls.

JMHO... Good luck
post #6 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
You mentioned wanting to build something like the Metron B5. That would be an extremely difficult torsion box construction compared to the sandwich construction built by most small shops. The extreme side cut makes the need for lateral stiffness very high to provide edge-hold, and yet you also want a more flexible ski for bumps. For a first project bump ski, you might want to consider a ski that has less sidecut and focus on a design that is moderate in stiffness at the tip, more rigid under-foot and a flexible pin-tail. Traditionally, radical sidecut is undesirable in the bumps, and a ski that will release the tail and is soft enough behind not to buck the skis out from under you on the backside of moguls.

JMHO... Good luck

Great point. While I wasn't going for the exact same construction of the B5, I was going for the same general shape. I never gave it much thought that a ski that wide in the tip may need the torsion box for lateral stiffness.

Looking around a bit this afternoon, I'm thinking more towards something with the shape inbetween the Head IM 77 & 82. The moderate stiffness in the tip and flexible tail is exactly the kind of advice I need. Any specific bump skis that come to mind?

From what I've seen, the skibuilders crowd builds ski more for the west coast and big mountains. Obviously things are a bit different here in the east. Its tough for me to focus on a design, my previous ski accusitions were all based from an econimic standpoint. When I bought the Metrons it was the first time that I actually researched a ski and bought what I wanted, they're also the first pair that I don't have to fight to get them to ski the way I want to.
post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 
Alrighty, time for an update.

Finally made it home yesterday untill the 4th. I've settled on 114-75-104, which gives me a 15.7 meter sidecut.

Today I glued up my cores, which are ash and cherry. Sometime tommorow I will profile and cut the cores to shape, and make up some more molds and templates.

I'll get some pictures up next week when I get back to a decent internet connection.
post #8 of 34
Sounds like a nice size to go with.

I am thinking about building a pair of skis at some point if I can get a house with room for a shop and then get the required wood working tools togher. For my first pair of skis I would probabbly try to make a softer mogul specific board simply becuase I think it would be smaller take less material and be fairly simple / straightforward in materials and construction. Later once i fine tuned the flex and materials, I could up size later models to make super fat powder boards with the same construction.
post #9 of 34
Thread Starter 
btw, the dimensions are 114-75-104 for a 172 cm ski with a contact surface of 146cm.

I lucked out, my father has been bringing home half sheets of Advantek sheathing (fancy particle board) from work. So yesterday I cut out my mold. Spent most of the day on that.

Today I got back to the actual skis. Got one completly cut out with the sidewalls glued on. Too many other builders are having trouble getting the P-tex sidewalls to stay epoxied in, I went with Rock Maple. Recycled wood from old bunkbeds built at the Maine State Prison in Thomaston, ME.

On the second ski, I raninto a bit of a snag. I new that trying to cut to the final size with a router was going to be risky around the ends due to the end grain, the first ski went well so this time I wasn;t paying attention. Of course, right as I came around the tip of my nice core, it split. I waited the afternoon for the glue to cure and have put the sidwalls on to cure overnight.

Tommorow will bring prifiling the cores to final thickness/taper and probaly packing the whole mess into the car for the drive back to Rochester on Wednesday. I'm thinkking of throwing another set of cores together, we've sure got enough cherry laying around...
post #10 of 34
Thread Starter 
Pics to come tommorow afternoon, the components are spread all over the living room and I'm too tired to snap any right now.
post #11 of 34
Thread Starter 
Alright, a day late, but here is my progress so far. I'll save the nitty gritty details for the skibuilders.com forum.

The left picture is of the 4 cores that I started to make two pairs of skis. The left two are completly out of scrap wood left over from making the templates and other cores. They are a mix of Rock Maple, Cherry, and 12-Ply Marine plywood. The two cores on the right, which are my "good" cores, are White Ash (milled from trees that we lost during the Ice Storm in 1998) and Cherry. The Sidewalls are Rock Maple (salvaged from old beds from a fire department, made at the old Maine State Prison).

The right pic is of the ash cores before and after running them through a planer to clean up the glue.
525x525px-LL-vbattach1948.jpg
525x525px-LL-vbattach1949.jpg
post #12 of 34
Nice! The 'provenance' of the wood is too cool.
post #13 of 34
Your work looks great so far. If you're going to be in Rochester this winter maybe I'll see you skiing them at bristol or the like.
post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ELVF50 View Post
Your work looks great so far. If you're going to be in Rochester this winter maybe I'll see you skiing them at bristol or the like.
Yep, definitaly going to be in Rochester this winter. I'm working in Skaneateles Falls untill the end of November, then back to RIT for classes untill the spring or next fall.

I went to Bristol one night this past season, a Saturday I believe, I wasn't very impressed. Considering the area, the terrain was ok, but it was way to crowded, and the snow they were blowing was almost straight water.

The only thing standing in the way of further progress is cash; I need to get edges and base material (~$50), as well as epoxy (~$100). But I'm dumping some junk on ebay, so maybe in a week or so...
post #15 of 34
Thread Starter 
For those that are interested, I'll continue in more technical detail (and more pics) over at the Skibuilders website.

krp8128's Skibuilders Journal

Please ignore the horrible spelling, sometimes I do stupid things, then I can't change them.
post #16 of 34
I hope that they ski really well for you as there is some serious effort and skill going into making them.
post #17 of 34
Thread Starter 
At this point I am just waiting to here back about lab space on campus. The lab is only open until 4:30 during the summer, so I'm trying to get key card (pretty much unlimited) access. It is hard to get a hold of people during the summer.

I've got all the materials in. Mr. Fiberglass epoxy was very helpful, and even gave me a great deal on epoxy. Fiberglass Supply sent me enough epoxy (for free!) to make at least one pair. I should have enough for three pairs, possibly four.

I just need to work out the graphics now, something simple. I've run a few quick tests at work, it looks like I can print color graphics with a laser printer. The only problem with this is that copy paper does not wet out clear with epoxy, I need something thinner (vellum or rice paper).
post #18 of 34
Thread Starter 
If anyone has any ideas or suggestions on graphics, please share. Right now I'm thinking of a blue ski with possibly some swirls.

Well we're at it, I'm looking for a good name too.
post #19 of 34
Thread Starter 
Well, things have been going real slow this summer. Work keeps me busy from 5am to 5pm, and I've been trying to bike until around 7pm every day. Being on co-op has kept me out of the "loop" in the mechanical engineering department on campus, but evidently they remodeled an old lab with the intention of either using the space for composites work or student projects.

The person in charge of the labs tells me that any day now he can get me in. First he was waiting for ventilation to be installed, now he is just waiting for locks and a certificate of occupancy to be issued. This was supposed to be done over a week ago. The suspense is killing me.

I was able to get a little bit of work done in the machine shop, but that is not the place to build skis. Cramped benches and oily metal chips don't mix with composites. It's not set up for woodworking either, so no more cores are being made. I'm looking for some more space here, as I won't be back in Maine until X-mass (if I'm lucky ).

In the meantime I have been doing some of the less physical work on the skis. I've decided that the first pair will be called "Minds Eye", after a song. Just watch this Push trailer, and you'll understand. Every time I hear that song, I picture myself floating down an untouched trail.

I've got the logo done, and the fabric for the overall graphics ready to go. I just need some room to work now.

For the past few weeks I've been trying to come up with a name for my "company". I don't ever expect to go commercial with this, but if something ever came about, it would be nice to have a name. Plus, when I get asked "What brand are those?" I can say something interesting. I've been thinking of Spoon Skis, and then I can do The Big Spoon, The Little Spoon, Wooden Spoon etc. But then I did the whole Minds Eye ski, and I got thinking again.

Right now I like Perpetual Motion, but am apprehensive, due to the abbreviations. PM, its just too close to PMgear. I could call them Perpetual Motion Skis, abbreviated PMS, with the tagline "Bitching, like your wife." (Please, don't hate me for that. I just though of it now)

What do people think?
post #20 of 34
Thread Starter 
Here, Just picture these staring at you from the tips of your skis:
525x525px-LL-vbattach2093.jpg
post #21 of 34
Thread Starter 
Well, I gave up on making these on campus, put some drop cloths down, and made a ski today.

Overall, I think it went OK. There were a few things that I overlooked, but was able to work around. I'll pull it out of the bag tomorrow and check my handiwork...

Check the skibuilders journal for more details, the link is back in one of my previous posts.
post #22 of 34
Nice man, love the journal. Your furniture is almost as nice as mine. I need a sweet-ass balcony like that though.

How did you decide on the layup wrt cloth selection and plies?
post #23 of 34
Thread Starter 
Garret,

Right now I am just going with the tried and true methods from the other builders. For the next pair I'm planning on doing a little bit of experimentation. Eventually, I would like to play with different fiber orientations, weights, and fabrics, as well as some different damping materials. This pair uses what is referred to as vibration damping foil. There is some speculation as to weather or not this is mainly designed for vibration, or for reducing the shear stress on the bond between the edges and everything else.

I'll be putting more pics up tomorrow, as well as a description of the layup.
post #24 of 34
I like the Spoon name; good thinking.

Impressive work.
post #25 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post
I like the Spoon name; good thinking.

Impressive work.
Thanks. I kind of whish that I had stuck with the Spoon name, as that really worked. But mkaing the logo was just not working out for me.

This pair is called Mind's Eye. I did the serials according to manufacture date, October of 2007, ski 1. Going with that rule, ski number 071001 came off the press this morning, it has a few issues, but is very skiable. The next one will get better.

Check the Journal for more details.
post #26 of 34
Whoa, using cardboard for the bleeder ply? Did I read that right?

If so, that is a pretty slick idea I need to try on some projects. Guess it only works on relatively flat stuff, but still really clever.
post #27 of 34
Thread Starter 
Garret,

It does work, but may leave marks on the surface. I was just reading another builders comments, and he is using some spare base material between the cardboard and his top surface. Cardboard was actually his idea, so I wish I had asked him for some trick before I did mine.

What kind of "projects" do you have going?
post #28 of 34
-car sunroof panel from CFRP (struggling with the tightly radiused flange for the rubber gasket)
-composite intake manifold with high quality interior surface finish. already tried a couple ideas and thrown a couple out.

This ski thing is fascinating though...really enjoying reading your journal.
post #29 of 34
Sorry.

Garret I didnt know you were into cars.

I built a steel buck (mock up) for a carbon fiber hood, and am contemplating cutting off the roof of my Jeep and making it in CF as well. I have not gotten to any of the FRP work as of yet though.



This is the vehicle that I speak of, its a work in progress for 10years now : http://members.aol.com/xjguy/auto/index.htm?f=fs

We now resume our regularly scheduled ski thread.
post #30 of 34
Hey, cool. I always thought the XJ in your handle was referring to the British thing. Lots to read at your site.
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