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Machine tune vs. hand tune

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
If you can get your skis tuned on the most technically advanced, state of the art machine can you get as good of a tune as a hand tune done by someone who knows what they're doing?

Do pro skiers on the World Cup circuit get their skis tuned by hand or with a machine?
post #2 of 18
No and no.

Could they invent a machine that does as good a job, probably, but not worth it.

The finest knives in the world are sharpened by hand, there is a reason for that.
post #3 of 18
I have been real happy with the tune Northern Skiworks have been putting on my skis. Their computer controlled $100K machine does the job.
post #4 of 18
I would trust one of the ultra fancy computerized machines with a competent operator more than I would the hand tunes at most shops.
post #5 of 18

Hand tuning...

I find if there is a lot of work to do as far as getting edges back to a consistent bevel and get the ski flat again, I first go with the machine operated by a competent operator (maybe once a season). After that it is important to hand tune to finish the job. There is a lot of work to finishing that can't be duplicated by a machine.
There is also a major difference between a high performance hand tune and a racer tune.
So, NO, a high quality hand tune can not be duplicated on a machine, BUT a machine is important when a lot of work needs to be done.
Need to remember that a freshly ground ski is a slow ski. Once a ski goes on a machine for a grind it needs A LOT of hand brushing and multiple waxings to get the microfibers under control.
Barb
post #6 of 18
Barb, Welcome to the site.

I agree with most of what you say. Sounds like your involved in racing or were. Your last sentence is where I have the problem. Thought true, for most of us it really makes no difference.

When my son was a J3 he was told to have his skis stone ground the night before a race. Without any further waxing then what the shop did, he moved up 15 places then where he was finishing. He was having his skis tuned by a different shop then we normally used, that was a lesson he learned.
post #7 of 18
I think a machine grind is OK once and a while, if done right, but I prefer hand tunes in the interim. For the people that get machine grinds all the time, doesn't it start consuming available base and edge material after a short while? I hand tune my skis every 2-4 days, depending on conditions, and can't imagine them lasting as long if they were machine ground each time.
post #8 of 18
Regarding base flattening or structuring, the machine wins that one hands down.
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voltron View Post
Regarding base flattening or structuring, the machine wins that one hands down.
I like that play on words…

Certainly getting a response other than human superiority on this site should not be anticipated. Of course our nature is to bias for Paul Bunyan in a steam shovel competition. And this bias, for our purposes, is well founded.

I recall a video of Doug Coombs posted [somewhere on Epic] where he demonstrated his tune process [with a mandatory beer by his side]. It appeared to me no machine had such one pass precision while shaving sidewall and setting a 3 degree bevel as did he. Seeing the way he expertly held his file in hand clearly showed competency from years of experience. A feel and feedback loop could not be more accurate delivering the results.
post #10 of 18
A fresh grind isn't always slow - there are conditions where it could be faster than a thoroughly prepped ski as Max suggested (really wet snow comes to mind). However, there are so many variables ... pattern on the stone, how the ski was "finished", etc, that I would have to say it's not typical for a newly tuned ski to be as fast.

As a woodworker (Woodee, get it?) you learn that power tools make short work of a big job, but power tools can't compete with the hands for fine work. That said - bases are so hard these days you can forget about flattening or structuring them at home.

The biggest benefit of tuning your skis by hand is that they're tuned THE SAME WAY EVERY TIME. If someone different tunes your skis every time how do you know what you like? So take your boards to the shop to grind 'em when they need it, but tune them yourself by hand until then.

You should run out of side edges before you run out of bottom edges and base.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDenver View Post
...the way he expertly held his file in hand clearly showed competency from years of experience. A feel and feedback loop could not be more accurate delivering the results.
I've been tuning my own skis since 3rd grade. I've tuned litterally thousands of skis working in ski shops, mostly by hand, before the wintersteigers were as prolific as they are today. We had grinders, but they weren't the self-fed types either - all done holding the skis so effectively also "by hand". I also have a lot of experience with the fanciest of grinders after that ...

Your comment made me chuckle becuase a few people have almost screamed in horror when they saw me tuning because I hold a file differently then they're used to seeing ... he's not using a file guide!!! Aggghhhh!!!

I always try to reassure them to "don't try this at home".
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prosper View Post
If you can get your skis tuned on the most technically advanced, state of the art machine can you get as good of a tune as a hand tune done by someone who knows what they're doing?

Do pro skiers on the World Cup circuit get their skis tuned by hand or with a machine?
No - don't do it.

On my last tune, I asked them to simply get 'em flat and put a nice structure in the base. The shop guy talked me into the letting them do my edges too - with their super expensive machine. The bases were great and the edges looked fine, until I noticed that they rounded (not detuned - rounded) the tip and tail edges - about 4" on both ends. I like my edges sharp from tip to tail. He never asked if I wanted my tips and tails de-tuned and I never asked if they do that. I should have! I did ask a lot of other questions and it's a good thing I did. Had I NOT asked a lot of questions, my SL skis would have come back with 1/1 base/side edge bevel PLUS rounded tip and tail edges.

This was the 1st and last time that I'll let an operator with a machine do my edges. I tried to save time and ended up spending WAY more time getting my edges back the way I normally have them setup. Plus, I had to remove a lot of edge material to get rid of the roundness at the tip and tail.

Hand jobs are better than machine jobs - IMO.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by m_piet View Post
... Hand jobs are better than machine jobs - IMO.
Must ... not ... go ... there.

But, you've hit on exactly what I was trying to say. People tune skis differently. If you don't tune them yourself then you're skiing a different tune every time you take them in.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodee View Post
Must ... not ... go ... there.
Actually, I think some may prefer machines [not that there is anything wrong with that] For example; I think Woody Allen liked the one he stepped into [in Sleeper?] as well as Jane Fonda’s experience [as Barbarella]…but I think Jane short circuited that one… :

Now, back to the handy work of hand filing...
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by m_piet View Post
On my last tune, I asked them to simply get 'em flat and put a nice structure in the base. The shop guy talked me into the letting them do my edges too - with their super expensive machine.
I called my local ski shop to ask what kind of machine they have (new Wintersteiger ceramic disc) and to see if they would just do a base grind to flat and base restructuring. I have my own equipment to set the base and side edges. The guy I talked to on the phone told me that the cost is the same for a base grind/restructuring as a full tune. He also tried to tell me that a machine tune is as good as a hand tune and that the World Cup skiers are all getting machine tunes now. I smelled BS and just wanted to check it out.

So, should I go with just the base grind and restructuring and do the rest myself or should I get the full tune and then touch up as needed throughout the season?
post #16 of 18
Mike de Santis is a big advocate for machine tuning.

http://www.summitskishop.com/ptc.php?page=PTC
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voltron View Post
Mike de Santis is a big advocate for machine tuning.

http://www.summitskishop.com/ptc.php?page=PTC
Yeah, it'd be nice to have a ski properly prepped - preferably right out of the box.

Then you tune it by hand.

The edge will dull quicker in some places, or slower in others, but it will dull. At that point you don't need to ship 'em back for the overhaul (I geuss there are those that can do that often for whatever the skis need, but those of us that can't ... ).

Just side file.

I'd say you need both machines and hand tuning. Echoing RR's comment there is a reason chisels are sharpened on a machine, but then finished by hand.

I'm a long time Volkl fan, and my experience has been that they've had the most consistently good out-of-the-box tune compared to most other skis.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prosper View Post
He also tried to tell me that a machine tune is as good as a hand tune and that the World Cup skiers are all getting machine tunes now. I smelled BS and just wanted to check it out.

So, should I go with just the base grind and restructuring and do the rest myself or should I get the full tune and then touch up as needed throughout the season?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Voltron View Post
Mike de Santis is a big advocate for machine tuning.

http://www.summitskishop.com/ptc.php?page=PTC
And therein lies the answer: "It depends." :

If you are talking about Joe Average machine operator, a machine tune won't even be close, and could result in significant dissatisfaction. If, however, you are talking about a consumate pro tuner such as Mike de Santis, the answer is "Yes", and then you can maintain the tune beautifully by hand for a long time if you know what you are doing.
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