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Learning to tune...

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hey all,

I've figured out how to do my own waxing and basic edge work -- and that just to the extent that I run a quickie tool over them. My edge tool only does 0 dg. base and 1 deg. or 0 deg. side, for instance, which seems to work pretty well for my midfats. My newer skis have such a nice factory tune that i hate to muck it up by trying to do my own work. But still, I find doing my own work kind of rewarding... and for example, my midfats have seen a lot of rock gouges, and I'd like to try my hand at p-tex'ing -- though they prob. just need a shop grind and have done with it. But enough stream of conciousness.

I don't want to learn how to do the perfect race-prep, I can't afford a shop full of tools, I don't have the best mechanical skills, and I don't want to fetishize the whole thing, but I do want to learn how to take good basic care of my skis.

What I'm wondering is, does anyone know of any good web resources for learning this stuff? With everything I've found, I've noticed two problems a) they seem geared toward high-end prep (e.g. race) or specific tool sets and b) _everyone_ has a different opinion about _everything_. Anyone know of tuning clinics in the Salt Lake area? How did you figure it out, short of being a shop rat? What's the minimum set of tools to do a decent job on edges?

thanks!
post #2 of 22
Lodro,

I only got into self tuning last season when the why and wherefores where explained at a ski camp I was attending in Austria. It was a bit of a revelation when I realised you should debur daily and sharpen edges ever couple of days in exteme conditions. I was basically getting mine tuned once a year.

I am certainly no expert but my approach has been to buy seperate base and edge tuning gauges along with files and beburring stones and of course wax. If the bases need repairing I put them into the shop where they have specialist machines for grinding and profiling.

After seeing numerous serious accidents while folks where tuning skis I also bought a pair of leather fingerless sailing gloves so I have some protection for my hands

The following link is to a manual which is simple to follow and covers all the bases. There are of course numerous other sites.

http://www.tokowax.com/download/date...al_alpin_E.PDF

Cheers, Tony
post #3 of 22
There are tons of resources on the Internet. One article I liked is "Tuning for dummies" (do a Goggle search,it's a PDF and it includes not only tuning procedures but the references to the tools used in the Tognar catalog). Tognar's Web site http://www.tognar.com has tons of tips too.

If you're looking for books, "World class ski tuning, the manual" by Michael Howden is considered the "bible" by many but it doesn't have very detailed procedures, it assumes you know basics. A simpler book to start with might be "Waxing and Care of Skis and Snowboards" by M. Michael Brady and Leif Torgersen.

Practice and you'll get better. For dangerous operations like your first sidewall removal (you don't want to screw that one up on your $700 skis) a ski from an old pair saved from the trash is great for practice.

Tuning is nice, and it's also very relaxing I think (because you concentrate on that precise task).

Have fun!
dC
post #4 of 22
This is a good basic guide from a store where people from Australia can also buy the equipment.

http://www.vikinglodge.com.au/SkiTuning.html

Like any tools, setting up your "shop" isn't cheap. However the price is small compared to the cost of having your skis tuned by a pro at the same intervals. It's remarkable how often I see people spend big money on equipment, lift tickets, accommodation, and transportation, all in the name of the sport they love. Yet at the same time ski around on skis that are hopelessly out of tune.

Sure, leave jobs like sidewall removal to the pros (it normally only needs to be done once anyway), but get a basic set of tools and learn how to use them. It's not difficult and is a relaxing way to spend 1/2 hour.

I'd urge people to stay well clear of these "one tool does all" products. Like many, I began by using these and found them hopeless is practice. Quite expensive for a poor job. I guess it's like going to Home Depot, buying a cheap saw, and expecting to knock out masterpiece furniture. Like any trade, I look at what the pros are using and question why they use THAT particular tool. Normally it's not a difficult question to answer.

Contact your ski retailer and ask what the ski's factory angles are. If they don't know consider finding a better retailer (they should know this basic fact) and contact the manufacturer. Stick to the factory angles until you have more experience. Generally they will be 1 degree base and 1 or 2 side. Buy FIXED guides of those angles. I use Toko, but it seems not as popular in North America. You will need a diamond file (the "blue" colour will be ok), and a regular flat file if you tend to get a lot of rock damage.

Waxing is even easier. Go to your local second-hand or pawnshop (or whatever they're called in your region) and buy yourself a good clothes iron. They are so cheap it's absurd. Wax (Toko yellow is a good start), and a PLASTIC scraper. Follow instructions available on the net.

To recap with costs (approximate in CANADIAN DOLLARS as I'm more familiar with the costs up there)

Edges:

1 * TOKO world cup base guide to the angle required by your ski(these accept both regular flat files and diamond stones) $50
1 * TOKO world cup side edge guide to the angle equired by your ski (these also accept both regular flat files and diamond stones) $45
1 * Flat file (cost depends on whether you get a chrome one or not) like anything you get what you pay for
1 * diamond stone (Swix sells these but can by MUCH cheaper if you go to a specialist tool shop. They are made by Diamond Machining Technology in MA. Recognise them by their "spots"). Blue is compromise if you want just 1 stone. $20

Waxing:

1 * clothes iron $5
1 * Plastic scraper $8
1 * block wax (yellow) $20
1 * bottle beer $2

Total is about US 100 bucks and these PROFESSIONAL tools will last you your lifetime.

These are the basics, once you get more experience and realise that basic tuning is REALLY easy you may find yourself trading the "Workmate" for dedicated ski vices etc to hold the skis.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Pete
post #5 of 22
In SLC, contact Rennstall, should be in the book. They do the best work in the SLC area. Granted, it is 99.9% race work, but the principles are the same.

Seth Masia has a good book, (but A little old, but still valid) on tuning. Very easy to understand
give them a try-.
Good luck, and sharp skis!

:
post #6 of 22
For a long time I just used to wax my own skis and carried a diamond stone and gummi stone with me skiing for quick fixes. This last year I started actually getting interested in tuning my own skis and doing minor base repairs. Tognar's good. You might also check out http://www.the-raceplace.com/ They have very user freindly tools developed by the owner.(I'm not very mechanically inclined either). They have basic tuning info on their website and in their catalogue and also sell an excellent "how to tune" video.

Or you can go to next year's Epic Ski Academy and get a first hand ski tuning demonstration from Vail SnoPro himself. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Pete:
To recap with costs (approximate in CANADIAN DOLLARS as I'm more familiar with the costs up there)

[...]

Total is about US 100 bucks and these PROFESSIONAL tools will last you your lifetime.
That's actually very cheap. Throw in a real quality iron (US $60-$100), a nice vise ($85 to US $125), a quality edge tuner on rollers that is adjusted using shims ($70, still better than 3 individual ones at $30), a pansar file ($15), a laser cut file ($15), some good brushes ($20 each), base prep, waxes for different conditions, ... I think I spent at least or more on tools and wax this year than I did on my new pair of ski. But it's worth it (or so I tell my wife). I have 2 pairs of skis, plus my kids 2, plus my wife's if she ever skis again, and that investment in tools will pay for itself over the next few years. Not to mention that nobody but myself would have invested about 10 hours preparing my new skis. Like many things these days, the best job is the one you do yourself (or else be prepared to depart with many $$$).

YA

[ February 22, 2003, 01:19 AM: Message edited by: Ladede ]
post #8 of 22
Oh, Lodro, I had missed the part about not being too anal about it : Ignore my last message then

Ask the service department of your local shop if they can organize a clinic. If the shop is good, they will also likely be able to get some rep from Swix or Toko to demonstrate base repair, hot scraping, waxing to you, and the service guy typically would show edge tuning. It's in their interest to do the clinic too, because they'll sell tools to the participants.

YA
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks for all the great tips and encouragement guys. Talked to someone at a shop up here who really gave me some good tips too. Looking forward to getting more into this.

I already had:

Edge tool (but I will prob. not use much based on feedback here and from the shop tech)
Great Sunbeam Travel Iron that cost me $20
Plexi Scraper
Diamond Stone
Wax

Picked up today:

Side Guage (about $26)
Flat File ($10)
Combi Brush ($15)
P-tex candle
More wax
and assorted other stuff

Good thing I have an understanding wife [img]smile.gif[/img]

Still need:

Base guide
Metal scraper
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Lodro:
Still need:

Base guide
Metal scraper
The Beast guides are really nice and not the most expensive. They're still $20 for a given degree though. I think Swix sells plastic sleeves of good quality (long, with a screw to hold the file) for about $20 a set for a few common degrees, that may be the best quality/price ratio.

Metal scrapers are usually all the same and cost about $6.

Have fun tuning.

YA
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Ladede:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Lodro:
Still need:

Base guide
Metal scraper
The Beast guides are really nice and not the most expensive. They're still $20 for a given degree though. I think Swix sells plastic sleeves of good quality (long, with a screw to hold the file) for about $20 a set for a few common degrees, that may be the best quality/price ratio.

Metal scrapers are usually all the same and cost about $6.

Have fun tuning.

YA
</font>[/quote]Got the scarper -- managed to make quite a mess allready trying DIY p-tex.. Seriously, I am managing to put small gouges in the base side to side. I assume that means I'm a bit base high, since I've been guiding off the edges..?

One more question -- many folks I've talked to is saying 1 ad 1 angles are fine, but the Atomic factory spec is (apparantly) 1 base and 3 side. Should I try to tune to this angle or does it not really matter that much?

[ February 23, 2003, 03:55 PM: Message edited by: Lodro ]
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Lodro:
Got the scarper -- managed to make quite a mess allready trying DIY p-tex.. Seriously, I am managing to put small gouges in the base side to side. I assume that means I'm a bit base high, since I've been guiding off the edges..?
I am not sure I understand what you're saying? Is your scraper sitting on both edges at the same time, and you're shaving p-tex off, or is it something else?

Quote:

One more question -- many folks I've talked to is saying 1 ad 1 angles are fine, but the Atomic factory spec is (apparantly) 1 base and 3 side. Should I try to tune to this angle or does it not really matter that much?
Are you saying 1 ands 3 because of the Tognar resource (http://www.tognar.com/edgetips.html)? One thing you can do is measure the angle and see what they are, if the skis haven't been retuned. If they went through a shop prep, they usually machine tune to 1 and 1 and that may be what you have. If you do not have tools to measure the angle, you can mark the edge with a sharpie pen, then lightly run a fine diamond stone in a guide set for a given bevel. If the inside (close to base) of the ink gets removed, then your edge angle is greater than the one of your guide, if it's the outside it's the opposite.

The angle will matter. 3 degrees side is pretty catchy if you're not used to it. You can start with 1 and 2 and see how it feels, and then go to 3 only after that.

YA
post #13 of 22
Ladede: I was told by a ski shop I was in recently in Ontario, Canada that the manufacturers were all basically putting a 2 degree bevel on the side edge on their new skis.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by FlipFlopFly:
Ladede: I was told by a ski shop I was in recently in Ontario, Canada that the manufacturers were all basically putting a 2 degree bevel on the side edge on their new skis.
Maybe. That's what I'll go for on my new G4s, but my slaloms will keep their 3 degrees.

It's interesting, if that's true, that the basic tune you get at your shop is a 1/1 degree. Maybe that will change, and maybe it's related to shaped skis (I mean, the switch to 2 degrees).

Who told you that? Someone in the street or someone knowledgeable (I assume the latter [img]smile.gif[/img] )?

YA
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Ladede:
If the inside (close to base) of the ink gets removed, then your edge angle is greater than the one of your guide, if it's the outside it's the opposite.
Elagant Idea...I'll try it it.
post #16 of 22
Different manufacturers have different bevel specs based on what the regard as optimal for the skis that hey make. As an example, Fischer skis bevel spec's are generally 1 degree base and 3 degrees for the side edges. Depending on what conditions you ski in and your personal preferences you can modify the standard specs.

If you take your skis to a shop be sure you know and SPECIFY to the shop what bevels you want. Some shops will consult a manufacturer's bevel spec chart and others will simply put the same bevels on all the skis they tune whether or not it is the manufacturer's specs or not. Since most ski specs call for a 1 degree base bevel and 2 degree side bevel that is usually what you will get whether or not your ski maker thinks that is the best for their skis.

If you don't have a personal preference you should probably stick with the manufacturer's recommendation since that is what they think will work best for their skis. You can find a maufacturers spec chart that lists all major brand specs if you do a web search or you may find the bevel specs on the ski label when you buy new skis.

P.S. I would ditch the P-tex candle for a harder form of p-tex; ribbon, string or powder if you want your repairs to last.
post #17 of 22
Ladede, I did say in my post that the list was for the BASICS, and you can go from there.

Lodro, be very careful of using a travel iron. I know it's tempting because they are an ideal size to haul around with you, but they have a reputation of really poor temperature control. I'd suggest going to a second-hand stoor and buying a quality iron which will only cost you a few dollars anyway.

As suggested by Lost, different manufacturers have different bevels, although 1/2 is popular don't assume that's what it will be. Many shops will machine to this though as they don't want to, or can't, change the angles on their machines. It's your $$$ so if the shop says they can't do a 1/1 (if that's what your manufacturer recommends for example) and that's what you want, then find another shop.

It's easy to increase edge angles, but decreasing them will remove a fair amound of metal, regardless of whether base or side.

Cheers,

Pete
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Pete:
Ladede, I did say in my post that the list was for the BASICS, and you can go from there.

Lodro, be very careful of using a travel iron. I know it's tempting because they are an ideal size to haul around with you, but they have a reputation of really poor temperature control. I'd suggest going to a second-hand stoor and buying a quality iron which will only cost you a few dollars anyway.
Pete I was not saying it's a bad list. I was saying it's pretty cheap to start with the basics, but it quickly gets very expensive. Nothing wrong with that (except for my wallet).

I have never used this iron but given that it's made for and marketed by Holmenkol, I wonder if it has a better temperature control than other irons? If so, that could be good, especially at $29 with $105 grams of wax included! (Compared to my $90 Swix World Cup iron.) And I don't see Holmenkol selling something that could damage bases if handled properly, so the only downside may be the smaller heat sink and the need for the iron to reheat more often.

YA

[ February 28, 2003, 07:40 PM: Message edited by: Ladede ]
post #19 of 22
Lodro-
A couple of quick observations-.
First, deep six the metal scraper! Use it only for sharpening your plastic scrapers. If you need to remove excess ptex, use a Stanley "surfform", it will cut away the prex, rather than tearing it. Nobody really uses metal scrapers any more. As you have maybe learned- you can do alot of damage with one.

I agree with Lost boy re: ptex candles.
Pure ptex will not burn. So the manufacturers blend wax in the candle so it will burn. But that same wax contaminates the base and prevents the repair from lasting. Use either sphagetti ptex(for deep holes), or flat ribbon ptex(for shallow holes/ scratches). If your waxing iron has no holes in the base, and has a variable thermostat, you can usually get it hot enough to melt the ptex in. Just use a corner, or the tip of the iron for ptexing. (But clean it very well before waxing again!)

Toko makes one of the best base file guides on the market, IMHO. Vey easy to use, and very difficult to screw up your skis with. It comes in .5 degree increments. About $30~us.

You only have to buy one side file guide, unless you are doing alot of different skis for different skiers. Then you might need a full range of guides.

Be VERY careful with a PANSAR file. I have seen alot of techs RUIN skis with these. Until you really know what you are doing- stick to a good quality double chrome cut lathe file. Vialla makes a good one, 8" for about $12~. Stay away from 10-12" files. and 6" files are very easy to slip. 8" files are the easiest to use.

Hope these ideas help!

:
post #20 of 22
VSP - what about the powder for repairs???
post #21 of 22
QUOTE]Originally posted by vail snopro:
Toko makes one of the best base file guides on the market, IMHO. Vey easy to use, and very difficult to screw up your skis with. It comes in .5 degree increments. About $30~us.
[/quote]

Snopro, I think it's the Ski Man one, isn't it? (articles 3051-3054 on http://www.skiman.it/sez_prod/prfile_fr.html only it's Toko yellow, right?

I had one in hands. Great tool, I can't see how it could be damaged (plain aluminium, pretty cool) even over many years. I think Ski Man makes very nice tools, look at their edge guides on the same page (but compare with the SKS/FKS tool on rollers if you need to do two angles or more).

I use a Beast tool myself (http://www.the-raceplace.com/). Costs $10 less but it's plastic except for the lift plate, and it doesn't have a clamp (your fingers are the clamp). I like the fact that very little drags on the base (less than the Ski Man I think) but I don't think it will be as durable as the Ski Man until I take a lot of care of it. We'll see.

Have you had the opportunity to compare the two?

YA

[Edit stupid URL tags ]

[ February 28, 2003, 11:36 PM: Message edited by: Ladede ]
post #22 of 22
Ok VSP I’m going to disagree with you completely here regarding using the surform tool rather than a metal scraper. I can only imagine the damage one of these tools could do to a base in inexperienced hands.

When I’m not skiing I like nothing better than destroying perfectly good pieces of wood in the name of woodworking. In this area scrapers are also used as a smoothing tool. Contrary to what some may believe, the scraper is a very efficient cutting tool, and is indeed preferred by quality cabinet makers over sandpaper because it cleanly cuts, rather than abrading, the wood fibres (which gives a superior finish but that’s another story). The point is that as a cutting tool it must be sharp, doing an internet search will provide extensive information on sharpening scrapers. I sharpen mine as per normal but don’t put much of a hook in it as I don’t want it to grab the p-tex.

Lodro, I’m not sure how you are using the metal scraper such that it’s doing what it is. Once again I would suggest you do an internet search on using one. Personally I have never had a problem using one and find it a very efficient tool, however I guess it’s true that I have had a bit of practice.

http://www.tokowax.com/alpine/eng_alp_tuning.htm click the “Edge” link on the left hand side. "The Edge Tuning Racing" are the tools that I use and find them extremely good.

Cheers,

Pete

[ March 01, 2003, 09:59 AM: Message edited by: Pete ]
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