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Tuning the Edges?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
2 seasons ago I bought the $38 toko tool for tuning the edges. It has about 0-4 degrees (i think) in 0.5 degree increments and comes with a hard file that fits in the tool. It does the base and the side edges. I tuned the edges on my old Head Cyber 20x a few times with fair results. I notice that the tool now comes with a "flexable file for shaped skis". This was the problem I had with my tool. With the sidecut, it didn't seem that the hard file could contact the edges very well. Should I buy the new tool to get the flexable file or will my work fine (BTW, I now have a new pair of Atomic R:10 skis and really don't want to screw up the edge). I was in a shop the other day and the guy told me that they have had many customers screw up their edges with one of those toko tools and the best way to do it is just with a file and your hand. Is this right? I assumed he meant just for sharpening and not actually changing the angles. Also, do Atomics come with a 1 degree base and 3 degree side? Thanks.
post #2 of 23
Lemmy, I've tried a few of the guides you mentioned but for tuning the edges I've found a conventional file guide as sold by Toko is probably the best option there is (and is used by all the races I've seen). Unfortunately they only come in preset angles (eg 88 degrees) so if you decide you want to change your edge angle it means buying another guide. I find it difficult to see how you could "screw up" your edges with an edge guide as it's quite easy to change angles.

In addition to the edge guide you will need to buy a good quality chrome file, a base guide, and a spring clip to hold the file to the guide. A diamond file/stone is pretty much essential too.

If you're not familiar with tuning your edges, begin with base bevel. If you don’t have a base bevel guide (Swix sell very inexpensive ones) you can get about ½ degree bevel by holding the file flat on the base with about ½ the file hanging over the edge. Draw the file along the base but put pressure on the end hanging over so that it bends the file. Hardly world cup technique but it will give you an approximate bevel. Having said that, spring for the bevel guide if you can, Toko sells a very good one. Next do the edge bevel. Until you get more experience you may like to take a felt tip marker and run it along your edges so that you can see where metal still needs to be removed. A sharp file will remove material quickly so you don’t need to get carried away. Once you have the edge sharp it’s best to remove the burr and polish the edge with the diamond stone (it will stay sharp much longer). Run the stone flat on the base, don’t worry about a guide for this. Next put the stone in the edge guide and polish your edges.

Pretty much anything else you do is optional, a gummi stone can be used to remove the burr, and the shovel detuned above the snow contact point to prevent the ski hooking up unexpectedly.

Hope that doesn’t sound too complicated. The equipment will set you back around US$50- $80. The most difficult thing can be to hold the skis if you don’t have vices, but a “Workmate” type bench can be used if you have one.


post #3 of 23
Yes, Atomic's come with a 1 degree base bevel & a 3 degree side edge. Sun Valley Ski Tools sold by Racewerks or The Beast Sold by and designed by Race Place make the best file guides. I mostly use Base of Beast and Side of Beast Pro.

Also, you may need to use a sidewall planer even on the Atomics in order to get a 2 or 3 degree side edge. Other wise you get a lot of sidewall material in your file or diamond when set & polish your side edges. I know the atomic's don't haver much of a sidewall but you still need to trim it back some to get the angle correct!

Ski with the wind MF!
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. This may be a stupid question, but if I do not plan on increasing my 1 degree base bevel, then do I need a base bevel guide? I guess if I ever have to file down the base to get it flat, then I might need it then? Otherwise, it seems that to sharpen the edges that I would just need a side bevel guide and maybe a diamond stone to take the burrs off of the base bevel. Also, does the ski base become convex or concave very often? Is it worth it to invest in something like the Skyvisiions Base Flattener & Structure tool or is that something I would rarely need? Thanks.
post #5 of 23
I have a Skivisions base flattener, but I rarely use it anymore. I think it's enough to file the side edges. I think the reason some people can't get a decently sharp edge is that they don't de-burr the edge before filing (burrs are harder than files) or the don't use a sidewall planer to cut away the plastic above the edge, which a file won't cut.
If you file your base edges, you will end up with convex base, and you will need to flatten it. The Skivisions works OK, but it can sometimes bounce along the base, creating a wave pattern. : If you use that tool, be sure to have a bench with good support for the ski. Another choice is a Ray's Way tool, which is cheaper and easier to use. It won't screw up the base, except that it leaves it pretty hairy, and you'll need to scrape the hairs. It's not a tool you will find on the WC circuit.
I don't use chrome files either. They are hard enough, but too expensive and not very sharp. Hardware store files are not usually hard enough. A better choice are the hardest steel files, which you can get from Tognar. If you are a real cheapskate, you can even sharpen them when they get dull by pickeling them in acid, but your friends will think you are nuts.
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
when it comes to deburring, I have heard a coarse diamond stone is good, but how do you do a good job deburring on the base bevel without altering the angle or making it uneven. It seems that if you hit a rock and it causes a burr, then you would have to grind down the base edge and then have to also sand down the base.
post #7 of 23
You're right. You need to take down the burr on the base edge and that means that you need to grind the base and file the base edge, if you want your edge to be perfect. Most skis don't need to be perfect all the time, which is why it's OK to file only the side edge after you take down the burr. BTW I've quit using diamond stones in favor of cheap stones from the hardware store. I find that the more expensive a tool is, the more frequently I lose it. I wear cheap sunglasses for the same reason.
post #8 of 23
Hi Lemmy, congrats on your purchase.

Let me offer my thoughts on a few of the issues you have raised.
I think most people will agree that a simple file guide (TOKO, Reliable Racing) where you use a spring clamp to hold the file are far and away the most accurate and easy to use. This is what the World Cup techs use and what you will find in every racers tool box. Your new Atomics have a 3 deg side edge, so buy a simple 3 deg file guide.

If I were you, I would not remove any edge from your skis until you have first used them. Why would someone want to change the way the ski performs before they have even tried it? Don't "de-tune" the tips before you ski them. I'll never understand why people do that. I've never been on a ski that I found too "grabby". I thought the point of a shaped ski was to get it hook up as early as possible.

I would also advise you to stay away from actually filing the edges unless absolutely necessary. You have to realize that edges are finite and once they are gone, they are gone. A couple of very light passes with a diamond stone and a gummi stone in the file guide is all it will take to keep your edges razor sharp. Do that after every couple of days on the hill and you won't have any need to file them. I'll only file mine if I notice a serious change in the performance of the ski or if the edges were damaged.

As for the base edge, I would leave it alone. As mentioned in a post above, when you change the base edge you also have to change the base itself, and removing any base material is a job best left to a qualified ski shop. For recreational skiing there is little if any need to worry about changing your base edge angle. Atomic invested a great deal of money and time figureing out that 1-3 deg edge angles work best for that particular ski, so there is little need to alter them.

One last point. You said that you had so-so results sharpening the edges on your Heads. In order to get a perfect side edge, the base of the ski has to be true. If it dips and dives then the file guide will follow the flaws in the base, hence an uneven job on the side edge.

In short, keep everything as simple as possible (the tools and the work itself). Good luck.
post #9 of 23
Good advice here, but I've got to disagree with Pete on one point

Pete Wrote:
If you don’t have a base bevel guide (Swix sell very inexpensive ones) you can get about ½ degree bevel by holding the file flat on the base with about ½ the file hanging over the edge. Draw the file along the base but put pressure on the end hanging over so that it bends the file. Hardly world cup technique but it will give you an approximate bevel.

That technique would be very imprecise at best. Don't guess like that with a new pair of $500+ skiis. Spend the extra $50 bucks to get what you need. You're more likely to simple round over the base edge, and if you slip or waver with the file, you could really screw up the edges.
post #10 of 23
Tam, I was suggesting it was a ROUGH way to tune a ski. Would I tune my skis without a base guide? No. But I was with a tech once who did just that (we were in a hurry). Not everybody is willing to invest in guides and it will “get you out of trouble”. But I’ll take it on the chin; not a good idea to suggest “shortcuts” to somebody not familiar with tuning.

Absolutely disagree that chrome files are not sharp. They are used by all world cup techs but no, they are not cheap. The way the files and stones are held in the guides tends to wear the tools in specific points, this is quite different to the more general wear files experience in regular use.

Mike, just to clarify, I was referring to detuning the skis above the normal snow contact point. Modern skis do not need their tips or tails detuned, however detuning above the snow contact point will help prevent the ski hooking up on a bump and throwing you off balance. Mike is quite right in saying that if the snow conditions are good, you will probably only need to use a diamond stone to renew your edge sharpness, filing every so often. Having said that, it will take a loooong time to file your edges away to nothing. This year I was with some Japanese racers who seemed to spend their entire evenings filing their edges, the pile of metal shavings on the tuning room floor could only be described as bizarre. Finally it got the better of me and I asked just how long their edges lasted. Even with this amount of filing they got 2 seasons out of the skis.

Unfortunately I ski in an area with many rocks and stones both on and off piste, with firm to hard snow conditions. As a result I tend to have to tune my edges more often than skiers from other areas. However I enjoy the results of a good tune and find tuning skis over a nice cold beer a relaxing way to finish the day after a hard day skiing. All considered, the cost of purchasing good tools is minimal considering the results achieved.


post #11 of 23
Thanks, Pete, for reminding me that there's more ways than one to tune a ski, and more than one snow condition to tune for. Truth be told, the only time I get any kind of edge damage is during the very early season or summer camps. Oh yeah, and the occasional liftline scrape from the boarder who likes standing on my tails. So, based on recent experience, I use my blue and red diamond stones more than the rougher stones. I've never really run out of edge to tune, since I rotate skis a lot through the quiver depending on conditions and style of skiing.

Learn to tune your own skis- or at least learn to maintain them once they're properly set up. You'll develop a greater appreciation for what good tuning will do for you and your gear will last longer.
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
These are the tools I am getting:

Dimond Stones (coarse, medium & fine)
1 degree Beast Base guide
Either Side of Beast Pro or SKS Rolling side Bevel Guide
Sidewall Planer
Laser Cut Mill File 8"

Stuff I am considering getting:
Rays Way base tuning tool
Burnisher tool or Tognar Burrsharp (not really sure of the difference between the Burrhsarp and a regular Burnisher)

Stuff I already have:
Gummi Stone
Plastic scraper
Metal scraper
Omni-prep pad
Scotchbrite pads
SWIX Bronze Brush
File Brush
Clear P-TEX repair string
Clear Copolymer repair string
Soldering iron that can be set between 500 and 900F (I am an elictrical engineer and already had this for other reasons)
Work bench

Anything else that I should get (or anything I am getting that I probably won't need)? Thanks.
post #13 of 23
Hi Lemmy,

If you are looking to save a few a bucks hold off on any base edge guides or base bevel tools. Playing around with base adjustments is tricky work even for those who are well versed in it. I think most people will agree that it is largely unnecessary to fool with that stuff unless a problem presents itself. Atomic's have a weird base bevel to begin with and making even slight adjustments to it on your own could yield some very undewhelming results. I'd pass on that equipment until you have a genuine need for it. With brand-spankin' new boards I don't think that you will have any base related problems that will need to be addressed.

Far and away the most used tuning tool of mine is my Stockli edge tool. My Stockli rep gave me two of them last year and I must say that they are worth every penny Seriously, it's so well built, precise and easy to use that it has become indespensable. I always have them in bag if I need to give a quick tune to one of racers' skis. It will eliminate the purchase of a sidewall planer as well. This is a tool you will have for the rest of your life.
post #14 of 23
Yeah I must admit I took a look at one of the Jap's edges and oh did I laugh. It was literally paper thin under his boot. Didn't stop him relentlessly filing away though
post #15 of 23
Pete, I stand corrected.

Lemmy, I'm not sure you need a ray's way tool unless you're planning on flat filing the base. I'd suggest a horse hair brush first before I got the Ray's way.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
I have no plans to change the 1degree base and 3 degree side. The only reason I was thinking of getting the base guide and the Ray's Way tool is because I figured if hit a rock and the base metal edge has a ding in it, then I would have to file some of this base edge away (and even if it is a small ding, I couel use the guide to put my medium or fine diamond file in so I wouldn't screw up the edge too much). Anyway, if it was a decent size ding and I had to take some metal off of the base edge, wouldn't I then have to file the base to keep the ski from being convex? Anyway, this was my line of thought. BTW, mike, that stockli tool is really interesting. I would need a 1 degree (wife's rossi skis) and 3 degree (my atomics). So it would end up being more expensive than the SKS tool and a sidewall planer. If I only needed the 3 degree, that would definitely be the tool I would get.
post #17 of 23
What Tamski said. If your base edges are so damaged that you can't get a decent edge, it's time for a trip to the shop.
post #18 of 23
Always gotta be one to disagree, can’t help myself ha ha.

Sorry Lemmy, some of those tools you mention are US brand names and I am not familiar with them. I have to disagree with the others regarding the base edge tool. My feeling is that there are two sides to an edge, and when sharpening woodworking tools, for example, this point is certainly emphasised. For this reason I make a LIGHT pass with my base bevel guide, and then work on the sides. The techs I know do the same thing.

If you wanted to save money I’d actually skip the sidewall planer. It should only need doing once, and a good tool is quite expensive. Unless you’re planning to do a lot of skis you may be better just paying a few dollars to a shop and have them do the job. I’m not sure what one you’re looking at buying, but the good ones I’ve used are like a miniature router plane, if you are familiar with them, and cut a trench about 5 mm wide along the top of the edge. The potential for disaster is great if you slip, either to your hand or even worse the ski [img]smile.gif[/img] I've seen others that just file back the whole lot but I haven't used them.

Not sure you need so many diamond files, but hey, why not.

Don’t know about your work bench, but a set of good quality vices I’d put towards the top of the list.


post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 

I was wanting to get a coarse and medium diamond file, but buying 3 is only a couple of dollars more than just getting two.

After several times of making light passes with your base bevel guide, have you ever found that the ski has become convex or are you taking off so little metal on the base edge that it is not needed?


What do you do with a horse hair brush? I have a copper and a nylon brush.
post #20 of 23

Horsehair brush is about the last step after waxing, scraping etc. Use it (tip to tail) to really reveal the structure on the ski base. It takes more than a few passes but is well worth the effort. I used to stop after scraping, thinking the snow will do the rest, the horsehair treatment really adds a lot. Skiis are much faster.

post #21 of 23

We dont need no steeeenking edges!
post #22 of 23
I've always been pretty meticulous about keeping my skis tuned and waxed. Up until last season, I always had a shop work on my skis giving them specific instructions not to dull back the edges, the amount base and side bevel and so forth. I learned a long time ago that the failure to specify exactly how you want your skis tuned can lead to some unforunate and expensive results. Most shops have the default specs for most ski brands on hand. However not all do, leaving you at the mercy of the shop tech.

Now that I've started working on my own skis I have learned by some trial and error( [img]redface.gif[/img] ) an important lesson: Use a light touch, especially when doing anything to your ski's base edges. It's easy to end up with a convex base if you are too agressive or bear down too hard on the edge. A convex base is not an easy condition to correct at home using hand tools.

I use "The Beast" file guides and ski vice. I find that they are quite user friendly as tuning tools go.
post #23 of 23
Matt, this will depend on the snow conditions. I often find myself skiing VERY hard snow and under those conditions I'll take all the sharpness I can. If you're not racing or ski more typical fresh or groomed snow, edge sharpness is not so much an issue. It’s actually quite surprising to feel the difference between tunes under these conditions. When you wax the ski at the end of the day you will see from the wax burn that you have only been riding on less than ½ inch of the ski so it’s no wonder sharpness is an issue.

When doing the base you take off so little material the base takes some time to go high. I guess it's probably more a matter of filing down the micro-burrs that would otherwise prevent you achieving a really sharp edge. As Lost mentioned, you don’t need to be aggressive with the edges unless you have some serious damage. This is one reason I don’t like those “all in one” type tools. The ones I have used have been far too aggressive and never really got a sharp edge.


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