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Wax - How can u tell?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
How can you tell if skis are waxed? Whats the difference between polishing and sharpening edges? How often to wax? Wax yourself or leave it to professionals?
post #2 of 20
 How can you tell if skis are waxed?
Lick them!
post #3 of 20
Originally Posted by VipClubber View Post

How can you tell if skis are waxed? Whats the difference between polishing and sharpening edges? How often to wax? Wax yourself or leave it to professionals?
Waxing is far from a difficult task and can easily be handled yourself:

Look for even sheen and in doubt, wax. If a sheen is not there or it simply flat looking, you probably need wax.

Sharpening edges is the removal pf material to achieve a sharp edge, while polishing is still in effect micro-cutting with an abrasive tool smooths the metal edge to help you get to a smooth, sharp edge. I think of diamonds at 100 grit as cutting, 200 doing both and 400 and above as progressively finer polishing. Unless you are particular, a 400 grit may be as fine as you need. Others prefer more.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Does wax also serves as a protection from rust and salt? What is the proper way to clean your skis before waxing them?

Thanks in advance...
post #5 of 20
Clean your skis with base cleaner (can be picked up at most local ski shops) Wax protects the base but should not be on the edges so its not going to protect from rust, you really dont need to clean your bases before waxing unless you are repairing with p tex, just wipe clean and wax away. Also i prefer a hot wax or better instead of rub on waxes. Hot wax lasts longer and gives a better surface than rub ons, to hot wax you will need a waxing iron a wax scraper and a fibrelene pad or nylon brush.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
How often do I need to wax? Some people say as often as possible but what is a reasonable formula?
I ski Norh East Vermont and New York so what is the hot wax you are recommending since snow is sticky?

Is there anything can be applied like some kind of a solution to protect the metal edges when I transport them on top rack of my car?
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
If I place skis locked together base to base will it prevent less salt on the bases during transport on the roof rack?
post #8 of 20
Originally Posted by VipClubber View Post

If I place skis locked together base to base will it prevent less salt on the bases during transport on the roof rack?

I wouldnt' worry so much about the bases as I would worry what effect the salt has on your bindings. Get a bag to protect them if you must use a rack.
post #9 of 20
While it wouldn't hurt to wax every time you went out, every two or three days is probably sufficient in most conditions.

Look at your bases, if any part is dull/white instead of shiny/black (assuming black bases, it's harder to tell with white bases), it's time to wax.  You will notice it first under the boot along the edge of the bottom.  If you see any white/dull area, wax the whole ski.

If your skis are in an open roof rack, get a binding cover.  Better yet, buy a ski box.  They are not that much more expensive than ski attachments and will hold maybe 1/2 dozen pairs.  Or, if you have a fold down 1/2 read seat, stick them in the trunk.  I leave three or four pairs in my trunnk, kid's, wife's, and a pair or two of mine, all season long.
post #10 of 20
Also rewax when there is a huge temp rise or drop. (assuming you have more than one kind of wax)
post #11 of 20
How do you tell?...you'll feel how they slide on the snow.  You can rub your fingernail across the bottoms and maybe see a very slight change in the surface.  As said above, if you see a very slight white fuzzy bottom surface, they're not waxed.

If the wax is melted into the pores of the base material--as it should be--it'll last several days depending on the texture of the snow.

You can easily wax your skis yourself.  Get a garage sale iron or a travel non-steam iron, or cover the base with aluminum foil to cover the steam holes.  Heat it to a setting where it melts wax held against the iron but doesn't smoke.  Hold the brakes back with the strong rubber band off a bunch of brocolli or asparagus.  Put the skis, bottom side up, on a table, hold the wax bar against the iron and drip universal wax on the skis with each drop about an inch apart.  Wax the bottom of the skis to melt the wax into the base.  KEEP THE IRON MOVING!  Do not let the other side of the ski get more than slightly warm.  Get a folded paper towel, re-melt the wax and wipe off the excess.  Ski.

Put your skis with unprotected binding on top of your car only if you have a grudge against your leg bones and knees.  Yes, get a box or bag for the skis.

Sharpening the edges is removing enough steel to get below any nicks, to put the correct angles on the edges, and to put a sharp corner on the edges.  Polishing is smoothing the sharp edge.  If they aren't sharp and correctly angled, they aren't ready for polishing.  Polishing is the last 2%--maybe--of the edge job.
Edited by SoftSnowGuy - 1/11/10 at 9:57pm
post #12 of 20
I finally found your reply ,about hot waxing skis. It's great.. I just started sking again after 20 years ,and bought some modern Head skis and want to hot wax them myself.I found lots of tunning edge info ,but your hot waxing is the first I found..I have several questions..Back in the 70's ans 80's We used an old iron to drip the wax onto the base then smeared it around by laying the iron flat on the base ( the skis laying over the back of 2 chairs).Next we scraped the wax off with a metal or hard plastic scraper ,then with a big square block of cork we polished the waxed surface.. You mentioned after ironing the wax into the skis ,to re heat the wax and wipe the excess wax off with paper towel..Can you explain this a little more . I always scraped the excess wax off and polished them. That was 20 years and more ago. Has the wax changed ,or would it still be better to polish the waxed surface with the cork block?  I'm picturing the olden day wax which would feel like the surface of a candle before polishing,but smooth and slick after polishing..I am going to be looking forward to any advise you have ,as I only skied once on my newly purchased x-rental skis ,and am sking at Lake Louise tomorrow and want to wax them after that. Thanks
post #13 of 20
waxing is easy
but you should definitely invest in a wax iron--i tried the whole tin foil over my clothes iron thing--not good cause after i ripped a hole in the foil, the iron started smoking from the wax, and I was done.

Here is my routine.  I take skis and let them dry/warm to room temp.  Brush with brass brush.  Then I go over it a few times with a green brillo pad I bought at a hardware store.  I take my ski and turn it upside down on an old excercise bench (sometimes, I'll prop it up using two stacks of books, but usually not).  Then I turn on my iron to 110 degrees and drip on some soft wax like maplus universal hot, use the iron to spread it out, and then make one slow pass with the iron.    I then immediately scrape this off.  Then I drip on a harder wax (I use hertel's hot sauce).  Spread it out, and then one slow pass.  Then wait for ski to cool (many hours).  I usually leave my skis like this until I'm ready to ski.  Then, the day before I ski, I use a plastic scraper to scrape (keep a vacuum handy to clean up the mess).  And I finish with a nylon brush until it shines (I use paper towels to wipe up all the wax 'dust' that forms).  I've gotten pretty good results for recreational skiing.   
post #14 of 20
Thanks mrzinwin, You answered my question about polishing the wax as the last step..I too am just a recreational skier..
post #15 of 20
Originally Posted by xcaret View Post

Has the wax changed ,or would it still be better to polish the waxed surface with the cork block?  I'm picturing the olden day wax which would feel like the surface of a candle before polishing,but smooth and slick after polishing.


The wax has improved slighty, yes.  But ski bases  have changed a lot

In the 70's and 80's, we used to have perfectly smooth ptex bases with a center groove.  Now bases are structured with very tiny vertical grooves all over the base.  These help to dissipate water as the base moves along the snow (and keeps the ski tracking straight a-la the old center groove).  So brushes are used after waxing to clear the wax out of these minute groves (structure) so that they can do their job.  The object is not a mirror-smooth base anymore.

post #16 of 20
Thanks NE1 ,I had no idea there were tiny groves in my bases.I'll grab me a brush.. Thanks again
post #17 of 20
jeezuz: what a thread. what a load of whacked 'info'.
I will set you at least straight enough that any differences will be merely philosophical in nature.


The SKI BASE STRUCTURE matches the water content of the snow.
Coarse for wet /spring and finer for colder/drier snow.
Ski base plastics are porous and wax absorbs into the pore ' matrix'.
Correct wax temps allow for the right amount of snow crystal penetration into the wax.

THE SNOW-BALL TEST IS AN INDICATOR. Air-temps will vary. Sun/shade, too.

It is a bit of a thrill when you click in and you know the wax is ON.
I confess to blowing it and heading off for a $ ' hot wax ' at the mountain top-shop.
In emergencies - in those spring cold-snow squalls, those Toko rub on dispensers are day-savers... but their solvents will dry your base right out,

Warm snow/rain = reds/yellows +1-2C to -1or - 3C.         0 C = 32 F
Cooler = purple SWIX or mixes of red and blues -4 to -6C or so  .
Cold snow = blues around -6 to -8C
Really cold snow = greens into -15C. Scrape when warm.
Arctic fronts = cold -20C wax is mostly plastic and cracks when it cools on the ski and must be scraped when warm.
In fact, do an intermediate scrape for all waxes when they are warm. 
Finish scrape and Nylon brush when cold.

Brass-brush and wipe (paper towel will do ) to clean skis before waxing- especially after filing.
Wax your skis often- like every time the snow changes a wax temp range...especially from warmer to the colder temps.
If you are on cold abrasive snow look for a whitening of the ski base along the edge under foot = BURNING THE BASE... OR BASE BURN. This can happen in a day on cold snow and is why a red/soft base wax is used under the harder and less-base penetrating harder waxes.
Brush it out with the brass brush...
Hot wax RED to saturate the base, hot scrape, nylon brush and then re-wax for skiing temps.

In the vid the guy seems to finish with fiberlene or mech towel...
This is not a finish step it is a cleaning step, ...perhaps in the dirty spring or changing to colder waxes.
Brush it out with the brass brush first...then drag the fiber cloth under the iron once or twice so the melted wax is drawn off the ski - and with it the dirt in the base pores.

Real Toko or Swix are over $100 and worth it because they have great LOW temperature control.
DON'T SMOKE YOUR WAX. Just enough heat to melt it.
Lay down two lines along both edges about a match-stick in diameter, about an inch inside the edge. This keeps the iron off the base. Daub wax onto the iron to test temp and insulate the base from the metal- also for thin patches.
Keep the iron moving, long strokes. If you really love your bases you can crayon before melting the match-sticks. The molten wax should trail about 6-8 inches behind the iron, Watch for molten wax farther away and reduce temps.
Don't clamp your skis as they will expand into reverse camber when warmed.

I used to scrape only cold skis but now I do a quick warm scrape  and then wait till the base is cold for finish scrapes and brushes.

Sharpen ( metal) scrapers on a big bastard file laying on the bench - or I also like a 100 grit sanding belt cut in half on a flat board for sharpening plastic scrapers. I do like the vid's file-guide sharpening.

I use  body-shop scotch pads instead of the expensive swix pads. One of my cooler discoveries is paint-store EDGING PADS. These guys have short 1/4 " bristles that really put a nice finish on a wax.

That's it for easy non-voodoo waxing. 10 minutes to out-gliding your buds.
Snow-boards always seem to have better glide because they only use one edge and that increased pressure melts more snow and hence - a better film of water to glide on.These dudes never wax.

Coarse stones 100-200 grit for de-burring and a quick rip with a file in a side-bevel guide, then finer diamond stones to polish 400-600 grit and ceramic if you are fanatical.
Stay away from files on the base-edge. Base bevel is the key to how a ski performs. If the snow is hard, a new clean edge will burr over in a day.
If you have to ask if an edge is sharp, then it is not really sharp.
post #18 of 20
Metal scrapers are only needed to remove base material before and after base repair. They have no place in the waxing process. Always scrape wax with a plastic scraper.
post #19 of 20
Originally Posted by MastersRacer View Post

Metal scrapers are only needed to remove base material before and after base repair. They have no place in the waxing process. Always scrape wax with a plastic scraper.
Yeah; stick this in -perhaps just before the Wax Iron section.
post #20 of 20
I ski 5 or 6 days per week and wax every 3 to 5 days. Since I don't race I don't scrape or polish, just go skiing and the first 50 feet of your first run does the scraping and polishing for you.
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