Posts for Tag: Skiing

How to Sharpen a Pair of Skis

I wrote this in my first semester at the College of Idaho.

Ski Sharpening is a deceptively simple thing. 

The most important thing to ensure is that you have a clean, well-lit place to work and a sturdily attached specialty ski vise. 

In addition to the vise, you will need:

  • 1 mill bastard file
  • 1 coarse diamond stone
  • 1 fine diamond stone
  • 1 “gummi stone”
  • 1 side file guide
  • 1 thick rubber band
  • 1 iron brush

A good ski vise will have a top, middle, and end point at which the ski can be secured. Wrap the rubber band tightly around the ski’s brakes to ensure easy access to the edges, Then screw your ski into the vice securely.

It is best to think of the ski as having two edges; one which is along the flat base of the ski and the other on the narrow side of the ski. The two edges must be sharpened individually to ensure a good tune. 

The area of the ski which we will be sharpening begins about four inches from the bottom of the ski and ends about five to seven inches from the tip of the ski. It is important not to over sharpen, because an over sharp ski will cause the skier to catch edges frequently.

First, observe the edges of your ski. Are the edges rusted or dirty? Rust and dirt spots should be cleaned with the gummi stone, which will remove the offending pieces without damaging your expensive files or diamond stones.

Once the dirt/rust is removed, place your mill bastard file securely into your file guide. Place the file on the edge of your ski near the tip and move slowly towards the tail. Be sure to keep the pressure you apply constant. Especially when tuning new skis, it is normal to have a lot of steel come off of the ski edge during this first step. Repeat this step 4 or 5 times, until the ski edge has a uniform sheen.

Clean your file off with your iron brush and insert your file into your side edge guide. Perform the same motion as before along the side of the ski. Be sure to apply uniform pressure to the guide to ensure an even tune.

Repeat the same process of sharpening the bottom and side edge with the diamond stones. Once you have completed the process with the extra-sharp stone, you must check the edge’s sharpness. The best way is to place your thumbnail against the side of the edge and quickly move it against the edge. A small amount of your thumbnail should come off. If a sizeable amount comes off, pass the gummi stone over both edges of the ski to remove some of the sharpness.

Sharp skis are essential to enjoying a good day at the mountains. If you follow the steps above, you will be able to count on five to ten days of precision turning and increased edge hold. If these steps are followed regularly, you will notice an increase in the performance of your skis over time.

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