How to Wax Skis

Skiers who properly wax their skis on a regular basis see several benefits resulting from this practice. Regular waxing helps reduce friction between the base of the ski and the slope surface, allowing for better glide over the snow. It also helps prevent oxidation which can damage your equipment.

There are a variety of ski waxes available at Sport Chek, categorized as either “temperature-specific” or “all-temperature.” Temperature-specific waxes are designed to perform in conditions within a specific range of temperatures. All-temperature wax, also called universal wax, is designed to perform in a wide variety of conditions and temperatures. All-temperature wax is a smart option if you ride in a variety of conditions or if it’s difficult to predict what the conditions will be.

If you decide to wax your skis yourself, the most popular method is to apply the wax using an iron. Get yourself a waxing iron (or an iron and wax sheet), the right wax for the conditions you intend to ride in, a wax scraper and a polishing pad. Follow these steps for properly waxing your skis:

1. Turn your waxing iron on, allowing it to heat up so it’s just hot enough to melt the wax. Hold the wax against the iron and allow the melted wax to drip evenly onto the bottom surface of the ski.

2. Place the sheet of wax beneath the iron. Touch the top sheet of your equipment to gauge the temperature. You will know you’ve reached the right temperature when a wet trail of wax follows your iron. Your iron is too hot if the wax begins to smoke.

3. Set your skis aside to cool after you’ve applied an even layer of wax to the base. The longer you can leave them alone the better, but at least 10 to 15 minutes is necessary.

4. Use a sharp scraper to remove any excess wax once the skis are cool. 

Polish the base using a Scotch-Brite brush. The base of your equipment should be reflective and shiny when you are done.

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Sharpening 

Keeping sharp edges will extend the time you’re able to enjoy your skis and keep them performing in top condition. You may only need to sharpen them once a year if you’re on the mountain a few times a season. But if you’re an avid rider who skis often, you will need to sharpen your gear more regularly.

There are two important steps in ski or snowboard edging: getting the right angle, and tuning the edges.

Our service shops can give your ski a minor or major tune-up, depending on what your skis need.

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Getting the Right Edge Angle

Use a file guide or edge tool to preserve the bevel (the slope or slant) of the edges if you decide to sharpen the edges yourself. Edge tools come with several angle options but the standard setting for a beginner or intermediate rider is typically 90 degrees. To achieve a working 90 degree angle, you need to tune the side edge at 89 degrees and the base edge at 1 degree, for a total of 90.

Side Edge

Side edge beveling gives your skis more grip on the snow. Higher angles are great for experienced skiers but if the angle is too high, chances are your ski will “grab” too much for your comfort. Side edge angles are typically 1.0 to 3.0 degrees. Less angle means less grip.

Base Edge

Fresh from the manufacturer, ski edges normally come with a 90-degree profile. The amount of base bevel largely affects your skis ability to pivot on the snow. On a new pair of skis, a beginner may want to start with a 0.5 degree bevel.

If you want to resurface past this point, it may be necessary to stone grind the base to make it flat again before you are able to re-establish the base angle. If you have already set the base edge angle on your ski or board, maintain it as long as possible with the use of diamond or gumi stones.

Steps to edging your skis:

1. Begin working from the nose to the tail with a 6-inch file while the ski is held on its side by a vise. Running the file smoothly down the board’s length, keep the file flat and level against the skis edge. Use a file brush to keep the grooves in the file clean.

2. Lay the ski upside down once you have filed both of the side edges and secure it using a clamp. Then proceed to file the base side of the edge using an 8-inch or 10-inch file.

3. Working from the ski’s nose to its tail, hold the file flat on the ski and sharpen the edges until they become square. Remove any additional scratches or nicks using a whetstone.

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Tuning Ski Edges

You can start tuning the edges of your skis now that you’ve determined the best edge angle for you. The finishing step in the edging process, tuning can be divided into three parts: sharpening, polishing and detuning.

1. Sharpening

Your skis will not perform as well as they’re designed to if the bases are not flat, have high spots or large concavities on the running surface. Either manually or by machine, the high spots need to be ground down to make the surface flat. Machine grinding offers greater accuracy. You may choose to bring your skis to the Sport Chek Service Shop to have one of our pros do it for you if you find that doing the sharpening by hand is too time consuming.

2. Polishing

Use your diamond file to carefully scrub along each edge, removing any rust and evening out any imperfections caused by your file. This will shine up your skis nicely.

3. Detuning

Detuning your skis helps you glide more smoothly and makes it easier for less experienced riders to avoid catching the tip or tail while entering or exiting a turn. To detune the tip and tail of your skis, place a regular sharpening stone against the 5- to 7.5-centimetre (or 2- to 3-inch) portion past the "tail" where your ski swoops upwards. Run the stone vertically along this part of the edge, dulling it until you can see a reflection of the light on the edge. Repeat the process for all edge sections close to the tip and tail.

Repairing the Base

If you have small gouges in your ski’s base surface, you can often fix them at home using a P-Tex candle. If it has larger gouges, it's best to bring it into the Sport Chek Service Shop and have it professionally repaired. Follow these steps to repair small indents and gouges in the base:

1. Scrape off the wax and wipe clean the area around the gouge.

2. Light one end of the P-Tex candle and let a few drops fill the indent.

3. Allow the P-Tex and the board to sit and cool down – ideally allow for a few hours.

4. Use a scraper to remove the excess P-Tex and even out the surface surrounding the treated area.

While some damage to your skis is inevitable, you can only repair the base and grind down the edges so many times before threatening the integrity of your equipment. Try to avoid doing unnecessary damage to your skis by being cautious of where you ride, and ensuring regular maintenance of your equipment.

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Transporting and Storing Your Equipment

Transporting your gear properly can help prevent damage and maintain the integrity of your equipment. You may be exposing your ski gear to harsh road chemicals that can cause additional rusting on your bindings and edges if you use a roof rack on your vehicle. Use a closed roof container if you can, but if you don’t have one, it can help to rinse your skis off after transporting them to remove any built-up dirt, salt or chemicals.

Avoid dragging your skis on the ground or bumping the edges when getting them from your vehicle to the hill – this will dull the edges and cause damage to the base. Finally, store your skis or snowboard in a cool, dry place and in the neutral position to avoid warping.

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This article and post is designed for educational purposes only. When participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is a possibility of physical injury. Please consult with a doctor prior to engaging in any exercise or exercise program. The use of any information provided is solely at your own risk. Product selection is an individual choice and the consumer is responsible for determining whether or not any product is suitable based on the consumer’s circumstances.