Ski tuning in the summer is important if you want to extend the life of the skis and to keep gliding the way you want them to. In addition, where and how you store them is also important. In fact, one of the best places to store your skis is under the bed. Unfortunately the majority of people don’t properly do ski tuning and storage of their ski equipment during the warm off-season months. They simply will place the skis and ski boots in the corner of the garage or in the basement until the next season. This can lead to rusted edges, sluggish bindings, smelly boots with mildew, and lost life on your skis. By taking a little time for ski tuning, you can change all that and extend the life of your ski equipment and be prepared for the beginning of next season. In this article, we will review what you should look for and do for proper ski tuning and storage in the off-season.
Step 1 - Ski Tuning: Clean the Skis
Naturally, the first step in proper ski tuning is to clean them and remove any dirt and salt. It’s important that you do not use any harsh detergents which may remove the lubricants on the bindings. Ideally, just use a rag and water. You can hose them off in the yard or if you live in an apartment, clean them in the shower. Rinse off everywhere on the ski including the bindings. Once finished, hand dry the skis as best as you can and let the skis air dry overnight.
Step 2 - Ski Tuning: Check and repair
Once the skis have been cleaned, it’s time to verify if anything needs to be repaired. It’s important to check for deep scratches or gouges in the base, topsheet, and sidewalls. If the damage is too deep, moisture can get to the core of the ski and cause permanent damage. You also want to check for cracks and edge delamination. If you have either of these, bring your skis to a professional technician for repair.
The edges also need to be checked to make sure that are sharp and you have good edge bevels. You can take a soapy paper towel to clean them and then check the edges. You can purchase a ski edge sharpener to easily do it yourself. Ski tuning kits often include tools to sharpen the edges. By having sharp edges you will reduce the chances of rust and prevent you from getting the tune-up prior to next season. Swix makes a good simple edge with the Swix 2x2 Edge Tool that can sharpen both side and base edges that is very easy to use and not expensive. If you are looking for a little higher end edging tool, Swix has the Swix Phantom Edger Pro Side Edge Tool. It has rollers and an adjustable bevel giving you a 5 degree range on your angle. Most people don’t need that, but it’s a nice tool.
Once you have checked your skis and you know whether or not they need repair, you can either do it yourself or take it to a local ski shop for repair. They can also do the ski tuning and then you’ll be pretty much all set. If you go this route, you can skip through the article to the sections on boots and storage. But, since we like to save money, we think doing the ski tuning yourself is a better approach.
If you are interested in doing the ski tuning yourself, you can buy the necessary tools for not much money and learning how to do it is very easy. The advantage of having the tools and doing it yourself is that you can quickly fix your skis and also wax them to the optimal wax for the conditions whenever you need to. You’ll love how your skis handle and you’ll also be saving time and money.
If you are just getting started with do-it-yourself tuning, the best way to get your tools is by purchasing a tuning kit. The Tools4Boards GLOBAL Ski SuperStation Tuning Kit has absolutely everything you would need except for wax remover and silicon spray. It is also great quality. If you also want to get some high quality clamps, check out Super Ski Tune Deluxe Kit.
If you need to fix any gouges, you fill them with P-Tex. It’s hard to go wrong when buying P-Tex sticks. You can buy just the sticks such as Stage P-Tex Sticks or go with a kit such as Base Ski Repair Kit that includes 10 P-Tex sticks, metal scraper, and buffing pads. When doing this reapir, make sure you match the color of P-Tex to the color of the base of the ski. Overfill the hole with the P-Tex and then let it harden. If there is a large amount of excess, you can use a small chisel or metal scraper to bring it down and then smooth it out by using a 220 or greater piece of sandpaper to make it smooth.
Step 3 - Ski Tuning: Wax Skis
The importance of wax in the summer is to make sure that the ski is protected. This is not only the base, but also the topsheet and sidewalls including the metal edges. The goal is to make sure that the ski is not drying out from oxidation.
First, you need to clean the base by removing old wax. For a base cleaner, Bakoda Base Cleaner works very well. Although we have never used it, some people really like to use wipes such as Hertel Ski Wax Base Cleaner Wipes. Once this is done, you can brush the base a few times with a bronze, brass, or copper brush to remove any dirt that is stuck in the pores of the ski. Next, perform a hot wax using a summer wax. For wax, we highly recommend the CH10 Wax by Swix Sport. Melt the wax onto your skis with a waxing iron and completely coat the base and the edges. Do not scrape it off. You will want to put an excess amount and leave it on as a protective barrier throughout the summer from moisture. For the topsheet and sidewalls, you can rub a paste wax on top for protection.
For wax, you will want to use a wax that is suited for the warmest temperature. This is sometimes known as a “summer wax” or a “traveling wax”. This is a soft wax that is easily absorbed into the base and prevents the base from drying out. But, many people also like to use a harder wax during the ski tuning for the temperature they would ski on at the beginning of next season. The advantage with this approach is that you will not need to rewax at the beginning of next season. Note that even if you purchase the warm weather wax, if the temperature you ski on in the beginning of the season is in the wax temperature range, there is no need to rewax. Simply scrape the excess wax and head to the mountain.
When it comes to a waxing iron, we can’t say enough to not use a standard clothes iron. First off, you’ll ruin the iron with the wax and secondly the temperature is difficult to control. With a true skiing iron, you’ll be able to easily do a great job and you won’t need to worry about getting wax on your clothes. The Toko T8 Wax Iron is a great one. It’s very easy to use.
Step 4 - Ski Tuning: Ski Bindings
If you have already cleaned your bindings from salt and dirt, make sure that they are working properly and fix accordingly. Otherwise, simply spray them with a thin film of silicone, wiping off excess with a paper towel. Do not use WD-40 since it is different from silicon and can damage the bindings.
Many people believe that you need to loosen the tension on the bindings as part of ski tuning in the summer to help the springs last longer. While this may have been true in the 60's and 70's, manufactures now design bindings to have tension and therefore this is not necessary.
Step 5 - Ski Tuning: Ski Boots
An often overlooked piece of equipment to take care of in the summer is the ski boots. By properly taking care of them during the summer, your boots will fit better next season and will last longer. If you use a ski bag, now is also a good time to air out and clean your bag as well.
The first step is to pull the boot liners and insoles out of your boot shells. Allow them to completely dry. If you leave moisture in your boots, you can end up with smelly boots and possibly mold. Clean the inside of your shells with a damp cloth (you can also use mild soap). Clean the insoles and liners with a sponge dipped in mild soap. Then Wipe everything clean of any soap with clean water. Note: Never wash your liners or insoles in the washer or dryer.
Once the shell, liner, and insoles are all dry, put the liners and insoles back into the boot shells. Buckle the boots closed to its normal shape. This is important, since if you do not do this, the boots will take a different shape making it not as comfortable next season. Store the boots in a clean dry place. Wet boots will attract insects, mice, and mildew.
Step 6 - Ski Tuning: Proper Storage
The importance of where and how you store your skis is as important as the ski tuning but it is often overlooked. Skis and boots are made from materials that can get damaged from excessive cold or heat. The can also have their shape permanently changed by not properly placing the skis. Therefore, skis should be stored in a cool-dry place with a moderate temperature and be placed in an appropriate manner. Boots should be stored in a similar manner as your skis.
Storing skis in a shed, garage, or attic will cause skis to sweat and will cause the bases to dry out. If you see that the bases of the skis are white and fuzzy, then your skis have dried out. The heat can also loosen the glue that binds the layers in the skis or cause de-lamination both causing the life of the ski to deteriorate. It is also best not to store skis on concrete. Concrete releases a lot of moisture and can cause the edges closest to the concrete to rust. Also, avoid storing them in a bag. A closed bag can retain moisture and damage the ski.
The best place to store your skis during the off season is in a cool dry temperature controlled environment. This can be in your bedroom, in a closet, underneath your bed, or on the wall as a display. The skis should be placed in a natural position that doesn’t cause the skis to have an unusual amount of pressure causing it to bend. They can be stored upright or lying down, but they should not be tied together where there is pressure on the camber or rocker. If you want to strap them together, place the straps on the tips and the ends and loosely fastened. Make sure you do not hang the skis by the tips between two dowels since the weight will cause an unnatural curve on your skis.
When the Season Begins
If you have followed all of the recommended steps, the beginning of the season will be easy. Simply scrape off the excess wax and rewax for the current temperature.