Been sking several years now. My son and I own our gear and I have been paying people to tune it. I am thinking of tuning it myself. Any hints? on good tuning equipment? what I need? buy a kit? buy individual components? teach myself? brands to avoid? ebay?
I tried tuning myself and sortof just gave up due to mostly poor results. I recently had my skis tuned at a shop and the result was so much better than what mess i'd created that i think i've given up on the idea. maybe you'll have better luck
If you are thinking of tuning skis yourself to save money, then you may want to rethink that approach. To do a good job (i.e., approaching the level of a professional job at a reputable ski shop), the investment in equipment and learning time is pretty high. For example, to start you will need special ski vises, several files, filed holders, different waxes, an iron and a book teaching you how to do it. Then you will need to accumulate the knowledge necessary and understand what to do by practice practice practice. You will easily mess up at least one pair of skis in the process of learning.
If, however, you do want to invest the time and effort to learn because you WANT to do it - i.e., as part of the skiing "experience," by all means, go ahead. Just realize that it will not be cheap or quick. Again, find a good book on the techniques of ski tuning, talk to some folks that have done it and look at equipment. As with most things, you generally get what you paid for in ski tuning gear.
Frankly, as someone who would rather not be spending the time to learn, I have found that there are a number of good tuners in the various ski shops in the DC area. My personal recommendation is a guy named Gary in the Ski Chalet in Tyson's Corner. He's an avid skier himself and former ski patroller from out west so he knows the demands of the sport and how skis need to be tuned for various conditions. He is definitely not just some kid that only knows how to push a few buttons on an automated tuning machine. I have been taking my skis and my wife's skis to him for a number of years and have never been disappointed. Ski Chalet's prices are also pretty competitive with other shops in the area.
well having giving up (for now) on tuning ( i do have some stones to deburr a bit and touch up) -- I do wax myself. Well I touch up wax. I just bought a cheap iron from k-mart and some general purpose all-temp ski wax. I turn the iron on and let it heat up and rub the wax on the bottom to cover a bit of bottom -- i adjust the heat so it doesn't smoke and then let it drip on the bottom of the skis. Then when the wax has well covered the ski bottoms, I lightly spread it around with the hot iron to get it all smoothed out. After this I take a piece of straight plastic and scrap off the excess, and then polish it slightly. I've had pretty good results except at the fringes of the temperature range (very cold, or slushy)...
You can also buy your own tools and stuff from reliable racing -- http://www.reliableracing.com/wintersportscatalog/
There's other places too, check online @ google for ski tuning & related.
Couple questions KevR,
How often do you wax
What do you use to polish or rub the wax in to the base?
KevR, why do you feel you're getting poor results? That's a twofold question, really: What happened on the slopes? and What were you trying to do that didn't go quite right?
Mmm, last yr I skied alot for me(26+ days!) so I waxed the skis every couple of times after I wnet when they looked dry. I used a flat piece of thick plastic ( I have an ANCIENT ski tuning kit with piece of flat plastic but i'd think something like a solid plastic ruler might do...) to scrap the excess off (outside by the way, it makes a huge mess). For polish I used a light scouring spunge to rub it to a shine. I did't sweat it too much really and I thought it worked great except when it was really cold and my skis were squeaky in the snow -- (wrong wax i think by then)
-- what was I trying to do: I was try to sharpen my edges by hand. I used a bevel I bought and some diamond sharpening stones that fit in the bevel. I felt the stones had limited contact with the metal, partially due to the bottoms which I think needed to be ground flat ...
In THEORY it should work but lacking space, a bit of patience, and a desire to invest in the right tools... I just sorta gave up.
However, I will continue to use the bevel to do some spot sharpening.
I agree with most of what's said here. Tuning is an art (black art at that), the tools are expensive, and it takes time. Of course, so does running to the shop to drop off and pick up gear.
You might consider an edge touch-up tool to file the side edges only (leave the bottom edges for the pros) and then touch up the sides every other day. This should keep them in pretty good shape, and you can get a thorough, professional tune every dozen days or so.
-- what was I trying to do: I was try to sharpen my edges by hand. I used a bevel I bought and some diamond sharpening stones that fit in the bevel. I felt the stones had limited contact with the metal,
The stones may very well have had little contact with the edges if your bevel guide didn't match your actual edge bevel. You really can't trust that either the factory tune or a shop tune is what the mfg. specification states. I found this out first hand last year when both brand new pairs of skis I bought were not even close to mfg specs.
I just took up tuning my own skis and have so far had much superior results to shop tunes. Get some good tools and ask alot of questions. Tognar.com is a good source for equipment (check out their kits). A good vise set is very useful. And swix has a good online tuning video series.
I'd prefer to tune myself but i don't really have the space, and i'm not sure I want to invest in the equipement. I tried dipping my big toe in with mixed results...
You only need enough space to lay your skis down. Get an old sheet, throw it on the floor, and lay your skis down on top of them.
I began tuning my skiis over 20 years ago and got into it more as my son became a competitive racer in SARA. Tools are an investment, but will pay you back tenfold if you maintain your equipment properly. Since my son is out of the competitive racing part now, I maintain my skiis by waxing every 3-4 days, touching up the edges and making sure my bindings are clean of "gunk" that you pick up while skiing in soft conditions. The most important investment is a good vice for the equipment. I have used a variety of irons for waxing and a variety of waxes, bought in bulk. Unless you are into racing and must have a 2 degree bevel, that part of tuning is not a necessary science. The most important thing that I have discovered is that you need a flat ski base to begin. If you have been skiing for a season on the bases, have the skiis stone ground which should flatten the bases and add structure. If you are beginning with new equipment, I strongly suggest several wax and scraping session before hitting the snow. This will help "season" the bases. The manufacturer puts a coating of wax on the skiis for protection only. Finally, as far as scraping... I rarely do scrape anymore since I am not racing. One or two runs and the excess wax is history especially on loose or hard pack. If the conditions are especially soft or warm, I may scrape and even brush to break the suction which slows skiis down in those conditions. I also rarely use new wax in severe cold conditions. This is when it seems as though it's too cold for the skiis to slide on the snow, or they stick. Those conditions are rare, but it has happened at -25 or colder snow pack conditions. Even cold temp wax doesn't help much.
Kim, I about ready to take the plunge and learn to do my own tuning, as Jim said above, as part of the the skiing experience. I've been reading a little bit and am confused about "structure" on the base. What is it?
Jimmy, the structure deals with the actual base material and the texture of that material. If you have a ski "stone ground" to flatten the bases, it will have a linear texture from tip to tail. if you look real close you will notice that this will be a little "fuzzy" due to the base material's composition. Most folks like to have their skis waxed after the grinding. I perfer to wax the skis myself after I have further sturctured the base with a stiff structuring brush, then apply wax, scrape, and wax again. I got to do this wil all my skis this year since I skied the drop, ss and t-draft until the snow was brown. Besides, new wax keeps the edges from oxidizing. It's a good time to clean up the bindings as well.
PS...Don't use a belt sander.
..take you boards to someone who has the proper equipment to do this.