How to Tune Your Own Skis—and the Tools You’ll Need

Tuning your own skis is an important step in skiing well. Your best efforts at correct technique will be for naught if your skis are too dull to hold on firm snow, or if they are grabby because of a poor tune.

Many skiers ask us if machine tunes are good enough. Some shops, with experienced technicians, can provide a machine tune that only requires slight hand finishing to ski well. Unfortunately, many shop tunes (despite fancy and expensive machines) can produce a tune that’s significantly different from when your skis were new. They may even leave your skis virtually useless. The variability of shop tunes can be frustrating for the learning skier: if you’ve just had your skis tuned by a new shop, and you’re having difficulty skiing as you’d like, is it you or the tune?

For the cost of a few shop tunes, you can outfit yourself with the tools you need to keep your skis performing in top condition. With just a little practice, your tunes will be consistent, eliminating one variable in your performance.

Our tuning guide includes a description of the tools you’ll need to tune your own skis; a schedule for performing the assorted tuning tasks; and descriptions, photos, and some animations for the tasks. If you’re having trouble finding the tuning supplies you need, contact us. We sell tuning kits with all the tools you’ll need, or individual tools.

Tool

Base bevel guide

West coast (CA, OR, WA, BC, AK): 1 degree

Everywhere else: 0.5 degree

Purpose

Holds the file in order to cut the base edge to the correct bevel. Holds the whetstone or diamond stone to permit deburring the base edge without changing the base bevel angle

When to Use

With file, used only after having the base stone-ground to flat by a machine. With a stone, can be used any time you are deburring to prevent over-beveling.

Tool

Edge bevel guide

Novices: 1 degree

Intermediates and up: 2 degree

Purpose

Holds the file at the correct angle to sharpen the ski edge. Holds the whetstone or diamond stone to permit deburring of the side edge without changing the edge bevel angle.

When to Use

Each time you are going to sharpen edges with a file

Tool      

Files

8″ mill bastard

hard chrome

Purpose

Cuts the base bevel. Sharpens the edge.

Tool

File card

Purpose

Cleans the file   

When Used

Each time you sharpen skis, to keep file clean

Tool

Spring clamp

4″ length

Purpose

Holds the file on the edge bevel guide   

Tool

Whetstone

Fine to medium grit

Purpose

Removes burrs and hard spots from the edges prior to sharpening.          

When Used

Each time before you sharpen edges with a file.

Tool                      

Diamond Stone

Coarse

Purpose

Removes burrs and sharpens the edge. Small enough to carry in your pocket and use on the hill.

When Used

Daily

Tool

Wax

Universal temperature range. Hydrocarbon (not fluorocarbon)

Purpose

Keeps the base material healthy and slick.

When Used

Every 5 ski days

Tool

Plastic scraper

Purpose

Scrapes away excess wax after hot waxing

Tool                      

Ptex candle

Purpose

Fills and repairs gouges and scratches in ski base.

When Used

Ignore small scratches. Use after a rocky day.

Tool

Steel scraper

Purpose

Scrapes away excess ptex after repairing base    

Tool

Emery paper

320 grit or higher

Purpose

Polishes edge after sharpening with file.

When Used

Each time you sharpen skis with a file.

Tool

Cork

Purpose

Rubs wax into base

When Used

For quick wax application without iron; handy for travel

Tool

Iron

Regular fabric iron (dedicated to waxing) or waxing iron with thermostatic control.

Purpose

Heats and applies wax to ski base.