Beginner skis and info on diy ski tuning

Mendieta

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As a beginner - I wouldn't worry much about skis yet make sure you have comfy boots.
It's the first thing I bought, I didnt even go to a proper fitter but mine are still comfy after 7 days of intense skiing (versus a friend who went through a fitter and his feet hurt every day ...)

I don't think that's the best route for a beginner. Boots need to be snug, otherwise you can't control your skis, and you acquire a lot of bad habits that are hard to get rid of, such as driving the skis with your upper body.

Beginner boots are comfort oriented anyways. I think the best route is going to a good shop, and asking for beginner boots, and yes, they will know. They won't give you a boot that needs custom work, they will know what you need at that point, and high performance is certainly not it. Of course you need to be honest about where you are in your journey, find a good shop, and tell them what you are looking for. Sorry about your friend, though!
 

Chris V.

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But that means I need to maintain them for probably 5 years, and I have NO idea what ski maintenance even is. I'm trying to determine how much I should learn to maintain skis myself or if I should just drop them off at the shop every year. I don't relish learning another hobby "job", but I work on my own bikes, etc. so I should probably learn to work on skis.
Well, this is quite the rabbit hole you're peering down!

First step, look at the video via the links that Phil put up earlier.

Next, poke around the following site for Tognar Toolworks: https://www.tognar.com

As others have said, there's some initial investment. If you keep your wish list short for now, and use some creativity, you can keep the cost down. Your local shop will have at least some of the items you'll want, but the selection may be limited and the prices may be high. For every ski tuning thing you could ever possibly imagine, visit the Tognar site.

Tognar's Web site also has a big set of instructional articles.

Your first issue, and maybe the most difficult, is how to hold your skis steady and strongly while you're working on them. The best solution is to get a set of ski vises that you can attach to a work bench. That assumes you have a work bench. If you want to spend more money, you can get a folding ski tuning table. Otherwise, you may be able to get away with using a standard carpenter's vise, if you have a home shop. Otherwise, you can get your children to hold the ski steady while you're working, and then drip molten wax on their hands and probably slip with the file, as well. Yeah, not the best plan.

The first task you want to learn, because it's the one you'll need to do most often, is hot waxing. For this, the most expensive item needed is a waxing iron. You may be able to get away with using a small travel iron. A steam iron isn't good, because the wax will get into the holes in the base. After that, it's pretty straightforward. You need some wax. To start, an all-temperature wax or one formulated for snow at about the freezing point will be fine. You need a plastic scraper. To get fancy, a brush is good to have. This is to expose the structure on the ski base.

Getting slightly more complex, the next task is sharpening edges. To start with, you might want to only get a small diamond stone. You can use this to remove burrs between sharpenings. This is important, and something you should do promptly any time you hit a rock. A full sharpening usually isn't needed more often than every few weeks, and you might choose to leave that to a shop. If you want to do it yourself, there are many types of files, file guides, and stones available.

For most people, the most complex do-it-yourself task they'll tackle will be base repairs. First, you need a metal scraper. This is to remove any ptex that has been raised above the surface, and to flatten the base after you do base welds. You can also carefully use a small sharp knife to cut off any projecting bits of ptex. To fill gouges, you need ptex material and a way to melt it into the gouges. There are various methods. I recommend using the ptex string and a small soldering pen with a beveled flat end. If a gouge is all the way through the ptex exposing the laminate underneath, you'll need "metal string," because regular ptex won't adhere to metal. The metal string goes in as the deepest layer of repair material, followed by regular ptex on top. If you have only modest damage to a ski base, it's much cheaper and not too hard to make a repair without getting a full base grind at a shop. Every time you get a base grind, you shorten the life of your skis, because the ptex is only so thick.

I hope this gives you a start.
 
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Dixie Flatline

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What do you think if this tool kit? If I end up needing all this stuff anyway, it might be cheaper to just buy a kit out of the gate.

RaceWax Elite Ski Snowboard Tuning Kit: Complete with Iron, Wax, Edge Tools, Base Repair https://a.co/d/52ctqCG
 

François Pugh

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What you need for tuning skis:
Wax - it comes in various hardnesses, which you choose from depending on the temperature forecast for when you will be skiing;
Iron - don't skimp on the iron, unless you can find a very heavy old iron at the goodwill/salvation army/whatever from before they started putting steam holes in them.
Brush - if you are only getting one, which is enough to get you started, get a nylon brush. Later, once you get into it you will want to expand your collection;
A plastic scraper; and
Brake retainers - also known as broccoli elastics (elastics sometimes comes with asparagus too).

You drip hot wax onto your skis in drops, then spread the drops with the iron, then scrape off the excess, then brush out the the wax from inside the tiny grooves in the ski bases.

I am not familiar with your conditions, but if the snow is hard and icy you will want to get into edge sharpening sooner rather than later, you will need:
A fixed side edge Guide - I don't recommend a variable/adjustable guide. Get a solid metal fixed guide, depending on your conditions and intents, you will want either a 2 (for softer conditions and for moguls) degree or 3 degree (for icier conditions) guide. Later you can add a different angles for different specialty skis and a base edge guide, but for now I would leave the base edge alone and only get it done when/if you bring in your skis for a needed base grind;
A set of files coarse, medium and fine - at least coarse and fine - minimum fine, assuming your starting with good skis;
A set of diamond stones (coarse, medium, fine) - starting with coarse because it works faster, then ending with the fine because it makes the edge last longer.

As to the kit, there is a saying, "Poor man pays twice." I don't know about the iron and the brushes are probably fine, but I would want to replace the edge guide. If the rest of that kit is ok, then it might be worth buying it along with a good edge guide separately. Other's familiar with those exact products may chime in.

Also needed (unless you have been diagnosed with diabetes)
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PinnacleJim

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What do you think if this tool kit? If I end up needing all this stuff anyway, it might be cheaper to just buy a kit out of the gate.

RaceWax Elite Ski Snowboard Tuning Kit: Complete with Iron, Wax, Edge Tools, Base Repair https://a.co/d/52ctqCG
You have enough on your plate with 4 kids and you just learning the sport. I would just get a basic edge guide/tuner and a can or 2 of the Toko liquid paraffin wax to do quick tunes between full tunes at the shop.

As to gear for the kids, many shops have season leases of skis boots and poles. Good for kids that quickly grow out of things. If you decide to buy, the ski swaps are a great way to get used gear that other kids have grown out of at bargain prices.
 

Dwight

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What do you think if this tool kit? If I end up needing all this stuff anyway, it might be cheaper to just buy a kit out of the gate.

RaceWax Elite Ski Snowboard Tuning Kit: Complete with Iron, Wax, Edge Tools, Base Repair https://a.co/d/52ctqCG
Go directly to racewax.com instead of Amazon. Right now you can save an extra 15%, store wide. Get 15% off storewide now with code B15 ("BEE-ONE-FIVE")
I purchased most of the tuning supplies from them in the past. Like many ski tool supply companies, smaller family owned.
 

Dave Marshak

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Don't get sucked into the everyday tuning/waxing thing. I know that's different advice than you'll get here but this place is full of tuning nerds. If I skied in Montana I'd throw my sharpening tools away and learn to fix core shots, and stay home when that wasn't good enough.

I ski in the East and sharpen every day or two, but I've never felt the need to sharpen in the West. Skis glide fine without wax, and unwaxed skis are usually better than the wrong wax, especially on cold days. The real benefit of waxing is that it prevents abrasion on your bases, which is another mostly Eastern/artificial snow problem. IME as a race coach, only the most committed J5's (U11) or their compulsive parents ever waxed or sharpened their skis, but those were the kids that were gonna win the races regardless of wax. Hot waxing is the biggest PITA of skiing. Teach your kids to wax their own skis. They won't do it but you will be off the hook.

If you feel the need to keep sharp skis, the SkiVisions Ski Sharp is the easiest tool to use, but it works best if you use it every day.
skisharp_front_th.jpg

The Skivisions website also has several helpful videos.

Also think about safety. You don't want your kids breathing wax vapor. Don't use extreme edge angles. Keep the side edge to 1 degree for kids' skis. Cuts are a real problem. A couple of years ago I cut my finger to the bone scraping wax. Race programs here are requiring cut proof gloves when kids tune on site, and they're talking about requiring cut proof suits for competition. Short track speed skating now requires two layers of cut proof suits.

dm
 
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Sibhusky

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but I would want to replace the edge guide
Ditto. Every adjustable edge guide I got was replaced with fixed edge guides. Yes, I actually bought more than one adjustable before I learned. If you are undecided about your side edge bevel, get the fixed type with shims.

Just as a general comment. It's enough to start doing all this stuff at all, let alone all at once. Just start with wax if you're in Idaho. Universal is fine for most of the time. I don't use it, but... At some point you'll need wax for cold days in Idaho unless you're wimps. So make sure you have some wax for colder temps. Because it's like skiing on sand otherwise. I use CH4, but that's really more than you'll want to handle at first, so maybe some CH5.

Then, next season, worry about your edges. If you were skiing the Poconos, I'd say start with edges this year.
 
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Mendieta

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Also, it looks like that guide in the kit files the bases. I certainly wouldn't want to do that. I only polish the side edges, as many expert tuners recommended not messing with the bases since you can completely screw the ski. I only lightly deburr the bases by hand. Bases are better off done with a machine at a shop, like some folks already mentioned in this thread ...

You might just get a shopping list here for a first set of tools.
 

Chris V.

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Also, it looks like that guide in the kit files the bases. I certainly wouldn't want to do that. I only polish the side edges, as many expert tuners recommended not messing with the bases since you can completely screw the ski. I only lightly deburr the bases by hand. Bases are better off done with a machine at a shop, like some folks already mentioned in this thread ...
Ok...this is going down that rabbit hole, but...

There's a reason you don't want to take much material off the base bevel when doing routine sharpening. A full tune involves a base grind that flattens the bases. This will also flatten some or all of the base surfaces of the edges. In the initial sharpening that follows the shop will...or should...remove just enough edge material such that the bevel ends at the boundary between the metal and the ptex, creating an angle there. If later on when sharpening again you remove more metal from the base surface of the edge, you also remove a bit of ptex and move that angle into the ptex itself. That moves the actual sharp edge farther from the snow than you wanted, and exposes high points in the soft ptex that will be subject to erosion as you ski. You can end up with a base that's convex instead of flat.

Any interim sharpening directed to the base bevel should have the goal of only removing burrs, high points. Sharpening of the angle between the base and side bevels can be done by removing side bevel material.
 

Chris V.

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An amendment to my earlier post... I've just been making a pre-feast repair in preparation for post-Thanksgiving skiing, and am reminded that sintered ptex ribbon actually works a lot better than the string. The ribbon is a little harder to work with (also goes in using a soldering pen)--but has much less of the unfortunate tendency of the string to pull out when you're scraping. You still need the metal string for a base layer if your core shot is down to metal.
 
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Dixie Flatline

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I'm sure it's best to use proper ski wax. But just out of curiosity, what happens if you use regular Ball canning wax? Or even beeswax? Like if you can't get ski wax because it's the zombie apocalypse or post-covid supply chain or something.
 

James

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Basic waxes were based on paraffin, so probably the canning stuff would be ok.
But… if you use warm rated wax (generally soft, so probably like canning wax), on very cold snow, you could walk uphill with the skis.
 

mdf

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Ditto. Every adjustable edge guide I got was replaced with fixed edge guides. Yes, I actually bought more than one adjustable before I learned. If you are undecided about your side edge bevel, get the fixed type with shims
Racewax has a slightly more expensive kit with real (fixed angle) edge guides. First time I've seen that.
 
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