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Side Edge Tuning

Step Three: Side Edge Tuning

Tools needed:

When you “carve” on your skis or boards there is one contact point between you and the snow - your edge. To attain optimal balance on an edged ski or board it is crucial that they be consistently and accurately sharp throughout their length. This makes “committing” to the ski or board much easier on harder terrain and respond better on easier terrain. The increased sense of “trust” you'll receive in your equipment will have a destinct link to speeding up your learning progression. To attain the utmost accuracy and consistency when side-edge tuning it is necessary to have a “File Guide with a Trigger Clamp”. The most common file guides range from 1-5 degrees. Determining the right degree of side bevel varies greatly from personal preference, strength and your ability level.

For example a very skilled skier who can create a large amount of edge angle throughout a turn may notice an improved edge hold on hard-packed snow with an increased degree of edge bevel. 3, 4 and even 5-degree side bevels are quite common these days particularly on slalom skis. For example, a 0.5 degree base bevel and 3 to 4 degree side bevel is very common at the higher skill levels, whereas a 1 or 2 degree side edge bevel is the norm for recreational boarders and skiers.

Step 1:

With your ski on its side in the vise (base facing away from you) remove any burrs with you Diamond Guide and 120 or 200 grit Diamond Disc. Use either of these grits dry for this purpose to open the hardened steel making it far easier to file. Start at either the tip or tail right around the curve and work the disc back and forth giving the it a slight turn whenever it loads excessively with the metal debris from the edge. Removing the burrs is necessary to increase the life of your files, as burrs will damage the teeth of your files but will not damage the Diamond Stone.

Step 2:

Fasten your file to the File Guide by sliding the file in until it touches the screw and adjust so it’s on a slight angle, with the arrow facing toward you. Then tighten the thumb screw. Next place your fore-finger on the trigger and your thumb on the clamp. Since this is a new ski we’re choosing a more aggressive Cut 10 or Cut 14 side-edge file.

Step 3:

It’s important to start right around the curve of the tip or tail and with light to medium pressure take slow even passes ensuring your guide is running absolutely true on the base of the ski. It’s normal to have some resistance initially due to the hardness of new edge however after a few passes the steel will soften and file easily. Clean the ski often with a brush or cloth and file until there is a uniform colour to the edge across its entire width.

Troubleshooting: If the file seems to slip, skip or nothing is happening, the cause may be interference from the top-sheet, excessive sidewall, burrs, a worn out or loaded file.

Solutions: Use a body file to remove more topsheet or your sidewall remover to remove more sidewall, remove burrs with the diamond stone or clear the teeth of your file following its groove pattern with a File Brush.

Step 4:

Next, is to polish the edges. Use your alcohol/water mixture or edge oil to polish the edges. Choose either your Diamond Guide or a File Guide. If you’re using the isopropanol/distilled water mixture spray the liquid on the diamond and wipe the guide. Using oil, put a tiny drop about every 5-10 centimeters along the edge. Then in one light pass spread with your finger. Add a drop to the diamond and work the oil back and forth until a slippery greyish paste is formed contributing to an ultra-fine polish. Moving from the 400 to 600 grit diamond disc you’ll notice the resistance and sound both decreasing. If desired finish with a 1000 grit diamond for even finer polishing and be certain you take some long passes with even pressure to prevent a wavy edge. Wipe your edge as many times as necessary until clean and looking closely at the edge you should notice a nice even uniform color across its entire width and length.

Step 5:

After filing and using diamond stones you may feel a little hanging burr with your finger nail. To remove this use either a 600 or 1000 grit diamond stone or a green gummy on the base edge. Position the diamond or gummy stone on the base with a slight angle and tip it to meet the bevel of the edge. Take a very light accurate pass to remove the micro-burr. Running your finger lightly on the apex of the edge - it should feel perfectly smooth and burr free. Lastly, if you prefer to de-tune the tips and tails use the harder blue gummy which more rapidly removes the acuteness of the edge. This will take sharpness away and make the ski less aggressive. Note: 2-4 medium-hard passes is enough to de-tune. This will make the initiation and completion of “steered” turns easier. De-tuning depends on your equipment, skill level and personal preference.

Notes: Cut 10 files are predominantly used for brand new skis or ones that have recently been done by machine. Cut 14 files are our most popular file and for general every day use. Cut 15 and 16 files are used for finer filing and skis that are tuned often. Cleaning your diamonds immediately after your session will drastically increase their longevity. Using oil instead of water is our suggested method. Only use a tiny drop otherwise you may affect the adhesion of the replaceable diamond on its backing plate. Smear it around with your finger to lift the dirt and rub vigorously on a coarse towel, then flip it over and let it dry diamond side up. Just like files, diamond stones wear out after 1000’s of passes. When they do just remove the diamond strip, clean the backing plate with alcohol and replace it.

Coaching Tip: Make incremental improvements: Make your daily on-snow goals small so they are measurable and attainable. We tend to set vague, long-term goals hoping to reach them, yet we end up spending too much time wishing and not enough time doing. Remember, constantly building on and accomplishing small goals first, will eventually lead to achieving your larger, long term goals. Once in while challenge yourself by doing something extremely hard first and even slightly out of your comfort zone!

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