Sidecut Tuning Instructions

Maintaining the condition of your skis and boards is undoubtedly one of the easiest and least expensive ways to improve your on-snow technical ability. In these articles you will learn how to tune your equipment effectively and efficiently but do remember these are the basics. With practice and experience you will develop your own tricks with proficiency. This in turn will make skiing and boarding much more enjoyable, safer, easier and give you more confidence, especially if one of your goals is to go faster or perform better on more challenging terrain. We often think our equipment works fine, however we may not realize what it feels like to ski and ride on properly tuned gear. Remember, setting your new skis or boards up should be based on your current strength and skill level. When this is done correctly you optimize your ability to improve your on-hill skills since tuning and skill development are directly related. ALWAYS BE IN TUNE. Good luck!

Below you'll find the following complimentary documents: the 4-Step Ski Tuning Checklist, 15 Minute Ski Tuning Maintenance Checklist & our Tuning Degree Guidelines chart.

SIDECUT 4 Step Ski Tuning Systems French
2.

SIDECUT Entretien des skis (en 4 Étapes pour skis neufs) & SIDECUT Entretien quotidien des skis (en 15 minutes et 3 Étapes)

SIDECUT 4 Step Ski Tuning Systems
3.

SIDECUT Tuning Degree Guidelines

Base Repair

Tools needed:

Ski or Board Vises (you’ll need a 3-piece vise for skis)
• Brake Retainers (you’ll need these for all stages)
True Bar (also known as a parallel bar or straight edge)
3-5mm sharp plexi scraper & steel scraper
P-tex candle
Body File (‘a Panzer or Radial File”)
Brass Oval Brush, Brass or Soft Steel Roto Brush
Cut Protective Kevlar Gloves (slipping is inevitable & these are essential to prevent injury)

Step 1: Scrape your base with a Plexi Scraper then remove deeper oxidation and dirt with your Oval Brass Brush OR Brass or Soft Steel Roto Brushes and if desired finish with an alcohol/water based solution to remove further surface dirt, dust and fingerprints. (Note: We will cover this step in more detail prior to waxing).

Step 2: Next you’ll need to inspect for any gouges in the base from rocks or trees.

Step 3: Secure your skis or snowboard on the Vice and use Brake Retainers on skis to keep your brakes out of the way.

Step 4: Light your P-tex candle; hold over an old piece of cardboard or Steel Scraper until you get a smaller blue flame and blow out if needed. Drip the P-tex onto the damaged area until it fills to slightly above the base. Be sure not to drip any carbon on the base (a large orange flame indicates this). Keep the flame clean by dripping the dirty P-tex onto the Steel Scraper. Let this harden for a couple of minutes. Alternatively, you can use a P-Tex Gun/Soldering Iron.

Step 5: Remove the excess P-tex with a sharp Steel Scraper as you would scrape wax off but with a lighter touch, removing thin layers until flush with the base. Another option to remove the hardened P-Tex is by using the Body File to shave the P-tex down so that it is flush with the base. Note: take light passes so that you do not scratch or damage surrounding areas of the base, as these files are very sharp. The WC Body File (part #BFWC) is the correct file for this.

Lastly, if the base of your skis or board is in extremely poor condition it is a good idea to take your skis into a specialty shop and ask for a “base grind & structure” to start you off on the right track. However, be sure to assess their work with your True Bar or Base Bevel Meter before leaving the shop (STEP ONE). Note: if you find that the base-edges are catchy after a new grind you have the option to request they redo their work or arternatively you can adjust the Base-Edge Tuning (STEP ONE) by yourself.

Coaching Tip: Skis & boards that are “railed” or “edge-high” are dangerous and negetively impact skill development. They may also lead to incorrect interpretations of how your skiing or riding is progressing. The more control and input you have over your own equipment on a day to day basis will improve your feel on the snow and help you develop a closer relationship between your performance and the condition of your equipment. Skiing & riding is more FUN when your setup is correct.

STEP ONE: Base-Edge Tuning

Tools Needed:

200 or 250mm WC Sidecut Base-Edge File
True Bar
Diamond Stone 400 or 600 grit and/or Ceramic Stone (optional)
• Permanent Felt Pen (optional)
Base Bevel Guide (0.5, 0.7 or 1.0 degrees)

After fixing any marks on your base it's important to determine the flatness of your base and your current base-edge bevel. Even brand new equipment may come edge-high and therefore base-edge work (flat filing or stoning) will be required before your first day on the snow to prevent frustration. Depending on snow conditions and individual preferences, skis and boards are base-edged beveled differently; 0.5 to 1.0 degree of base-edge bevel is most common. The current trend is as follows: 0.5-0.7 degrees – for all Slalom skis and agressive carving style skiers and boarders. 0.5-1.0 degrees for all GS/SG skis and 0.7-1.0 for both free-ride skiers and boarders.

Step 1: Before assessment with a True Bar be sure your base is clean & wax free. If necessary, use a soft steel or brass brush either by hand or roto to help. Then wipe off the debris. Next, either remove your ski from the vice and rest it on your shoulder towards a light or keep it secured in the vise and place your true bar (part #TBWC) on the base and evaluate in sections approximately 10cms apart. You will quickly learn if your base is concave, convex or appropriately flat with the correct base-edge bevel for the respective skier or boarder. If the True Bar can be rocked from side to side then the base is “high” or convex. On the snow this may feel as if you cannot get sufficient edge grip making controlled turning difficult. If the base is concave often causing the edges to be high or “railed” you’ll see excessive light under the center area of the “true bar”. On the snow this may feel as if your ski or board is on rails, making turning very difficult with a grabby or catchy sensation.

Step 2: If the base is Convex it may be remedied by wrapping 120-220 grit sand paper around your True Bar and using long strokes from tip to tail to remove material until flat. Periodically check your progress with your True Bar. You may want to finish with a finer 200-400+ grit paper. Brush out all debris and micro-fibres with a soft steel or brass brush.

Step 3: If the base is Concave and the edges are high which may be the case even with new skis and boards particularly at the tips and tails then focus more on these areas where the steel is higher than the body of the ski. For the majority of skiers it’s common to apply slightly more base-edge bevel to the tips and tails to assist in easier turn execution. Note: Some newly ground skis can be edge-high throughout their length, which may drastically impact both ski performance and skill development. In these situations you will need to true the entire length of the edges by hand or re-grinding by machine.

sidecut tuning instructions table


Note: A 1.0-degree base bevel at the front of the ski (10-20cm) allows the ski to “slide” or “steer” the top part of the turn easier especially on steeper terrain or in tight courses where ‘clean carving is not achievable’. This is an option to eliminate the “grabby” feeling making your turns much easier if ‘steering’ is required. Start by testing 0.7 degree bevel on all of your skis/boards and increase as desired. Remember, you can always increase base bevel but you cannot decrease it without re-grinding your base. Remember a 0.5-degree base bevel is more aggressive which means that the skis do not steer/pivot/slide as easily as a 1.0 degree base-edge bevel.

Step 4: Remove any burrs by hand or with your Base Bevel Guide with a 400 or 600 grit Diamond Stone to make flat-filing easier.

Step 5: Mark your edges with the permanent felt tip marker to enable you to see how much base edge you are removing (optional - mostly for new tuners).

Step 6: Insert 200 or 250mm WC Sidecut Base-Edge File into the Base Bevel Guide ensuring that the ½ moon portion of the guide meets the sidewall. This becomes your guide as it glides along the sidewall of the ski.

Step 7: Remember that files are designed to cut in one direction - on the ‘pull stroke’ not the ‘back stroke’ (see Step 1 of our how-to videos). One technique (when learning) is to slightly lift the file on the backstroke keeping the guide and file steady as to not mark base. Then set the file-in-guide on the ski and with very light pressure draw it towards you, feeling the file cutting the steel. Moving the file every 2-3 passes in approx. 1cm increments will prevent the file clogging up with metal. It’s crucial to keep the file and base clear of all debris. Apply this same technique to any other high spots that you may have encountered on the previously marked edge. Finish with one light pass confirming your work is a smooth and even ensuring very little or no resistance from the file to prevent a wavy edge. Be sure the entire width and length of the edge is the same colour and ‘shiny’.

Notes: frequently waxing you bases with Nanox helps prevent premature wear due to friction. Assuming you don’t do any rock damage you will not need to use a file on the base-edge every time you sharpen your skis! Once you are satisfied with your base-edge bevel, leave it and maintain your ski or boards sharpness by side-filing and/or stoning. Base beveling the edge furthest from you is an easy way to keep things consistent. You will need to file from tip to tail on one edge and then tail to tip on the other when you flip it around.

Coaching Tip: Our bodies use approx. 2L of H2O/day for normal bodily function. When we exercise, particularly at altitude (1200m +) several responses such as increased ventilation and heart rate occur within the body. This means we need to increase our fluid intake to prevent dehydration and in turn an involuntary decrease in work capacity. A 2% decrease in weight caused by fluid loss can lower physical performance by as much as 20%. Drink as much as 4 to 6 liters of fluid/day if you are training or working hard at altitude. Drinking prior, during and after training or working on the mountain will aid in the prevention of environmental effects and as a result enhance skiing performance. Alcohol and caffeine contribute to dehydration and therefore are not included in your daily fluid intake.

STEP TWO: Top-Sheet & Sidewall Preparation

Tools Needed:

SIDECUT Sidewall Removal Tool or Sidewall Adapter Kit
200 or 250mm WC Sidecut Base-Edge File and/or a Body File
Fibertex or 80-400grit sandpaper.

Top-Sheets: The Top-Sheet on new skis & boards are often very ‘square’ in the tips and tails which can interfere with your ability to apply the correct side-edge bevel. Without adjusting this profile it’s difficult to file correctly, due to insufficient clearance for the file to cut the edge.

Step 1: With your ski on its side in the vise (base facing away from you - optional) shape the top-sheet using a Body File applying even consistent pressure with your passes ensuring you’re rolling the file away from the edge. You can also use a combination of your 200 or 250mm Cut 12 File gripping only the top and bottom, keeping your elbow tight to your side and applying windshield wiper type passes. This will remove the majority of the material quickly. Then switch to your finer 200mm Cut 17 file to shape or angle it exactly how you desire, if you prefer a finer finish. The file pressure you use is dependent on the hardness of the material you’re working with. Remember to visually inspect to confirm you've created enough clearance so that your file or stone on the guide is contacting only the steel edge and not loading up with top-sheet materials.

Step 2: Then smoothen it further with 220-400 grit sandpaper or Fibertex to make the tip and tail portion of the top-sheet ultra-smooth.

Sidewalls: The sidewall of the ski or board consists of what we call the sidewall step (to be removed) a thin hard layer of hardened aluminum alloy found on many skis and boards but not all (i.e. junior skis). Next to this is the steel edge that you want to sharpen to your preferred degree of bevel. Similar to the top-sheet, we remove the sidewall step and often and some of the aluminum alloy because it interferes with the files ability to contact the steel edge, making it impossible to sharpen the side-edge on your desired bevel. Remove some or all of the step depending on your preference. For the recreational skier, remove whenever needed.

Step 3: Place your Sidewall Removal Tool on the base of the ski. Set the roller-bearing on the edge keeping the tool parallel to the edge. Insert the pin standing behind the tool and then steady the pin with half of your thumb on the aluminum block and half on the pin to prevent it from moving. Next, ensure the cutter is just touching the black sidewall step, then adjust your rake anywhere between 10 and 40 degrees, (you’ll need to experiment) however a slight twist most often works perfectly. Next, tighten the screw.

Step 4: Dependent on the type of sidewall material, long even passes, without stopping, allowing the tool to do the work, most often deliver the best results. Use of the tool in sections or a ‘stop/start’ approach can create tiny grooves in the sidewall that may grow into severe chatter marks with more passes.

Step 5: If speed is important to you then spend time blending the work done on the top-sheets and sidewalls by sanding and polishing them with the goal of making them faster. Simply wrap 220 or finer grit sandpaper or fibre-tex around your file or true bar and sand until smooth removing all imperfections. To sand out the slight concave use either the natural curvature in your thumb or use a dowel pin.

Notes: Be sure to get the locater pin adjusted accurately on the first pass so that it’s removing the step. If it isn’t - for instance the cutter is hitting the edge, then simply stop and readjust. Your downward pressure on the sidewall with the cutter should be very light initially. Once the curl starts you can increase your downward pressure and then ease up again at the opposite end of the ski to prevent it from biting into the thinner sections of the top-sheet you've already altered. Keep your speed consistent by moving with the tools keeping your left hand either on the ski or on the tool for improved accuracy and balance.

Still having trouble? After you have created clearance for both files and stones in relation to the top-sheet and the sidewall you may still encounter problems filing due to slippage. You may solve this by adjusting the sidewall tool to remove a little of the aluminum alloy layer mentioned earlier. Spring like steel strands indicate you are removing it correctly. As before, if you’re hitting the steel edge, simply stop and readjust.

Which cutter should I use? Sidewall materials used on skis and boards vary greatly not only amongst different manufacturers but also between junior and adult skis. Round and Square cutters come in different grades and sharpness and work differently. Therefore, choosing the correct cutter is essential. Round cutters are typically better for sandwich construction skis, whereas, square cutters are typically better for cap construction skis.

Coaching Tip: The main implications affecting an un-acclimatized skier/border at altitude are; the rate at which energy is produced aerobically is reduced as well as the ability to tolerate lactic acid resulting from the intense efforts. Here is a simple strategy for arriving to an altitude that is higher than you are used to:

• Take the first day off if you have plenty of time
• Consume increased amounts of water to offset dehydration - 4-6 liters
• Take the first couple of days easier - lower the intensity of your work at altitude (1200M+)
• Get extra sleep on the first few days by going to bed earlier rather than sleeping in
• Do mentally stimulating activities to prevent boredom while not boarding or skiing!

STEP THREE: Side-Edge Tuning

Tools Needed:

Diamond Guide - 92, 93 or 94 degrees
Diamond Discs - 120, 200, 400, 600 and/or 1000 grit
File guide with Trigger Clamp - 91, 92, 93, 94 or 95 degrees
Side-Edge File - 100mm Cut 10, 14, 15 and/or 16
Diamond Stones - 200, 400, 600 and/or 1000 grit
Ceramic Stone - optional
File Brush
Edge Oil or Isopropyl & H2O mix in a spritzer bottle.
Gummy Stone - Green and/or Blue

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 top-sheet 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 alcohol 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!

STEP FOUR: Waxing

Tools Needed:

Wax
Iron
Scraper
Brass Brush or Soft Steel - optional
Nylon Brush
Horsehair Brush
Roto Brushes - optional
• Clean lint free cloth
Ski straps
Fibertex


Choosing wax depends on whether or not you are competing and how fast you want your skis or boards to run. Purchasing wax nowadays can be rather confusing. To help make it a little easier for you here are 4 main categories and some of their characteristics:

Hydrocarbon waxes: Typically the least expensive and fine for all-round skiing and boarding and are good for the “hot scraping” method of base cleaning. Best to buy in bulk.
Low Fluorinated Waxes: Work well in most conditions and are more expensive than the Hydrocarbon waxes. Good for those who enjoy recreational racing and training. Toxic and a respirator mask needs to be worn.
High Fluorinated Waxes: These are the faster, work best in certain conditions and are typically the most expensive. Used mostly by those who are involved in competition. Very toxic and a respirator mask must be worn.
Nanox Waxes: Utilizing Nano-Technology, Nanox claims it has the best gliding performance under all conditions because of the NANO particles ability to adapt to the extreme changes in temperature and humidity. Since Nanox waxes and are not temperature specific it means you only need ONE wax for all snow conditions & temperatures. This makes it the easiest system to use whether you're into recreational or competitive skiing & boarding. It's non-toxic and does not contain any Fluorocarbons. Nanox claims their wax stays in your base longer. Best value & performance for money.


Now that your skis and boards are tuned to your personal requirements, they need to be cleaned due to all of the handling, dirt and impurities left in the base. Cleaning the base and its structure is an extremely important step to acheive optimal gliding characteristics.

Step 1: Inspect your base with a loupe if possible to see if you have micro-hairs present. If you do it’s critical to remove them minimize friction and allow the bases to run fast. To do so wrap fibertex around your true bar and take passes back and forth, finishing with one long pass tip to tail. End with a smooth sharp scraper knocking all the fibers back in the direction of glide. Next, use with a brass or soft steel brush either by hand or roto-brushes from tip to tail. If using roto-brushes wear safety glasses and be sure to set the drill on the slower speed setting applying light-med pressure. Optional: Use of a finer horsehair brush may be required to further extract micro-hairs prior to waxing.

Step 2: Option A: Use a 25% distilled water to 75% isopropanol mixture (environmentally friendly) and apply to a clean lint free cloth. Wipe your base until clean. Option B: Wax your base and while still hot, immediately scrape it - known as “Hot Scraping”. This draws out the impurities that may be in the base. Repeat, until there is no longer any dirt in the wax that you are scraping.

Step 3: Preheat your iron to the respective wax manufacturer’s specifications. In this case we'll provide waxing directions using Nanox. Next, set your iron to 140C (if the wax smokes excessively decrease the temperature of the iron). Clean the iron with a clean cloth, then melt and drip a generous amount of wax onto the base. Next, holding your cord out of the way melt the wax into your base. We like to start at the tail, go to the tip and return to the tail. Be sure to keep the iron moving so you don’t burn the base and look for 5-10cm melted trail behind the iron. Note: Using CFX II race wax is identical in application and removal except that the iron is set to 150-160C.

Step 4: Use the notch in the scraper to remove all wax from the edges. Brush away the wax. If needed put ski on its side to remove wax from the edge and sidewall. Wipe clean and use fibertex to remove stubborn wax from the sidewall. When scraping place both thumbs on the scraper and push with even pressure removing the wax from tip to tail. Scrape Nanox from the base within 1-2 minutes or still slightly warm. Avoid both over scraping and flexing thinner scrapers otherwise you may unnecessarily remove base material.

Step 5: Next, always remove Nanox wax with your nylon brush only. If you choose to use use roto-brushes, set the speed high and use low force or set the speed low and use medium force. Go back and forth with the roto-brush finishing with one smooth and steady pass from tip to tail ensuring the roto is contacting the entire width of the base. Note: For best results with Nanox waxes use a nylon hand brush scrubbing back forth and lastly a tip to tail pass to knock all the fibres back down. This will give you a nice sheen and allow the meltwater to flow through the structure on-snow. Wipe clean to remove dust. To learn more about Nanox refer to our How-To-Use Nanox wax video.

Step 6: Lastly, use a minimum of three ski straps to transport your skis and protect your work. If you are traveling it is best to put your skis or board in a protective bag.

We're confident these 4 steps will help you to enjoy your on snow experience far more. Remember, an instructor or coach can only help you so much if your skis or board aren’t are tuned to match your existing strength and skills. Therefore, if you want to get much more value out of your ski lessons, race camps, or competitions, learning to tune your own gear will be a huge asset. With practice you will soon develop a “feel” for tuning and immediatley feel what a difference it makes in your skiing & riding. Enjoy! Watch our How-To-Tune 4 step video


By learning to tune you will ski & ride better!