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Ski & Board Tune Resources

Below are some resources we've compiled for tuning. 

Base Structure Theory

Before you sharpen edges or wax...
  • Like treads on a tire, ski bases need structure reduce drag (see below).
  • Your skis need to ride on a film of water produced from the friction of your base and edges cutting through the snow.
  • In cold, dry snow the structure should be fine and shaped to hold water a little longer under your ski since so little is available under these conditions.
  • On cold crystalline snow, the ski base should be as smooth as possible so the points of friction are minimized.
  • On amorphous, wet snow, a coarser structured ski base is better to minimize the points of friction. Pockets of air between the ski base and the snow means that water is repelled from the ski base reducing the braking effect (like a beer glass sliding on a bar -if your below 21, watch a cowboy movie- a flat-bottomed glass won't slide as well as one with an air pocket).
  • In warm, wet snow the idea is to move the water away from the base and reduce suction.
When to grind race skis...
  • At the beginning of the season each ski should be prepared for the race conditions expected at the season's start.
  • New skis tend to have a medium to coarse structure that is ideal for wetter snow, but not dry snow. Consult with a coach or local race shop to learn what structure is running best in your region.
  • In season, grind when drastic changes in snow are expected (dry to wet and vice versa).
  • Early Spring, prepare the skis for late season wet snow conditions.

General Advice
  • Don't belt grind race skis. Belt grinding is not the same as stone grinding. A belt grind will not produce a flat base.
  • Before experimenting with new grinds, have someone test its performance.
  • Stoneground skis will run slower after this process. Don't ski on the skis as returned from the shop, you will need hot boxing or several days of waxings before they hit the snow; follow the process below.
  • The idea is to have your bases professionally structured by stone grinding and maintain them as long as possible; your skis will get faster as your wax cycles increase.
  • Terminology: More depth/width in a structure is considered more "aggressive"; a shallower, tighter structure is less aggressive.
  • A coarser structure is hard to turn; the ski wants to track more.
  • Only for wet/warm conditions should you be able to feel the structure under your fingers. Otherwise, in cold/dry conditions, you want a structure that you can see, but not feel with your fingers.
  • In dry conditions, you want to hold water under the ski, so a structure that is finer on the outside than in the middle will help achieve this.
  • Keep in mind that even if the temperature is high, a course that has been chemically treated will have harder snow and a fine structure should be used.
  • Take into account the speed of the event. The faster a ski goes (GS vs. Slalom) the more heat and water will be produced. The coarseness of the structure should increase as the speed of the event increases.
  • The arrow/chevron structure is more important for Nordic than Alpine; it has a smaller range.
  • Different structures can be laid over each other to break up the repetitiveness of the structure.
  • The broken pattern is used to break up the free water running through the structure and reduce suction. If a constant pattern is used, the free water will start to follow the pattern and lose its effectiveness.
  • Find an expert in your area for advice on what structure is running best for the local conditions.
  • The structure on a freshly ground ski needs to be "de-fanged", meaning the new structure can have high points (like the points of a pyramid) that should be removed. This is done with the pads sold here or by waxing and scraping.
Notes on snowboards
  • Wet/warm - Use a big thick cross structure with a deep cut. Since the humidity is high, this works best by wicking away the moisture from the board. After waxing, use a good hard (brass) brush down the board, then at 45 degree angles both ways across the board. Opening up the structure is key, so brush until no wax remains in the structure. Also, when using the powders at this temperature, buff the powder, and then use a nylon or horsehair to remove the excess.
  • A board's base is wide and the key is to move water out efficiently.
  • Dry/cold - For cold/dry conditions, stick with a thin linear structure. Brush well, usually with a cold harder wax, getting deep isn't as important.
  • Here the idea is to keep water under the board. You need a thin film of water for speed.
How to prepare a ski after applying a stone-ground structure:
  • Remove any wax that the shop laid down. The process below removes micro hairs from the surface of a freshly ground base.
  • Use the gray fibertex pad from the 3-pad fibertex set, with a brush over it (you're pressing on the brush to get even pressure for the pad underneath that is touching the base).
  • Go over it about 50 times in both directions.
  • Change to the red/brown fibertex pad and repeat 50 times.
  • Wax, cool, scrape at least 3 times (5 is better) before the skis touch the snow. If you are a racer, you should consider repeating this 10-15 times before the ski touches the snow. On the World Cup circuit, the waxing cycles go up to 30 to 50 times before hitting the snow!
  • With each wax cycle heat the base surface as little as possible. The idea is to lift and stiffen base micro hairs so they can be cut away with the scraper


What brushes to use & why

Hand Brush Selection: What to use when and why

The Toko hand brush system is very simple yet effective. There are just 4 brushes and between Steel and Copper, it is either/or. So we recommend 3 brushes plus a dedicated Liquid Paraffin brush if you are using Liquid Paraffins. This system is more simple than others out there, but it is tried-and-true so you can trust it.


Steel Oval – this is an awesome brush but needs to be detuned before use. Rub it back and forth on concrete or asphalt for 30 seconds and you’re done. At this point, it can be used as a utility brush. If it is not detuned, it will remove a fine layer of base material. This can be useful for reconditioning bases, but this is a different purpose from regular brushing and is an advanced topic.

When I say utility brush, I mean it is your workhorse. It's the brush you use after you ski/ride before you wax. This cleans the base and opens it up such that it will accept more wax when you hot wax. Then it is the first brush you use after you scrape your hot wax.


Copper Oval – If you're not using the Steel Brush, this is your utility brush. Use the Copper after you ski/ride to clean and base and prep the base for hot waxing. Also this is the first brush you use after you scrape your hot wax regardless of what hardness of wax (yellow, red, or blue)


Horsehair Oval – The Horsehair brush has very fine short bristles. It is very aggressive in that it removes all wax from the surface of the ski and structure which is perfect for cold conditions. Use the Horsehair brush after the Copper or Steel when brushing out cold waxes such as Blue or XCold.


Nylon Oval – The Nylon brush has fat bristles which appear to be aggressive but actually are not at all. It leaves a light sheen of wax on the base which is not a bad thing when there is a bit more moisture in the snow. Use the Nylon brush after the Copper or Steel when brushing out Red or Yellow hot waxes.


After skiing and before waxing brush base out with Steel or Copper. Then hot wax, let cool, and scrape. Then brush with Steel or Oval as your first brush regardless of the hardness of the hot wax. Then if waxing with Blue (cold hard wax), brush out thoroughly with horsehair. If waxing with red or yellow (wax for around 20f or warmer) brush with the Oval Nylon.

**Source TokoUS

Hot waxing ski & snowboards

Why & How

Hot waxing will always be the bedrock of ski and snowboard preparation as long as we have sintered bases. There are two main types of ski and snowboard bases: sintered and extruded. Extruded bases are what inexpensive skis and snowboards come with. They are basically plastic and do not absorb wax. There is no point in hot waxing them but treating them with superficial treatments such as pastes, rub ons, and liquids is effective. The more expensive (non entry level) skis and snowboards come with sintered bases. The idea behind sintered bases is that if you make a base material that absorbs wax, you can change the properties of the base. If you hot wax with a hard wax, you can make the base more dry friction or abrasion resistant which makes the skis faster in cold dry or abrasive conditions. If you hot wax with a soft hydrophobic wax such as yellow, the bases will become faster in wet snow where combatting suction is a great factor.

Another reason to hot wax is to restore the bases. When a base is skied on especially in cold or abrasive snow, the base becomes abraded and looks dried out. This is due to all of the wear on the base from friction against the abrasive snow. Hot waxing is very effective in hydrating and restoring the base to an optimal condition much like how moisturizer is effective in treating dry chapped skin. When you use moisturizer on your skin, you don’t leave a bunch of it on your skin after rubbing it in, right? It is the same with hot wax. The key is to get the wax into the base and then remove it from the surface of the base. The base will adopt the properties of the wax that went into the base and become harder, softer, slipperier, etc. This not only makes the base faster for the short term, but also maintains base health for the long term.

There have been many studies about heat and the absorption of hot wax. The studies have all concluded that the hotter the iron and the longer the time of exposure the more wax penetration there will be both in terms of depth into the base and in the amount of wax absorbed. However we also know that exposure to excess heat is harmful to base material and to the construction of skis and snowboards. For this reason, we need to be careful to try to expose the bases to enough heat to accomplish effective absorption of wax while not damaging the base. We do this by controlling the temperature of the wax iron and the time of exposure of the base to the heat.

Hot waxes come in different hardnesses. Generally cold waxes are far harder than waxes for warmer temperatures. Toko waxes have recommended iron temperature which is hotter for the harder waxes and less hot for the softer waxes. These recommendations are listed on every package of Toko wax.

Heat is only one of the two important factors to consider though when hot waxing. The other critical factor is the amount of time that the base is exposed to the heat. It’s no problem to run your finger through the flame of a candle so long as the finger passes through the flame quickly, however if you slow the finger down and it passes through the flame very slowly, you will burn your finger. It is the same with a base and a waxing iron. The more the time of exposure the more heat is “felt” by the base.

I recommend taking three passes with the iron on the base from tip to tail. With a snowboard this becomes three sets of passes each set covering the entire base. The first pass should be slow as the base is cool and hasn’t started absorbing heat yet. The second pass should be about twice as fast (medium speed). The third pass should be again about twice as fast as the second one. The third pass is when you are in danger of overheating your base and your base should have absorbed quite a bit of heat by now.

If you are unsure of how hot your base is, simply touch it holding the back of your hand against it for at least one full second. If the base is too hot to touch for a second, you need to stop exposing it to heat as it is already too hot. If it is only warm and not at all hot, you can do another pass.

Some people recommend to look at the length of the molten or liquid hot wax behind the iron and say that this wax should be about 2 inches long. I think this is a mistake as the harder waxes have far higher melting points than the softer waxes and thus the temperature and heat exposure required to make a hard wax molten for 2 inches behind the iron can mean the base is being burned while if you accomplish the same with a soft wax it can still not be enough heat because in order for the base to accept wax it needs to be heated enough for it to expand..

Another problem with only considering the length of the molten wax behind the iron is the temperature of the room that you are waxing in. Many people wax in very cold garages and others wax in very warm wax rooms. The colder the room the more heat will be required to achieve 2 inches of molten wax behind the iron. Again you might be overheating your base to achieve this whereas in a warm wax room waxing with a soft wax 2 inches of molten wax behind the iron is surely not enough to achieve wax penetration as the base needs to be heated enough to have it expand and the optimal heat should not just be enough to make the wax molten.

The concept of setting the iron to the recommended iron temperature which generally speaking would be either 140c or 150c and then taking 3 passes from tip to tail slow, medium, and then fast is to try to keep the temperature and speed as stable as possible such that you have a feel for how much heat your bases are being exposed to and such that you can apply the optimal amount of heat for maximum wax penetration with the least amount of risk to your equipment.

**Source TokoUS