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You don’t have to be a professional ski technician to sharpen and maintain ski edges—you just need the right tools. Expert ski tech Leif Sunde, founder of the Denver Sports Lab, lists the essentials.
Side Bevel Guide
The most basic tool you’ll need to work on ski edges is a file guide that matches the bevel of your edges. Most recreational skis come with a 2-degree factory bevel, which means you’ll need an 88-degree side bevel guide. Some high-performance skis may come with a 3-degree bevel, which would require an 87-degree bevel guide. To check your skis’ side bevel, refer to the ski’s specs listed on the manufacturer’s website. Sunde recommends using a fixed bevel guide rather than an adjustable one, and aluminum or stainless steel versus plastic models.
Recommended Side Bevel Guide
- Toko 87-degree World Cup Bevel Guide, $37
- Swix TA588 Side Edge File Guide 88 Degrees, $37
Video: How to Use a File Guide
Not displaying correctly? Watch it here.
Fine (Second) Cut Mill File
Files vary in coarseness—the coarser the file, the more edge it will take off. If you maintain your ski edges regularly, you shouldn’t need more than a second cut mill file to bring edges back to sharp. You will use this file less frequently and only when you feel that your edges have become dull, explains Sunde.
Recommended Fine Cut Mill Files
- Swix T106X Chrome 2-Cut File
- More Info: SwixSport.com
- Toko WC File Chrome M/200MM, $17
- Buy Now: TokoUS.com
Watch: How to Use a Ski Edge File
Video not displaying correctly? Watch it here.
Like files, diamond stones vary in coarseness, and Sunde recommends having at minimum a medium and fine diamond stone in your tuning box. Diamond stones don’t necessarily sharpen dull edges, but they’re great for removing burrs and rust. Use a medium diamond stone when you detect minor burrs on the edge, and a fine diamond stone to polish edges. In an ideal world, you would take a fine diamond stone to your edges after every ski day, says Sunde: “Think of it as honing a blade such as a kitchen knife.”
Recommended Diamond Stones
A gummy stone can be used similarly to fine diamond stones to remove rust and burrs from edges. If your skis are acting grabby or hooky on snow, your skis’ tips and tails may need to be de-tuned, i.e. dulled a little. Only use a gummy stone to de-tune ski tips and tails.
Recommended Gummy Stone
Video: Using a Gummy Stone
Video not displaying correctly? Watch here.
Do’s and Don’ts of Ski Edge Maintenance
- Let the tool do the cutting. Instead of pressing the file or stone into the edge, make light, smooth contact as you pass the tool over the edges.
- Wet edges with water before sharpening. This provides lubrication and helps to contain metal shards.
- Use a consistent bevel. Changing edges from a 2-degree to 3-degree bevel or vice versa will hasten wear of the edge.
- Don’t sharpen base edges before getting a stone grind. You are likely to over-bevel the ski’s base without first getting a base grind to ensure bases are flat.
- Don’t put skis away at the end of a ski day without deburring and drying edges.
- Don’t round edges while de-tuning tips and tails. Use only a gummy stone to de-tune tips and tails.
More Ski Tuning Tips and Equipment
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