If you’re a regular skier and it’s been a couple of months since you’ve had your skis tuned, stop reading and get your skis into a shop to be professionally serviced. No amount of hand-tuning you do at home will bring your skis back to life if it’s been months since anyone touched your edges.
If, on the other hand, you’ve kept up with regular maintenance—you’ve taken your skis into a ski shop to be reset with a stone grind at the beginning or end of the ski season, you always wipe down your edges after each use to prevent rust build-up, and you haven’t hit any major rocks on your last couple of ski days—then professional ski technician Leif Sunde can teach you how to keep your skis sharp between shop visits.
“Less work more often is the key to keeping skis running well,” explains Sunde, owner of the Denver Sports Lab in Golden, Colo. “You can do a lot of edge work at home if you keep your edges in good shape.”
That means inspecting your skis’ edges after every use to assess for damage. If side edges show subtle signs of wear and tear, like burrs, rust, or dull patches, take a second-cut file and diamond stone to them to bring them back up to snuff.
Here, Sunde breaks down how to sharpen and polish side edges, step-by-step.
Watch: How to Sharpen Ski Side Edges
Pro Tips for Sharpening Side Edges
- Make sure you use a file guide that matches your skis’ edge bevel: Most recreational skis come with a 2-degree side edge bevel, so make sure you use an 88-degree file guide when working on your side edge. If you’re not sure what your edge bevel is, check the ski’s specifications listed on the manufacturer’s website.
- Retain ski brakes with a brake retainer or thick rubber band: Use a rubber band to pull back and secure your ski brakes away from the edges so your tools can pass along the edges unobstructed.
- Follow ski tuning steps in the correct order: Always work on ski edges before waxing ski bases. If you need to sharpen—not just polish—side edges, use a second-cut file to remove edge material before polishing edges with a diamond stone.
- Remove rust and burrs before sharpening: Run a gummy stone along side edges to remove any rust or burrs before applying a second-cut file or diamond stone.
- Do not use the same file guide for base edge sharpening: Your skis’ base edge bevel is different than your side edge bevel, so you need a different base file guide. Recreational skiers just entering the world of ski tuning should leave base edge work to shop pros.