Like their bases, your skis’ edges require regular maintenance to ensure they’re running as smoothly as possible in all snow conditions. Leif Sunde, ski technician and cofounder of the Denver Sports Lab, recommends getting into the habit of inspecting your skis’ edges at the end of every ski day to make sure they’re free and clear of any nicks and burrs. “If you find any major damage from rocks, especially on your base edges, take your skis to a shop and have the technicians address it with their machines,” says Sunde. Unless you’re an accomplished and confident ski technician, sharpening base edges should be left to the pros.
Minor scratches, burrs, rust, or dull patches on the skis’ side edges, however, can be easily addressed at home. The trickiest part is figuring out which file guide to use, as this depends on your skis’ factory side bevel. Skis generally come with a 1- to 3-degree factory side bevel, which means the skis’ side edges have an 89-, 88-, or 87-degree angle. Before tuning your edges, check your skis’ side edge bevel and use a file guide with the appropriate bevel angle.
Pro tip: While adjustable file guides can be set to varying bevel angles, Sunde recommends working with a fixed file guide for a more accurate tune.
Read next: 3 Ski Tuning Myths Debunked
How to remove rust and minor burrs from ski edges
Tool: File guide with diamond stone
Step 1: Using a spring clamp, affix diamond stone to the angle-indicated side of the file guide so that the smooth and clean side of the guide is in contact with the base.
Step 2: In a light and feathery motion, move the file guide with diamond stone down the length of the side edge. Allow the file guide to do the work—you shouldn’t be getting an arm workout while polishing your edges. Ensure constant contact between the file guide and the ski’s base.
How to sharpen skis' side edges
Tool: File guide with bastard file
Step 1: Using a spring clamp, affix bastard file to the angle-indicated side of the file guide so that the smooth and clean side of the guide is in contact with the base.
Step 2: In a light and feathery motion, move the file guide with file down the length of the side edge in sections to remove some of the edge material. Again, work in a feathering motion to take care not to take off too much material.
Step 3: Once edges are sharp, affix a diamond stone to the angle-indicated side of the file guide and work down the length of the edge to give it a polished finish.
Meet the technicians
Leif Sunde and Sam Petty are are highly experienced ski technicians who cofounded the Denver Sports Lab in Golden, Colo., to make Olympic- level tunes available to the public.
Need some help on where to start tuning your own gear? Check out this handy guide to tuning your skis from industry legend Dave Brennan for more info.
"Sharpening Skills" originally appeared in the December 2019 print edition of SKI Magazine and was written by Jenny Wiegand. You can get more great ski tuning tips delivered directly to your mailbox if you SUBSCRIBE NOW.