WHERE TO TUNE?
The first thing to decide on is where you are going to work. You don’t really want to do this in your parents’ living room, as the curtains, carpet and sofas will reek of wax for weeks to come. Nor are the garden or balcony particularly good places, as the temperature will more than likely be too cold for the wax to soak into the base properly. Ideally, you want to work in a well-ventilated garage or basement room where there’s plenty of space for you to lay down old newspapers to protect the floor.
1) TUNING UP YOUR EDGES
The first thing to do is to repair and sharpen your edges. Your edges are extremely precious to your board and if you are not extremely careful and skilled in your grinding, you might well find yourself tuning your edges down rather than up. If you have an old board, or pair of skis even, you’d do well to practise on either first.
• Securely fix your board to a workbench with a pair of G-clamps in order to maintain a steady grind-angle.
• Again, give your edges a good clean before you start to grind away. A grind gum should in most cases remove any rust from your edges.
• For your base sided edges, wrap some duct-tape around the end of a fine file so as not to destroy the base and grind the base exerting an even pressure as you go.
• Failing to exert an even pressure will cause irregularities in the edge.
• Your grind angle will depend on the thickness of the wrapped duck-tape. The more you grind your edge to be flush with the base, the more aggressive your edge will be.
• For the side edges, find a grinding tool that has both a fine and coarse file and whose angles you can adjust.
• Use the coarse file to get rid of the biggest snags and the fine file to then sharpen the edge.
• Be sure to grind the effective edge with a smooth, fast and regular pressure from nose to tail. Jerky moves will again create irregularities in the edge.
• Next, polish your edges with a wet grindstone and then rub them down with a cork to remove any burrs.
• To finish up, take the gum stone and round the edge of your board at the nose and tail between 3–10cm. This will help reduce the risk of catching any unnecessary edges.
2) WHAT ANGLE TO GRIND AT?
• 90˚ - This is a ‘soft’ angle that will provide for an easy ride. This is the angle most used in freestyle snowboarding.
• 89-86˚ - The lower you then go the better your grip for those icy pipes but there is also more chance of catching edges. These lower angles are more commonly found on racers boards.
3) NOW CLEAN THE BASE
Now that you’re ready to wax your board, the first thing to do is give your base a good clean. However, don’t do this unless the board is super dirty as the cleaning products will remove good wax as well as dirt. The pros tend to clean their bases very infrequently. There are two ways you can do this:
• Using a base-cleaner (obtainable from any good snowboard shop), spray your base thoroughly and then allow for the liquid to soak into the base’s pores.
• Once this is done, rub the board down with a clean rag. Any old wax or dirt should wipe off onto the rag. Do this until it’s all been removed.
If you don’t have a base cleaner at hand, it’s possible to do this same job by giving your board a quick wax and then immediately striping the wax off before it has time to soak into the base. This is infact the preferable way to prepare your base.
4) REPAIRING THE BASE
For a board to benefit fully from a wax, it’s important to carry out any repairs first. Any gashes that the base has incurred from rocks, stones, trees etc are normally easily reparable.
• Securely fix your board to a workbench with a pair of G-clamps.
• With a sharp knife, proceed to remove any threads that remain around your scratches.
• Light your P-Tex stick and let it melt a little onto a piece of cardboard while constantly rotating the stick so as to clear away any unsightly soot. It is important here to remember to use the blue part of the flame (this is the hottest part) to melt the P-Tex as if you use the tip of the flame (yellow) the melted P-Tex will be much dirtier.
• Once clean, lower the stick as close to the gash as possible, ensuring that the melting P-Tex droplets fill the scratch without trapping any air pockets.
• After the P-Tex has turned hard, level out the base with a sharp, level blade.
• To finish the job, find a fine piece of sandpaper to smooth over the mend.
The more time you spend on a board, the more maintenance the board is going to require. This is because expensive sintered bases are more porous and therefore benefit from extra waxing. At the same time, the frequency with which you wax your snowboard will also depend on how often you use it. Ideally, you want to wax your board every time you go riding. Having said that, if you’re riding every day, a wax every 2 to 3 days should suffice.
• The first thing you need to do is find an old battered iron that you don’t intend using again for your wardrobe.
• Then decide what wax to use. Check out the weather forecast for the next couple of days to work out what the snow conditions are going to be like. It is always better to use a wax that has a colder threshold than a warmer as colder waxes are harder and provide a better ride.
• In general, waxes vary from those for very cold and dry snow to warm and wet snow. You might have to use a mixture of waxes for optimum results. All-weather waxes are also available but these are never quite as effective.
• Evenly distribute the wax across the board, using the iron to then spread it like icing on a cake.
• If the wax starts to smoke on contact with the iron, this means that your iron is too hot.
• Now let the wax soak into your board for half an hour or so. Apparently the Finns
• Once you’ve done this, grab a plastic scraper to strip off the wax. Even a millimetre thick layer of wax will reduce its ability to slide. Beware of metal scrapers that might damage your base.
• Also of great importance to a smoother, faster ride is to brush the base well.
• N.B. At the end of the season, you should wax your board to stop it from drying out over the summer.
• N.B. When applying a fluro wax it is advisable to wear a protective facemask as this stuff is toxic in the extreme.
6) FINISHING TOUCHES
Some companies score running grooves into their bases to improve the speed of the board. To expose this structure after waxing, you should brush the base with a synthetic shorthaired brush followed by a horsehair brush to eradicate any static electricity.
Onboard would like to thank Fenky for his time and energy in helping us to shoot this piece. If you want a truly amazing wax job or repair done on your stick then head down to The Seeker, in Mayrhofen. www.theseeker.at
• If the scratch happens to be right by one of your board’s edges, you might find that the P-Tex keeps falling out. In this case, you will need to take a sharp fine blade and cut the scratch into a notch by making it bigger at its core. However, if you don’t feel comfortable about taking a knife to your board it’s perhaps best to take your board to a shop to have this done professionally, although don’t be surprised if even this doesn’t work sometimes!
• If the gash is so deep that it’s gone through to the core of your board, then this is another job for your local snowboard shop. If the board is not dried out properly, the core, with time, will begin to rot.
• If you are worried about ruining your board’s beautiful aesthetics with soot-stained repairs, you can also buy P-Tex granules with which to fill your scratches that are then simply melted in with a hot iron.