Quick Shims DIY — Stack That Tech Binding Toe


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | September 23, 2013      

Want to take that Dynafit Radical FT/ST backcountry skiing binding (or for that matter, any tech binding) back to a reasonable ramp angle? Cut a cutting board. Sure, skiers have been doing this for years, but always room for another how-to at WildSnow.com! Time: about 1 1/2 hour including pulling and replacing bindings. Moderate tool challenge, mostly due to the screw shortening procedure.

According to our measurements, shimming the Radical toe up 3 mm brings you to the same ramp of the venerable TLT binding models. We like that amount of ramp, but slightly less would be ok as well. Lo and behold, we found a cutting board model at Wally World that measures 4.5 mm thick. Perfect.

Radical ST toe shimmed up 4.5 mm for a relaxed ramp angle.

Radical ST toe shimmed up 4.5 mm for a relaxed ramp angle.

Before we get started, gear list:
– Longer 28 mm screws from B&D (we’ll trim a millimeter or two off tip)
– Cutting board
– Hand saw, fine toothed
– File or disk grinder for shortening screws.
– Bench vise (optional)
– Binding mount tools, the usual.
– Drill bits, 3/8 & 5/16
– Countersink
– Sharpie

The cutting board we purchased has raised edges but a center area that's 4.5 mm thick.

The cutting board we purchased has raised edges but a center area that's 4.5 mm thick. It being BPA free is extremely important.

We traced a Radical FT base, which is slightly larger than the ST base, resulting in shims that'll work for either binding.

We traced a Radical FT base, which is slightly larger than the ST base, resulting in shims that'll work for either binding. For the easiest and most accurate trace, drill 3/8 inch holes and screw the plate to the cutting board with binding screws. The holes need to be aligned well with the binding plate, so drill and screw one hole at a time so you so you get them all accuratly positioned.

Pair of Radical backcountry skiing binding shims, traced out. A bit crude I know, but the idea was to spend less than a day making the things.

Pair of Radical backcountry skiing binding shims, traced out. A bit crude I know, but the idea was to spend less than a day making the things. As you can see in photo, I penned in stratigher lines using a straight edge, rather than trying to cut the exact shape of the Radical toe plates. If you wanted, you could use a router with a flush cutting bit to make shims that were pretty much an exact copy of the OEMs, but doing so would be somewhat time consuming -- though fun.

With the straight lines drawn, sawing is relatively easy. A bench vise helps, but isn't mandatory. Important to saw the poly cutting board during warmer temperatures so as not to shatter the plastic.

With the straight lines drawn, sawing is relatively easy. A bench vise helps, but isn't mandatory. Important to saw the poly cutting board during warmer temperatures so as not to shatter the plastic. Incidentally, if you ski tour in extreme cold, test your cutting board material before going to the trouble of making and installing shims. Cold soak the plastic board in a freezer, then give it a bashing to see how it holds up. Binding toe shims are not in a particularly vunerable location, but still, having one break apart in the backcountry would be unpleasent.

Lightly countersink the bottom side to allow for raised ski surface around screw insertions. I did this on both sides to remove plastic burrs and so I didn't have to remember top from bottom. Don't overdo it.

Use your 3/8 drill bit to enlarge the holes in both OEM plates and your DIY shims, to prevent 'jacking' or 'double threading' when you do the final mount. Lightly countersink the bottom side of the holes to allow for raised ski surface around screw insertions. I did this on both sides to remove plastic burrs and so I didn't have to remember top from bottom. Don't overdo it.

Ready to install. I eased of the corners and edges with some sandpaper.

Ready to install. I eased of the corners and edges with some sandpaper.

Crux of the project is your screw lengths. Stock are too short.

Crux of the project is your screw lengths. Stock are too short. Longer screws were obtained from B&D and shortened to taste. While optional, a caliper is incredibly useful for figuring out screw lengths. You can quickly measure thickness of ski, then check how far the screw protrudes from your shim stack, and adjust screw length accordingly. How to shorten screws? You can go low-tech and hand file the tips off a few millimeters. Me, I wear a pair of leather gloves to prevent extreme manicure and hand-hold the screw as I lightly push the tip against a sanding disk in a disk grinder. If I take much off, I switch to holding the screw with vicegrip plyers and re-sharpen the tip by lightly rotating against the disk grinder.

28 mm screw at top, one below is shortened about 2 mm which made it fine for the thickness of the skis we mounted. Be super careful with screw length.

28 mm screw at top, one below is shortened about 2 mm which made it fine for the thickness of the skis we mounted. Be super careful with screw length. Too short and you'll have the obvious problem of the binding pulling off your ski. Too long and you'll damage your skis due to the screw pressing towards the ski base. Most certainly use epoxy when you mount, as the longer screws are more sensitive to leverage.

This version of toe shim works for both Radical FT and ST.

This version of toe shim works for both Radical FT (right) and ST. Whatever binding model you have, just pull the toe off a ski and use the OEM binding base plate for your trace.

Final touch is to add climbing lift 'Nubbins' from B&D Ski Gear.

Final touch is to add climbing lift 'Nubbins' from B&D Ski Gear.

4.5 mm toe shim installed, Dynafit ST Radical ski touring binding.

4.5 mm toe shim installed, Dynafit ST Radical ski touring binding. I like the ramp angle, not so sure about the color.

Please see our previous posts covering ramp angles and shims. More, if you want to experiment with greater reduction in ramp angle, thicker shims sold by B&D fit the bill.



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Comments

24 Responses to “Quick Shims DIY — Stack That Tech Binding Toe”

  1. Scott D September 23rd, 2013 11:57 am

    Or – B&D has the shims already made up – make sure to get both pieces for the FT & Verticals’ plus the screws. The cost is very reasonable too.

  2. powbanger September 23rd, 2013 1:53 pm

    Thanks Lou

  3. Nate C September 23rd, 2013 2:06 pm

    Is that the Soul 7 you’re mounting up? I’m interested to hear what you think of them!

  4. Scott Keating September 23rd, 2013 2:33 pm

    Hi Lou –

    I order Black Delrin or HDPE (high density Polyethylene) sheet over the internet. You can get several different thicknesses. For example at interstateplastics.com, .125″ HDPE sheet 12″ x 12″ is $15. Might not be a cheap as a cutting board, but sure looks a lot better!

  5. Lou Dawson September 23rd, 2013 3:13 pm

    Nate, we skied on them for last season ski review, possible inclusion in Ultimate Quiver. They were too heavy to make the cut. In terms of how they skied, I found them to be average, which is a compliment as skis are so good now on average…. Lou

  6. Lou Dawson September 23rd, 2013 3:14 pm

    Scott, what!? You don’t like my taste in shim color!? Man oh man, I just can’t make everyone happy (grin).

    I’ll admit white or black would have been better. However, I can show my radness with my obvious shims. That does count for something.

  7. XXX_er September 23rd, 2013 10:14 pm

    http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2011/02/10/i-shall-wear-purple/

    apparently the choice of purple indicates something more than just radness

  8. SteveG September 25th, 2013 11:04 am

    I use a Skill saw with a medium blade and run it at a slow speed for cutting pretty shims from cutting board material.

  9. Lou Dawson September 25th, 2013 11:07 am

    Steve, do you mean slow speed as in how fast you push it through the material?

  10. SteveG September 25th, 2013 11:35 am

    I should have said I use a Skil brand jigsaw with a variable speed trigger for a slow blade speed. A fast blade speed and some material tends to melt back together. I don’t ski that well up or down so it’s important for me to look good when transitioning 🙂

  11. Lou Dawson September 25th, 2013 11:47 am

    Awesome!

  12. Mark Castagnoli September 25th, 2013 4:25 pm

    I used the Binding Freedom Sollyfit toe plate as a shim on my powder boards. I put inserts in the rear to accomodate either the Dynafit heel for touring, or the Sollyfit plate, with a switchout to Solomon’s, for resort days. The adjustment to Dynafit ramp angle was perfect for me.

  13. George September 25th, 2013 5:45 pm

    Sollyfit toe from binding freedom is 7 mm.
    I’m thinking of using it for vertical ft12’s

  14. Daniel September 26th, 2013 12:23 am

    decided for tlt speeds to go with my huascarans mainly to try out the shallower ramp. if I like it I’ll try the DIY shim my backlash/vertical rig for sure.

    I always got away with the ramp on hard snow, but less so in powder.

  15. Ben December 18th, 2013 3:55 pm

    Lou,

    I am looking to do this modification to my soul7s. I am currently skiing the Maestrale RS and feel like I am way over the top of the skis. Do you happen to know the length of the screws that came out of the skis? I want to get the exact screw length so I don’t have to bother grinding them down.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  16. Lou Dawson December 18th, 2013 6:24 pm

    Hi Ben, I’m currently at WildSnow Field HQ doing on-snow gear testing so I don’t have access to my workshop. But I’ll try to remember to get you the length when I return. Feel fee to remind. The other thing you could do is contact B&D and get your screws, he’ll know what length you need if you tell him the thickness of your DIY shim. Or just get B&D shims as well… Lou

  17. David December 19th, 2013 12:07 pm

    I fortunately have access to a water jet so I was going to cut out a custom shim for my Vertical STs. What do you guys think of tossing out the vertical’s plastic base and making the whole base out of metal (soaking up the plastic thickness in the metal shim)

  18. leonard kearney February 7th, 2014 4:06 pm

    Since you will epoxy the screws, I guess you are pretty sure this will do exactly what you want?

    I spoke to a ski shop today (in Midwest) about adding shims under my Market bindings and they flat out said no, won’t do it. 🙁

    Len

  19. Lou Dawson February 7th, 2014 4:30 pm

    It does exactly what I want….

  20. Ben February 7th, 2014 4:53 pm

    I jbuilt my own set and they survived a week of punishment at Fiary Meadows last week. Puts me at the perfect ramp angle IMO. Thanks for all the great content Lou.

  21. SteveG February 7th, 2014 5:01 pm

    @ leonard kearney – Do it yourself. Make you own shim or go to B and D for shims and screws. Tested my newly shimmed setup yesterday and found it easier to pressure the boot tongue- my personal bugaboo as a result of decades of 3-pin back country skiing and the fact that at my last alpine ski lesson we worked on that new stem christy turn. I installed with some 3M 5200 sealant and now that I know it works I’ll re-mount with epoxy and bits of steel wool. Took a while to find a cutting board that matched my Shuksans. 🙂

    Lets see if the link to my picture works
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-tXK_4_YWbrk/Uktd8I3vtvI/AAAAAAAAFT8/zW9GiH2BN9c/s1024/DSCN0928.JPG

  22. Lou Dawson February 7th, 2014 5:29 pm

    Steve, the photo won’t publish here without our help (on purpose, because of spammers), but it should click through and that’s fine. Nice job on the shim, though I’m thinking the color is even worse than mine (grin). Lou

  23. SteveG February 7th, 2014 6:00 pm

    Makes a whole lotta sense. Yeah, the color matches my jacket better than the ski. If you can’t ski well you should at least look fashionable I always say.

  24. Dan February 8th, 2014 1:54 pm

    Be aware that adding a toe shim affects the amount of bite your ski crampons will have.

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