Tune those Backcountry Skis

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 17, 2006      
Tuning backcountry skis.
Bill Thistle of Sportfeet gives me a tuning lesson.

Tuning your skis well and frequently can make the difference between ho-hum days on the slopes and top athletic performance. Everyone has their methods, I certainly do, but I’m always looking to improve my technique. Follow along as we tune my new Atomic Kongurs and a I get a few tips from an expert tuner.

The Kongurs had a factory tune that looked okay at first glance and might have worked for powder or park skiing, but the bases were not totally flat, and the bevel was inconsistent (on hardpack those things make a difference). Time to do some ski tuning by hand. My terrific boot fitter, Bill Thistle, also happens to be an experienced ski tuner, so I got a lesson from him.

First, we took the skis to a reputable machine tuning shop, but asked that they only be flattened. No bevel, and no wax. While any tune shop will finish the job, you have no way of knowing how many beers the tuner has had that evening, so completing the job yourself is always best. Besides, it takes less than an hour to bevel and wax a pair of skis.

Filing one degree bottom bevel
When the flat skis came back, Bill filed the bottom bevel first, using a “Beast” file shim with a sharp file.

Filing one degree bottom bevel
The fun part of doing this tune with Bill was the opportunity to use his new super high-tech Gladek Technik side bevel jig. This device is manufactured to space-age specifications, and holds a super sharp laser cut file that peels steel of edges like it’s butter.

Gladek Technik in case.
The Gladek comes in its own case with a selection of files, Kevlar gloves, and jewelry.

Gladek Technik in use.
Using the Gladek to put a three degree side bevel on the Atomic Kongurs.

After we got the bevel perfect, we eased the tip and tail edges down to the contact point, de-burred the edges by sanding with emery paper, then eased the edge sharpness a bit a few inches in from the contact points. After a coating of universal wax, the Atomic Kongurs are ready to play! With a few runs done I’ll know how much farther to de-tune the tips or tails, and I’ll know if the recommended bevel works for my style of skiing. If not, with the right tools it’ll be easy to change.


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