Backcountry Skiing Binding Mounting DIY How-To


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | August 13, 2015      

Throwback Thursday! I’m always working on our binding mount DIY content. Funny how it never remains static. We refine our processes here at WildSnow HQ, and I’m always learning new things from readers and industry folks. I published this post a while back but figured it should get a later date so it’s better indexed. Did some edits and re-writing as well. Your feedback appreciated.

A WildSnow website reader took me to task on our Dynafit binding homebrew mount instructions. Getting feedback on our backcountry skiing articles is always a gift, so M.J. gets our sincere thanks! For example, due to reader comments I periodically work on our Dynafit mounting how-to guide, thus clarifying a things and simplifying what I’ll admit is sometimes confusing due to my edits.

One of M.J.’s gripes was my recommendation of using a 5/32 inch (3.9 mm) drill bit for most backcountry skiing binding mounts, and not tapping (threading) the subsequent holes. While it’s true that using special binding mounting bits of 3.6 mm diameter (for non metallic skis) to drill binding holes always a good idea (available from companies such as SlideWright), I’ve used the 5/32 drill bit on numerous skis and never had a problem with it (though going out of gamut like this is not recommended for some of the lighter carbon skis without beefy binding mount plates).

Note, in the case of skis with minimal mounting reinforcement and soft cores, you can also use a 9/64 inch (3.5 mm) twist drill bit, but in my experience this hole is slightly too small for threading standard ski mounting screws and can be difficult to tap without damage due to the tap not threading smoothly.

The key is that the 5/32 bit results in a slightly oversized hole. Thus, the screws have to be placed with care and not over-tightened, and they must be inserted with epoxy or a strong urethane glue. Tapping isn’t necessary because the slightly oversized hole allows the screw to self-tap.

Speaking of homebrew backcountry skiing binding mounts, the biggest issue in my mind is what glue to use for the screws. With most skis a touch of 1-hour epoxy yields a strongly placed screw that never loosens. To remove, briefly heat screws with soldering iron (or flame with a butane lighter in an emergency), or spin a reverse mounted small drill bit on top of the screw to heat with friction.

We used to use 5-minute epoxy for all this. I subsequently learned that 5-minute is too brittle for a long-term mount so we use 1-hour if we’re doing a “permanent” install and 5-minute for test bindings we know we’ll be removing sooner than later. If a ski is strong and the mount temporary, I’m not adverse to using waterproof wood glue, but I’m not a fan of such glue for long-term mounts. I’ve seen too many of such mounts with water damage.

Perhaps MJ’s best point was that a competent shop might be a better alternative than DIY homebrew mounting of Dynafit and other backcountry skiing bindings. I somewhat agree with that, but the fact remains that not all ski shops have more than passing experience with ski touring bindings, and many people are located in areas where there is simply no ski shop that even comes close. Horror stories abound of trying to get clueless shops to mount backcountry skiing bindings correctly — thus we’ll continue to recommend DIY for anyone with moderate hand skills and a few tools. (Of course, if a specialty shop cares to advertise here on WildSnow.com and tout their incredible experience with backcountry binding mounts and maintenance, as well as their willingness to do affordable mail-order mounts, we’re always looking for new sponsors!)

To that end, it’s worth saying that WildSnow.com makes an effort to provide DIY how-to mounting instructions for all the main players in the backcountry ski touring binding market, and those instructions are linked in the main navigation menu above.



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Comments

30 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing Binding Mounting DIY How-To”

  1. afox August 13th, 2015 3:05 pm

    technological improvements are making it easier to mount your own bindings. For example binding freedoms self centering drill block makes drilling your holes: faster, easier, and more accurate.

    http://www.bindingfreedom.com/drill-guide-block-self-centering/

    Recommend WS do a review of this product. Its not just for installing inserts.

    New paper jigs with built in BSL also make the process faster, and easier. Someone with more time and aptitude than I could create a web based program where you enter your binding model and BSL and it spits out the perfect paper jig in pdf format sized for your boot…

  2. Ed August 13th, 2015 5:07 pm

    Lou,
    Wildsnow binding mounting instructions are super – template great for Dynafits. Wildsnow is THE place. I’ve used the instructions for a couple of skis now and they’ve been super – better than the last job I had from MEC here who mounted one of the heel pieces crooked – fixed at ROAM in Nelson with helicoil inserts. Some of the high volume shops which used to be trustworthy seem to have too many “dudes”. So now I take extra care who I let touch my boards.
    At the same time I was mounting the bindings I found myself all over the web about how many cm’s forward or aft. Any info about that is really useful to build links to, from the mounting info page(s) – still pondering the position on a set of 1st year build Vapor Nanos.
    Four months to Rockies snow and counting . . . . .

  3. Kristian August 13th, 2015 7:12 pm

    Shop miss-mounts for me include missed center point, heels out too far, wrong release values, and… bindings mounted backwards facing the tails.

  4. kevin August 13th, 2015 7:46 pm

    I agree that there is no reason to not recommend using proper drill bits. Slidewright or Tognar can provide ski specific bits. If you are going to do your own binding mounts, you may as well do it right. I have just started tapping my holes, and have to say it makes for a much cleaner mount, ie. less volcano effect as you insert screws. Thanks to my neighbor, I have also started using a JigaRex universal binding jig. Works great! I am pretty anal when doing the alignment of the paper templates, so it’s much easier to use the JigaRex, which auto centers.

  5. Kristian August 13th, 2015 8:56 pm

    Off topic. fortunate to go to party and premier of film Meru with Renan and Conrad tonight in Denver. Has important skimo lessons. Make an effort to see it on the big screen this coming week.

  6. Wookie August 14th, 2015 2:15 am

    Hey Lou! I’d be willing to pay money to have a decent source for tools! Tognar seems to be a great spot for US readers – but I scrounge all over for some of the specialized drill bits, etc that some of the work I do needs. I live in the EU – so shipping from the US can be a pain.
    I also go as far as boot mods – but here, specialized equipment is very hard to come by. Most of the information I find online is only sold to authorized resellers….so I’m out.

    The reason for this post is three-fold, I suppose:

    1) does anyone here know of a good EU source for the specialized tools we need for more advanced “ski work”
    2) can you work some WildSnow magic and “open” a channel to the existing tool manufacturers? (and get a commission in the process?)
    3) How many people on here in EU are interested in buying these kinds of things. If there’s a market – maybe I’ll try and serve it!

  7. Lou Dawson 2 August 14th, 2015 6:32 am

    Wookie, that is truly strange… if I were you I’d contact Terry at Slidewright.com http://www.slidewright.com/ and see if he can ship smaller items. So long as things don’t weigh much, sending them via postal to EU from US is no big deal. Gets expensive when stuff is heavy, however.

    I’ve tried hard to get some geotargeted ski supply advertising on WildSnow that’s for EU, but have had little success. Still working on it. Things are a little different when you get out of the motherland of capitalism (grin).

    Lou

  8. Lou Dawson 2 August 14th, 2015 6:33 am

    Ed, thanks, I’ll keep paying attention to the how-to so it doesn’t get out of date. Quite a bit of work behind the scene but am happy to do it. Lou

  9. MS August 14th, 2015 6:37 am

    As a passionate lover of skiing, I really liked your post! It is such informative. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Mark Worley August 14th, 2015 9:55 pm

    Follow Lou’s instructions and you will likely have a bomber mount. My first home tech binding mount was on a pair of skis nearly ten years old now, and the mount is still solid. Lou’s DIY insructions did the trick. I still use those skis at the resort.

    As to tapping holes, I highly recommend following the ski manufacturer’s guidelines. Tapping makes screw insertion leagues easier when a hard metal mount plate or topsheet layer exists. Some of the current metal mount plates are absurdly hard stuff. Without tapping, inserting screws can be more than tough. Tapping skis with no metal in the mount area can provide a weaker mount as material that was for the screws to affix to has been removed. Some editor guy at Couloir Magazine mentioned that. My .02 cents: Tap just past metal layer only, as that’s all that is needed to get screws past the hard layer.

    As to glue, I like long cure epoxy, as I am constantly being interrupted while mounting, and the longevity and strength is superior to most glues. I, too, have seen screw holes in older skis with obvious water intrusion. Any glue is better than none (I have heard of shops that use none), but long-cure epoxy (well mixed) seems the best.

    Bits that are designed just for binding mount screw holes are terrific because they have a built in depth stop and will match up with the ski manufacturer’s specs.

  11. arnie August 15th, 2015 11:27 am

    @wookie

    Depends what you’re after specifically. I’m uk based and have used:
    http://www.thepisteoffice.com/
    http://www.skiequipmentuk.co.uk/
    also the ever dependable:
    http://www.telemark-pyrenees.com/en/

    boot fitting would love a boot press like Lou’s which I think is this one or very similar:
    (https://www.svst.com/svst1.aspx?Id=a72fb7dd-627f-4cc6-81a4-9ecf3a4137de)
    but never come across one!
    foam sheets for donuts etc
    http://www.palau-boutique.com/confort-precision-performance.cfm

    Hope that helps

  12. zippy the pinhead August 15th, 2015 10:11 pm

    Last week I skied with a friend who showed me a pic of his improvised setup consisting of a large c-clamp, a roundish rock (just the right shape for his foot), a few pieces of bambo and, of course, a heat gun. Pretty slick, IMO. Said he practiced on an old boot before punching his brand new Freedom SLs. It seems to have worked like a charm. I told him to hang on to that rock. Can’t wait to show the pic to my friend at the boot shop.

    Happy trails…

    –Zippy

  13. Clyde August 16th, 2015 9:27 am

    I’ve used Titebond III waterproof wood glue for decades, never had a problem with screws loosening and no hassle of mixing. Tapping is a good idea since it’s a cheap tool and doesn’t take long.

  14. Lou Dawson 2 August 17th, 2015 8:34 am

    Clyde, agree, in many cases the right non-epoxy glue will work. But I’ve definitely seen glue failures with water based glues, and epoxy adds a small amount of pull-out strength (if I correctly remember what Cam at G3 told me about results of his testing epoxy). Perhaps the Titebond III is the solution, fast and waterproof… but I’ll probably still use epoxy for long-term and critical mount jobs. Lou

  15. XXX_er August 17th, 2015 8:59 am

    sometimes you got bad threads in the core and you won’t make it to a ski store for a helicoil in which case slow set & FG is the ticket

    You could probably get by with wood glue certainly in the front country but I would rather have that extra pullout cuz out in the backcountry its a long walk home … slowset all the time

  16. JRR August 24th, 2015 4:45 pm

    I’ve done a number of mounts with a 5/32 bit and this:

    http://www.henkelna.com/product-search-1554.htm?nodeid=8797913677825

    I put the screws in once dry, then cut off the volcanoes with a knife before putting in epoxy for the final mount. No pullouts yet on many many ski days.

    Although I’m sure someone somewhere is reading my mounting technique and cringing.

  17. Jim Cooper November 18th, 2015 9:08 am

    I picked up some demo Coombacks last summer at an end of season sale. They look like they have never been skied but have been mounted. I also picked up a set of new half priced Radical FT Z12 bindings at a summer conference in a ski town. I have a pretty decent farm shop and some skills but apprehensive about doing them myself and will probably hire it done. Just wondering about hole placement on the ski and what to do with the old holes? BTW the mounting guide and reader comments have been very helpful.

  18. Lou Dawson 2 November 18th, 2015 10:19 am

    Hi Jim, you just have to do the layout of your new binding holes and see how close they’ll end up to your old ones. If they’re close, we do have a blog post about that. Use our search function and type in keywords such as “how close” and see what you find.

    What is more, if you’re a larger skier or a beginner, I’d consider mounting at least your front binding units with inserts in those skis. Or at least doing a very careful mount using 1-hour epoxy.

    If you want to learn home mounting, consider finding a few pairs of dumpster skis to practice on.

    Lou

  19. Paul S. August 12th, 2016 10:05 pm

    Hi all,
    I have some Madshus Annums that will be getting some Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0’s… The problem is that the ski is marked for the pin line, but nothing about boot center or anything else. Any suggestion where to mount these bindings? Is there a good rule of thumb to convert from pin-line to boot center? I would guess that the pin-line was chosen as a balance between touring and tele turns on this ski… (Old boots were Scarpa T2x’s, new boots are Fischer Transalp LTs)

    Thanks in advance!
    Paul

  20. Lou Dawson 2 August 13th, 2016 7:42 am

    Quite a few different ways to go about finding your foot location. First, try simply setting a tele boot on the ski and figuring out where the ball of your foot is located, then put the Dynafit binding toe on a boot, set the boot on the ski, and locate ball of foot in same spot. See how that looks, and mark one of the binding screw holes for reference.

    There is no rule of thumb for converting a telemark pin location to an alpine touring binding mount location.

    Another thing to check is find the narrowest point in the sidecut, by tilting the ski on its side on a flat workbench and gradually pressing out the sidecut to make edge contact with the bench. As well as using a caliper and sliding the caliper back and forth, with slight tightening each time, until you find narrowest point of ski sidecut. See how that point corresponds to your alpine touring boot center, and how it relates to the previous method. It is quite common for alpine skis to have boot located so that the sole midpoint is on the narrowest part of the sidecut.

    Lastly, this might not be a wise choice of ski and binding, as I doubt the ski has binding screw reinforcement in the alpine touring binding heel location, and may not have it in the toe area either.

    Thus, in the tradition of great web forums across the world when such question are asked , we must ask the question, why? (smile)

    Lou

  21. Paul S. August 15th, 2016 1:03 pm

    I’m primarily a splitboarder/snowboarder, and when I worked at a ski mountain I tele’d to give myself a challenge. I like the XCDs as a ski that I can use for XC or for blue-square level BC. Since I don’t get to play in the snow nearly as often, working for the tele turn has lost it’s allure, but I still appreciate the flexibility/efficiency of the XCDs.

    I appreciate the warning… My impression was that the Annum, as the burliest Madshus XCD ski (single camber also), was pretty much built like a skinny downhill ski. Given that I am a Type II skier through and through, and will be using these with moderate AT boots (Fischer Transalp) for moderate terrain, do you think it’s a big risk? I’d much prefer to have one AT boot for both splitboarding and XCD than to buy BC NNN boots and bindings…

    (Also, I already sold and shipped off my tele boots… 😳 )

    Thanks,
    Paul

  22. Paul S. August 15th, 2016 1:21 pm

    In the interest of solving my original problem, I checked the BSL of my old boots (315mm according to Scarpa), And the recommendations of Black Diamond for binding offset (126mm for a “classic telemark” pin line position on a 315mm BSL).

    I will mark that position on the ski and see what it looks like in terms of balance point vs pivot line and boot vs ski sidecut.

    Scarpa info: https://www.scarpa.com/DownloadPdf?dataResourceId=SkibootSoleLength13

    Black Diamond Info:https://blackdiamondequipment.com/on/demandware.static/-/Sites-BlackDiamond-Library/default/dwccc54cb0/tech-pdfs/F14_ski-mounting-specs.pdf

  23. Lou Dawson 2 August 15th, 2016 4:28 pm

    Sounds good, but balance point has nothing to do with it. BSL of boot is simply the sole length. Measure it and divide by 2, and mark midpoint on boot. Let us know how it goes. Lou

  24. Kwan W September 5th, 2016 3:49 am

    Hi,
    This is my 25 cents worth in relation to Paul and his Madshus Annum question.
    The mounting method I use on all my mounts puts the boot centre within 1-2 cm.
    of the ski line if not right on it.
    I first determine the running surface length of the ski by flattening the ski on a level surface and then sliding a credit card under the tip and tail. Where the card hits the
    ski at both ends mark and measure the distance between both marks.
    Then calculate 55% of this number and measure back from the mark you made at the tip the the number you just calculated. This will be your boot centre on ski.
    This will work on most skis except maybe the early rise type skis which i have no
    experience with. I hope this helps.

    Regards, Kwan

  25. Lou Dawson 2 September 5th, 2016 8:19 am

    Thanks Kwan, interesting method, and it jibes somewhat with the many skis I’ve taken the time to check location of factory mark with overall length of running surface. But, I think finding narrowest point of sidecut would be more reliable, especially (as you point out) with rockered or early rise skis. But if this has worked for you, then that’s significant. Lou

  26. Matthew Severini November 16th, 2016 12:59 pm

    I am pretty new to ski work, so this may be a silly question but maybe it will save others from making the same mistake I am about to 😀

    I have used paper templates before, and they take a good bit of effort. Would it be a silly Idea to invest $20 in an old ebay mounting jig for some long forgotten pair of specialty bindings, and work really hard one time to get the paper template aligned the jig, and drill holes through the jig? Then you have a self centering jig for your favorite set of bindings, slap and drill blindfolded just like the shop!

    Maybe this is a well known technique, but I haven’t seen it suggested on any forums.

  27. Lou Dawson 2 November 16th, 2016 1:15 pm

    Matthew, sure, you could do that but it wouldn’t be any more accurate than a paper template done well, though indeed could be less work. There is also that jig sold you can configure for nearly any binding, forgot the name… but people do like it. Lou

  28. Stefaan May 1st, 2017 6:00 am

    Hey Lou,

    I’ve just recently mounted Radical ST 2’s on some 178 Madshus Annums using Binding Freedom inserts, basing my mounting position on the relative length ratio position of my Dynafit ST bindings on a set of Blizzard mountain ski cross skis (Dynafit Seven Summit clones 182’s ). -3 things of interest – 1) the Annum has a long and wide enough of a titanal topsheet to accomodate the bindings 2) the binding position I determined from the Seven Summit clones for the Annums correlated with the 55% positioning that Kwan has determined, AND this correlated with the narrowest point of the sidecut for the Annums – essentially for a 26.5 boot putting the crampon slot of the toe-piece in line with the smallest boot pin setting line – 24.5 arrows on the ski. 3) using calipers, and positioning the bindings using the boot and the 55% principle gave me exactly the same positions for the holes as your paper templates – so your templates get a big tick too. I used the Binding Freedom Drill block and their tapping tool which provided a high degree of precision of execution in placing and drilling the holes – still needed to tighten screws in careful order to ensure I got it all to fit properly. The Radical ST 2 bindings seem bombproof and I’m now looking forward to trying a patterned base ski for some Australian terrain whch combines a long rolling approach with some exciting steeps. Finally, I sourced the Annums and the Blizzard seven summit equivalents independently in terms of optimising their suitability for my requirements for a downhill-focused touring ski, and then for rolling hills and downhill, and when I put them up next to one another was amazed (duh) by their similarity – length, sidecut, profile – be interesting to compare them on the snow! Thanks for a great site! Cheers, Stefaan

  29. Lou Dawson 2 May 1st, 2017 8:58 am

    Thanks for chiming in Stefaan! The eternal mystery of where to put a boot on a ski, been happening since the ancients carved planks from tree stumps (smile). Lou

  30. Mark W October 17th, 2017 8:28 am

    I switched to System Three medium cure time epoxy over the slow cure; it gels much faster and subsequently cures to near solid in about 24 hours. Minimum curing temperature is 55 F versus the 75 F of the slow cure, so things go quicker and there’s less waiting for anxious skiers to get out and try out their new setups in the mountains.





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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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