10 Essential Tools for the Home Ski Shop

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 27, 2013      

Enough toolage to disable a pair of skis in under 2 minutes.

Enough toolage to disable a pair of skis in under 2 minutes.

1. Heat Gun
Countless uses, everything from quick-drying wet gear to softening boot parts for informal molding operations such as adding more or less curve to cuff flaps. If in doubt, buy an antique chair and strip the paint.
Bosch 1942 14.3 Amp Heat Gun

2. Cordless Drill

If you are a man, you already have one. But what if you are a woman, do you own a cordless? Is that a sexist take? Prove we are biased and get a cordless drill before you are discovered without one. If you use infrequently just pick up an el-cheapo at your local big box store. Or go with quality and get my current favorite, the Hitachi 14 volt. I like this middle ground in weight and power. The 14 volters are generally not as beefy as the 18 volt models, but I’ve built houses with 12 volt drills so I’m not too worried about getting screws in and out of skis. The medium size drill handles better for ski work, and the power is easier to regulate (I don’t even bother with the clutch on mine, using instead my superior reaction times to regulate torque).

3. Pozi & Star TORX Bits
Be it known that the ski binding screws you’ll most often challenge require a sharp #3 pozi-drive screwdriver. Of late, some brands are requiring #20 TORX instead of Pozi. In either case, for full tooling you want to own regular #3 pozi and #20 TORX screwdrivers, as well as bits and screwdriver bit holders. Following links lead to most. Note: for ski work you want the longer (usually 2.5 inch) insert bits with a small diameter neck (for reaching into tight spots).

Excellent quality pozi bits

TORX Driver Bit -T20 – 2″ – Quick-Change Shank

TORX Driver Bit – T20 – 3-1/2″ – Quick-Change Shank

Felo 0715731419 Set of 6 Torx Bits, 2-Inch Length, sizes T10-T40, 036 Series

Klein 19555 5-Piece TORX Screwdriver Set

4. Popsicle Sticks
Keep a box handy. Available from crafts department at most stores that carry such stuff. Use as disposable paddle for mixing epoxy.

5. Razor Scraper
Works as everything from a box opener to a window cleaner. Use for removing annoying stickers (heat first with your heat gun) or smoothing existing screw holes in a ski.

6. Angle (Disk) Grinder

Aha, now we get into the seduction of real power tools. The brutal ones that can remove appendages or large amounts of skin. I use my disk grinder (usually equipped with a sandpaper flap disk) for everything from de-tuning ski tips and tails to shortening screws. Once you have one around, you’ll discover a thousand uses. The cheapest one you can find at the big-box can work. For a time in budget days, I burned out cheapos every few weeks and returned on warranty. Must have gone through a dozen. Eventually bought a better quality unit, but since I’m not a full-time carpenter any more (at least not unless I’m building a porta-hut) I’ve had no need for the top-end grinders. Your choice, but link below is a good low-end option. While shopping look for smaller size of total unit, using the common 4 1/2 inch disks.

7. Wax Scraper
Yeah, pretty basic. Me, I just use a steel cabinet scraper for everything. I keep one side sharp and leave one side dull. Some folks would rather use a plastic scraper. Try ’em both and see what you like. Get your cabinet scraper at the hardware store. For a variety of plastic wax scrapers, check Slidewright.

8. Wax Iron
Though the thing might present an electrocution and fire hazard, we use a ramshackle clothing iron from the thrift shop. Perhaps we’re due an upgrade. If you have any chance of being absent minded be sure your iron has an auto shutoff or plug into a 10 minute timer. No sense burning down your house just because you waxed your skis. If you want a real wax iron, or wax, Slidewright is again a shopping option and indeed what I’d recommend over a suspicious junker that might involve your local flame warriors.

9. Soldering Iron? Nope.
I have good success with warming ski screws up for ease of extraction, so we included this odd item on our list. Then a reader left an excellent comment below suggesting that screws could be heated by simply running a drill bit that’s inserted backwards in the drill, so the butt end of the bit is exposed. Something like a 1/8 inch bit. You just press the rotating bit against the head of the screw to heat it up. Works super. I give each one about 15 seconds. No more need for a soldering iron.

10. Dear readers, fill in the blank. What essential item have I left out?



34 Responses to “10 Essential Tools for the Home Ski Shop”

  1. Camilo March 27th, 2013 10:31 am

    I like the Surform shaver better than a razor for getting rid of volcanoed screw holes.

  2. Lou Dawson March 27th, 2013 10:35 am

    Good point Camilo. I do use Surform blade quite a bit, most often _not_ on the holder so I can curve it. In our semi-production environment here with the ski reviews project, I usually use the disk angle grinder to remove volcanoed screw holes and glue wads.

    Surform would fit in slot #10.


  3. Charlie March 27th, 2013 10:38 am

    10. Inexpensive edge guide, file, diamond stones.

    11. Something to hold skis while waxing/scraping. TGR, Straightchuter, and Teletips all have posts with clever/inexpensive ski-holding ideas. My setup borrows from Andrew’s ski sawhorse. Steel sawhorse from home depot, two blocks of wood with cutouts for edgework, and old skin trimmings for friction.

  4. Bob Coleman March 27th, 2013 11:04 am

    Would the disk grinder work for sharpening crampons? I assume using a vice to hold.

  5. Hojo March 27th, 2013 11:13 am

    Apart from normal tuning tools (stones, etc), I like those little folding vice tables. They can hold a ski and all your gear and be moved quite easily.

  6. JCoates March 27th, 2013 11:15 am

    11. Mini-fridge with beer.

  7. Ben W March 27th, 2013 11:20 am

    Rotary tool for… stuff.

  8. Brian March 27th, 2013 11:30 am

    Bar clamps for holding skis and anything else down on the bench.

  9. Alex March 27th, 2013 11:42 am

    Hot glue gun. FIlling old screw holes with it is quicker than using plugs and epoxy.
    Sharp chisel to clean up core shots, the soldering iron fo r DIY base welds.

  10. Lou Dawson March 27th, 2013 12:36 pm

    Alex! Hot glue gun is money. I’m going to start using that trick as we do a lot of remounts during the test process. Lou

  11. Lou Dawson March 27th, 2013 12:39 pm

    Well, our ski vise solution is more in the line of a “medium cost” solution rather than the improv. Check it out:


  12. Parker March 27th, 2013 1:34 pm

    Drimel tool is a key tool that i keep finding myself without. Can’t say its essential since I don’t have one, but i keep finding myself without.

  13. Carl March 27th, 2013 2:54 pm

    I just sprung for a decent wax iron from slidewright this winter and it is well worth the money. It’s much easier to wax with a controlled temperature. I also use a crayon method of wax application for way less waste. Now I need my own garage to hold everything.

  14. David B March 27th, 2013 4:59 pm

    “superior reaction times to regulate torque”. I love that line Lou.

  15. Lou Dawson March 27th, 2013 5:07 pm

    Cool you enjoyed it David, just trying to liven things up a bit!

  16. Mdibah March 27th, 2013 6:36 pm

    No need to keep a soldering iron around for removing stubbornly glued in screws.

    Take an 1/8″ or so bit and stick it into your drill backwards (that is the cutting end of the bit is hidden). Stick the squared off end into the screw, fire up the drill, and let friction do its thing.

    That being said, a soldering iron is definitely a manly (and occasionally nerdy) thing to have around anyways.

  17. Eric Hendrickson March 27th, 2013 7:16 pm

    I would include a Surform (for shaping), cheese grater (used for hard waxes) and a dermal tool (greater for fixing core shots and other fine work).

  18. Lou Dawson March 27th, 2013 7:17 pm

    Now why did I never think of that? Very cool.

  19. See March 27th, 2013 7:54 pm

    Digital calipers, ir thermometer, accurate scale, sewing machine. Disk grinder to detune edges? That’s a joke, right?

  20. Wookie1974 March 28th, 2013 3:35 am

    You forgot the most important, and possibly only piece of equipement you can’t possibly do without.

    Bottle opener.

  21. Lou Dawson March 28th, 2013 5:52 am

    See, no joke about the disk grinder, I like the tip and tail edges of my skis to have a significant easy radius, a file takes too long. But no, I’d use the usual stone or sandpaper method to taper the de-tune into the running edges. I probably should have been more clear about that. A person could ruin a ski pretty quick with a disk grinder!

  22. Greg March 28th, 2013 6:59 am

    I’d second Charlie’s #10: a file.

    Also, Bob – I wouldn’t use a disk grinder, as you run the risk of heating up the crampons, and removing the temper in the steel, making them a lot less durable. Use a file instead.

  23. Lou Dawson March 28th, 2013 7:08 am

    Crampons don’t need to be needle sharp.

  24. XXX_er March 29th, 2013 11:11 am

    Due to living arrangements I have needed a portable work bench SO I use a B&D shopmate with a ski jig made of a 42″ piece of 2×10, screw on some raised ends to give binding clearance, cut a slot to hold skis on edge, nail some skin scraps to the raised ends glue side up to grip the skis and at that length you can work skis or a snowboard … my setup is in the spare bedroom

    Yeah you can use a crappy overheating thrift store iron but nothing is > the toko T12 for waxing the digital readout is also great for getting the heat right dealing with skin glue fixing or regluing

    get real a real PZ bit not a phillips

    I would kind of like an old hand powered drill for ski mounting

  25. Lou Dawson March 29th, 2013 11:56 am

    I just used Midibah’s tip about heating screws by friction. Works so well I was stunned. I’ll revise the list, no need for the soldering iron.

  26. XXX_er March 29th, 2013 12:38 pm

    I use a soldering iron for melting pure petex into base hits

  27. Lou Dawson March 29th, 2013 12:41 pm

    Isn’t the soldering iron too hot for that?

  28. XXX_er March 29th, 2013 1:43 pm

    I heat a snapped off section of olfa boxcutter which I push along with the soldering iron over the pure petex I am adding …makes for a nice smooth finish

    You need a good razor knife for ski work

  29. XXX_er March 29th, 2013 3:29 pm

    what happens is the piece of razor blade get hot & melts the p-tex filler, but it doesnt melt the p-tex of the ski base and so I have pretty good control of the heat

  30. Terry March 29th, 2013 7:50 pm

    I use a soldering iron like tool, but built specifically for PTex, so it gets only to about 550 degrees F. This one:

    Works great!

  31. Lorne March 31st, 2013 8:27 am

    I use a soldering iron for base repairs too – a butane one with a wide tip for melting pure ptex ribbon into repairs – best home solution I’ve found by a long way.


    File guide and course diamond stone (deburr edges regularly, no need to sharpen)

    Large bastard/panzer file – the most useful tool in my box for lots of different stuff. Keep cutoffs of old blunter ones too. I tried a yellow Sureform tool on my bases for a while but never got on with it as much as a good file.

  32. Mark W November 24th, 2015 8:36 am

    Lou, is there a general guideline for how much of the tip edges should be de-tuned? With all the different low-rise, rocker, twin tip and cambered tip types, I have become a little confused. How far down from the tip should be de-tuned?

  33. Thom Mackris February 14th, 2016 2:35 pm

    Hi Mark,

    With all of the innovative shapes, I don’t think there’s a rule of thumb anymore.

    I recently picked up a pair of Praxis GPO’s and heavily detuned to the end of the sidecut (the wideset point at tip and tail).

    This ended up being about 13″ from the tip and about 5″ from the tail.

    Before doing this, they were very twitchy and difficult to initiate turns. After the detune, they still railed on hard snow, but were much more civilized.


  34. Rando Richard January 4th, 2017 11:05 am

    For backcountry skiing in the intermountain west (including a good dose of spring skiing), which flavors of base wax do you recommend? If I was to stock only two, would it be Blue and Red or Blue and Yellow?

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