Before heading up for the first time, I always recommend waxing your skis or board. Surprisingly, most people I talk to don’t do any waxing despite it being a quick 30 minute ordeal. Waxing is important because it adds a layer of protection between the ski surface and the snow. Plus, if you don’t wax your skis you’ll see an amazing improvement in speed and performance next time you head out.
Although I’ve always done my own waxing and edging before the season starts, I leave mid-season tuning to the professionals. So, if you’ve never waxed your own skis, don’t worry, it’s fairly straight forward.
Swix Alpine Kit
I had picked up a Swix Alpine Kit last season and have been pleased with how handy it is to use and compact it is to store. Though I’m used to a melted wax, razor and cork approach for applying wax, I was looking for something a little different. For purposes of this article, I’ll assume you have similar tools:
- Fibertex (nonwoven cloth) for cleaning the base
- rub on wax (mine happens to be “for snowboards”)
- waxing brush (steel or nylon)
- edging tool
Setting up your work space
First things first is to set up where you won’t mind having wax shavings, metal shavings, and edges scuffing up a work area. Your dining room table is not recommended.
You’ll also want to retain your ski brakes somehow. A super strong rubber band typically works. This way you can access the ski base unimpeded by the brakes hanging down. Ideally, you’d also hold the skis in place using a few vice grips on the edge of a work bench.
Realistically, I set my skis on the garage floor, tie down the brakes with a rubber band, and ask for help holding the skis still if anyone is around.
Applying the wax
Ideally, you want to get the skis to room temperature and clean off any dirt and junk from the surface. Using the fibertex cloth on the surface will help remove old wax and particles from the skis. If you have a steel brush, a quick rub-down may help open up the ski to receive the new wax.
Since this is a rub-on wax, the instructions write themselves: rub the wax evenly across the surface of the skis. Don’t paint the wax on, simply drag a thin, even layer across the bottom of the ski.
Brushing the wax
Just like sandpaper, you want to start coarse and go down to a fine polish. If you have a steel brush, great, start with that. Then move on to the nylon waxing brush. I’ve read a few places that the preferred approach is to rub the wax starting at the tip and moving to the end of the ski. In my experience, the nylon brush alone worked nicely and I could ensure I only had a very thin layer of wax. Too much wax on the ski and you’re doing more harm than good.
If you’re really interested in a smooth surface, take a piece of cork and polish the ski to give it a nice even shine. Big long strikes from tip to end work best.
Edging the skis
This part scared me as I knew I could easily screw up my edges. Luckily I have an older pair of skis to try my own home-edging process on. Swix has some nice videos on its website SwixSchool.com on how to use its tool along with many other good waxing tips and techniques. I’d recommend heading over there to learn how to edge and use the filer. All in all, I think my skis came out alright. I was able to take off some burs from a few nicks and the edges were clearly much sharper.
Are they better or did I make things worse? Hard to tell, really. I’ll take them into the shop early this season and see what the professionals think.
So, just like that, I was able to rub on some new wax, polish my skis, and even out some minor dings in my edges within 30 minutes. I’d highly recommend a small easy kit like the one I used because you can store it nearly anywhere and even take it with you on a trip (as opposed to a wax iron).
For more photos and details on waxing, another great guide can be found at Homeboy Ski Blog: How to Wax Skis?.