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How To Wax


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This article's purpose is to both communicate the necessity of putting wax on your skis, and, of course, show you how. We've chosen several different methods of wax application here, that aren't especially gear intensive, and are easy to do. As the levels progress from easy to expert, the user is going to need more and more equipment, the potential for hurting your skis' base increases (due primarily to overheating it), but the performance benefits increase as well. It is important to mention that any wax is better then no wax, so no matter what method you pick, its going to be better then nothing.
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General Theory
Wax sticks to wax, and fluoros stick to fluoros. So to keep your skis' bases in good condition, keep applying wax and fluoros.

You don't ever want to heat your base up too much, as it can cause oxidation of the p-tex, which ruins its ability to soak up wax.

Don't ever set your iron too high, especially if you use fluorinated waxes, because burning the fluorination off is hazardous to your health (not to mention it also hurts your ski's base).

If too much wax is left on your skis' bases, then it will cause abrasion, and will slow you down, so you want to leave a very thin coating of wax. You will actually scrape most of what you add off.

Try to not contaminate your finishing brushes. I keep mine in plastic baggies, so they don't get any wax or dust on them. I also clean them off with hot water when I'm done.

Before you Begin


Setting Up
First, find a stable place to rest your skis. I personally have invested in a ski vise (see picture on the right), which makes tuning my skis a lot easier, but there are plenty of other ways you can support your skis. In the past, I've stacked wood boards on top of each other to support a ski in the air, and I've found that even a hotel room sink work pretty well as a stable base.

For almost any kind of tuning you are going to do, you will have to make sure that the ski brakes don't get in the way. This is accomplished very easily by using a large rubber band and stretching it from brake end to brake end as pictured above.

I definitely recommend using a plastic sheet or something under your work area, to catch all the stray wax savings and drips from the iron preserving your work bench.

Selecting The Right Wax
Ease of application: If you want a wax that is easier to apply, then go for a rub on or a paste wax. Just keep in mind, that the more effort you put into getting the wax into your base, the longer it will stay in there.

Temperature: Different waxes run better at different temperatures. Every wax (except "universal," which is pretty self explanatory) has a useful temperature range marked on the package. If the temperature you will be skiing at is in between the wax temperature ratings, then you can mix waxes to get a good temperature for your present conditions.

Fluorination: Fluorination adds extra water and dirt repellancy in dirty or wet snow. It becomes more and more necessary in warmer conditions, so most cold waxes don't contain as much fluorination as warm weather waxes.

Solid Lubrication: SOme waxes will have molybendium, or graphite impregnated in them, to give the user extra lubrication when on dry or man made snow.

Beginner Method
Paste waxes are ideal for people that don't want to invest the time and effort into a rub on or melt on wax, or just don't feel comfortable doing one of the other methods.

Easy Method
You can use this kind of wax technique if you want to get a wax job that is quick, and easy, doesn't require an iron, and runs a very low risk of damaging your base (you would have to do something REALLY stupid, like use the corner of the scraper to gouge a hole in your base).

Overview: Basically, you will be spreading the wax over your base, then melting it into your base, by applying pressure and friction with a cork. Then, you will be scraping the little bit of excess wax off with a scraper, and texturizing the base with a scotch pad.
Materials
1. Scotch Pad
2. Rub on wax
3. Plexi scraper
4. Cork on bottom of wax container
5. Cork

You only need one cork, but the hand held kind like number 5 pictured above (as opposed to the one on the back of the wax container like number 4) is easier to use because you can put a lot more force behind it.

Modification: Instead of a cork, you can substitute a hairdryer. Just melt the wax into the ski's base with the hairdryer instead of rubbing the cork along the base.

Step 1
First, rub wax on to your ski base like a crayon (make sure that you are using a quickwax, or a kind of wax that is capable of being rubbed on). Cover the entire base of the ski with a light coat of wax.

Step 2
Rub a cork over the base, and melt the wax into the base. Some waxes will come with cork attached to its package, which is handy. A separate hand held piece like the one pictured to the above right, is easier to use, and will allow you to apply more pressure as well as build up friction faster then its counterpart, ultimately allowing you to do a better job.

Step 3
There will always be a little excess wax, so scrape it off with a plexi scraper.

Step 4
Lastly, texturize the base with a of scotch pad by rubbing it straight up and down the base of the ski applying moderate pressure. Pay special attention to the front and back ends of the ski. These wax channels that you are creating give water a way to escape from under the base of the ski, without them, a suction can form while skiing, and you can loose speed.

Intermediate Method
This wax job is fast, works well and doesn't require any expensive brushes. Because you use an iron, you run a risk of overheating your base and oxidizing your P-Tex. Personally, I err a little on the side of caution, and set my iron temp just a little under the recommended temperature on the wax container. This means that I have to take a little longer to melt the wax, but its ultimately better for my base.
Materials
1. Scotch Pad
2. Plexi Scraper
3. Iron on wax
4. Iron

I use a ski specific iron for two main reasons: 1) it has a thicker base, and that works as a buffer. It stores up heat better, and doesn't tend to fluctuate as much as a regular iron. 2) Instead of having a "high," "medium" and "low" setting, or numbers 1 through 10, it has actual degree markings (which makes it easier to approximate the temp to set my iron at).

Step 1
On the outside of the wax container, it should list the recommended iron temperature for that specific wax, set your iron to that temperature. Hold the wax against the iron, and let the wax drip off the iron onto the skis' base (a little bit goes a long ways). Make sure there isn't any smoke coming off the iron, if there is, then turn down the temperature.

If your iron still smokes, then I move it to a well ventilated spot, and turn it up to its max setting, and burn off the excess wax/fluoros that have built up on it. This is important, because breathing in the fluoros burnt off the iron are hazardous to your health.

Step 2
This is what the wax should look like when its on the base of the ski. If its your first time waxing with an iron, you might want to add a little bit more wax, until you get used to how much you can apply and still keep your iron "afloat."

Step 3
Take your iron, and move it in tight fast circles along the base. You want it to float on top of the wax, and not come in direct contact with your ski base. Spread the wax on the base until the entire base is covered.

Step 4
Take the scraper and press it against the base, with moderate pressure, and scrape off most of the wax from the base. You will have to clean off your scraper every now and then, otherwise it will get bogged down.

Step 5
I use the small end of the scraper on the edges of my ski, because it tends to bur the scraper, and I try to keep the long sides flat and sharp.

Step 6
Use a paper towel or your hand to brush away all the remaining shavings, then texturize the base with the scotch pad. What you want to do is create small wax channels that gives the water trapped under the ski a way to get out. Pull the pad across the base from tip to tail, and use moderate pressure to press it into the base. Pay special attention to the tip and the tail of the ski, and go over them a little bit more heavily.

Pictures below are (from left to right) the ski with the wax on it after being spread by the iron, the ski after being scraped, and the ski after texturizing.

Expert Method
This wax job is not for the light hearted, it keeps your base structure in top notch condition, as well as putting a well polished layer of wax over it. It takes a little longer then a normal wax job, and the brushes that it uses are expensive (about 20 bucks a pop).
Materials
1. Course brass brush
2. Wax
3. Cold hardening powder (optional/depends on conditions)
4. Nylon brush
5. Scotch pad
6. Horsehair brush
7. Large soft nylon brush

Not pictured: Plexi scraper

I personally use the cold hardening powder every now and then under the binding of my ski, to help protect it from abrasion. Its also a nice additive if you are going to be skiing during very cold conditions.

Step 1
Quickly brush over your ski's base with the brass brush, this remove any excess wax from earlier wax jobs, and it will give your base more structure.

Step 2
After you have used the brass brush, there should be white powder left on your skis (wax), brush this off and procede to the next step.

Step 3
On the outside of the wax container, it should list the recommended iron temperature for that specific wax. Set your iron to that temperature. Hold the wax against the iron, and let the wax drip off the iron onto the skis' base (a little bit goes a long way). Make sure there isn't any smoke coming off the iron; if there is, then turn down the temperature.

If your iron still smokes, then move it to a well ventilated spot, turn it up to its max setting, and burn off the excess wax/fluoros that have built up on it. This is important, because breathing in the fluoros burnt off the iron are hazardous to your health.

Step 4
This is what the wax should look like when its on the base of the ski. If its your first time waxing with an iron, you might want to add a little bit more wax, until you get used to how much you can apply and still keep your iron "afloat."

Step 5
Take your iron, and move it in tight fast circles along the base. You want it to float on top of the wax, and not come in direct contact with your ski base. Spread the wax on the base untill the entire base is covered.

Step 6
Take the scraper and press it against the base, with moderate pressure, and scrape off most of the wax from the base. You will have to clean off your scraper every now and then, otherwise it will get bogged down.

Step 7
I use the small end of the scraper on the edges of my ski, because it tends to bur the scraper, and I try to keep the long sides flat and sharp. Keep in mind that if your scraper starts to get dull, then you can sharpen it with a file, but try to maintain the 90 degree angle on the edge of the scraper.

Step 8 (optional)
There are two reasons why you might want to use cold powder
1. I use it to increase my base's abrasion resistance under the binding. If you've found that your skis have taken a beating, or are dried out on the edges under the binding, then you might want to consider this. The biggest downside is that since that area supports the largest amount of weight, you are going to find that it affects performance quite dramatically. So, before going out and buying cold powder to preserve your skis, ask yourself if you want to pay more, and go through a lot more trouble to make your skis slower (at any temperature other then those in the powder's temp range).
2. Obviously, its a good idea to use cold powder when its really cold outside.

Step 9 (optional)
Because applying cold powder requires me to turn my iron up allot higher then I do normally, my iron usually ends up smoking at that higher setting. Again, this smoke is hazordous to your health, you don't want to be breathing it in. So, to comabt this, I usually turn my iron up to max, and put it in a well ventilated area, and I burn everything off of it.

Step 10 (optional)
Make sure that the cold powder is completely liquefied, without pressing the iron directly against your ski's base. If it isn't melted well, then it has the tendency to crack while it hardens.

Step 11 (optional)
Repeat steps 6 and 7 for the area that you just applied wax to.

Step 12
Use a softer brush, nylon or horsehair, in the same pattern as the original structuring pattern that was used prior to waxing.

Step 13
I go over the wax with a scotch pad once (definitely not as much as in the intermediate protocol), to further structure the wax and create channels in the wax for water to escape easily, it also helps to brush away all the wax powder kicked off by the nylon brush. The nylon brush does this as well, so there isn't a big need to give it more then a swipe with the scotch pad.

Step 14
I use a soft nylon brush to brush away all the wax particles created by polising in the above steps.

Step 15
Finally, the base is brushed with the horsehair brush, which decreases static built up in the waxing process, and further polishes the base. Wipe away any particles that are created by this brush after you are done.

Pictures below are (from left to right) the ski with the wax on it after being spread by the iron, the ski after being scraped, and the ski after texturizing.
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