Chapter 4: Upgrading the Basic Kit

Recommended Upgrades

The following list includes, in no particular order, items that are worth investing in and adding to your kit:

P-tex candles – An essential item for base repair.

Metal Scraper - Essential for scraping off p-tex.

Butane lighter – Used to melt p-tex. Regular lighters burn at a lower temperature than butane lights, and take longer to get p-tex candles burning.

Ski vices – Worth the investment, and will last forever. You can get creative and invent your own system for holding skis down securely, but once you use good ski vices, it’s tough to go back. (Keep in mind that a lot of ski vices only open up to a certain width, and regular vices do not accommodate fat skis. There are vices available that open up wider, but they are more expensive.)

A decent Iron – Also worth the investment. When compared to a clothes iron, ski specific irons are: temperature controlled, have thicker bases (with no holes to be clogged) that disperse heat evenly and have a curled tip and tail to make spreading molten wax around easier.

Files – There are a lot of options available. Fine or “second cut" files are good for general purpose use. Bastard files, characterized by wide teeth, are used to reshape a damaged edge, or to change the bevel of the edge. In general, I avoid using files at all costs. It is very easy to screw things up using a file, and I have found that I get more reliable results using a course diamond stone.

True bar - used to ensure that the base of the ski is flat. Bases that are convex or concave can affect ski handling. If your bases are way out of whack, have them ground at a shop.

Base edge beveler – used to keep your base edge (different from your side edge) in good shape. Same deal as the side edge beveler: make sure to figure out your base edge angle. They typically range from 0 to 0.5 to 1 degree. A base bevel of 1 degree is common. Again, avoid the “multi-angle” tools. Like files, I avoid touching the base edge unless it is damaged. It is easy to over-bevel the base edge, and there is no going back unless you have the skis ground.

Moonflex Diamond Stones – A million times better than the DMT stones, but also more expensive. Your call.

Sidewall Planer – Over time your edges will wear down, and your diamond stones/files will begin to make contact with the ski sidewall more than the edge, making it impossible to tune.

Brushes – A good brush kit: 1 nylon brush for general purpose, 1 brass/bronze brush for pre-wax, 1 copper brush for post-wax, and 1 horsehair brush for polishing. Either the square or oval brushes work fine.

Wax – Worth it to get a huge “brick” of wax (180g) for $16, rather than spending $8 on a 60g bar. Also, it is worth investing in temperature specific waxes over just “universal” wax. From Swix, these are the “CH” waxes. They are a higher quality wax than general purpose wax, and are designed to perform in specific temperature ranges and snow conditions.

Brands: Swix, Toko, Holmenkol, whatever. They’re all good. However, things like wax and diamond stones are color coded differently by each brand, so it’s a good idea to keep from mixing different brands of wax or stones in the same kit.