Ski Tuning 101 Presents: File Guide Review

Side Edge Guide Buyer’s Guide: Part 2 of 2
(Click here for part 1)

Part 2 of this buyer’s guide will look at four popular adjustable plastic side edge guides. Part 1 talked about the solid aluminum guides, which have the drawback (some would call it a feature) of being permanently fixed at a specific bevel angle.

These plastic guides are typically adjustable in increments of a half or a full degree. Usually from 0 up to at least 4 or 5 degrees. The benefit here is that if the side edge on your powder skis are beveled to 2 degrees, and your race skis are at 3 degrees, you will only need one tool to maintain both pairs. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks, so keep reading if you want to know if one of these tools is the right choice for you.

The first tool, the FK SKS mini tool, doesn’t warrant too much attention. It’s about as basic as you can get. I wouldn’t advise using this as your primary means of edge care, even though it might be tempting because of $9 price tag.

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what the purpose of this tool is. It’s too small to do any real work. And if you’re going to spend the money, there are much better and equally portable options out there. Pictures below:

The FK SKS Multi Base/Side Edge Beveler is next on the list, coming in at $35. I can’t say I’m in love with this tool. It’s both a side and a base edge beveler, which is nice, but unfortunately there are some compromises in precision and durability.

It’s an all plastic tool, so it will eventually wear down, which can lead to imprecision. Also, it’s not designed to fit normal size diamond stones for base edge sharpening. It will accept them for side-edge sharpening, but then what is the point of having a side and base edge multi-tuner if it only does half the job?

For $35, it’s certainly not a bad tool, but because of a few design flaws and an overall cheap feel, I think there are better options out there.

Next is the Swix Roller Multi-Angle Side Edge Beveler, which runs for $65, the most expensive of the bunch. This tool feels solid in-hand and is well built (metal + plastic). It accepts full sized diamond stones, but you need a coin or a screwdriver to change stones, or to change the angle of the guide. That can be a pain, but it's hardly a deal breaker.

Files and diamond stones can’t be angled more than a few degrees with this tool, so you always have to run the full length of the stone along the edge.This was fine for straight skis, but since modern sidecuts are becoming more and more drastic, problems arise. When you try to run a 4-6 inch stone or file straight on an edge with a lot of sidecut, only the ends of the stone or file will contact the edge, and the middle won’t be doing any work. This causes the edges of the stone to wear out before the middle sees any action, and the precision of the overall tool comes into question. So to avoid this, you have to angle the stone so that only an inch or so touches the edge. With most of these multi-tuners, that’s just not possible. The Swix can handle a bit of angle, so if your skis don’t have a wild slalom sidecut, you should be fine.

 Overall this is not a bad tool. It’ well built, easy to use and can handle multiple pairs of skis with varying edge bevels. Personally, I prefer the aluminum file guides, but the decision is up to you.

Lastly we have the BEAST Side Edge Pro Edge Tuner. This is a solid piece of equipment. It’s mostly metal with a few parts plastic. It’s got a nice solid feel to it, and has a stainless steel glide plate on the base for smoother tuning.

This is the nicest multi-tuner of the bunch, but alas, I have a few problems with it. The first is that it’s not really a multi-tuner. You have to buy an extra $10 angle plate to change the angle from 2 to 3 degrees. That puts the total cost at $70 for a guide that can only adjust to two different angles. It’s more precise and durable than the other multi-tools because of it’s metal parts, and can handle full-size diamond stones (but NOT full size files) but for $70 you could buy a 2 and 3 degree solid aluminum file guides and a nice diamond stone, and still have money left over.

To me, I’d rather have the aluminum guides (reviewed in part 1) which don’t have any moving parts and can handle any size stone or file out there. The BEAST is nicer to handle than the aluminum guides, especially because you don't need a spring clamp, so if you like it than definitely go for it, you won’t be disappointed.

Overall, my stamp of approval still resides on the ever simple aluminum file guides. I’ve used a lot of multi-tuners over the years, and I’ve yet to find one that truly impresses me. The tools reviewed here aren’t bad, and are definitely a good fit for some skiers out there, but for my money, the solid aluminum guides are the way to go.