The Side Edge Guide Buyers Guide:
Part 1 of 2.

I’m going to kick off the next few months of product reviews with one of the most important tools in any skier’s kit: the side edge file guide.

One would think that sharpening a metal edge would be a simple task, but alas, there are many tools to get the job done. In my experience, keeping things simple produces the best results.

I’m going to review seven of the most popular tools for the job, starting with the simplest of them all: the solid aluminum file guide. I have 3 brands on hand, shown here, cheapest on the left, most expensive on the right: ARTECH ($22),SWIX ($30) and SVST ($31).

I’ve always favored this style of file guide. It’s easy to use, versatile, precise, virtually unbreakable and will last a lifetime. They accommodate any size diamond stone or file; all you need is a spring clamp to complete the package.

Compared to the plastic multi-tuners (seen in the first picture, which I will review next) the aluminum file guides are the better buy. The only drawback is that you can’t adjust the bevel angle. i.e. if the side edge on your race ski is set at 3 degrees, and your powder skis are at 2 degrees, you will need two different file guides. The plastic multi-tuners attempt to alleviate this problem, but with more than a few drawbacks.

The ARTECH brand side edge guide is the value option here, and will suit a majority of skiers:

The only advantage the SWIX guide has is that little trough cut out in the center of the guide. When you’re using a file on your edges, the trough will allow the metal shavings to move out of the way as you work your way down the ski. Other than that, the ARTECH and SWIX guides are the same.

The SVST guide is my favorite. For $31 ($1 more than the SWIX), you get a stainless steel plate on the business end, but you lose the trough. The lack of a trough is not a big deal for me, because for those of you that have read the photo guide know, I try to avoid filing my edges too much in the first place.

The steel plate, in my experience, allows the guide to really glide smoothly down the base of the ski as you tune. It just feels a whole lot nicer to use. That said, the SVST loses a point because I’ve seen that steel plate begin to peel off after HEAVY use. (i.e. a 20-person race team using it for a full season). Nothing a little super-glue can’t fix, though.

Here are the comparison pictures between the base of ARTECH/SWIX style guides and the SVST guide, which has the stainless steel plate:


To sum things up, you really can’t go wrong with any of these guides. The ARTECH wins for value, the SWIX wins for the ultimate combo of versatility and durability, and the SVST wins for performance.