Ski Tuning 101 Presents: Sidewall Planer Review

Sidewall Planers - a review

Tools reviewed:
Mountain Tek Sidewall Planer - $32
Swix Economy Sidewall Cutter - $35
BEAST Plane Beast Sidewall Cutter - $40
ARTECH Sidewall Planer Kit - $45
Swix Racing Sidewall Cutter: Dual Blade Design - $65

Sidewall planers, here we go! This was a tough review because to be honest, I was not really thrilled by any of these tools. The thing with sidewall planers is that you only need them once or twice a year, so if I am going to spend money on something I use twice a year, it better be damn good at its job.

Though you only need a planer a few times per year, it is an incredibly important piece of equipment. Simply put, if you are going to sharpen and file your edges with any regularity, you will need to plane the sidewall; if not, your sharpening and filing efforts will be ineffective. As you file down the edges over time, the file or diamond stone will begin to cut into the sidewall of the ski rather than the edge; sidewall planers resolve this by removing material and exposing more of the edge.

1. To begin, we look at the cheapest option: Mountain Tek Sidewall Planer - $32

This is actually not a bad tool. It has adjustable pins on the left and right sides so that you can adjust how much of the blade is coming into contact with the sidewall.

If you only want to take a bit of sidewall off, you can adjust the pins so that the blade only cuts into a small portion of the sidewall. Or you can pull the pins up, and take off huge chunks of sidewall. The choice is yours.


2. The second cheapest option is the Swix Economy Sidewall Cutter, which goes for $35.

This is my favorite tool of the group. It’s long, so it sits on the edge of the ski well, allowing you to use considerable pressure when removing sidewall.

Shorter tools tend to skip off the ski when you apply any sort of force to them. It also had the same sort of adjustable pins that the previous planer has – these are the pins that determines how deep the blade cuts into the sidewall.

Also, there is a screw on the backside of the tool that allows the blade to be rotated 180 degrees so that you can always work from tip to tail.


3. and 4. I am going to combine the review for the follow two tools, because they are so similar:  BEAST Plane Beast Sidewall Cutter ($40), and the ARTECH Sidewall Planer Kit ($45).

The concept behind these two tools is the same: mount a pansar file to a 7-degree file guide. The idea is that using a file guide with such a severe angle will cause the file to move up over the edge, and dig into the sidewall. Pansar files have wide teeth, which are ideal for cutting and removing material.

In my testing, this was not the case. Both tools caused the file to bite into the upper part of the ski edge just as much as the sidewall itself.

This is not what you want to happen, so overall I am not too happy with either of these setups. I appreciate the simplicity of the concept, but I just do not think it is a great setup.


5. Lastly, we have the Swix Racing Sidewall Cutter: Dual Blade Design, which sells for $65.

I can’t figure out why this tool costs $30 more than the other Swix model reviewed here. I guess it has to do with the second carbide blade that is used, but it loses some of the features of the Swix economy model. (Circular blade, top - square blade, bottom)

First, it has a shorter wheelbase, for lack of a better word, so it is a less stable tool. Second, there are no adjustable pins, so you are cutting deep into the sidewall every time you run the planer down the ski.

This is a big issue for me, and combined with the lack of stability compared to the Economy model, I can’t recommend that you buy this tool over the Economy version.

In the end, the Swix Economy Sidewall Cutter is the clear winner. The Mountain Tek tool is also good, but for the extra $3, I would recommend the Swix. It has a simple design, it’s very easy to use and is made of a strong and durable plastic. Considering that it will see rare use, it should last a lifetime.

For those of you with a bigger budget, take a look at the SVST W.C. Sidewall Planer, which goes for $140. I did not have this tool in hand for a photo review, but I have used it extensively in the past. It is one of the nicest ski tuning tools, in any category, that you can own.