Tuning your own skis/snowboard is an important step in skiing well, especially useful for instructing as you don't want to be caught out by a hidden patch of ice with blunt edges! Also, you can save loads of money by not having to take your skis/snowboard into the repair shop for a tune every couple of weeks.
For the cost of a few shop tunes, you can outfit yourself with the tools you need to keep your skis/snowboards performing in top condition. With just a little practice, your tunes will be consistent, eliminating one variable in your performance.
Bring the skis/snowboard in out of the cold
After a long day of shredding, you will want to bring your skis/snowboards inside to raise them to room temperature. If you proceed to wax a ski/snowboard while it is still cold, there's a chance that you will bubble the base and create a lot more work for yourself.
Prepare skis/snowboard for waxing
Once your skis/snowboard are at room temperature, put the skis/snowboards on a tuning bench, and secure the skis/snowboards to it with a vice. Don't have a vice? Get two chairs, and rest the skis/snowboards upside down on the two chairs. Plug in your iron, setting at a temperature appropriate for your wax. Waxes that are used for higher temperatures generally require a lower iron setting than waxes for colder temperatures. If you make the iron too hot, the wax will smoke, and too cold, it won't melt effectively.
Next, tie the brakes up with brake retainers
Know what the best are? Big, thick rubber bands that you can buy at OfficeMax
for about $2.50 for a package of 10. If you are using the two chair method, you don't need to tie the breaks back, just put one of your boots into the bindings. Snowboards - you don't have breaks so you obviously don't need to tie them back!
After the skis/snowboard are secure, use a cloth to wipe any remaining liquid or dirt off the base. Follow this by inspecting the skis/snowboard for any scratches or core shots.
Repair scratches if necessary
If you do not find any deep scratches, then proceed onto step 5, but however if you do then continue reading. If the scratches go all the way down to the metal, they need to be welded, and you should take them into your shop, if there are light scratches that need repair, then you will need to get a stick of P-Tex, a lighter, and a scraper. What you need to do first is light the P-Tex stick, hold the lighter to one end until it is lit like a candle (It will light a little faster if you first whittle the tip into a point). The burning end will begin to drip, you want to just touch this end to the scratch so that the melted plastic drips off onto the ski/snowboard. Try not to let the first few drops land on the ski/snowboard, as they will be burnt and not hold as well. Fill the scratch completely, but don't overload the area, that just makes the next part harder. Wait until the P-Tex is cooled and hard, this shouldn't take more than a few minutes. When it is dry, use the scraper at about a 45-degree angle to scrape off any excess P-Tex until it is as flat as you can get it. It is best to take it to a shop where they can do a full base grind, but doing it yourself will save you a lot of money on smaller scratches.
Edge the skis/snowboard
This step is a little more tricky, so click here for a specific edging guide
Wax the skis/snowboard
It's finally time to wax your skis/snowboard. First you must select your wax. To do this, you must look at the upcoming forecast and choose a wax that corresponds with the temperature for that day. It is better to err on the cold side, because if you put on a wax for a higher temperature, your skis/snowboard will become sticky and won't glide nearly as well on the snow. What I do, is go into the local repair shop and ask them what wax they use, they know the conditions the best, much easier than trying to predict it yourself. After you select your wax, apply it generously across the ski/snowboard by placing the block against the iron and dripping it on. Once you have applied enough wax, "iron" it into your ski/snowboard, being careful not to stay on one spot for too long and continuously moving the iron. After you have completely ironed the wax into the base, set the ski aside and wait for the ski to cool for about 25 minutes before continuing on. While you wait for the ski to cool, tune the other ski until this same point.
End of Season??
Stop here if its the end of the season, and you won't be using your ski/snowboard for another 6 months. The think layer of wax helps protect the ski. Continue with the following steps at the beginning of the next season!
Also, to help keep your bindings in good condition, some people loosen off the dim setting. This helps rest the spring in the binding. PLEASE NOTE! Get a professional to reset the dim setting for you at the beginning of the next season. A dim setting set incorrectly could potentially lead to some very serious injuries.
Scrape off excess wax
After the skis/snowboard have sufficiently cooled, place the ski/snowboard back in the vice and use a plastic scraper to scrape the excess wax off the ski/snowboard. Although there are metal scrapers on the market, there's a possibility that these will destroy the base structure of the ski/snowboard, making it much less effective in the snow and thus much slower. Always scrap the ski/snowboard from tip to tail, as this is the way your ski/snowboard will move over the snow, and always angle the scraper towards you as you move down the ski/snowboard. Scrape the ski/snowboard until there is very little wax coming off with each pass.
The next step in tuning is brushing the remaining wax from your base. Start with a stiff brush, such as horse hair, and again brush beginning at the tip of the ski/snowboard and ending at the tail. Brush the ski/snowboard out again until very little wax is coming out, and repeat this process with a nylon brush if you want to get a perfect wax. Sound too hard out? don't have these brushes? Some people miss this step out, but what I do and is also quite common is use a Scotch Brite Pad, purchased from the supermarket! It works really well.