If you're as passionate about skiing or riding as you are about your other sports, eventually you'll need to perform a little "garage maintenance" on your skis or snowboard. Early or late season riding, as well as everyday wear and tear, will take its toll on your equipment, usually in the form of repairing nicks and dings on the bases, sharpening edges, and waxing the bases.
It's easy to do your own maintenance with the proper equipment, and it will dramatically affect how well you ride. The first thing you'll need to do is collect the proper tools.
Although you can buy ski tuning kits on the market, you may have most of what you need in your garage or even your kitchen. Ideally, it's nice to have a set of tuning vices to hold your skis or board in place while you work. You can find them at your local ski shop or visit Alpine Accessories. If you don't have a ski vice, you can turn your skis or board upside down on top of two chairs. Other things you'll need are a flat steel scraper, P-tex candle and matches, steel file, file guide, diamond stone, ski wax, used clothes iron, and a plastic pot scrubber.
You'll need to keep your ski brakes out of the way by securing them with a thick rubber band, available from any office supply store. Tuning begins repairing any nicks or dings in your bases you've picked up by running over rocks or mud. Clean the surface using common rubbing alcohol. Melt a P-tex candle into the dings, using a liberal about of P-tex. Deep dings may require two applications. After drying for fifteen minutes, run a flat steel scraper over the entire running surface of your skis or board to remove nicks and burrs. Press just hard enough to remove the excess material.
The most important piece of your tuning equipment is the file guide. File guides securely hold the steel file at a specific angle while you're running it down the edges. File guides are adjustable in degrees, because there are two degrees of "bevel" to the edges - the bottom bevel and the side bevel. Most recreational rental skis have their edges tuned at "one and one," or one degree of bevel on both the bottom and the sides of the edges. Secure your file in the file guide at the proper bevel and run it from tip to tail - never back and forth.
After sharpening the bottom and side bevels of the edges, apply light pressure over the edges using a diamond stone. Diamond stones smooth the minute burrs caused by steel filing. Don't forget to smooth both the bottom and sides of the edges.
The last step is to wax the bases. Waxing helps to seal the bases and provides a faster running surface between the bases and the snow. Waxes are rated by ambient temperature, type, and moisture content of the snow. If you're not familiar with what type of wax to use, go to one of the numerous pages on the Internet like RaceWax.com for a series of charts of wax selection.
Apply the wax by setting the iron to its lowest heat setting. Press the side of the bar of wax against the warm iron, liberally dripping wax over the entire base of your skis or board. Smooth the wax over the bases. After waiting 15 minutes for it to dry, use the steel scraper to remove the excess wax from the base of your skis. Polish the surface of your bases by running a kitchen pot scrubber over the surface of the bases. You're ready to ride.