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Extended & Very Detailed Overview
This section includes: Applying Wax ::: Iron Temperatures ::: Roto-Brushing
Before You Start
Some things to keep in mind:
- If new, confirm that the structure of your base is appropriate for the snow conditions.
- Clean your base (brush out old wax and hot wax scrape - no chemical cleaners! - hot-wax-scraping is described in the "before applying wax" section).
- Your skis/board should be at room temperature before you wax.
- Sharpen edges before you start this section
- The basic idea is to work your wax in (your base is like a sponge that you want to have soak up wax to act as a reservoir while racing); then brush out excess wax to expose the base structure.
- Bases are made of sintered p-tex that contain microscopic voids that can absorb wax.
- Let the base cool before brushing because the cooling will squeeze wax out of the base.
- Keep the base saturated with wax to avoid oxidation (base burn). These are white areas on the base; wax will not be absorbed by oxidized (white) spots.
- Remember the RaceWax.com fluoro waxes don't drip on because of the fluoro loading; read on to learn application techniques.
- Before applying wax, do your edges.
- Protect your bindings from wax drippings with tape. Blue painters tape from a hardware store sometimes works but some shops will sell tape like that shown below (don't use cheap masking tape that will tear as you peel it off). Tape over everything but the edge. You can even tape over your vise.
- Set your ski in a vise and hold the brakes back with a brake retainer. I sometimes find it easier to clamp the binding rather than the side wall.
- Start with a firm brushing of the base with a stiff brass brush (at least) or a steel brush. Care and experience is required here because a sharp/coarse brush can ruin a base. If the bristles are sharp, dull them with a file and test on old skis first. (better choice, especially for harder [cold temp] waxes) to remove oxidation and expose the base structure clogged with dirt & old wax.
- Do this from tail to tip. Yes, it is not a typo, tail to tip. You need to remove wax from the structure. If your brush is sharp or very stiff, make sure you use enough pressure to remove wax, but not so much as to damage the base structure. Do three full length passes. Break the ski into thirds and work each third three times. Do a clean up brushing with the brass brush. Use a sharp scraper to remove any base material hairs.
- NOTE: Remember to keep the surface of the iron clean. To clean the iron, use sandpaper if necessary, then run the iron over a pad from the on a flat surface. Use a cheap wax to clean up the surface.
Hot-Wax-Scrape Base Cleaning
- Use the hot-scrape method to completely clean the base of old wax before you add new wax. The idea is to use warm/liquefied wax to "wash out" the dirt and old wax.
- Choose an inexpensive soft wax, the red (warm) hydrocarbon made here is ideal for this.
- Drip on a coat of wax
- Work tip to tail.
- You want a warmer iron for this step so and scrape it off while it is still liquid. You should have a 8-12 inch trail of liquid wax behind the iron without overheating the base.
- Some people monitor the temperature by touching the top of the ski (which is now under the base); keep in mind that the thermal properties of skis (how well heat passes through from base to top) differs from ski-to-ski because the layers may have different thicknesses or materials, so for some skis a feeling of warmth may be too hot.
- Repeat waxing/scraping until the wax is clean.
- Select a wax for the final wax/scrape that is closer to the temperature of your race wax; select a warm or cold version.
- After your last scraping, brush tip to tail with a brass brush; the wax can be warm for this step.
Cold Powder Application for Preventing Base Burn
Wax for Speed
- If you are racing on FluoroMax warm/cold waxes exclusively (see wax wizard or charts), you can skip past the "apply second wax coat".
- If you are using a high-end wax like a T-Series or Hybrid Series wax , a transitional undercoat is advised (see wax wizard or charts).
- NOTE 1: If you try to melt many of our waxes (especially the warmer versions) on with a hot iron as you normally add wax the wax may not "drip" on, it will adhere to the iron & look like a "paste". Instead, you must rub it on like a crayon and completely cover the base, then with the iron in one hand soften the wax for 1 second by tapping it to the iron then rub a slightly thicker coat on. Tap/rub repeatedly until coated. Then iron.
- NOTE 2: T1/H1 waxes will not crayon, instead use the iron to soften it, then crayon. Some people grate it with a cheese grater first, then sprinkle on.
- NOTE 3: The high temperatures required to iron in a T1/H1 may harm your base. To protect it you can use a piece of fiberlene paper between your iron and the base.
- The crayon method saves wax.
- Apply wax as stated above and iron the wax in.
- NOTE 4: If your iron isn't calibrated what you dial in may not be the exact temperature of the iron. Use the temperature numbers (at the bottom of this page) as a guide and adjust down to the lowest temperature that will maintain the wax in a liquid state in a 4 inch trail behind your iron. A smoking wax is too hot!
- Keep the iron moving at all times to avoid burning the base.
- Keep the wax warm state for about 3 minutes per ski by passing the iron over the ski repeatedly.
- NOTE 5: Temperatures above 140 Celsius (284 Fahrenheit) can burn the base. For cold waxes that require a hot iron, make sure you have dripped or rubbed on wax so there are no bare spots on the base. If you have fiberlene paper, use that between the iron and your base.
- NOTE 6: If you are going to a race and need to travel, it is preferable to wax at your destination if you do not have a car-top carrier or case to protect your skis. If you skis will be exposed on your rooftop, make sure they have a coat of wax (use a cold wax if the weather is cold) on them and rub a wax over the metal edges so they don't rust from road salt.
- Let ski cool. This takes 30-60 minutes; overnight is best. The idea is that when the ski cools, the wax bleeds out of the base. So if you didn't let it cool before you brushed/buffed it, then the wax will bleed when you get it out on the snow; if this happens the excess wax will clog your structured channels. Actually, this may still happen anyway, so a horsehair brush for brushing before the race start is handy.
- Don't cool fast (e.g., don't put them outside in the cold); it closes up your pores quickly and the wax is forced out.
- Let the ski cool at room temperature (overnight if possible).
- Scrape excess wax with a plexi scraper using light strokes. After scraping fiberlene paper or the red synthetic cloth sold here is great for clean up.
- If you are using a T1/H1 (<15 F) wax (regular of microfiber version), do not wait until the wax hardens (and it hardens very fast). Scrape the wax while it is still semi-soft to avoid chipping the wax.
- NOTE 7: You want to brush and scrape until there is no more wax on the surface or the structure. The key to fast bases is to brush, brush and then brush more!
- Brush tip to tail with 5-10 times with a brass or nylon brush.
- If your base has a fine structure (this is for cold snow; a fine structure can be seen but not felt with your fingers), start with a brass brush; it has finer bristles that can better reach into the structure. For a coarse structure (this is for warm/wet snow; a coarse structure can be felt with your fingers),
- Cold waxes need stiffer brushes. The progression of brushes is (stiffest to softest) Steel > Brass/Bronze > Nylon > Horsehair. For the last three there are 9 mm and 18 mm versions; the 18 mm is softer than the 9 mm. If you are using rotobrushes, see the notes at the end of this page.
- A steel brush is for cleaning (prior to waxing) and is best used by experienced tuners as it is very aggressive.
- A few more light scrapes with the plexi scraper.
- Repeat if you are adding a second coat.
- (If you started with a brass brush) Brush tip to tail with 10-20 times with a nylon brush to pull out wax and polish.
- Brush tip to tail with 10-20 times with a horsehair brush to pull out more wax and polish.
- Buff 5-10 with one of these (not all): an 18 mm horsehair brush (DrD's favorite) or polishing cloth, white fibertex pad, fiberlene paper.
- A cheap plastic scrubbie (mesh plastic "sponge") is great for cleaning up wax drippings on the skis and in the work area.
- Go to next step and add fluoro powder or microfiber if desired.
Don't use excessive drill speeds or downward pressure. This will create excessive heat and smear wax rather than brush it. Most cordless drills max out at 1,200 rpm, but standard drills go up to 2,500 rpm. Use the sound of the drill to judge the speed. Most of the brushing action is back and forth with a tip to tail finish.
- Always use safety glasses.
- Brush from tip to tail with the brush rotation throwing the wax particles towards the tail.
- Brass or Copper Roto-Brush: Use back and forth at a medium pace with light pressure at 800 rpm, with two final strokes tip to tail.
- Nylon Roto-Brush: Use back and forth at a medium pace with medium pressure at top speed not-to-exceed 2,500 rpm, with two final strokes tip to tail.
- Soft Bristle or Felt Roto-Brush: Use back and forth at a medium pace with light pressure at top speed not-to-exceed 2,500 rpm, with two final strokes tip to tail.
- Horsehair Roto-Brush: Use back and forth at a medium pace with light pressure at top speed not-to-exceed 2,500 rpm, with two final strokes tip to tail.
- Roto-Cork: Use back and forth at a quick pace with very light pressure at 800 rpm, finish with hand corking. Due to the extreme heat generated by friction minimize the time the cork is in contact with the base. There is no need for a finishing stroke.
Iron Temperature Chart
If your iron isn't calibrated, what you dial in may not be the exact temperature of the iron. Use these numbers as a guide and adjust down to the lowest temperature that will maintain the wax in a liquid state at a length of about 4 inches (10 cm) behind your iron. Using your judgment is always preferred to relying on the dial setting.
|Wax Temperature (F)||Iron Temp (F)||Iron Temp (C)|
|25 - 34||240||115|
|20 - 28||255||125|
|15 - 21||265||130|
Note: At 285 F / 140 C you should be using fiberlene between your base and the iron to prevent base damage.