If you ski or board, there is a good chance you also wax and maintain them, or pay someone else to do it. Waxing costs can add up over a busy winter season, it can be an inconvenience to drop them off and pick them up from the shop ALL THE TIME, and basically it’s just totally rad to get in tune with the magic of what is sliding under your feet!
In this massive four part series, we will go through the wax bench setup, toolkit, wax technique, and maintenance tasks to get your skis and/or board dialed for your next big adventure or neighbourhood jaunt!
Part 1 – The Wax Bench Setup
The wax bench. The place where you will spend hours of your time in the winter months. The most important, crucial ingredient, is the tunes. You gotta have a way to play music, or podcasts, or whatever audio entertainment of your choice, while you spend those snowy winter evenings hunched over your wax bench.
Once that is sorted, you need two things to have a great wax bench. You need a way to hold your skis and boards in place securely so they don’t slip while you scrape off the wax or file the edges. This can be achieved using specialized vises or a ski form. In either case, the second thing you need is workbench or table to use as a platform to secure the vises or form to.
You can buy vises for your skis, boards, or nordic skis, or you can buy a combo vise with adaptors to do all three on the same kit, to hold them in place while you scrape and file. Toko and Swix vises are the top picks in terms of function and price, XCMAN and Tools for Boards offers more economical options but the options for adapting for more than one use are limited. If money were no object, I would go with the Swix World Cup Vise ($189.99 on amazon.ca) for alpine skis and the SWIX universal adaptor ($70.00 on www.swixsport.ca) to add on snowboard and nordic ski and functionality.
OR you could build your own ski form! Ya! A ski form has two elements, something to rest the front and back of the skis/board on, and a way to hold the bindings in place. The binding attachment will hold the ski securely in place, but can be tricky to create and isn’t 100% necessary. You could always start without it and add it on later. For nordic skis, the traditional homemade form is made by cutting a shape out of a 2×4 to match the shape of your ski. Here is a great plan for a DIY $5 nordic ski form that incorporates an adjustable back piece for waxing different lengths of skis. Here are a couple other ideas for a DIY alpine ski form and a DIY ski/board folding bench.
Finally, you need a workbench or table to attach the vises or ski form to. You might already have a workbench that you can clamp the vises onto directly or use clamps to secure your ski form to. If not, you could splurge for a fancy waxing specific table for $390.00!, try two sawhorses, or find a spot where you can attach a 2×4 securely to a wall – that’s all you need to clamp your vises or ski form to. The key is to have the system totally stable for scraping, otherwise it will take longer and become frustrating trying to scrape while the ski/board or bench is slipping and tipping.
RAD tech tip: instead of the bolt to attach the binding to on the nordic ski form, try adding a couple of screws that line up with where the binding rests and then use this to hold the binding in place, as shown in the photo!
You’re all set!! Onto Part 2, the waxing toolkit!