Ask any rider how often they tune their board and chances are they’ll answer, ‘not often enough’. It’s all too easy to just hand your board over to a shop tech a couple of times a season and let it (not) slide the rest of the time. But become a home tech-head, and you’ll learn about the way your snowboard works, save money and ride better and faster than your friends. Better yet, as you learn more, you’ll work out how to tune your board to suit your own riding style. So what more do you need to know?
Cleaning the base
Before servicing your stick, you need to make it tune-ready. That means checking the board for obvious burrs, dirt and stray p-tex before you start. Use a cloth or damp rag to wipe clean the base and you’re ready to go.
Your next step to a faster, more responsive board is by sorting out your edges. In tech-speak, edges are referred to as the base edge (closest to the, ahem, base) and the side edge (closest to the top-sheet). Starting at one contact point (the place where the board meets the snow at the tip and tail on each rail) place your edge file and draw it down using sharp, short strokes until you reach the other contact point. Don’t force the file – simply use it’s weight to do the job. You’re aiming for an even sharpness from tip to tail. Repeat for each rail. Some riders also like to hone their edges using a diamond stone. It’s a similar process and will finish the edging job by removing the last irregularities from each rail. Now it’s time to wax…
Today, waxing as almost a science and it’s possible to buy a million different waxes for different snow conditions. But the bottom line is that waxing your board makes it faster. Period. That’s because the more you ride, the more the friction between your base and the snow causes your board to lose speed. The solution? Wax. If it’s your first time, get an old-timer to help you out. You’ll need an old iron, your wax, and a flat, steady surface. After cleaning your board, place it base-side up. Heat your iron so it is on a low setting, warm enough to melt the wax but not so hot it’ll burn your base. Run your iron over the base, to prepare it for the wax, and then, with the nose of the iron pointing down, melt the wax onto your base. Pay particular attention to the edge areas and the head of the nose and tail. As the wax hits the base, it will cool down and set quickly. Once you have a good covering, use the iron to spread the wax all over the base until it is covered all over. When that’s done, let it cool down and set. Let the heat of the iron work the wax into the base, but keep a check on how warm the board is getting by feeling the underside (top sheet) with your hand. It should be warm but not uncomfortable to touch.
Scraping comes next. Some people like to wax their boards the night before, leave it in a warm place overnight and then scrape it just before they ride in the morning. Others like to let the wax set and then scrape straight away. Either way, scraping is essential if you want your steed to perform. You can buy a decent scraper from any snowboarding shop. Scrape the wax off with this using strong downward strokes until the excess wax has come off in flakes. Be warned: scraping is best done outside, as warm, sticky wax can fly around. Scrap from nose to tail.
So why should you bother to wax and edge your board anyway? For one thing, it’ll help you ride better. It’s a simple fact that a freshly-waxed and edged stick is faster and more responsive than a board that’s been left rotting in the shed all summer. Slowing down on flat spots? Wax it. Can’t get enough speed or control on a backside transition? Sharpen those edges. Riding a park in the spring? You’re gonna need wax. And what about riding rails? Well that’s another matter. Many pros who shred rails have been known to blunt and detune their edges as much as possible, to avoid catching an edge on a metal rail and paying the harsh price. Some riders even have a solitary rail. One thing’s for sure: knowing as much as possible about the way your board works in every situation and how to increase it’s performance can only make you a better, stronger rider