Do your own snowboard maintenance with a step-by-step plan

If you are well prepared for winter sports, do not forget to check your materials. It is customary for many winter sports enthusiasts to take their snowboard to the maintenance workshop before the holidays. Others like to do it themselves. They save costs, they also like to keep control over the condition of their snowboard and they also enjoy doing it. Real snowboard fanatics get a kick out of that. Snowboard maintenance requires some knowledge and access to a number of maintenance materials. With a good step-by-step plan, you can easily do the maintenance yourself. How do you do that, snowboard maintenance?

Experiment within limits

An important reason for snowboarders to want to do their own snowboard maintenance is that you can tailor it completely to your wishes. This is something you have no guarantee on when you outsource maintenance to a workshop. Although you will have to purchase some materials the first time, such as wax, a wax or dry iron and a scraper, this does not have to cost hundreds of euros. In the long run you will save a lot of money by doing the job yourself. A renovation can easily cost around twenty to thirty euros each time.

Give it your own twist

While there are countless ways to approach your snowboard maintenance – some focus on this, some on something else – it is recommended that you follow some basic maintenance steps. How much attention you want to give each step varies per person. The challenge is to experiment until you achieve the desired result and notice what works best for you . On the other hand, it is important not to start working randomly and to adhere to certain don’ts , which can seriously damage your snowboard. The last thing you want is to feel disappointed at the bottom of the slopes because your snowboard is not cooperating one bit. A shame, because a snowboard is generally not cheap.

Step-by-step plan for snowboard maintenance

When maintaining your snowboard, it is important to follow the steps in order for optimal results.

  1. Maintain steel edges
  2. Remove dirt and wax residues from the base
  3. Repair damage to the base
  4. (Combi) waxing
  5. Let wax dry
  6. Scrape off wax
  7. Brushing
  8. Polish with cork and/or felt

 

1. Maintain steel edges

You need:

  • An edge grinder
  • A whetstone
  • Possibly a diamond file
  • If necessary, use a scouring pad or fine-grit sandpaper

If you don’t like sharpening your steel edges, go to step 2.

Handle your steel edges with care

Sharpening steel edges is something you may want to try after you learn how to wax and become a more advanced snowboarder. There is reserved talk and writing about sharpening your steel edges if you are a novice snowboarder and that is not unjustified. Sharpening steel edges is generally done when you are ready for more of a challenge while snowboarding, something that as a novice snowboarder you will only have to determine once you have reached a certain level.
Sharpening your steel edges is also a precise job. On the one hand, you can easily grind off too much of your steel edges. Of course, you can’t get back what you take away. Your steel edges become thinner the more times you sharpen them. You can compare them with knives that you have to sharpen from time to time because they become blunter with use. At a certain point the steel edges are worn out and you can no longer use your snowboard. On the other hand, if you are not skilled enough in sharpening, you can sharpen your steel edges at an unfavorable angle. This has consequences for your ‘driving behavior’ on the slopes. Most snowboards are factory sharpened at 90 degrees and it is highly recommended to keep it that way until you may find that you want to get more out of your board as you progress. If you sharpen your edges at less than 90 degrees, you cannot go back to 90 degrees. So wait and only sharpen at a different angle when you want to give your snowboard more oomph and when you are technically ready for this. Snowboarding on a snowboard whose steel edges are ground at a sharper angle is not fun for everyone and this can hinder your enjoyment of snowboarding.
A good indication to sharpen your steel edges is when there is damage to your steel edges due to snowboarding, for example when you have gone over a stone and have a large burr in your steel edge. Definitely don’t sharpen your snowboard every time you have used it intensively. You will notice when you start to get less grip in the snow while carving (making turns). If you don’t dare to do it yet, let someone with experience help you.

How do you proceed?

Removing burrs
Remove the burrs on the steel side with a wet wetstone. These are impurities that arise over time due to every crash or impact of the steel edges. Place your snowboard down with the base (the bottom layer of your snowboard) facing up and slowly slide your finger over the steel side at the bottom. This way you can feel exactly where any impurities are. Once you have discovered one, go over this spot with a few short movements with the wet wetstone until it feels even again. Repeat this on the other steel side as well.
Sharpening edges
Now that you have removed the burrs, it is the turn of the edge grinder. There are handy edge sharpeners on the market, ranging from very expensive to relatively cheap, that can sharpen to different degrees. In the workshop they usually do it with a loose file. If you want to try this yourself, do so when you have more experience with sharpening. Setting the right angle independently requires some dexterity. It is therefore easiest to obtain an edge grinder that can sharpen at 90 degrees and less.
Clamp your snowboard on its side in suitable brackets. You can also clamp it loosely in two vices with a towel in between. This way you prevent scratches on your base. Check on your edge grinder which edge you need to apply to the steel edge. Often one side grinds at 90 degrees and the other side at 88 or 87 degrees. There are also sharpeners where you have to turn a knob to set the correct number of degrees. Therefore, always check this carefully! The arrow on the file indicates in which direction you should move the edge grinder. Read the instructions of your edge grinder carefully before you start sharpening. When you are ready, place the edge sharpener on your steel edge and gently make a pulling movement with the edge sharpener in the sliding direction of your snowboard: from nose to tail . It may occasionally stutter, which means that there are imperfections in those places. If you make a pushing movement and apply more force, you will automatically grind off more of your steel edge. Therefore, proceed calmly and do not use unnecessary force. Running the edge grinder from nose to tail twice, a maximum of three in case of heavy impurities, is more than sufficient each time.
A trick to check whether your steel edge is sharp again: run your nail along the sharp side. If your nail starts to flake, it will be sharp again. Finally, briefly run your wetstone over the corners of your nose, slightly blunting them again. This prevents your board from ‘biting’ in the snow at those points when you are carving. This snapping can cause nasty falls. The real fanatics will want to lightly finish their steel edges at the bottom with a very fine diamond file.
Removing rust
Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that rust forms on your steel edges. This may be the result of not allowing your snowboard to dry properly after use before storing it. Therefore, always check whether there is rust on your steel edges. Fortunately, most rust can be removed quite easily with a scouring pad or fine-grained sandpaper. Don’t leave it alone, because a snowboard that eventually becomes thoroughly covered in rust on its steel edges can go into the trash. Remove the rust before you start waxing, because you want to prevent scratches on your base from a scouring pad or paper when you have just applied a new layer of wax.

2. Remove dirt and wax residue from the base

What do you need:

  • A scraper and an old cloth
  • Or a little (cheap universal) wax and a wax or dry iron
  • A copper brush

 

How do you proceed?

The maintenance session usually starts with removing dirt and old wax. Preferably do this outside or cover the floor so that you catch the wax chips. Don’t wear your nicest outfit and shoes, because wax leaves unsightly spots. Make sure your snowboard is secure and does not slide, with the base facing upwards.
When snowboarding, all kinds of dirt gets stuck in your base, such as grains of sand, tiny pieces of wood, etc. This must first be removed before you apply a new layer of wax. You can remove dirt in two ways: you can scrape directly or hot wax .
Direct scraping
First, brush the base along the length of your snowboard with a copper brush to remove as much dirt and old wax residue as possible from the (deeper) pores of your base. If you choose the ‘scraping’ method, you will then use a scraper and remove all the old wax that is on your base, until the base is, as it were, exposed. You can then (optionally) use a base cleaner spray to spray the base. Basecleaner lifts the remaining dirt, but is also a very stubborn substance for your base. It is recommended not to use this every time you maintain your snowboard. The base cleaner must be absorbed for an average of about 10 minutes, after which the base must be rubbed with a cloth. All the dirt from your base is now as good as gone.
Hot waxing
With the second method you apply a layer of wax by melting a small amount of wax with your wax iron and spreading it on your board. The heat of the iron opens the pores in the base and dirt automatically floats to the top. Then let the wax dry for about 10 minutes. Then you start scraping. This will remove most of the dirt that has worked its way out due to the heat and has become stuck in the wax. Here too you finish by brushing the base with a copper brush.
It is not necessarily possible to say which of the two methods works best. Some swear by the first method, others by the second method. It is sometimes said that base cleaner spray dries out your base if you always use it to remove dirt. This is because of the chemicals it contains and the fact that you apply it directly to your base. Whether this is really the case cannot be said with certainty. Hot waxing does save some time, because you only have to scrape once. If you have little time, you may prefer the hot wax method.

3. Repair damage to the base

What do you need:

  • A lighter
  • A piece of P-tex (plastic rod to repair base)
  • A knife

Do you have any damage to your base? Then continue to step 4.

How do you proceed?

You may have damage to the base of the snowboard. It is important that you fix this because it will affect the glide ability of your snowboard. Hold the lighter under the P-Tex rod while holding the rod at an oblique angle. The trick is to get a blue flame and not let the rod ‘smoke’. As soon as you see it starting to smoke, black soot particles appear in the plastic droplets. You then drip this into the damage, causing your base to become contaminated again and you can start removing dirt again. It is therefore important to drip a few pure drops of P-tex into the damaged area with a blue flame so that the space is filled and the whole feels smooth again. Then let the liquid P-Tex harden and very carefully cut away excess P-Tex with a small knife. Make sure you don’t scratch your base.

4. (Combi) waxing

What do you need:

  • Wax
  • A wax or dry iron

 

How do you proceed?

Now that the dirt has been removed from your base and any damage has been repaired, the waxing can begin. Which wax should you choose for your snowboard maintenance? Take into account what you plan to do and the ambient temperature of the place and the snow where you will be snowboarding. Some claim that universal wax (the cheapest) is simply the best and always suffices. Others believe that it is a good idea to apply wax with specific properties to get the most out of your performance. Find out what feels best for you.
Waxing
Plug the waxing or dry iron into the socket and make sure there is sufficient cord so that you can easily reach it on all sides of your board. The packaging of your wax states what temperature your wax iron should be at before use. In any case, make sure that your waxing or dry iron does not smoke and that you do not wax too slowly. If a wax or dry iron starts to smoke, it is too hot. Waxing too hot (in combination with waxing too slow) is not good for your snowboard, because you can cause ‘blisters’ in your base and damage it.
Then spread some wax on your snowboard by holding a piece of wax against the hot iron and let it drip onto your base. Make sure you have covered the entire surface, but don’t overdo it. You scrape off too much wax and that’s just a shame. Then rub the wax well into the base by drawing lengths over the base with the wax or dry iron. Also go carefully along the edges of the steel sides. These spots will wear out the fastest when snowboarding due to the many turns. The wax iron should glide smoothly over the wet wax. If the wax dries within seconds to a dull layer, then you are in good hands.
Combi waxing
You can also choose to combine waxing by, for example, applying a temperature wax or universal wax and a fluorescent wax that provides extra gliding ability. With this method of waxing you can enhance the performance of your snowboard by combining wax with different properties. By dripping a diamond pattern on your base with one wax and filling the spaces in between with the other wax, you can distribute the wax evenly. Also rub the wax well into the base with a warm iron by gently drawing laps.

5. Let wax dry

What do you need:

  • A scraper (with notch)

 

How do you proceed?

You can immediately remove wax residue from your steel edges on the underside. Most scrapers are equipped with a specially cut corner. It is then necessary to allow the wax to fully penetrate the base before scraping it off. You will really have to give this some time. It is better to let the retraction take longer than too short, but about 2 hours is a good length of time for recreational snowboarding. Raceboards take longer. In the meantime, you can of course do something else.

6. Scrape off wax

What do you need:

  • A scraper
  • An old cloth

 

How do you proceed?

You can scrape off excess wax by moving a scraper, clamped between the thumb and fingers of both hands, at an oblique angle from the nose to the tail. The thinner the scraper, the easier it is. A metal scraper works easiest in that respect, but a plastic scraper will also suffice. There are extra wide scrapers for snowboards, but you have to use more force with your thumbs. Scraping off excess wax can take quite a while depending on how much wax you have applied. The idea is that you continue until you hardly scrape off any more wax chips. The rest of the wax is then well deep into your base.

7. Brushing

What do you need:

  • A nylon (or horsehair) brush
  • A copper brush
  • Or a combination brush of both

 

How do you proceed?

The function of brushing your base is to raise the structure of your base. It consists of very small fibers. Brushing the base improves the gliding ability of your snowboard. Place the brush firmly on the base and brush back and forth along the length of your snowboard several times until the base feels smooth.

8. Polishing with cork and/or felt

What do you need:

  • A cork block with felt

 

How do you proceed?

This last step is optional. Some believe that ‘polishing’ with a cork block and/or felt really gives the board its finishing touch, making it glide even better on the snow. Feel free to try this out. Place the cork block on your base and rub it back and forth with force along the length of your snowboard. If your cork block has a piece of felt on the other side, also briefly run it over your base. The cork and felt give your base a shiny effect.
Extra protection
Belag is sensitive to dehydration. It is therefore important that there is always wax on your snowboard. The travel wax method is a convenient and quick way to provide your base with extra protection. This method is useful when you are going on a trip or you know that you will not be going snowboarding for a while. It means that, after the old layer of wax and dirt has been removed from your base, you apply a generous layer of (cheaper universal) wax to the base to prevent the base from drying out while you are not using it. You leave this layer of wax on and do not scrape it off. After very intensive use, such as a good week of winter sports, it is recommended to apply a layer of wax to your snowboard before storing it. Also give your steel edges a thin layer of wax on the underside, this prevents rust formation.
Also, always take a towel with you when snowboarding and dry it (especially the steel edges) when you’re done in the snow before storing it. This also reduces the risk of rust formation.
Finally, it is advisable to always store and transport your snowboard in a suitable protective cover, so that it is directly exposed to moisture or other temperature influences as little as possible and can withstand a blow.

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