“ Brand: Toko / Type: Steel scraper blade for smoothing repaired ski bases „
So, now you've got a pair of skis with the base covered in drips of ski base repair material and looking way worse than they did before you started! Fear not, soon all will be well; we just need to remove all of the excess material and obtain a flat smooth surface. For this we need a scraper.
I use a Toko Ski Base Scraper Blade. You can get these in two versions - a plexi plastic version and a stainless steel version; it's the steel one you need: the plexi version is for smoothing out the final wax finish, not smoothing down base repairs. The steel one will cost you around £7 from the Web.
The blade is rectangular, around 12cms by 6cms, just wide enough to stretch across the base of the ski and rest on the metal edges on both sides at the same time. This is important: the edges of the ski are the guide to determine how much repair material should be removed in order to leave a smooth, flat surface. The material will be removed by the shoulders of the edges of the blade, of which there are, of course, four on the longest sides, held at an angle of 45°.
There are two schools of thought on whether you should push or pull the blade. I'm in the "pull" camp. I have found that pushing the blade across the surplus repair material can be too violent and can cause lumps to break off, which is not what you want. Pulling the blade can take a bit longer but, to my mind, is more reliable and delivers a better finish. The blade can get a bit blunt with a lot of use and when it does I simply clamp the blade in a vice and run the shaft of a thick screwdriver firmly and with pressure along the edges, to remove any burrs and renew the sharpness.
Eventually all the excess will have been removed. At this point you may find that there are still a few pits here and there. Consequently you have have to go back to step two and add some more base repair material, once again then scraping it down to a flat, level surface.
The base may still look a little odd, covered in what look like little "crop circles". These are outline of drips of repair material and can often remain even after all the excess has been removed. Don't worry about it, it won't affect the performance of the skis and once you finally finished and applied a new coating of wax they won't be noticeable anyway.
Now, you are probably thinking that a nice smooth finish is what you need but in fact it isn't. If you look at the base of a professionally prepared pair of skis you will notice that they are covered in what looks like microscopic short grooves running the length of the base. The reason for this is that a perfectly flat surface will naturally form a partial vacuum with the snow.
When you are skiing your weight on the skis cause friction with the snow and makes it melt; you are actually riding on a microscopically thin layer of water, not snow. The vacuum causes suction and this is just what you don't want. The tiny grooves act to break the vacuum. They behave a bit like the grooves in car tyres. It's similar to the reason why golf balls are covered in dimples rather than being perfectly smooth: the dimples make the golf ball travel far further by the action that they have on the surrounding air.
Unfortunately, obtaining a similar effect DIY is very far from easy: professional ski servicers use a machine to grind the pattern into the surface. However, you can achieve a reasonable alternative effect. You need a file with a rasp surface. Unlike normal files, these are covered in spikes.
I lightly draw one of these over the surface of the base in short strokes, from back end to the tip. I say "lightly" and I do mean it. The grooves should be less than a millimetre deep, not gouges like you've spent all this time removing. Also, you most certainly don't want to damage the metal ski edges. When you've finished, once again run the scraper over the entire surface to remove the ridges that will have formed at the edges of these grooves.
Finally, use something like a nylon kitchen pan scourer to lightly go over the entire ski base surface so as to prepare the skis for the penultimate stage - applying the wax finish.
To be continued...