Jaded Rejects #6: Tuning In

An eight-step, 18-beer, two or three day process to get the ol' boards dialed for Opening Day

Photo: Jordan Manley

Photo: Jordan Manley

By The Jaded Local

It’s that time of year again, when you pull the skis out of the moldering junkpile in the back of the pickup where you left them last May and realize that it’s time for a tuneā€”the edges are rusty and hammered, the bases look like a dog’s chew toy… and Opening Day is in 48 hours. But why waste 40 bucks and a precious sixer at the shop so some dope can run them through a machine when you can do it yourself? How hard can it be?

Here’s my time-tested two-day method:

Day 1

1. Assemble tools and supplies: files, stones, P-tex, metal and plastic scraper, iron, wax, three six-packs.

2. Clamp vices to work surface. Vices should be only barely able to grip sidewalls, allowing the ski to pop free and clatter to the floor at crucial moments in the Tuning Process. Wedge brakes up with a ballpoint pen or something equally sure to pop loose and cause chaos.

3. Start with Base Repair: light P-tex stick and carefully drip into damaged areas of the base and living room carpet. When the ski slips out of the vice or the brake snaps up and spatters hot P-tex onto your arm, make sure to wipe it off with your bare hand, leaving you with searing liquid plastic melting into your arm and fingertips. Whimper in pain and crack first beer with uninjured hand.

4. Now use the metal scraper to scrape off excess p-tex. Make sure to bend the scraper with your thumbs and push really hard, pulling out several of your new patches and removing enough existing base material so that the ski is edge-high and no stone grinder structure remains. Open second beer and resolve philosophically to fill in remaining base damage with wax as if that will work on anything more than the level of token gesture.

5. Edge Filing: Use one of those cheap little handy-dandy pocket filing units with adjustable bevel angle. Rationalizing that more must be better, set bevel angle to the maximum possible, apply to both base and side edge so that your skis will be both squirelly and grabby. Push the tool as hard as you can, scooping big waves into the edge and removing enough steel to so that it will require a massive amount of belt grinding at the shop to undo. Get your stroke figured out as you finish the first ski, thus ensuring that you have a totally different tune on each ski. Leave a big fat burr sticking out and cut your thumb on it when you check the sharpness of your work. Realize that the knob that adjusts the bevel angle on the pocket tuner has worked loose so your actual edge bevels are anyone’s guess; shrug and open third beer. Bleed on carpet.

6. Use a soft gummy stone to carefully dull the tips and tails. Cut your other thumb trying to catch ski as it pops loose from the vise and falls to the floor, taking the curtains with it and almost killing the cat. Open fourth beer.

7. Now it’s time to wax! Turn up the iron high enough that it starts smoking, then choose a high-fluorocarbon race wax that’s only supposed to be corked in, and dribble copious amounts on the ski and living room carpet. Iron wax in to the base, moving the iron slowly until the base material itself begins to bubble and blister. Inhale toxic flourocarbons deeply and drift into a flourocarbon-y reverie. Call your ex-girlfriend and order a pizza from her voicemail, then woozily attempt to wax the cat. Open front door to ventilate apartment and watch numbly as the cat shoots through your legs, never to be seen again. Wait until the wax has cooled and then use metal scraper to remove excess wax until you remember that you were supposed to use the plastic scraper for this part. Grind wax scrapings into carpet with your shoes. Crack sixth beer.

8. Flex skis experimentally, causing remaining P-tex patches to pop loose like flappy scabs. Wash down leftover painkillers from knee surgery with last beer. Pass out on the now race-ready carpet.

Day 2

Fighting the brutal beer/percocet/race wax hangover from Day One, bring skis to the shop where you will be charged extra for the tech to cut off all your shitty P-tex work and belt-grind away your edge filing before he can tune them properly. Offer him a $4.99 six-pack as if that’s worth the extra work. Simper a little.

Day 3

Take newly-tuned skis out on Opening Day; rip out edges and buckle sidewalls while exploring eleven inch deep off-trail powder stash. Return to ski shop with third six-pack and attempt to warranty skis with some sniveling story about how you were just skiing along when…