Guides to Waxing, Tuning and Board Repair.
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About Waxing Your Board
Posted by KyleWeevers
Prepare for a long ass post people, I'll give you all the knowledge I have gotten over the past 7 years that I've been a tech in regards to wax:
I will start by saying no matter what base type you have a wax job will always be beneficial, having a smooth clean surface to glide on will help you keep speed on the flats, and will also help in maneuvering through pow. Extruded bases do not have to be waxed quite as often as sintered bases and this is because extruded bases are more porous. The bad thing about that is they can get deeper scratches and gouges than a sintered base.
Sintered bases should be waxed often. How often would be determined by the snow you ride. If its man made gun blown snow, wax it every time. Man made snow crystals are very sharp, and larger than snow from the heavens, and because of this it will rip the wax right off your base by the end of the day. If its light fluffy powder you can go as long as 4 - 5 riding days without a new wax coat.
Types and Temperature of waxes:
There are many different types of waxes out there, but the most common is flouro based waxes. They are fairly long lasting, and can take a rough rider. The other type as Snowolf mentioned is graphite. Graphite comes in one colour; black. It will be noticeable on a white base and people will think you need a wax job. .That is until you flash by 'em laughing your ass off. Graphite wax is harder and creates better glide with the snow than flouro wax does. Thus it is a faster wax. It doesn't have the same staying power, but it will make you ride faster.
The whole purpose of wax:
The whole purpose of wax is not to reduce friction, but to increase. It is a huge misconception that wax will help decrease friction. To fully explain this we must examine a few other things that are related to the base of our beloved snowboards.
Base pattern: Have you ever looked at a dried out base and noticed that there is a sort of pattern to it? It looks like a bunch of dotted lines staggered one after another running lengthwise down the board. This pattern is the start of what creates the all important glide of a snowboard, by making these patterns you are creating channels for which water runs down and moves your snowboard. Many shops offer a stone grind as part of their full tune packages and what the stone does is embeds the pattern into your base.
Now when you wax your board you fill in the grooves of the base patten to create a level surface and scrape away all the excess. This helps the flow of water that is created from the friction of gliding your board on the snow. The base pattern then directs the water down the channels and gets you rockin' faster.
This is why when you get scratches and gouges that run widthwise on your board they will slow you down more than a scratch or gouge that runs lengthwise. Also when you get scratches and deeper gouges you allow water to pool inside them and create more drag for yourself as you ride.
So in the end we use wax to increase the friction between the board and the snow to the point where water is created, and then the snowboard glides on the water, the quicker you go from snow to water, the quicker you get down the mountain. And we use the water channels created through base patterns and waxing to help direct the water through the running length of the board so that it escapes quickly.
Temperatures of wax:
Its as easy as match the colour to the temp. But for a longer explanation I'll explain the differences between warm and cold waxes. Cold waxes are much harder and as such need more heat and friction to soften them. Generally when it is colder outside snow crystals are more jagged and hard which means more friction on the board which means a colder wax will last longer. Inversely a warm wax is soft and does not need much heat to warm up and create the required glide. If you were to use warm wax on a cold day it would be pointless because the jagged ice crystals would burn off the wax in short order, and if you were to use a cold wax on a warm day, you would have to ride for 1/2 the day and not stop after that to finally get the wax to where you get a glide out of it.
That being said, whether its a cold or warm day I generally will put cold wax around the edges of my board because they will heat up faster than any other part of the board, the edges see more friction than any other part of the board so I use a cold wax for a good over all coat to make sure I get the entire use of my board rather than just the middle of it.
How a snowboard base works (movement):
If you take the time to put a snowboard down on the ground, and look at it, you'll notice the tip and tail contact first, and the rest of the board arcs up. This is known as camber. Camber serves a multitude of purposes, such as turning, popping, and more. It's purpose in relationship to the base, and movement, is that when the board has weight put on it, the weight is primarily distributed to the tip and tail.
Wax in itself isn't actually very slick. However, wax and water is a slick combination. Wax and snow... not so much. What makes a board move is that there is so much friction from the interaction of the wax on the board, and the pressure at the pressure point (nose) that it acutally MELTS the snow, and you ride on a thin layer of water. If you've ever followed behind a buddy, and notice they left a particularly shiney trail behind them, it's because the water they melted promptly froze once the friction was removed.
What all the snowboard base terms mean, along with the numbers, and the science of it all:
Don't be confused by all the newfangled marketing. There are three main factors to considering just how high quality a snowboards base is. They are the base type, the molecular weight, and the strucure. For example, a Sintered (type) 7600 (Molecular weight) Stone Ground (structure).
First we'll discuss the base type. There pretty much are two different types: Extruded, and Sintered. Extruded means that the base material is taken in a raw large quanity form, cut to size, and then applied to the snowboard. These bases generally hold less wax, are less durable, and are slower than their sintered counterparts. While often being touted as "Easy to maintain" bases, they aren't really that easy to maintain. While they can be used while dry (without much wax) without sustaining very much damage, they also dry out (run out of wax) faster. Sintered bases are created by taking the base material, and grindingit into a fine dust. The dust is then slowly sprinkled onto the base of the board at a high temperature, forming the base. Sintered bases are far more durable bases, and hold significantly more wax. The disadvantage however, is that once the base runs dry, it is prone to damage. The bases however hold wax for significantly longer, and therefore require less waxing.
When considering what base types to get, consider your skill level, what skill level you want to be, and your dedication to the sport. If you just want to go riding once and a while, not stress about waxing, and don't feel the need to be as fast as possible, then go with Extruded. If you're looking for a high quality, druable, and exceptionally fast base, go with sintered.
The next factor to consider is the bases molecular weight. As stated before you will often see bases that state "Extruded 3300" or "sintered 7600". What does that number mean? That number is the molecular weight. Essentially, the higher weight the molecules, the large they are. Larger molecules are stronger, but also larger. These larger molecules essentially have more space between the molecules, and therefore can store more wax in the space between the molecules. Therefore, you can base a lot of your estimation of a boards quality on the number. If you've got a 1000 series base... you can safely bet that the kid on the 7600 series baes is going to run circles around you.
The last factor is the base structure. The base structured is often described as base ground, and a variety of other terms. While this varies a lot between manufacturers, and has no definitive text for quality, there is one visual aesthetic to look for. A base with a dimpled structure, sort of akin to a golf ball, is faster. This is because if you take two wet surfaces (aka, snow... and your base with the snow it melted) and put them together, you've got SUCTION. Suction in the case of snowboarding slows you down. If you've ever traveled accross excessively slushy snow, and felt your board stopping, that's suction for you. A structured/dimpled base however helps break up the suction force, and is therefore faster.
Waxing a snowboard: How you legitimately get wax into a board... and what's a bunch of BS:
So, the next thing to understand is WHY you hotwax a snowboard. The reason is simple actually. A base, is a porous material. It becomes exceptionally porous when heated, because the molecules expand. At this point, the liquid heated wax is free to flow inbetween the expanded molecules of the base, and thereby the base ABSORBS the wax. When the base cools it settles, and retains the wax inside of it.
WAX IS NOT A LAYER ONTOP OF YOUR BASE, IT IS IN YOUR BASE!
When it comes to waxing, considering what wax to get is a big factor. While most the marketing involved with waxes (One Ball Jay's hype) are largely over rated, there are some legitimate things to consider. One of which is temperature. For the most part you can get away with all temperature wax on any given day. However, to really be fast a wax aimed for the general temperature range in which you will operate is best. As a lot of us can't wax slope side however, I won't go into much detail here. Get a nice all temperature wax.
Rub on wax is a silly concept. You're trying to forcefully jam SOLID molecules of wax, through solid molecules of base. You've got three chances of actually accomplishing this: A fat chance, a slim chance, and no chance. You might get some wax slightly in there, but it'll last all of twenty minutes. It's a scam for lazy people. Stop believing it okay? It will increase how slippery your riding surface is however, so there is that benefit. It serves a minimal gain at your contact points. Rub on liquid waxes, along with rain-x and all those other stupid ideas are silly as well. They come out of the board just as easily as they go onto the board... durrrrrrr :rolleyes:
How to actually wax your snowboard (Budget tips included)
Here are the steps for the most thurough waxing. I will document what steps you can skip when. I will also document the expensive options, and the EXPENSIVE options available to you.
First -- Remove old wax / clean base:
Cleaning the base of old wax, dirt, and other things that get in there is a good thing to do once in a while. Depending on how often you ride, it may be a good idea to do this every so often. MOST riders won't need to do this besides right before the season begins. However, it's good to know how it works.
There are two ways to do this, the expensive but easy way, and then the thrifty and not that much more complex way. The easy but expensive method, is to purchase base cleaning solution from a shop. Research the options available in the store and their prices. A base cleaner is a base cleaner so brand names be damned. Also, check out the ski sections of your local shops. Ski waxing supplies are often cheaper and damn near identical in composition. When you get the cleaner, it will have directions. Most directions simply read: Apply to board, rub in. Douse in water to remove. Wait until dry. Clean with damp cloth again to ensure removal.
Then... there's the thrifty way. Goto your local hardware store (See end of document for FULL list of good stuff to get at hardware store) and purchase a good sized container of kerosine or lamp oil. If getting lamp oil purchase UNSCENTED as the chemical additives are no good and harder to wash off. Don't fret about the oil or kerosine being that flamable. It's actually not that bad. Douse a rag in kerosine, and rub the hell out of your base. This will thuroughly remove the wax from your base. Rub thuroughly, then douse in water to remove. Whipe again with a DIFFERENT wet cloth.
Now that your base is clean, waxing the board is next. A note on purchasing wax: All temperature wax is advised for beginners or even your average rider. The fancy stuff is just overkill for anything but the most advanced riders. A great way to get cheap wax is to goto the skiier side of your shop (Snowboarders perpetually try and sell you ove priced one ball jay products) and ask for a brick of generic all temperature wax. For $12 you'll get a MASSIVE brick of wax that will wax your board, and all of your friends boards for the whole season.
Start by getting your iron to an ideal temperature. YES you can use a laundry iron. Simply adjust the temperature to be right between cotton and wool, and if the iron starts smoking promptly remove it from the board and adjust the temperature DOWN (towards off). Press the wax that you have against the iron, and drip so as the board is fairly well covered. Be sure to thuroughly dose the edges as they are your primary riding surface. Once the board is covered a fair bit in wax (a drip or two per square inch), apply the iron to the base which is covered in wax. Travel in SLOW circular motions, and heat up all the wax and spread it out accross the base. You will want to do this until you can feel the opposite side of the board being warm for the better part of the board. This ensures that the base has warmed up and expanded to absorb all of the wax that it can.
At this point, let the base cool all the way down. Walk away for a good twenty minutes or so. At this point there is the option to deep soak your base, which is where you repeat the prior process described, adding additional wax as you feel is nescessary. By repeating the soaking process 2-4 times you esnure that the base truely has soaked up all of the wax that it can, and helps ensure the longevity of it. I advise waxing your board like this at the start of every season. When waxing your board mid season you generally only need to do a single soak, as just your edges will run dry.
Next is scraping the excess wax off the board. As the wax is soaked into the base, everything that can be scraped off is excess. You can buy a scraper at a shop for cheap (go generic with scrapers to save $) or you can buy a small piece of square fiberglass from the hardware store. Make sure it's as wide as your board to ensure proper scraping. Start at one end of the board (tip or tail) and drag the scraper down the board, removing the excess wax. NEVER go horizontally as you'll damage the boards base potentially and it's structure. Proceed until all the excess wax has been removed. BE THUROUGH! Excess wax just results in additional friction, and as it is poorly shaped (unlike a smooth base) it will resist water flowing over it. Wax once again... isn't slick...
So once you've thuroughly removed all excess wax, you'll want to buff your board. Scotch Brite pads actually work the best. Get em, rub the piss out of your boad, and it'll come out smooth. Once again, tip to tail travels on those brushing. Once that is done, and the board is smooth, you'll want to STRUCTURE the base. You do this with a fine bristled brush. You drag from tip to tail harshly. This leaves grooves in the base. These grooves allow water to travel faster accross the base, and in retrospect result in you traveling faster. It also helps reduce the suction cup effect of two smooth surfaces with water inbetween them. A brush can be bought at your snowboard shop for $12-15, or a brush can be bought at a hardware store for $4. The choice is yours...
Once that's done, your board is done! It's ready to rip! Get out there and enjoy your properly waxed snowboard!
Items to purchase at a hardware store / goodwill to save on money
-A hard bristled wide brush.
-A gallon of kerosine or lamp oil.
-Scotch brite pads.
-Fiber glass rectangle for scraping board
Other important notes
-Leave wax in your snowboard over the summer. It helps prevent the base from being damage.
-Always wax a snowboard when you get it. They say they wax a snowboard at the factory... but it's half assed at best. Not waxing it will quickly result in damage, ESPESCIALLY if it's a high quality base.
-Research a companies products before buying them. Just cause people say they are good, and they have cool graphics, doesn't mean shit. The quality of the base tells a LOT about how serious the company is about offering good products. A lot of companies sell shitty bases on board and hide it in lingo. EASY TO MAINTAIN being the main one.
OK, after some detailed reseach on all products i went with these tools. This gives me exactly what i need to create an 89 degree edge. A reminder that this angle is for my all mountain board and used for carving and griping ice later in the year, not the park(it can also be used for the park but i have a specific board that has much duller edges). I went with the same brand SWIX for everything and included EVERY tool needed for sharpening the edges. You dont have to buy anything else other than the items listed below. The file fits in both the side and base edger. SWIX is a high quality product used by professionals. The entire kit should cost $100 which is not bad at all if you constantly cut your edges and this way you can also help out family and friends.
Base Edger - SWIX 1 Degree file guide (picture shows .5 but i got a1 degree edger)
Side Edge - SWIX 2(88) Degree edge file guide with roller and clamp.
File - SWIX 2nd cut chrome 8" file
Diamond Stone - SWIX Fine diamond stone
Gummy Stone - figured i would throw it in here just because
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