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How to Tune and Wax Your Skis or Snowboard | Video Tutorial

Get Your Ride Ready To Rip Again

Skiing is more fun (and much safer) when you have the glide provided by a waxed base and the control provided by sharp edges. Keeping your skis conditioned will also greatly increase their lifespan, so they’ll earn more at the ski swap when you want to upgrade to next year’s hottest gear.

An at-home tune will work great for most people, and that’s what we’re giving you in this tutorial.

While we describe here how to tune skis, the same exact process works for snowboards, with only minor procedural alterations which we will explain. The whole tuning process should take 20–40 minutes, depending on your ability level, but we recommend drawing it out longer than that by making it a Friday night activity. Invite some friends over, crack a beer, and get to tuning.

Why Tune Your Skis Or Board?

If you don’t have the time, or if you just want to make sure your skis are in tip top shape, it doesn’t hurt to get a professional tune at the beginning of the season. But if you want to do it yourself, these are rad things to know: how wax works, how to repair a damaged base, and how to sharpen edges. Let’s start with why you want sharpened edges.

Dull, rusty, or dinged up edges make carving more difficult (bummer) and stopping a challenge (scary!). Most skiers don’t need to tune their edges all that often. But if you’re frequently hitting rocks or roots or if you ride often in the backcountry, we advise tuning once a month. With edges tuned to your terrain and conditions of choice, you’ll be able to carve steep couloirs, bite into bumps, turn on a dime, and stop just in time.

If you’ve loved your skis half to death, they probably have the gouges to show for it. Fortunately, you can fill these scrapes or holes with a polyethylene base material called P-Tex. We recommend filling these holes because it will allow your base to accept wax evenly and increase the lifespan of the ski. Core shots are gouges that extend all the way to the core of the ski. If left unrepaired, they can expose the ski’s core to the elements, allowing water in, ultimately leading to delamination.

Wax doesn’t just make your skis “slicker”—the physics at play are much more interesting than that. A waxed ski base creates friction on the snow as you ski, melting the snow beneath you to create a slippery surface on which to ride. This gives you glide which translates not only to speed but also to predictability. A properly waxed ski prevents inconsistent bases—slicker and stickier parts—which could result in one ski gliding smoothly while the other skitters joltingly across the surface. For both fun and safety, you need to know what to expect from your skis.

Ski And Snowboard Tuning Tool Kit

This is a comprehensive list of everything you need for edge tuning, base repairs, and waxing. If you just want a complete tune and wax kit and don’t want to shop for all of these items individually, put the Toko Basic Tune And Wax Kit in your cart.

  • Vise: A vise will secure your ski so that you can work on the base and edges without it shifting around. The ski vises we carry are great because they hold your skis or board in two configurations: upside down for working on the base and sideways for working on the edges. If you want to save a little money, you can tune skis on a stack of books, bricks, or two-by-fours—anything that will raise your bindings off the table or bench—but it does make tuning a bit more challenging.
  • Soft cloth: Any rag will do, just make sure you don’t use something like a paper towel that could leave behind little bits that could get waxed into the ski.
  • Water: We like to have water in a spray bottle on hand for spritzing and cleaning the board.
  • Rubbing alcohol: Any generic rubbing alcohol will do. Alcohol works better than water for cleaning debris, grease, and rogue wax from last season off your skis.
  • Gummy stone: This tool removes burs and rust from your edges in preparation for sharpening them. A gummy stone knocks down most burs, so they won’t damage your sharpener. If your edges are in decent shape and you just need to remove a little rust, a soft stone should be sufficient. If you have some big burs you need to remove, grab a firmer one. The SWIX Gummy Stone comes in three different levels of firmness so you can get exactly what you want.
  • Edge tuners: For most all-mountain riders, a simple sharpener like the Toko Ergo Race Edge Tool will work. It will give you a bevel range of 86–89 degrees for the side edge and 0.5–1 degree for the base edge, which will be sufficient for most skis. If you race, you might choose a tuner like the SWIX Tuner Pro, so you can get the ultra-precise edge you’re looking for.
  • Hot iron: We recommend the SWIX Economy Waxing Iron because it has a wide metal plate, temperature adjustments between 100–150°F, and a temperature indicator light to prevent you from burning your bases.
  • Wax: Because air temperature usually determines snow surface conditions, your wax choice should be determined by the coldest air temperature you’ll encounter when skiing. If you ski on the East Coast or in the Northwest where there’s ice, or if it’s a super cold day anywhere else, go with some blue wax. Blue wax excels in temperatures between about –22°F to 14°F. If temps are between about 10° and 25°F, a red wax will do great. If you’re doing spring park laps, grab some yellow wax. If you ski in variable conditions and only wax your skis two to three times a year (or less, and that’s OK!) grab some universal wax such as the Toko High Performance Universal Ski Wax. A universal wax allows your ski or board to glide over the snow in just about any conditions.
  • Plastic scraper: You’ll need this tool for removing excess wax from your board during the waxing process. We like the Swix Plexi Scraper because it is simple, inexpensive, and effective.
  • Brush: After scraping, you’ll want to brush your bases to create a smooth, directional surface. Wire brushes are generally used for cold wax because they’re stiffer. For universal wax like the one we use in this tutorial, we recommend a half wire, half horsehair brush, like the TOKO Oval Base Brush + Strap. If you’re using warmer wax, a softer horsehair brush should be sufficient.
  • Base cleaner: If you’re going to be repairing a core shot, you’ll want to make sure you strip all the wax off the gash beforehand. Use something safe and effective like the Swix Base Cleaner Set.
  • P-Tex: P-Tex are sticks of a polyethylene material (the same stuff your ski or snowboard base is made from) that can be melted to fill scratches, gouges, and core shots. We like to use these Dakine PTEX Sticks.
  • Lighter or propane torch: Any lighter or propane torch will melt P-Tex effectively. You should be able to pick up a cheap lighter from your local convenience store.
  • Razor blade: Any generic razor blade will do. This is for removing any excess material from around a core shot both before and after the repair.
  • Metal scraper: A scraper such as the Toko Steel Wax Scraper Blade is necessary for removing excess P-Tex and smoothing out the base once you’ve filled the gashes.
  • Full kits: If you just want a starter kit, throw the Toko Basic Tune And Wax Kit in your cart.

Edge Tuning

Tools You’ll Need 

  • Vise 
  • Gummy stone 
  • Edge tuner 
  • Rag 
  • Alcohol

Step 1: Clean Your Bases

With a little bit of alcohol or water on a rag, wipe down the ski base and edges to remove any dirt or debris.

Step 2: Gummy Stone Edges 

Skis have two edges: base edge and side edge. Both should be tuned for maximum control. Place a gummy stone on the base side of the edge and, with firm pressure, slide it back and forth over the edge as you work from tip to tail. Do this on both base edges before moving to the side edges. Most tuning requires only a soft gummy stone, but you can reach for a firmer one if you come across a burr.

Step 3: Sharpen Edges 

For most all-mountain skiers, we recommend using an edge sharpener that can do a 1-degree bevel on the base and 1- to 3-degree bevel on the sides. If the gummy stone got all the rust and burs out of the way, your tuner should encounter a fairly smooth work surface. Of course, the first run will still always be the roughest and it will get smoother with each pass.  

Starting on the base edge, run the tuner from tip to tail about three to four times using firm pressure or until you feel notably less resistance than you did with the first pass. After tuning the base edges, repeat the same process on the side edges, running the tuner along them three to four times, tip to tail.  

Gearhead Tip: We suggest using a rubber band to pull the brakes back, so the tuner doesn’t hit them, but some people prefer to just pull them back with their other hand during every pass.

Step 4: Inspect 

Before moving to waxing, do a quick inspection. Grab a rag and some alcohol or water and wipe down the edges. To see if your edges are sharp, scrape your fingernail along the edge. If fingernail residue comes off, it’s probably nice and sharp. You should also see a clean, fresh, shiny steel edge.  

Fixing Base Gouges & Core Shots

Tools You’ll Need

  • P-Tex sticks 
  • Vise 
  • Lighter 
  • Metal scraper
  • Razor blade

After tuning your edges, check your base to see if you have any big gashes. Because if you do, you’ll want to repair them before you move on to waxing.

Step 1: Clean Hole With Blade 

Remove any excess material from around a gouge or core shot using a razor blade. The goal here is to return the edges of the hole to the same level as the rest of the base.

Step 2: Clean Hole With Base Cleaner 

Clean the gash with a base cleaner and then let it dry fully. If you don’t get all the wax off, the P-Tex won’t stick.

Step 3: Drip P-Tex Into Hole

Light the P-Tex with a lighter, candle, or torch. P-Tex can sometimes be slow to catch fire, so make sure you hold something under it to catch the drips while you wait. Be very careful because the drips can cause severe burns.  

Once it’s on fire, hold the P-Tex low over the ski and let the molten polyethylene drip into the gouge. If it’s a deep hole, you may need to repeat this process a few times, letting the P-Tex cool each time you do a layer. 

Step 4: Clean Up Excess P-Tex With Blade 

Once the P-Tex is fully cooled, use the razor blade to shave any excess material from the base.

Step 5: Scrape Repaired Area 

Use a metal scraper to shave the repaired area down to match the surface of the base.  

Gearhead tip: If your ski has an exceptionally deep gash or if it’s next to the edge, it might be best to have a ski shop do the repair. If your ski has been repaired many times, it could be time to turn your ski into a shotski.  


Tools You’ll Need 

  • Vise 
  • Base cleaner 
  • Alcohol 
  • Rag 
  • Wax 
  • Plexi scraper 
  • Brush

Step 1: Clean The Bases 

After tuning your edges and repairing any core shots, clean the base to remove any edge debris or metal shavings so they won’t get waxed into the ski. We recommend using the Swix Base Cleaner Set because it cleans the ski and strips old wax without harming or drying out the base.

Step 2: Prep Your Iron 

First, make sure your iron’s cord is long enough to allow you to move it along the entire length of the ski. If it’s too short, add an extension cord. Turn your iron on. We recommend you set your iron to about 100°F (38°C) and let it warm up while you choose the wax. When you’ve chosen a wax, set your iron according to the specs indicated on the wax of your choice. If you’re using an iron you found at the thrift store, set it very low, usually around 1 or 2 out of 10. You won’t know what temperature it’s set to, but if the wax smokes, you’ll know the iron is too hot.

Step 3: Melt Wax Onto Ski 

You can either drip the wax down the length of the ski or heat up the block with the iron and rub it across the base like a crayon. We recommend the latter because it provides better coverage. Apply wax moving from tip to tail until most parts of the base are decently covered. Once you get to the end, go back and apply a bit of additional wax to the areas where the base shows through clearly.  

If you prefer the dripping method, heat the wax with an iron until it melts and drips onto the base. Go light on the drips—if there isn’t enough when you iron it in, you can add more later. Use the same heat setting to drip wax onto the base that you’ll use for ironing the wax. Remember, if the wax ever starts smoking, turn down the heat.

Step 4: Iron In The Wax 

As you move the iron briskly in circles from tip to tail, you’ll observe the wax beginning to melt. Simultaneously—and what you can’t see—is that the heat of the iron is opening up the pores in the base allowing the wax to soak in. Iron until you’ve evenly distributed the wax over the base.  

If the wax isn’t melting quickly enough, turn up your iron.Now, with a not too fast, not too slow motion, drag the iron steadily from tip to tail in one long, non-circular pass. Remember, to prevent the iron from damaging the base of the ski, keep it moving at all times. Leaving the iron in one spot for more than a couple seconds could hinder the ability of the base to absorb wax in the future.  

Repeat this step six to eight times until the base appears to be completely saturated. You may be able to observe that the base stays shiny for a longer amount of time after each pass. This indicates that the ski is heated fully. Once the base of the ski remains shiny a few inches behind a pass of the iron, you’ll know that you’re ready to move on to the next ski.

Step 5: Scrape Wax Off Of Ski 

If you work one ski at a time, they can cool alternately. Before scraping, make sure that the ski has cooled down. It doesn’t have to return all the way to room temperature, but just make sure it at least doesn’t feel warm to the touch before you start scraping.  

Holding a plexi scraper at a 45-degree angle and using firm pressure, scrape the ski in long strokes working your way from tip to tail. You may have to bias the pressure or positioning of the scraper to ensure that you’re scraping the left side, right side, and center of the ski equally.  

The goal is to remove all surface wax from the base, leaving behind only that which has soaked into the base. Repeat this step until only small shavings are coming off with each pass—you’ll then know you’ve removed as much wax as possible from the ski.  

Gearhead Tip: Make sure your scraper is free from burrs and nicks before you scrape the wax off your skis. To revitalize your scraper, run it through a Swix 40mm Plexi Sharpener and it’ll be good as new.   

Gearhead Tip: If you’re a dirtbag, there will be a temptation to reuse the wax that you’ve scraped. Fight this temptation. The melted wax pulls the dirt out of your ski bases, so just throw it away. 

Gearhead Tip: When scraping snowboards, you need a larger scraper. Make sure you can scrape the whole width of your board with your chosen scraper.

Step 6: Buff With Structure Brush 

Buff your ski with a structure brush. Using a course brush, apply firm, even pressure and brush from tip to tail. This not only gets the excess wax out of the nooks and crannies of your base, but it also puts grooves in the base that break up any potential suction caused by rogue flecks of wax. This directionality allows you to go faster and turn more easily. Buff the ski three to four times.

Step 7: Clean Ski With Rag 

Using a rag with some alcohol on it, wipe off any remaining wax fragments. 

Off-Season Storage & Care

Put a thick coat of wax on your ski but don’t scrape it off. This will protect it from heat during the summer months. Then when it’s time to ski again, all you have to do is give your skis a quick scrape and they’re ready to rip again.  

Informative Links


Is it good to wax your skis?

Waxing your skis or snowboard is the best way to ensure consistent gliding performance.

How often should skis be waxed?

It really depends on how often you’re skiing or riding. For occasional skiers, a yearly tune-up may be sufficient, while frequent skiers may need wax as often as once a month, especially in the warmer months.

What is tuning a ski?

A basic at-home ski tune includes waxing and edge sharpening. More in-depth tunes may include a base grind and base repair.

Should you tune your skis yourself?

Absolutely! Basic tunesincluding waxing, edge sharpening, and base repair with P-texare totally manageable to do at home. More extensive tuning including base welds, base grinds, and edge repairs should be done at a ski shop.