How to sharpen your steel edges in the best way?
We start this guide with a little general introduction to angles and tools. Next follows a very short step-by-step guide on how to sharpen your steel edges. Last but not least, we have the same steps described in depth. Nice reading!
(If you are "just" looking for sharp edges on the family's slalom skis, you can read this easier guide)
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Some thoughts on angles and tools
Grinding steel edges nowadays does not mean taking a file out of the toolbox and walking on the outer edge. No, now it's a whole science with many different specialized tools. In addition, the steel edge must be ground on two sides - both on the surface edge (the underside of the ski) and on the side edge (the steel edge that will be on the outer sides of the ski). The steel edge is also ground at different angles depending on how the ski is to be used and by whom. More on that below.
Angle the cover edge "Hang the edge"
The size of the angle in the surface edge affects the ability of the ski to be angled towards the snow. The larger the angle, the easier it is to maneuver the ski from side to side without the edge accidentally cutting into it. Ju smaller angle, the faster entry into the turns, but more leg strength and control is needed to keep control of the skis in the turn. Keep in mind that if you angle the pad edge too much, it is an irreversible decision, you cannot reduce the angle without first grinding down the entire pad. Be very careful when setting the angle with a file and then maintain it only with fine diamond burrs.
Below you have guidelines for different angles on the surface edge. If you feel that the ski cuts in too early in turns, increase the angle in increments of a maximum of a quarter of a degree and then test carefully again.
Recommended pad angles
- Slalom -- 0 to 0.5 degrees
- GS -- 0.5 to 0.75 degrees
- Super G -- 0.75 to 1.0 degrees
- All Mountain Expert -- 0.75 to 1.0 degrees
- All Mountain Beginner/Advanced -- 1.0 degrees
To choose the angle of the side edge
Now you must also determine the angle of your side edges. Higher angles (calculated from 0) should be reserved for experienced competitive riders. If the angle is too high, the ski can "pull away" for a less experienced skier. Typical angles are 2.0 to 3.0 degrees. Less angle equals less grip. Slalom angles can be as much as 3.0 to 5.0 degrees, downhill up to 3.0 degrees. Most competitive skiers drive at 2-3 degrees. Consider: An aggressive, more pointed edge (high angle), can be more difficult for lighter riders and can make it harder to recover from being up on the edge.
A little premium: Also think about the angle you have "hung the edge" when you think about the total angle you want on your steel edges. The total angle of the steel edge, i.e. how pointed it becomes, also counts with that angle. Since your stop you file the outer edge with will rest on the surface which is flat, you must subtract the angle you hung the edge with.
Recommended side edge angles
- Slalom -- 2 / 88 degrees (-U10/U12) to 3 / 87 degrees (Good U12/U14/U16)
- GS -- 2 / 88 degrees (-U10/U12) to 3 / 87 degrees (U14/U16)
- Super G -- 2 / 88 (U14/U16) to 3 / 87 degrees
- DH -- 2 / 88 (U16)
- All Mountain Expert -- 2 / 88 to 3 / 87 degrees
- All Mountain Beginner/Advanced -- 1/89 to 2/88 degrees
Which edge tools should I use A multi tool (side and facing or multiple angles in one tool) or dedicated tools (one tool for each angle))?
Multi-tools are more convenient and easier to use. They provide accurate results even for the beginner. This is a great choice for beginners and the advanced models are a tool that does everything a skier/boarder needs to do in the lifetime of the ski and is a great choice for a family of skiers of different ages. A disadvantage is that they can be limited to only using certain sizes of files. In addition, the range of really fine diamond edges is limited with the multi-tools.
Fixed stops are tools that tend to be dedicated to an angle (although there are some models that are more adjustable). These have the advantage that they can use basically any file. You have a greater feel for the grinding process with dedicated tools and it can be a good choice for the serious racer.
Make sure you always use water with your file and sharpener, the result will be so much better and the life of your tools will increase significantly. An old ice cream box or similar filled with water should be on your walla table.
How often do I need to sharpen the steel edges??
You should grind the steel edges as little as possible. Maintenance is only done via the side edge. The coating side usually only needs to be sharpened once with a file, to get the right angle, and then only rarely maintained with a diamond edge. If the coating has worn down so much that it has been repaired or completely re-sanded with stone grit, you may need to refile the edge. Likewise, you may need to file if you have received a lot of damage from stones and other hard objects.
Use only diamond burs for maintenance. A file wears down the edge when you work with it, a diamond edge gives very little wear on the edge itself. Remember that the steel edges are not replaceable, if you have ground down the entire edge, a couple of new skis are on the shopping list.
For maintenance, and to always have sharp steel edges during the season, it is usually sufficient to sharpen with a diamond sharpening stone on the steel edge side and remove the small sharpening beard that is formed with an even finer sharpening stone from the coating side.
This is how you grind your steel edges manually with a file and file holder In short terms.
Step 2. If you are going to "hang the edge", that is grind an angle on the surface edge so it must be done now before you grind the side/steel edge.
This is how you grind your steel edges manually with a file and file holder, detailed description.
Step 2. If you are going to "hang the edge", that is, sharpen one angle of the coating edge this must be done before you grind the steel edge. Read through all the points below before you start.
- Fit the skis in the ski holder with the coating facing up.
- Use one file holder with the desired angle along with a 20 cm file, preferably a hard chromed file.
(Use a sharp, good file, dull files grind unevenly and require more pressure, which makes it more difficult to keep the tool at a perfect angle along the entire length of the ski. Regular files from the hardware store are many times too soft to grind steel edges (Rockwell 45-52) and does not perform nearly as well as files made for ski maintenance (Rockwell 65-68) Harder files cut better, require less pressure and last longer.
- Work on the edge furthest away from you.
- Pull the file towards you (do not sharpen by pushing the file away from you) and work from the top of the ski to the end of the ski.
- Use short overlapping strokes. Feel free to mark the edge with a black felt-tip pen so you can easily see that you don't miss any part.
- If you encounter damaged parts of your steel edge (it is clearly felt when you file), use a coarse file or a rough (red) diamond brow and sand away the unevenness.
- Be careful not to press the file shavings into your coating as you work. Used fiberlene to constantly wipe clean of file shavings.
- Do not file into the coating, you should only file the steel edge itself.
- Then polish the filed surface with diamond brow around 400 in grain size and work your way up with finer grain size. The finer the polishing, the faster and the sharper the edges.
- You can do the polishing with a sharpening stone in both directions, finally finishing with a few light strokes from top to bottom.
- For an absolute top finish, you should use one ceramic stone to hone the edge, which also makes the edge more durable.
(Feel free to use a magnifying glass - when you find your own reflection, you're done)
A general rule for the pavement edge - Make it and forget it! Do not overwork the surface edge during the season. Should you happen to grind it down too much, the only solution is to re-grind the entire coating with stone grinding, which usually has to be done in a ski shop. Smaller scratches can be solved with a fine diamond burr, which removes almost nothing from the material of the edge. Avoid files.
- Mount the ski on the high edge i the ski holder and turn the cover away from you.
- You don't have to tighten the clamps so hard, the ski often fits well anyway and you don't have to risk making marks in the pad.
- You may need to scrape away material from the side of the ski to be able to grind correctly at the desired angle. In that case there is special tools which must be used for it. These tools leave behind a nice smooth surface. Scraping in other ways can leave an uneven surface that slows the ski in turns when the edge makes contact with the snow.
- Grind the edge at the desired angle in the same way as described in the point about the coating side above. Work by grinding towards you. Begin with file the first time to get to the right angle or if the edges are very damaged and worn. Then work your way up to a mirror-gloss finish with the diamond brow and finally with ceramic brow.
- Feel free to use a magnifying glass to really see that you have achieved the desired result. (If you want to get the absolute best result without effort - this is it best machine for grinding steel edges)
Step 4. When you're done with the edge, go back to sanding it with your finest sharpener, very lightly, from the coating side. This is to remove the so-called beard that forms during grinding.
Step 5. Finally, you bring a bunch fiberlene or one gum stone and pulls off the edge very very easily! at a 45 degree angle to remove every last bit of any shavings. Pull the entire length of the ski from tip to tip. Be careful not to press too much and, contrary to the desired result, make the edge dull again.
It's that simple! Easy as pie with the right equipment! Beware of cuts! Always use ski straps when transporting your sharp skis! Herd and go!