Most decent quality snowboards are built to last a long time. But they are still prone to taking a beating year after year and that will eventually lead to some problems. Some of us have a pretty good handle on how to wax and tune our snowboards. Doing a wax and tune on a regular basis will be very helpful in keeping your board in good shape season after season. But there will probably be a day when you slam into something pretty hard, either a natural feature or a park feature, and your board will need to be repaired. If you ride trees on east coast you are almost guaranteed a core shot and/or a delaminating dent to the tip or side cut (more on those later). So let’s have look at some basic snowboard base and edge maintenance that isn’t too difficult for anyone to do.
Edge Tune and Repair
Edges take a lot of abuse and mostly because we don’t always ride on perfectly soft snow. Dirt, rocks, cement and steel are ever present at ski areas and the steel your edges are made of will not hold up well against them. Running your hand down the edge you may feel some nicks, roughness and maybe even a gash. It’s a good idea file those inconsistencies down whenever you can so your edge is smooth.
- You want to start out with a wet stone and dip it in water. Wet stones can be made of diamond or ceramic. Run the wet stone over the side and bottom of the edge in long, even passes going from the nose to the tail. Any areas you feel the edge has been damaged will need to be smoothed down- keep the stone wet as you do this.
- Then take your edge tool, basically a steel file with a hand grip, and run it down the side of the edge in long passes with steady pressure- always from nose to tail. Some edgers have arrows indicating what direction the file should be going. The teeth should facing forward like a forward slash (/) in order for it to grab the steel. Take four or five full length passes and then check the sharpness by scraping your fingernail over the edge. If you see shavings then it’s probably good to go- if not take a couple of more light passes.
- The last thing you want to do is smooth out the tiny burs created by the file. For this you need a gummy stone. Soak the gummy stone in water until it’s soft and then rub down the edge. This will smooth out the burs and take off any rust that may have built up on the edge.
Core Shot and Base Repairs
The base of the board is made of a plastic called P-TEX. There are different densities and types of P-TEX but they are all designed to hold wax, which allows the board to slide smoothly over the snow. Check out this post for more information on snowboard bases.
Every so often you may hit a rock, stump, etc. buried just beneath the snow and it will rip out a chuck of you base or put long gash in it. If the damage doesn’t go all the way through the base it can be filled in by using a P-TEX candle. You’ll see the guts of the board if it goes through.
- Light the end of the candle using a lighter until it catches fires and let it drip into a metal can. The black matter you see on the surface of the melted P-TEX is carbon- that needs to burn off. Once you see little to no carbon quickly move the candle to the affected area of base and let it drip into the gash. Make a few passes to ensure the gash is completely filled then blow out the candle. Try not to breath in the smoke- it’s really toxic so have a fan with you to blow it away. Let the PTEX harden for a half hour or so and then take a METAL scraper (not a plastic one) and remove the excess PTEX until it is flush with the rest of your base.
- Core shots are gashes in your base that go all the way down to the wood core of the board. These need to be cleaned out with a scraper and then sanded down a bit to make a more smooth and even surface. You should use a vacuum to remove all of the dust and particles when that part is done and then follow the steps above to fill in the damaged area. You will probably need to fill in the core shot two or more times before scraping because the PTEX will get sucked down into the core before filling the hole completely. It’s important to repair core shots right away because once water gets into the board it will begin to eat away at the wood and glue and cause the board to delaminate (come apart).
Keeping your board in good working order year after year doesn’t take a whole lot of know-how or effort. Some general inspection from time to time, wax and tune, and fixing any damaged areas as they occur is about the size of it. The board will not take care of itself so you’ll have to be mindful of that. If you want more info on how to maintain and fix your board head to your local snowboard and they’ll square you up. Some of them even offer clinics on how to do basic maintenance so check them out.