How Do I Sharpen My Snowboard Edges

Have you ever wondered how do I sharpen my snowboard edges?  Tuning your snowboard edges is an important part of snowboard maintenance.  Your edges do most of the grunt work when carving through a turn, dumping speed, braking and on and on.  As a result, they can get worn down, nicked up and dulled pretty quickly.  In this post, we’ll go over some common steps you can take to ensure that your edges are cleaned up and sharp where they need to be.  We will also go over how to detune the areas of your edges that you might not want to be sharp.  This post is a follow-up to the last one that we did on how to wax your snowboard.  Keep in mind that when it comes time to waxing and tuning your snowboard you want to take care of your edges before you wax.  This way, you won’t have to worry about metal filings getting embedded in your base and damaging it.

There was a time, a long ago when snowboards were made without metal edges.  You couldn’t carve with these boards so you had to skid through your turns.  Once snowboards starting coming out with metal edges everything changed.  Riders could hold their edging all the way through each turn by slicing through the snow.  Previously, most snowboarders needed powder to gain enough speed and control to turn the board in a manner similar to surfing.  With hardened steel edges they could ride in a variety of snow conditions including hard pack and ice, and get the same experience.  A steel edge works by actually creating enough friction to melt the snow as it slices into it.  This creates a pocket of water under the edge that allows the board to carry its speed and hold its trajectory through the turn.  In short, steel edges making modern day ski area riding possible.

This is a basic edge maintenance guide and does not go into advanced edge repair, base grinding or specialized beveling.  To start tuning your edges it is helpful to have a pair of tuning vices or similar apparatus that allows you to stand your board on edge and stay in place.  You will need a wet stone or diamond stone, edge file guide, and a hardened steel fine/medium-toothed file.

Step 1- Wet Stone/Diamond Stone

Wet stones are made from ceramic material and are meant to absorb and release water as you pass over the surface of the steel edge.  This helps smooth out the edge and keeps any burs that may crop up to a minimum.  You can also use a diamond stone, which is a flat file with a plastic backing and holes covering the surface to contain the filings.  The metal areas are embedded with crushed diamonds that, when wet, file down and smooth out the surface of the edge.

  • Stand the board on edge in tuning vices or other apparatus To keep it steady  The base should be facing away from you.
  • Run the side of your hand over the edge and feel for any nicks, abrasions or inconsistencies.
  • Dip the wet stone all the way into a glass of water soaking it.  Then with light, easy and long passes smooth out the damaged areas of the edge being careful not to go over the corner and dull it.   Smooth out the edges with passes going from the nose end of the board to the tail.  There is no need to spend a lot of time on the base side of the edge.  The topside is your priority.
  • Take a rag and thoroughly wipe down the edge removing all dirt and residue.  Then run the side of your hand over the edge again to feel for any more problem areas.  Repeat above steps as necessary.

Step 2:  File 

You will need a file with a built-in file guide.  You find these, as well as all tuning tools, at your local snowboard shop.  Setting the guide at a 1-degree bevel will give you a good middle-ground edge bevel that is good for regular all-mountain free-style riding.

  • With long, light and easy passes, run the file down the topside of the edge with even pressure all the way through the length of the effective edge.  Do not stop before reaching the end.  You may need any where from 3 to 5 or possibly 7 passes before the edge is adequately sharpened.  Slide your fingernail down over the corner of the edge.  If you can see shavings from your nail then the edge should sharp enough.

Step 3:  Detune

Next, you may want to dull the contact points of your board with your file or wet stone.  The contact points are located in the areas of your edge two to three inches back from the spot where the board first starts to turn upward into the nose and tail sections.  Simply round off these areas lightly, being careful not to detune too far back in towards the middle of the boards- two inches is the standard.  Detuning your contact points will give you a board less prone to getting hung-up and catching while making quick turns.
Step 4: Gummy Stone
The gummy stone removes any burs that were created by the file when sharpening the edge.  You can’t see or feel the burs per se but they are there and the gummy stone is designed to smooth the out and remove any rust that may have built up on the edge.

  • Take your gummy stone and submerge it in the glass of water.  Run the gummy stone with even pressure over the length of the edge several times.  Grab your rag and thoroughly wipe down the entire edge until it is clean and dry.

Combine these steps with the tutorial on waxing every time you tune your board.  Your board will be in top shape and perform its best every time you ride.   If you have any questions or need advice just head to you local snowboard shop and they will help you out.  Good luck!

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