You’re racing down the slopes, an intoxicating concoction of fear and freedom coursing through your veins. You apply light pressure to one edge of the board in order to cut a turn, but the response time is lacking, you need more bite.
With each shift of your weight, the board curves but without the precision and speed from before. The nicked edges have begun to break your board down, you won’t be winning any competitive snowboard races with these snowboard edges.
It’s time to sharpen your snowboard’s edges, and you are going to need to know the proper technique and have the proper tools to get the job done. Read on to find out how to sharpen snowboard edges.
Guaranteed results after only one maintenance session or your money back… I guess?
You Want Me To Sharpen My What?
You may have been caught up by the terminology, but I swear to you that it is important to keep your board’s edges sharpened. This isn’t some out-of-season prank like needing to change your vehicle’s blinker fluid.
Seriously, there is no such thing as blinker fluid. I should know, I found out the hard way.
The reason why you should learn how to sharpen snowboard edges is that it keeps your board crisp and responsive. If you have read some of our best snowboard bindings lists or wakeboarding tutorials, then you will know that all action sports revolve around response.
Action is a response, and the edges of your snowboard often act as the wheels to your board. They turn one way, and you go in the same direction. But there is so much more to this than tight turns.
Maintaining your board’s edges in top condition allows you to pick up speed faster and get into the exact angle required for those intense tricks that we all dream of doing. In my case, I’ve landed on enough hard-packed snow to know that they will remain dreams.
Sharpening edges is also a matter of safety. Traditionally, there are two ways to come to a halt when snowboarding. Either voluntary or involuntary, and believe me, you want to stop voluntarily.
One of the best ways to come to a halt is by using the toe stop. The toe stop has you turning around and then bending your knees toward the ground. One side edge (your toe edge) will cut into the snow and begin your deceleration.
If you want the toe stop to be effective, then you need to keep your board’s base edge sharpened and sleek.
Tools You Are Going To Need To Sharpen A Snowboard
We have gone over the why, and now we will go over the tools that are required in order to give your board the sharp edges that it deserves. Don’t worry if your setup looks a little different or if you don’t have one of those pricey snowboard sharpening kits.
As you should know from our other tutorials and how-tos, all you really will need is the first few tools below.
- Snowboard Edge Tuner
This is our edge sharpener, and it will do most of the work required in order to accomplish our goals, a sharp-edged board. A guideline can be included with a snowboard edging tool, but it isn’t vital that one be built in.
Screwdrivers are par for the course when it comes to doing any kind of maintenance work. Whether on a snowboard or otherwise. The screwdriver will be used to remove your bindings from the board.
- Nylon Brush
It is good practice to keep around a nylon brush as it will be used to ensure that any nicked side edges or bumps are promptly removed.
This is to be done before the waxing process if you decide to wax your board. You should, don’t be lazy and wax that board!
- A Sharpening Stone and A File
The sharpening stone and the file will be used in tandem to weaken any imperfections on the bottom of your board, and then file them away. Imagine a good cop bad cop style partnership, one softens them up, and the other finishes the job.
- Iron Preferably with a Temperature Gauge and Bar of Wax (Optional)
This bad boy plays into the aforementioned wax. It will not only help us melt the wax, but it will also help us apply the wax throughout the board. If your iron doesn’t have a gauge for the temperature, then just make sure that it isn’t so hot that smoke is coming out of it.
For this job, even a regular clothing iron will do but don’t expect to use it on your clothes ever again. God, wax is annoying to get off your clothes.
- Yes, waxing is not necessary for sharpening snowboard edges
But if you want maximum performance, then I would highly recommend it. There is no point in going through all the trouble of sharpening your edges nicely if you aren’t willing to go the extra mile.
Snowboard Sharpening Steps – But With A Warning!
Be warned! Before we begin, I must inform you that you must never sharpen your board’s nose or tail. Do not sharpen the ends of your board, or you will ruin it. It will make your board extremely difficult to use and will not be worth your trouble.
If you have sharpened the ends of your board, then you can try de-tuning the board in an attempt to rectify the issue.
- Remove Your Bindings.
Using a screwdriver, remove your bindings from your board. This way, you can avoid any debris being wedged into the areas where the screws are located. You will also find it far easier to wax and properly tune your board.
- Know Where To Sharpen. No, Not There.
First of all, secure a location that you won’t mind getting dirty because if it is your first time doing your edge tune-ups, then you are probably going to use too much wax and spill it everywhere.
If you have a regular camber board, then find a place where you will be able to lay your board bottom side facing up.
Any rough patches can be worked over with a sharpening stone, but I would recommend that you use a diamond stone specifically because it is the least likely to dull your board’s edges. Pass the stone along the base edge and bevel but not directly on it. Ride alongside it.
The goal is to weaken these blemishes and then finish them off with a file. Finally, you will use a fine stone to provide any finishing touches to the entire surface and edges.
- Set The Correct Angle For Your Snowboard’s Edges.
The angle at which you set your edge tuner will be entirely dependent on your skill level. Beginner snowboard riders and intermediate riders will want to angle their edge rubber at exactly 90 degrees.
Anyone above these skill levels should set their tuner to 89, 88, and 87 degrees. The higher your skill level, the lower the degree you should use.
- Sharpen Snowboard Base Edges From Nose To Tail.
Another warning and this one applies to this step and the next. Do not sharpen or file your board in a back-and-forth motion. This will damage your board. Choose only one direction and stick to it.
Begin with your base edge, at the widest point of the nose of your board. Scrap in one direction until you reach the widest point of your board’s tail. As you transition from the base edge to the side edge, switch your tuner to its side edge position.
Apply light pressure but ensure that it feels like a smooth glide across your board. Ride the edges this way. Repeat the process until you reach the desired end product.
You’ll know that you are done if a thin layer of your nail peels away as you rub it along the edges. Brush off any debris to prepare for the final step.
- Wax That Board, Wax It All The Way!
The waxing process is easy, and it will improve your board’s acceleration. First, use a sharpening stone and then a file to begin working down any bumps that the bottom of your board may have.
Move both tools in only one direction, and don’t rub back and forth unless you want to damage your board. Please tell me you don’t!
Using an iron, you will press one end of the wax onto it, and then as the wax begins to melt and drip, you will move it around the board.
You want the wax to spread out all throughout your board. If you are doing this outside or in a designated location, then the excess wax shouldn’t be too much of a bother.
Once the entire board is covered evenly, then let it sit until it is at room temperature. Finally, use a metal brush to scrap off the wax and a nylon brush to buff your board. Voila! You are done.
Used and Abused – How Do I Repair My Snowboard’s Edges
As time goes by, it is inevitable that you will come across some damage that you won’t be able to repair. There is no amount of sharpening that will grind these ailments away. For damage of this magnitude, I would highly recommend that you take your board into a shop and have it handled by a professional.
The reason is that repairing your board requires much more skill and precision than any novice rider or even some advanced riders have. An inexperienced set of hands can result in a board with a permanent rough edge or messed-up base edge.
If you are curious as to what this repair process looks like, first you would need to remove part of the base and then install the replacement piece. Filling the base in the process. Beware, this is not as simple as it sounds.
My Final Thoughts
There is nothing quite like the feeling of freshly sharpened snowboard edges. Slicing through the snow and sending up beautiful plumes of crisp white powder into the air. Leaving behind an ice-cold mist in your wake.
Now replace the image above with you lazily scraping through the snow at a languid pace. Not so charming now, is it?
It is important to keep your snowboard edges sharp and tuned. Conduct simple edge repairs when necessary so that they don’t reach a point of no return. When out on the slopes or mountainside, you can tune your board with the aid of sharpening stones.
Remember that you don’t need all of the tools mentioned in this article but providing your board with fresh wax will ensure that have no problems going at high speeds or even reaching said speeds.
It is highly recommended that you follow all of the steps outlined in this article.
In order to sharpen edges effectively, you need to take your time and pay attention to the finer details. Don’t rush this process, your board’s health and your performance are at stake.