Tuning is sometimes overlooked by the average skier but a good tune it just as critical as proper technique to conquer advanced terrain and prolong the life of your equipment. For great instructional video on this topic, visit backcountry.com. These videos and instruction guides will teach you the basics of ski tuning and will give you enough knowledge to find the right ski shop to give your skis a great tune or if so mechanically inclined start tuning your skis yourself (with additional help of an instruction video if needed). When bringing your skis to a local shop, be sure to give the person who will perform your tune a verbal test to ensure they are knowledgeable and will do the job right. Ask what equipment is used to flatten the base, what angle base and side bevel the equipment will give (typically 1° base, 1° side bevels and if done by hand, what equipment is used and how the angle is maintained), how base damage will be repaired, what type of wax will be used, how the wax will be applied and what finish will be left in the wax. You can also seek the advice of local instructors for the best shop in town. They live and breathe this stuff and know who is mediocre and who is outstanding.
For average skiers (on greens and blues) a standard tune will be fine (machine applied wax, base and side bevel of 1°). For advanced skiers and racers, consider a hand wax for faster glide and a hand ground side bevel. Tognar Toolworks provides some recommendations for side and base bevels. A good rule of thumb is find out what the manufacturer does (a.k.a. factory tune) and start there. Keep in mind that a hand ground side bevel is timely to do well and as a result will cost ~$30 or more. In addition, the more you bevel the less life you will get out of the ski so start conservatively. Lastly, the brand of wax you use is important so ask your local pro-shop what brand they recommend and ensure it is the proper type that matches the snow you will be skiing.
Edge deburring is also important. Nicks, cuts and burrs will leave an edge jagged resulting in reduced grip on hard pack. Deburring is the process of removing these imperfections in the edges of the ski. When deburring most people use a diamond stone but others prefer a small kitchen knife sharpening stone.
So what does SkiEnthusiast recommend? I start with a standard tune early in the season matching the manufacturer’s base and edge bevel recommendation because cover is not as good and skis can be easily damaged. Once snow cover improves, I get a hand tune and wax using a mixture of two waxes (matching the type of snow I most consistently ski). I typically keep the edges sharp from tip to tail and don’t detune the ends unless I am skiing in heavy powder in which case I only slightly detune the ski tips. I also debur daily and tune after every 4-6 days of skiing (less if continuously skiing powder) depending on the performance and edge / base condition (damage from rocks, roots, dulling) of the ski.
For more information you can also visit Tognar Toolworks.