Do the bases of waxable cross country skis need preparation? If so, how do you do it and what do you need?
All of the cross country racing skis catalogued come directly from the factory with stone ground bases. Here is some instruction on base preparation of new skis. All of the race skis from Atomic, Fischer, and Madshus have stone ground bases that should require no more than some light base scraping and hot waxing before being "put to the snow." Follow the steps outlined below and your new skis should be fast!
1. Gently scrape the top surface with a steel scraper. You are only doing this to remove some of the rough hairs from the stone grinding. By no means do you actually need to scrape material off the base, and there is no need for sanding glide surfaces. "Peeling" of the base is not necessary on new skis that have a quality stone grind. Just gently scrape a few strokes and have confidence in the flatness and finish of the new ski bases.
2. Iron on a layer of soft paraffin wax made for warm temperatures such as Fast Wax Base Prep, Swix Base Prep, or Toko Yellow. Next, scrape off the wax with a plastic scraper before it has a chance to dry. Rub the base with clean fiberlene to get off all of the wet wax. Repeat. Because new bases are usually dirty from handling, this is the best way to clean the base, so be sure to perform this step at least twice (the more the better). Soft, wet wax will not cause the bases to oxidize the way wax remover will. It's important that the bases be clean before you apply the base wax.
3. Iron on a layer of paraffin wax that falls in the middle of that company's temperature range (Fast Wax Red, Toko Red, Swix CH8). Let the wax cool into the base for at least 40 minutes. Scrape with a plastic scraper and then brush with a brass brush, then with a plastic nylon brush, and last with a horsehair brush. For the fastest and easiest mode of brushing get the swix roto brush kit - fitted to a drill, the brushing process is quickened and your arms will stay strong for skiing. As before, repeat this waxing/scraping step twice.
4. Iron on the next cooler/harder wax in the company's range of waxes (Fast Wax Blue, Swix CH6). Again, let it soak in and penetrate the bases for at least 40 minutes, then scrape and brush as above.
5. The final step is to iron one of the really hard cold waxes on your bases. This will allow the base to resist oxidation and give it durability. Good cold waxes are Start Green, Swix CH4, or Fast Wax Green. Again, let the bases cool and then thoroughly scrape and brush.
6. The base prep is now done. The final step for new skis is to apply the right wax and structure for the specific conditions at hand. Why? Because after Step #5 your skis are waxed for very cold snow conditions which may not be the case on the day you decide to ski. Check the temperature, choose your glide wax, drip the melted wax onto your ski's bases with the wax iron, let the skis cool, scrape and brush as described previously.
The steps listed above are for skating skis. For waxing the tip and tail glide zones of classic skis just follow the same steps. Be sure you "rough up" the kick zone of your classic skis with some medium grit (150 or 180) sandpaper, as this will help the grip wax bond better to the base. Place some packing or duct tape over the ski's kick zone when applying glide wax to the tips and tails. You don't want any glide wax getting into the ski's kick or grip zone because it will prevent kick wax from bonding or staying firm to the base.
If you follow the steps above, then wax correctly for the day's conditions, you should have fast skis that hold their wax. Finally, be encouraged because the more your skis are glide waxed over the winter and the bases become saturated with wax, the faster they'll become!!
You can also see our Swix Wax Technical Information Section