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All About Edge Angles

It is important to realise that we need to consider the edge of the ski from two points of view when tuning:- the “base edge” angle and the “side edge” angle.

All manufactures set both a base edge angle and a side edge angle at the factory. Each manufacturer has their own ideal set of angles but it is important to realise that these angles are only approximate. Skis are mass produced (other than Race Department skis which do not go on sale) and during the run of producing skis, it is common for belts and stones to wear. So a ski that is produced on a Friday may not have the same angles as a Monday morning ski that was produced after all the machines were checked. So be aware - edge angles are only approximate as the skis and boards leave the factory.

Most snowboards are set up with a 1° base edge angle and an 89° degree side edge angle.

Skis and boards are expensive so here’s how to get the most out of your equipment!

 

The Base Edge

The Base Edge

It is very important to tune both the base edge and the side edge as this has a significant effect on the performance of your equipment. The base edge angle is critical but generally doesn’t require so much work. We set the base edge once and then we then simply maintain it (usually with a DMT diamond file) removing any burrs and nicks.

The Base edge angle should rarely be zero. If the base edge is zero the ski or board will keep “catching” on the snow leading to difficulties and potential falls.

The best time to set your base edge is after a base grind or when the skis or board are new! Hand setting of the base edge will be more accurate than will be done by most service shops (or the factory!)


To set your base edge you require a good quality base bevel guide and a new file. These are a great investment. Once set you will only have to reset the base edge after a base grind (or perhaps after a long season). All you need to do is remove burrs and nicks with your DMT diamond file. This then leaves you free to work on the side edge.

 

Setting Your Base Angle

Always sharpen the base edge before the side edge! 

Factories try to deliver skis and boards with a base angle of between 0.5 and 1 degree. However skis and boards are mass produced and the sanding belt will not be the same on Friday afternoon as it was on Monday morning.  Often skis and boards arrive in the shop with base bevels that vary along the length of the edge.

In order to get the most form your expensive equipment it is worth spending a few minutes making sure that your skis or board are in the best possible condition.

Firstly make sure that the base of your ski or board is truly flat. This can be done with a “true bar” or a metal scraper. Hold the  edge of you true bar or scraper on the base of the  and look to see if it is in contact right across the edge. The most common problem is that the ski is “railed” – the edges are higher than the base. Use a 25cm mill file to take the edges down until the base is completely flat.

 

You are now ready to set your base bevel angle.

  1. Choose your angle – remember start small. It is easy to increase the base bevel angle but to reduce it you need a base grind!
  2. Take a sharp file and insert it into the Base Bevel toll and pull gently along the edge.
    Tip:- Many people colour the edge with a permanent marker- once the marker is gone then you have done the whole edge.
  3. Keep going until you feel the same pressure along the length of the ski.
  4. Once you have done both edger use  a DMT diamond file (or a Gummy Stone) to remove any burs.

 

Filing Tips

When you are using hand files it is important to listen and feel for a clean cutting action.

A grinding noise indicates one of three  problems

– the file is blunt, in which case replace it,

- you are using the file the wrong way round in which case change it

- or there may be hardened bits of the edge from hitting rocks. If this is the case use a DMT diamond file to remove these hardened sections and then go back to your normal file.

If you find that you are cutting plastic from the sidewall as well as metal then you MUST stop and trim the sidewall before continuing. You will never achieve a good edge if the sidewall needs trimming. 

 

 

The Side Edge

The Side Edge

The side edge angle is the key thing to concentrate on when we do our tuning and sharpening. The first decision is consider the angle you need for the side edge, before you pick up your tools.

 
90° Edge (1° base edge and 89° side edge).

This is the strongest and most durable angle and will work well in most snow conditions from powder to firm snow. This is the ideal edge for beginners and intermediates (as it doesn't require the skier to tilt the ski much to engage the edge) . It is sometimes called a neutral edge and is popular with boarders. However it is not so good in hard or icy conditions.

89° edge (1° base edge 88° side edge)

This is the most popular edge profile and is the ideal balance for most skiers. It provides better grip on harder pistes and is more secure at high speeds. This edge is great for people who love to have the feeling of carving by rolling from one edge to the other. On the other hand a beginner might find this a more difficult edge profile to use. It is a more acute angle and thus requires more maintenance. You could also consider 0.5° base edge 88° side edge. This is even better on ice but the ski might be a bit "twitchy".

88° edge (1° base edge 87° side edge)

The edge profile is good for advanced aggressive skiers and on icy pistes. This is NOT the edge profile if you just want to cruise the blues!

 Sharper than 87°

Edges sharper than 87° are used by racers who sometimes use up to 2° base angle and 85° of the side edge. These can offer really excellent grip  but  the ski either catches or not! Edges this sharp also require really dynamic skiing, lots of movement and good power.

To make these edges easier to handle many racers slightly de-tune the tip and tails (in other words have different angle at different part of the ski. Not only do you need to be an expert skier to do this but you also need an expert technician!-

 

 

How to Choose your Edge Angles

Choose the Best Edge Angle for your Skis or Board

The first point to remember is that each edge on your ski or board has two sides.:- the base edge and the side edge. The base edge is obviously an extension of the base. Both edges can be tuned and the trick is finding the combination that suits you.

 

Choosing a Base Edge Angle (Base Bevel)

The amount of base bevel that you use will affect the ease with which your ski or board will initiate a turn particularly if you bevel the tip and tail Bevelling also lift more of the edge off the snow, which because the steel edge drags more than the base material leads to a smoother and faster glide. Very importantly a base bevel helps prevent your skis or board catching unexpectedly thus reducing falls. 

Common Base Bevel Angles

Skiers

  • Novice/ Intermediate Skier 0.5 to 1.0 degrees
  • All Mountain Expert -- 0.75 to 1.0 degrees
  • Slalom -- 0 to 0.5 degrees
  • GS -- 0.5 to 0.75 degrees
  • Super G -- 0.75 to 1.0 degrees
  • Skiercross --  0.5 to1 degrees
  • Skier Rails and Park -- 2.0+ degree
  • Skier Halfpipe -- 1.0 to 2.0 degrees (tip/tail); 0 to 1.0 degrees (underfoot)

Snowboarders

  • Beginner -- 1.0 to 2.0 degrees
  • Intermediate/ All Mountain -- 1.0 degree
  • Spinner/Rails and Park -- 2.0+ degree
  • Halfpipe -- 1.0 to 2.0 degrees (tip/tail); 0 to 1.0 degrees (underfoot)
  • Boardercross -- 0 to 1.0 degrees
  • Slalom -- 0 to 0.5 degrees
  • GS -- 1.0 degree

 

Choosing a Side Edge Angle

Side edge angle affect your ability to grip- particularly on hard snow and ice. A 900 angle is good for most snowboarders and beginner skiers but sharper angle are used by more advanced skier, particularly racers. Too sharp an angle can lead to difficulty initiating a turn.

Sharper angles also blunt easily and need more maintenance.

 Common Side Angles

Skiers

  • Novice// Intermediate  - 89-90  degrees
  • Advanced/ All mountain  88 degrees
  • Slalom Racer  85-87 degrees
  • GS Racer  87-88 degrees
  • SG and DH Racer 87-88 degrees

 

Children should not use side angles that are too acute as they will find it difficult to initiate the next turn.

 

Snowboarders

  • Beginner –- 89-90 degrees
  • Intermediate/ All Mountain – 88-89 degree
  • Spinner/Rails and Park -- 90 degree
  • Halfpipe – 88-89 degrees
  • Boardercross – 87-88 degrees
  • Slalom – 86-88 degrees

 

Using Different Edging Tools

How to Use a “Get a Grip”

Having sharp edges makes it easier to grip while skiing. This is especially important in difficult conditions like hard snow or ice but it is always helpful for enjoyable, effective skiing whatever the conditions.

 To edge your skis using a “Get a Grip”, you must  first choose whether you want your edges at 88° or 90°.

90° is sharp enough for beginners and intermediates and  most snowboarders but for more advanced skiers go for 88°. Once you decide you should maintain this angle.

Hold the Get-a-Grip with the plastic touching the base and the file against the side edge. For 90° the plastic grip with 90° will be against the base.

Have the file facing so that it cuts as you pull towards you. Don’t push this will lead to juddering and an uneven edge. You don’t need to press too hard. Pull the guide towards you running in long smooth strokes keeping the pressure even and the plastic guide flat against the base.

Repeat until the edge is sharp along the full length of the ski. Then change edges. It is not important whether you sharpen from tip to tail or tail to tip.

 

How to Use an “Ergo Sharp Edge Sharpener”

Having sharp edges are essential to grip while skiing. This is especially important in difficult conditions like hard snow or ice but it is always helpful for enjoyable, effective skiing whatever the conditions.

To edge your skis you must  first choose whether you want your edge angle. This can be anything from 90° to85°.

90° is sharp enough for beginners and intermediates and most snowboarders but more advanced skiers and racers need a more acute angle. (see Choosing your edge angle) nce you decide you should maintain this angle.

Adjust the Ergo Sharp with a coin or a screwdriver.

Hold the Ergo Sharp with the plastic touching the base and the file against the side edge.

Have the file facing so that it cuts as you pull towards you. Don’t push this will lead to juddering and an uneven edge. You don’t need to press too hard. Pull the guide towards you running in long smooth strokes keeping the pressure even and the plastic guide flat against the base.

Repeat until the edge is sharp along the full length of the ski or board. Then change edges. It is not important whether you sharpen from tip to tail or tail to tip.

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How to Use a File Guide and Spring Clamp

Watch the video below to learn the advanced steps to Sharpening your skis or snowboard. 

Tools required;

  • Rubber Bands
  • File Guide
  • File 
  • Spring Clamp
  • Diamond Stone
  • Gloves (recommended)

 

Flat filing

it is vitally important that you start with a flat base -even if you plan to add a bevel to your base edge later.

If the surface in contact with the snow is "railed" (edges higher than the base) or convex (base higher than the edges you will have little control.

To stop your skis or board behaving in a strange or unpredictable way, your first priority is to remove any high or low spots on your base – essential with new equipment but a worthwhile early season check for even older equipment.


Use a smooth edge and a bright light. Check at 4-5 points along the base.

If the irregularity is only small then you can sort this yourself. Take 10 inch file place it at 45 degrees and carefully file away the high spots to ensure that your base is flat- edge to edge.


If the irregularity is extensive you should take your skis or board to a reputable shop for a stone grind.