Tune In: Basic Edge Maintenance

What you’ll need: Deburring Stone File Brillo pad A board’s metal edges are the rider’s link to the snow-asort of interface through which rider commands become board responses. Edges enable riders to turn andstop, and do everything in between. Well-tuned edges embody two traits, sharpness and smoothness. Eventhough metal is harder than snow (depending on where you ride), edges get worn and dulled simply byriding-the constant friction of turning and braking takes its toll. The harder the snow you ride, the more oftenyour edges will need sharpening. It’s factors other than snow that affect the smoothness of your edges.

Rocks are the main culprit for nicking or even denting edges, sometimes beyond repair. Becausesmoothness is dependent on how you ride rather than riding itself, it’s more easily controlled. Is the scrapebetween early season powder turns or the railslide to parking lot worth it? Probably. Find the right place totune your board. Some basic filing shouldn’t make much of a mess, but minute slivers of steel are the lastthing you want to encounter on a midnight milk-and-cookies run to the fridge. At least put down somenewspaper. It sounds contradictary, but you don’t want to start sharpening your edges until they’re smooth,remember those are two different things. If you dive into damaged edges with a file, you could not onlywreck the file, but deepen the burrs you’re trying to polish out. Start by smoothing the edges with adeburring stone.

Run it flatly along the base side of the edge first, pushing it down with your thumb andguiding with your other fingers. Then do the same for the side edge. (Snowboards have two edges, and eachone of them is comprised of two facets, the base edge and the side edge.) This should begin to eliminatesome of the rough spots. When the edge feels smooth (glide a finger along it lightly), you’re ready tosharpen. Files are your tools for sharpening the edges. As a general rule, always work from the tip to the tail,running the file in the direction the snow will pass under your board. Hold the file flat on the base anddiagonal to the length of the board (about a 45-degree angle). Firmly push or pull it along the edge,removing both edge and base material (P-tex) at the same time. Take a couple passes on the base edgebefore doing the same to the side edge. The most important thing when filing is to keep the file level to theedge you’re working on-the base edge and side edge should create a 90-degree angle. If it skews fromlevel, you could actually do more rounding than sharpening. Stop periodically and check the edge’ssharpness with the top of your fingernail.

Not only will a sharp edge easily scrape off neat little curls of nail, but by using this test you won’t slice your fingertip to shreds by gliding it down a freshly sharpened edge. “Check out how sharp my edge is!” (We all do it once.) Using a Brillo pad or cloth, wipe the base clean ofany edge filings-especially before riding or waxing-being careful not to push them down into the P-tex.When you’ve finished, go back and detune (dull) the edges near the tip and tail of the board by rubbing thestone along them at a 45-degree angle. This is more important than it seems, and will help prevent the boardfrom overturning, chattering, and catching edges (detuning may be necessary on new boards, too). The keyto easy tuning is regular tuning and smart riding. Once the edges are shot, you’ll probably have to go to ashop for a belt or stone grind. How frequently you tune depends on how much, and in what conditions, youride. For most, a light weekly (every seven or so days of riding) going over is enough to keep edges incompliance.

Tuning can get way more complicated as you learn to hone the edges to your particular needs,but with the basics-smooth edges sharpened at a 90-degree angle and detuned at the tip and tail-you can’tgo wrong. Finally, feeling the ride of a smooth, sharp edge usually leaves you wishing you had taken the timeto tune yyour board a lot sooner. With the edges functioning again, and your board instantaneouslyresponding to exactly what you tell it to do, the only thing left is to tell it to do the right thing. -Kurt HoyThink of your edges as the control panels for your board. When working properly, your every whimtranslates seamlessly to the board as if by telepathy; turns are buttery smooth and tricks precise. But, whenthere’s a short, or error, of some kind-in this case a nick, a burr, or generally dull edges-your edges canseriously hinder the way your board performs.