Tech: Set Up Your Home Shop

Real snowboarders tune their own boards. There comes a time in every snowboarder’slife when they’ve paid their last 20 bucks for a tune. It’s sort of like changing the oil on your car-you reallyshould learn how to do it yourself. True, it takes a modest initial investment to set up your home shop. Butnot only will you save hundreds of dollars in the long run, with some practice, you’ll have the luxury of fixin”er up just how you like it.

No one cares more about your board than you, so why risk settling for shoddywork or a serious screw-up-and paying for it, no less! If you don’t have a suitable workspace (No, youdon’t need a garage), skip to the bench-building portion of the program, where we walk you through theprocess of constructing a bare-bones tuning bench: cheap but solid. Anyone with even an inkling ofcarpenter’s genes can easily expand on our Spartan version to create a truly rejuvenating board spa (seephoto).

You’ll be surprised how easy it is to get your board-maintenance zone up and running; many of thenecessities are probably close at-hand, maybe even items you already own. Here are a few basic things toconsider when dialing in your home shop: Lighting: Good lighting is essential for home-tuning. Flourescentsprovide the most light for the least power, but not everyone digs them. A couple of desk lamps clamped toyour work area for spotlighting combined with a diffused light source over the center of the table is anothergood option.

Power: Don’t mess around here. Use a six-outlet fused power strip plugged into abreaker-equipped (GFI) wall outlet. This will prevent problems when you have a wax iron, heat gun, boombox, lights, and coffee maker going all at the same time. Mount the power strip somewhere out of the way,like on one of the supporting legs or on a corner of your bench. Storage: If there’s no good storage optionsin your work area, kick down for some cheap shelves and a small section of pegboard. These simpleadditions provide a home for all the tools you’ll acquire now that you have a place to use them-fifteen or sobucks well spent.

Vises: A good set of snowboard-tuning vises are a must. Without these, grappling with aboard on the bench will be nearly as awkward as before you built the thing. There are many different brandsof vies available for the home-tuner, and all work relatively well. Tools Of The Trade: Everything here isavailable at any decent hardware store.

1)Tape measure: find one with both metric and standardmeasurements. (Why is board length measured in metric while stance is standard?)

2)Long-handled screwdrivers: flathead, #2 Phillips, #3 Phillips, and-if your bindings are made by a ski company-a “posi-drive.”

3)Clothes iron with a good thermostat.

4)Plastic wax scraper.

5)Files: ten-inch mill bastard for edge work and a Pansar body file for base repairs.

6)Whetstone-for polishing edges after filing.

7)Sureform shaver-for base repairs.


9) Some sort of protective eyewear (remember-you only get two eyes, and it’s hard to ride if you can’t see).

10) Fire extinguisher! Handy to have, just in case.

11) Renter’s insurance-in case you didn’t get to the fire extinguisher in time.

Bench-Building ForDummies.

Every home-tuner needs a place to ply his craft. One of the biggest obstacles wannabehome-tuners face is the lack of a suitable place to get down to business. But no matter how small your digs(trust me on this one-I live in a twenty-by-twelve box), for a nominal investment you can set up a stylin’home workshop in one afternoon. Here’s how: Find A Spot Look around your pad and find a suitable walland floor space, preferably near at least one power outlet and, if possible, a window. Breathing wax fumessucks! What You’ll Need Next, hit your local building-supply outlet-you know, a Home Depot-type place.Not having access to a lot of power tools, I looked for wood in sizes that wouldn’t require extensive cutting.I found a ssix-foot-by-two-foot-by-five-eighths pre-fab desktop in the shelving section for around 25 bucks.

Those blessed with the luxury of a circular saw may find it cheaper to just buy a stock four-by-eight piece ofply and rip it down to size. Fifteen minutes later I was loading my trusty bus with the desktop, two eight-footsections of 1 1/2″ X 3/4″ hardwood strips used for kitchen counters, two eight-foot two-by-fours, and acouple boxes of drywall screws. I don’t think I even spent 60 bucks. “Some Assembly Required” Forthe “some assembly required” phase of this project, beg, borrow, or steal (okay, don’t steal) an electric drilland a power saw. 1) I started by rounding the square edges of the bench top on the side I determined wouldbe the front. I’ve learned that if sharp corners are available, they’ll seek out your hips and stab you-pain istruly the greatest educator. Plus, rounding the corners gives the bench a nice, finished look. 2) Next, lay thehardwood strips on what will become the underside of the bench top. At the back (the side opposite yournice, rounded corners), run the strip flush with the edge of the bench so you can attach it to a wall later. Onthe other three sides, attach the strips a couple inches in from the edge so a board vice may be attachedlater. Spacing them a foot or so apart, use the drywall screws to attach the hardwood strips. 3) How tall doyou want your bench to be? It’s a personal question, and once you’ve determined the right height for you, cutthe two-by-fours appropriately to serve as the legs of your bench. Attach the legs using the drywall screwsin a triangle pattern. A carpenter’s square will help you here to make sure all the angles are at least close to90 degrees to minimize wobble.

Viola! Once the legs are on, the basic bench is done and you’re almost inbusiness. If you go the extra mile, a coat or two of urethane on the top surface really dresses the bench upand keeps the wood from getting stained by wax, P-tex, epoxy, etc. So, time’s a wastin’-go build that homeshop and send us a photo. Have fun! Dialing in your home shop takes a little cash and effort up front, butremember the future dough you’ll be saving on regular tuning and waxing, not to mention getting thenot-so-rare base gouge repaired. Ouch! Look for a Tech column on base repairs later this season. Nextmonth, put your newly appointed home shop to use when we take you step-by-step through the basichot wax. Ask Doyle Do you have a Tech question for board-wizard Chris Doyle? E-mail him or write to Snowboard Life c/o Tech Questions, 353 Airport Road, Oceanside, CA92054.