Tech Talk: Epoxy Is Your Friend

With the first flight of fresh snow each season, anxious riders flock to their favorite spots and pay the price of battle wounds for their boards. Everyone knows the noise. Carving a smooth line through soft snow is suddenly met with a shudder as you feel your sidewall make contact with a hard, rough protrusion.

At Totally Board in Truckee, California, Mike Mickey says he and co-owners Mark and Sharon Mickey see a big demand during the early season for base repairs along with the influx of typical edge sharpening and general tunes. Epoxy, he claims, is the key ingredient in their backshop to ensure minimal problems down the road.

“We love epoxy,” says Mickey.

He goes on to explain how a more detailed knowledge of its application in larger-scale repairs can actually expand the shop's customer base. According to Mickey, it isn't unusual to have clientele visit Totally Board after another shop has turned them away. Many shops assess a badly damaged board with an all too blunt “get a new one,” whereas Mickey aims to remedy whatever he can with a quality epoxy repair.

“People get offended when they go to a shop with an old board and the shop tells them to get a new one,” he explains. Along with an attachment to the board, many riders simply don't have that kind of cash on hand when untimely damage occurs.

“I've had people bring me boards where I've had to replace about four inches and the customers tell me that other places wouldn't fix it,” he says.

Regardless of the damage on each particular board, Mickey always begins with a general assessment and quote for the customer. Costs are generally based on a 25-dollar-per-hour basis, but this initial step is clearly a “guesstimate.” The per-hour charge is determined by how much appears to need replacement.

For instance, a common repair that doesn't need much reconstruction will be assessed cheaper than a blown edge that needs to be cut out and replaced.

“Minor reconstruction of a sidewall will cost anywhere from ten dollars and up,” he says, “which will be different than reconstruction of the whole edge which will be more in the 30- to 50-dollar range.”

Most of the epoxy work done at Totally Board entails an actual hour or two of work, but Mickey feels comfortable keeping a board 48 hours before returning the finished product ready to ride–epoxy needs two different 24-hour periods to dry.

Prior to the first epoxy application, he explains how he first pulls off the existing edge and works on the section beneath.

“I clean up the area with a razor blade and then measure the edge we're replacing for a customized fit.”

“We use a two-part, 25-year epoxy,” says Mickey. “It's really strong. If it can last 25 years on a boat, it should work for snowboards.”

Before the edge can be replaced, Mickey drills in fine holes before flowing in the first epoxy. He takes time to drill these strategically placed “micro holes.” He says making four of these tiny holes works the best, with one at each end and two in the center.

To construct a new edge, he uses a Makita four-inch disk grinder to grind the metal edge so it takes a shape that will match the original. This is best accomplished by working it “little by little” and ensuring a good fit. It's at this point that he will most likely need to carefully flow in his second round of epoxy, filling it in and smoothing it out with a “popsicle stick” tool. This calls for, again, a second 24-hour drying period to achieve the best finish. There's five-minute epoxies out there for shops to use, but he feels strongly that the 24 hour is better despite the delay time.

“It's nice to see a board come in for another tune and see that our work is still holding up,&quoot; he says.

Once the second epoxy dries, the board is ready to go to the base grinder where the whole surface can be smoothed over before hitting the snow.

The people at Totally Board are proof you shouldn't write off damage for a new board. With the right epoxy and agile talents of the right tech, even severe damages can be serviced and a dependable deck salvaged.