For hardcore snowboarders, maintaining and protecting their snowboards from any sort of damage is of utmost interest. Waxing a snowboard is a very crucial part, and you do not even need to burn a hole in your pocket to get it done. Learn how to wax a snowboard at home, and keep your form and your snowboard’s condition in ship shape.
Every avid snowboarder will know the importance of waxing a snowboard on a regular basis, so as to not only enjoy a productive season of snowboarding but also to increase the longevity of their much-loved board. Your snowboard needs to be optimized before you indulge in some thorough snow gliding. You know that the snowboard needs an immediate wax job when your ride starts to get stuck to the snow, or when it takes on a sluggish pace while on a flatter parcel. A board will develop scratches and gouges once it has become all dry.
Instead of running to professional workshops to get the job done every time, you can do this simple task at home itself. This will not only help you to save some cash, but give you the assurance that you will do a good job, and carefully at that, since it is your board and you love it!
Waxing a Snowboard at Home
Remember, no matter which method you choose to wax your snowboard with, be sure to always do it in an airy and open area so as to avoid inhaling any deleterious fumes that are usually exuded by melting wax.
The first thing you need to do is to place your snowboard on a heighted workbench. The base of the snowboard should be facing upwards and the work bench should come up to at least your waist, to make working easier. Now you go on to start with the process of waxing your snowboard.
Begin by placing an absolutely flat, hard cover book on the base of the board, breadth wise. This will help you to determine whether you have an absolutely flat snowboard as it should be for that ultra perfect gliding experience. If your board is bending slightly upwards or downwards, then you have no choice but to give it to a snowboard shop so that they can flatten the surface for you. Do not venture into doing it yourself as you might just end up with an even more undulating surface.
Waxing a Snowboard with an Iron
The Wax: Ideally your choice of wax should depend on the type of snow that you snowboard on. While colder temperatures have the very hard kind of snow, places with relatively higher temperature conditions tend to have a rather soft and slushy kind of snow texture. If you live in a region which has slushy snow with a higher moisture content, go for fluid waxes, such as ‘Toko Express Wax’ and ‘Swix F4 Liquid Glide Wax’. On the contrary, hard snow needs boards waxed with the drier varieties of rub on waxes, like fluorinated ‘Toko Express Blocx’ and ‘Swix F4’, which aren’t that heavy on the coffers, iron-on pure fluorocarbon powder racing waxes, like ‘Toko JetStream’ and ‘Swix Cera F’, or iron-on paraffin waxes making the snowboards more friction resistant. But as a beginner, it is the safest to use an all-purpose wax variety for the first few waxing attempts and then moving on to the more specific wax options. Graphite snowboards however, have to be rubbed with graphite sticks prior to waxing.
The Iron: Ideally one must make a one time investment in a snowboard waxing iron which has more specific temperature controls, suited to the purpose of waxing. There aren’t any sudden temperature fluctuations. Also, such irons have a very thick base which facilitates the uniform distribution of heat. Both these factors allow the board to seep in an optimum amount of wax. Given that the base is absolutely flat, one can also cleanse the surface easily. If you do not have such a specialized iron and do not or cannot buy it, use an old, flat based clothes iron which does not have steam ejection holes. You need to test such irons beforehand by placing it to heat at its lowest temperature, then pressing the wax blob near its base. If you see smoke, then the iron won’t do as it has a tendency to burn the wax owing to its flimsy base. Also, even if your old iron works, then make sure that you never use it on clothes again.
You need to tune the snowboard before waxing it. After that, you can totally get down to the waxing part.
- Take a piece of dry cotton cloth and then use it to remove all the dirt and grime from the base of the board in long, smooth wiping strokes.
- Now, inunct the board with some base cleaner, available at most snowboard outlets, or some kerosene oil. Snowboard base cleaners force all impurities to surface. They also dethaw and dissolve all previously present wax patches on the board.
- After applying the base cleaner, you need to wait for like 15 minutes, during which the cleaner will cleanse and purge you board and then dry up. Wipe the board off with the cloth again.
- At this point, any gashes that your snowboard may have suffered will become more apparent. If the scratches are really big ones, then just drop it off to a shop as you can’t fix it at home. If they are minor slashes, then just take a treated P-tex thermoplastic candle, kindle it, and allow the wax to fill up the gashes. Take a chisel at this point and smoothen out the hot wax uniformly, so that the gaps are totally sated. When this dries up, use the same sharp chisel to remove all traces of excess wax from the area, with long strokes. This will also remove all tiny, protruding burrs that come with gashes sometimes.
- Now, set the temperature of a normal clothes iron exactly between the cotton and the wool tabs. For a special wax iron 250° F is ideal. When it is hot, hold the wax near the base of the iron and gradually allow the wax droplets to fall on the board in a even, up and down zig-zag pattern lengthwise. Remember that you have dripped the wax in a manner that every two inches has a drop of wax on it.
- Now, iron the snowboard so that the wax drops melt and uniformly coats the base of the board. Keep the iron constantly moving and remember, you have to iron until you can feel the heat when you touch the inverted top of the snowboard. Once the entire board has been caked, including the nose and tail, stop ironing and allow the board to stand unperturbed for 30 minutes to 6 – 7 hours (the longer the better), so that it dries and soaks up the required amount of wax at the same time.
- When the wax has dried, hold a plastic scraper/plexiglas (NEVER use a metal scraper) at a 45° angle and using full length strokes to scrape off all the extra wax from the board. Remember, all you scraping must be lengthwise or you’ll damage the board. Two or three thorough rounds of scraping should suffice.
- Polish the board for 2 minutes with a soft rag.
- Lastly, use a heavy-duty scouring pad like an abrading ‘Green Scotchbrite’ or a very mild sandpaper to brush you board with brisk, firm, and short lengthwise strokes. After you final smoothening touches, your board is well waxed and ready for some serious snowboarding action!
If the snow in you area is slushy and tends to melt, then use a stiff wire brush to stroke the snowboard in a cross-hatch pattern before you apply the wax and then buffing it properly with a hard bristled brush during the final polishing, so that it is sintered. This will allow the water to get channelized through these grooves so that you can have a smoother glide on the snow.
Waxing a Snowboard Without an Iron
The equipment that replaces the iron here is a heat gun.
A Heat Gun: Now this is nothing but a blow dryer that has more complex regulators and can be set at much higher temperatures than a normal hair dryer. Heat guns can be purchased from any hardware shop.
Now for this method as well, you need to begin with the initial cleaning, checking for splinters and cracks, filling up small, innocuous cracks, and chiseling off burrs. Let us see what you need to do after that.
- Before applying the wax, make four small lines at one end of the board and then use the heat gun to blow hot air all over the base of the board. The purpose of this will be that any previously deposited wax will melt and become apparent. When you see that the four short lines have also melted, understand that the board is hot enough for your next step.
- Scrape the board once at this juncture to get rid of the previous wax. Now, take a bar of wax and rub it lengthwise on the board. The board will be hot so it will take in all the wax it needs. When you have caked the entire board with wax using the crayon method, it is time for melting it. Your heat gun must be set at its highest temperature.
- Begin warming with the edges as the coat is often uneven on the sides. Keep the plexiglas handy so that you can smoothen out the wax distribution on the edges as the heat gun melts it.
- Now, move on to the breadth of the board. Employ cross strokes melt the wax width wise on the board. In not more than ½ a minute, you must be able to melt the wax of the entire board.
- Once you have melted the wax to aid the board to soak it all in, buff the board with a paper napkin to have a smoother effect.
- Scrape of any excess wax. There won’t be much of it though.
- Polish with an abrading pad.
This method is very good to avoid your snowboard from slowing down on flatter regions.
Paste waxes like ‘Express TF90’, ‘Toko Dibloc HF Paste’, and ‘Swix F4 Paste Glidewax’ are some options which you can go for. You just need to apply a very fine coat of these waxes on your board evenly before a glide, wipe off the coating quickly, and then buff it all off with wax paper towels, like ‘Swix Fiberlene’ or even ‘Toko Base Tex’. The best part about these cream waxes is that they can transform even the most haggard looking snowboards into sheeny, sleek zooming machines. A word of caution though―DO NOT allow the coat to dry, because then it will congeal and become almost impossible to get rid of, affecting your gliding experience utterly. Ideally, you must do this after every six to eight rides for a smoother experience. Spray waxes or paste waxes are perfect.
Generally, one does not need to wax a new board, because manufacturers wax it before selling them. Wax it only after the first three or four rides. Remember, whether it is snowboarding or any other form of extreme sports, your gear must be in good shape to ensure your safety, which is above all else.