Glide waxing wood skis?

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Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby JeffOYB » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:51 am

Tradition has it that wood skis are glide waxed with hard kick wax then buffed.

If you try to iron in glide wax you will raise and melt the pine tar.

I wonder if that's really the end of the story. It seems like wood skis were used before glide waxes. I started skiing when plastic bases were being developed and as I recall the hardest wax offered was Swix Polar -- used in cold weather or as glide wax. I guess there were alpine glide waxes but the lines weren't crossed that I know of.

I suppose this brings up the question of: what does pine tar do? ...In the glide wax zones in particular.

I only bring this up just to, well, question the practice. But also: isn't wood highly absorbent of stuff like hot liquid wax? It seems like ironing in glide wax might yield a wood base that was really impregnated with wax. Maybe that just wouldn't be helpful. I suppose it isn't the wax per se that gives glide but the sealing of the base pores to dropletize water and to prevent dirt from sticking, etc.

I wonder if skiers using wood skis find that they can make them glide well, or at least differently, in the various kinds of snow when using just this "one size fits all" approach: new, old, warm, cold, wet, dry... They raced a lot back then ... and just your layer of buffed Polar did the trick?
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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby Chris » Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:35 am

I was talking to someone earlier this year who said they tried ironing glide wax into wood skis after plastic bases were introduced, but it didn't really work. I didn't get any detail on why it didn't work.

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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby Montana » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:00 am

Wood ski bases are pine tarred and then grip waxed. We always grip waxed wood skis tip to tail sometime putting a colder grip wax outside of what we call the present day wax pocket.

Pine tar was the original grip wax.
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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby Cbrummer » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:59 am

Ralph has it.

That said, glide wax (Swix polar) can be crayoned on and ironed in using as slow barely warm iron.

I do the whole ski and renew as needed.

This technique with multiple applications is a little more durable than corked in glide wax.

If the pine tar comes up, the skis probably were not scraped enough to begin with.

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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby Montana » Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:21 am

For warming grip wax I use a cheap hair dryer instead of an iron. The heat is a little more uniform I think instead of the too hot then too cold of a typical iron.
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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby Blah » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:19 pm

The coolest method I have seen is by Bjorn Hansen of Out There ski shop. He burns in the pine tar with an alpine torch and then crayons the kick wax on and roto corks it. The skis look like glass afterwards and he's gotten rave reviews.

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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby SpecialGreen » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:21 pm

Liquid gliders like F4 or F480 that come in a "bingo dabber" will go onto pine tar well enough.

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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby Montana » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:09 am

Blah wrote:The coolest method I have seen is by Bjorn Hansen of Out There ski shop. He burns in the pine tar with an alpine torch ...

In the old days we always burned the pine tar into the base. The trick was to get the pine tar bubbling without actually scorching the wood. The excess pine tar was wiped away with a rag leaving a very smooth surface that was waxed for grip. If your finger left a sticky print on the base it meant that not enough tar was wiped off.

I always recall waxing the entire length of the ski for grip but we tended to error on the hard wax side. Then we'd apply a softer wax as a kicker only in the center of the ski. I didn't know then about not grip waxing behind the heel so I probably applied too long a kicker wax especially behind my foot. Didn't know about glide waxing either.
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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby nxski » Thu Feb 06, 2014 12:25 pm

Montana wrote:
Blah wrote:The coolest method I have seen is by Bjorn Hansen of Out There ski shop. He burns in the pine tar with an alpine torch ...

In the old days we always burned the pine tar into the base. The trick was to get the pine tar bubbling without actually scorching the wood. The excess pine tar was wiped away with a rag leaving a very smooth surface that was waxed for grip. If your finger left a sticky print on the base it meant that not enough tar was wiped off.

I always recall waxing the entire length of the ski for grip but we tended to error on the hard wax side. Then we'd apply a softer wax as a kicker only in the center of the ski. I didn't know then about not grip waxing behind the heel so I probably applied too long a kicker wax especially behind my foot. Didn't know about glide waxing either.


That's exactly how you still want to prep a wood base.
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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby Blah » Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:14 am

Have you seen rotocorking of kick wax though? That was a first for me

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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby Montana » Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:22 am

Blah wrote:Have you seen rotocorking of kick wax though? That was a first for me

I've never seen anyone rotocork grip wax. One of the problems I've had when corking too fast with a synthetic cork is that the cork tends to pull the wax into little humps. I wonder if rotocorking would cause this?

To avoid the bumps I use a good synthetic cork moved fairly slowly over the wax. If I'm having problems smoothing the wax that way I warm the wax with a hair dryer.
Last edited by Montana on Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby Blah » Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:55 pm

To be clear I would not recommend this on a current ski this is for a wood ski only.

Humps and clumping usually occur from too think of a layer of wax or not letting the wax underneath cool enough.

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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby sjcourchesne » Sat Jan 17, 2015 8:50 am

I know this is an old thread, but I found it via google, and it's relevant to me, so I thought I'd try it.
I got a pair of hand me down wooden skis in good condition, but there are places where the pine tar was all gone and the bare wood exposed. So, I have been using a hot hair dryer to re-tar the entire surface. There are now just a couple places where all the tar got completely absorbed so I will add more to those spots.

My question is, what to do then? I see conflicting info in different places--just ski on them without any wax at all, wax the whole things with polar--I don't know! Completely new to this, so please write as though talking with a five year old! Thank you!

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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby osloskier » Sat Jan 17, 2015 5:45 pm

Some info here: https://ronningski.com/skis/

Experiment! As long as you saturate with tar first I don't think you can cause any permanent damage by trying out various waxes. It's always interesting to see what happens, so try them with only tar first so you have something to compare to.

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Re: Glide waxing wood skis?

Postby Chris » Sun Jan 18, 2015 1:54 pm

I wax my wood skis tip to tail with cold kick wax such as polar and then add the kick of the day in the kick wax pocket similar to a modern ski. I have heard Start Terva Minus makes for a good tip to tail wax. I believe this is what Out There (shop that somewhat speciallizes in wood skis in WI) does.

I have also heard from people who were skiing when the transition away from wood skis originally happened that they tried using glide wax on the tip and tail and it didn't work well. I've never tried this with my wood skis.


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