Should you even bother waxing your snowboard? A zero to hero guide
by James Streater @maverixsnow
If you have the time, budget and inclination you can throw some serious love at your board to improve your chances of making it across that dreaded flat piste towards your favourite lift or breaking your buddies much boasted land speed record.
With the help of Keith Wood, a fellow ISTD boarder and regular para SBX coach we’ve provided you with some options from the easy to the extreme depending on your level of devotion to your stick.
Level 1 — Do nothing and get a new board every year
Why bother with the stress of having all the gear and covering your house in wax or spending a load of cash and time dropping your board at a local shop for a quick buff on a machine. If you’re just going to shred in the winter for a couple of weeks is it really going to make that much difference? If you shred in the local dome there little need to wax, unless you have a decent sintered base. The snow in the domes is full of impurities that generally react with wax on a board, especially if you do not scrape it all off. Another option would be to join our summer camp and get a free DOUK Snowboard :)
Level 2 — Basic wax with minimal stress and cost
Buy a budget iron from Tescos, grab some cheap all temp wax off ebay, follow a how to wax guide online. Scrape off the wax with something akin to a credit card or ice scraper. Then buff/structure your board with a scouring pad. If you’re not a speed demon or just want to make sure you get a bit of flow in the winter, keep things simple and just get a few bits. No need to take the bindings off the board. You’ll most likely have forgotten your angles anyways, so save the stress and leave them on.
Level 3 — Step up your knowledge and skills without getting too geeky
This is will cover most of your needs and will have your board riding way better than you thought possible. This is my preferred method and gets the job done with minimal stress.
- Base clean the board with a wax removing liquid and rub down with kitchen towel or clean cloth to remove the dirt etc.
- Remove bindings, if you want. If I’m waxing a lot I do not bother.
- If the base is sintered I’ll do a wax with a base prep wax like Swix BP88. It hydrates the base and helps retain glide for longer. If the base is extruded the wax will not be absorbed much, so just use your normal wax. Don’t drip wax on the board. It’s very wasteful, as most of it will have to come off when you scrape. Look at the picture below. Imagine you’re drawing a pattern on the board. The iron sits on the base as you move it around and the wax glides off the iron directly onto the board.
- Scrape off the BP wax.
- Re-wax with the all-temp in the winter or warm in the summer, or maybe look at the weather and judge your ideal wax (yeah right).
- Leave to cool. If you feel a little bit of heat on the top sheet then thats enough ironing.
- Scrape the base and remove any wax from the edges.
- Buff with a nylon brush and maybe a cork block to get some extra shine.
- You’re good to go.
Level 4 — Aim to finish in orbit
When Keith and myself were preparing for SBX races we needed every ounce of speed so it was critical to make our boards bang on and in tip top condition. Here’s how you can prepare your board for breaking records.
- Remove the bindings (screws act as a heat sink when using iron).
- Clean base — Do a hot clean for a very dirty base. You basically wax and scrape it off while the wax is warm. It will draw out a lot of crap from the base. Scrape from nose to tail. There should be no wax on the base. The wax should be in the base.
- Buff with a brash brush. That will clean base and remove old wax. Always use a brush in one direction only (mark a new brush for stroke direction). Brush from tip to tail, but start at tail and work tail to tip — so that you are not brushing all the loose shit into your board. Apply lots of pressure when brushing.
- Clean board with a clean soft cloth.
- Use the correct wax for the temperature of the snow (Check the weather forecast or test the snow with a thermometer).
- Check you have the correct iron temp for the wax (as manufacturers recommendations).
- Iron all wax into base — iron should leave 3 or 4 inches of damp trail on board. Work in sections (three or four sections) and make sure it is evenly spread. Don’t drip wax on the board. It’s very wasteful, as most of it will have to come off when you scrape. Do not over iron as you will melt the base.
- Leave to cool (at room temp if possible / overnight is better) for over half an hour.
- Scrape using a plastic scraper only. Scrape “towards you”, not away, to avoid digging into the wax. Travel from tip to tail making sure no wax is sitting on the base.
- Brush with a stiffish brush like horsehair. The same brushing principles as before. This is the important brush so really apply pressure (should be hard work) to get as much wax out as possible.
- Clean with a fresh cloth.
- Polish with a soft brush like nylon. The same brush principles apply. This is to polish the board. It should shine as that will give you the glide you want.
- Clean with a fresh cloth.
- If you are going to use any paste / accelerators — apply with foam or cloth now.
- Give the board a texture with your soft brush and a little snow on the bristles.
- Glass cloth to polish off.
- Do not stand base down — do not stand in direct sunlight — carefully re-fix bindings.
- In between runs use the horsehair brush to freshen up — then the nylon polish and apply more magic powders if you have any.
As you can see you can get very involved in the process and I’m hoping some of you will have a go at the race technique. It’s quite therapeutic and nice to know you’ve done everything you could to go as fast as humanly possible. Just remember though all the waxing in the world won’t make up for poor snowboard technique.
For extra resources visit — www.swixsport.com/Wax-Resources
James Streater is the head coach and owner of Maverix Snow Ltd, providing year round snowboard instruction, coaching and personal development. He is part of a select group of professionals who hold the worlds highest snowsport qualification ISTD.