Snowboards need a little TLC to keep gliding smoothly on the slopes. Improper care can lead to rusted edges (shudder) and impede your ability to carve and prevent you from holding your line on hard-packed snow. Thus, snowboards need to be “tuned” to stay in top form, much like keeping a piano in key. Turning includes base repair, waxing, and sharpening edges.
Snowboards can have their edges sharpened by a professional. If you want to sharpen them at home, you will need proper tools, including a screwdriver and edging tool, which is sometimes sold as a file and file guide. You will need to set the angle and sharpen the edge from nose to tail.
Even if you have been religious about drying your board after every stint on the snow, your board is going to require a tune. Edges dull, become rounded, or get nicks and burrs from use, no matter how careful you’ve been. A fresh, sharp edge can file a bit of fingernail when given a scrape. A dull edge will allow you to run your fingers without injury unless there is a nick.
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Why Do Snowboard Edges Need To Be Sharpened?
Dull edges make it harder to cut and “grip” the snow, thus reducing your control. The sharper the slope, the more you need to grip. Edges naturally dull with use, even if you take care of your board. You may also nick little rocks hidden in the snow, causing minor damage to the edge.
However, improper storage can also wreck your edges.
- Never put a wet board down on its base or side. This will seal in the moisture and cause rust
- Never place a wet board into its bag
- Never store a wet board on its end as water will run down and rust the other end
Instead, dry off your snowboard by setting it down on the bindings. This will allow any excess moisture to run off and the board to dry without trapping moisture and causing rust.
What Tools Are Needed For Tuning A Snowboard?
To tune your snowboard, which includes sharpening the edges, you will require a few tools.
- Snowboard edging tool
- Vice (optional)
Some tools, such as the snowboard edging tool, are replaced by a file guide and a file. But the all-in-one device will make the job easier, especially if you have never done this before.
Sharpening Your Snowboard’s Edges
While we are focusing on how to sharpen edges, let’s be honest, if you are doing this job, you may as well give your board a proper tune. This means repairing any nicks in the board and giving it a good hot wax treatment, rather than the fast cold wax job people do in-between. After all, if you are going to bother taking the bindings off, you may as well go the whole hog.
But before you do any of the other tunning, such as waxing, you should sharpen the edges.
Step 1 – Remove Your Snowboard’s Bindings
The bindings can just get in the way or accidentally damaged while you are trying to work, so it’s best to take them off. Also, if you are going to give it a hot wax, they shouldn’t be near the heat. So grab your screwdriver and release them from the board.
Step 2 – Sharpen Your Snowboard’s Edges
There are many different edge tools out there, some of which come in two separate pieces, a file and a guide. But if you’ve never done it before, make life easier and get an all-in-one snowboard edger. These will help you keep the angle consistent for the length of the board.
Two popular styles are this one and this one (affiliate links to Amazon). There are also tuning kits, but these often include the file on its own, so might be tricker to use.
Set Your Angle For Your Snowboard’s Edge
To start, you decide the angle you’ll be making for your edge. The all-in-one device makes this simple. If you are doing it with a file on its own, you will need to set your guide to help keep the file at the correct angle.
The degree of your angle should reflect where you are as a snowboarder. 90 degrees is the least aggressive edge, used by beginners and low-level intermediates. After that, the further you get away from 90, the more advanced of a snowboarder you need to be. The numbers generally run from 90-85.
Some people find it very helpful to draw the angle down the whole line of the edge. It not only serves as a guide, but once you’ve filed off the mark you know you’ve got the job done.
Sharpen Snowboard Base Edge From Nose To Tail
Start with your base edge (make sure the board is flat). You begin at your board’s nose, at the wide point, and work your way down to the tail, stopping at its wide point. You need to apply light pressure, but it should still run smoothly down the board. You will need to do this a few times.
- Always make sure the board is flat
- Always use the edging tool in one direction
- Keep the pressure light
- Do not try to sharpen the rounded ends of your board
- Any sticking places are “burrs” and need a little extra attention with the file.
- You’ll know the edge is sharp when you can run your fingernail over it and a thin bit peels away.
Sharpen Snowboard Side Edge
Once the base edges are nice and sharp, you set the tool for the side edge. Again, some will have helpful settings; others will require you to do the measuring. These edges are generally done at 90, but those who are aggressive or dealing with hard snow sometimes do it at 89. Like above, go only one direction, take care over any “sticking” places that have a burr.
Can I Repair My Snowboard’s Edges?
Edges sometimes sustain damage that no amount of sharpening will fix. In this case, “surgery” needs to be performed, removing part of the base, removing the section, installing a new piece, making it flush, and then filling the base.
People can and do repair their own snowboard edges. But you can mess up your base or be stuck with a rough edge if you don’t do it correctly. So, if you are new to snowboard-DIY maybe have the pros see to this one.
Sharpening snowboard edges is about taking the time to set the angle and using consistent, light pressure. Mark the angle to help you keep your line, and remember the fingernail trick to know when you are done. But if you have a chunk missing that no file can fix, consider taking it to a pro to replace that section for you.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.