New heavy steel brushes — which range from the standard
oval steel brush from the wax companies to fine and heavy steel
BBQ brushes — all have very sharp edges which can be used to
re-emphasize the structure and remove dead base (white base
burn). I like to suggest that you should have at your disposal
three options (stiffest to softest) for BBQ’ing your skis: the traditional wax company BBQ brush; the Home Depot Wooster steel
brush (or similar); and your everyday oval steel brush (SVST,
Toko, Swix, Holmenkol, etc.). Scotchbrite pads (usually available
in various levels of cutting power, which are red, grey, and green)
and closed-face aluminum oxide sandpaper in 400 grit do a great
job of cutting hairs that will be created during BBQ brushing and
leveling the ski.
Some of the items you’ll need for base maintenance:
Aluminum oxide closed-face sandpaper (220, 320, 400
grits); soft and hard carbon steel BBQ brushes; Scotchbrite; and a block with Velcro on one side to hold the
Scotchbrite and sandpaper evenly and firmly.
Here’s the process:
First, be sure that your skis are really secure in their vise so that
you can generate maximum and even pressure down the length
of the ski. I’ll often lower my table, too, to really get over the ski
with body weight. If it’s your first time, it’s not a bad idea to have
someone hold the opposite end of the ski to prevent it from flying
up from the pressure you will put on it.
Second, decide which brush you want to use. The BBQ brush
will do the most work; the Home Depot Wooster steel is an inter-
mediate (softer) version; and the oval round steel that you nor-
mally use every day (wax company oval steel brushes) can be
turned around backward and will have the least effect.
Now that you are fully secured, take your BBQ or Wooster brush,
lay it on the very tip of the ski at a 45-degree angle, and then
press down firmly and evenly as you twist the brush handle to
become level with the ski’s base. This will place a great deal of
torque on the bristles themselves, and now it is time to hold that
torque and move the brush down the ski.
Start by laying the BBQ
brush on the
ski at a 45-
to cut by
the brush up
to 90 degrees as you
If you are using the oval steel (backwards), simply the lay the
brush flat and press down with medium pressure as you move
the brush down the ski. What you will see left behind will most
likely scare you, but do not fear. I usually do three to four passes
down the ski at this point with the BBQ, sometimes more in the
center of the ski to remove wear.
Now you’ve completed the BBQ process. It’s time to clean the
skis up and make them fast again. The stiff steel bristles have
pulled up lots of base material, which needs to be shorn off using
a very sharp plastic scraper. Be sure that you have no burrs on
the scraper, and re-sharpen it after three to four passes down the
ski. As you scrape the ski, you will remove most of the “fuzz” that
the BBQ process has brought up. Continue until you can scrape
no more fuzz from the ski.
Next, you’ll want to do some leveling using the 400-grit sandpa-
per and also remove the hairs using the Scotchbrite. It’s OK to
go in both directions with the sandpaper and Scotchbrite to level
and work the base. This portion should take the longest time, and
your bases should look nearly perfect at this point, level across
the width and with nicely defined structure.
Next, using your oval steel brush (in the correct direction), brush
the skis vigorously from tip to tail. At this point, the skis should
look equal to or even better than they did before! If you have a
magnifying lens handy, this is a good time to check your bases
to be sure there are no hairs left behind to slow you down. Finish
up with a hot-scrape cleaning; then prepare the edges, wax, and
get ready to go fast!