Minor Ski Repairs

Fix Them Before They Become Major Problems

by Greg Westernik Feb. 2000

Buying the best skis will not save you from occasionally skiing over a submerged rock, tripping over a hidden root or losing control on a “snow snake” prone area. The unfortunate result in some of these inevitable cases is ski damage. It’s important to repair light damage before it deteriorates and ruins the ski. Identify and fix the minor problem yourself (or find a ski shop that will do the service for you). After at least every other ski outing, look over your equipment to make sure that you will not get stranded the next time you go out. For example:

  • Check the underside of ski (base) for gouges. Deep cuts that penetrate the core must be repaired immediately to protect the core’s integrity. Lighter scrapes can wait, although they affect ski performance;
  • Inspect the sidewalls for cracks, dents and missing chunks. Repair gaping holes at once;
  • Look for cracks in the top sheet of the ski base around the tip and tail of ski. This is where delamination can occur. Fix them immediately;
  • Grab the binding and twist it from side to side—there should be no play. Inspect both bindings to make sure there are no broken or missing pieces. Compare one to the other if you are unsure. Screws in three-pin bindings and heel plates should not be loose enough to tighten.
Base Gouges

For repair of base gouges, you’ll need a P-Tex candle (or its equivalent), a cig lighter or waxing torch, ski wax remover, Scotch Brite scour pad, rubbing alcohol, paper towels/clean rags, a sharp metal scraper, sanding block, medium (150) grit sandpaper, rubber gloves, and a sharp craft knife. Here’s the procedure:

  1. Hold the ski, base up, in a wax bench, ski vise or clamped very gently in the padded jaws of a bench vise.
  2. In at least a partially ventilated area, clean the area to be repaired with wax remover, scour pad and paper towels with the gloves on. Remove any wax remover residue with rubbing alcohol.
  3. Trim any stray pieces of base material from around the gouge with a sharp craft knife.
  4. Hold the P-Tex candle over the gouge and ignite it. Fill the gouge with drips, keeping the candle close to the ski base to minimize black carbon formation. Blow out the flame when the gouge is full, twirling the candle as it cools to contain stray drops of plastic Let the repair cool for twenty minutes. Repeat if the cooled repair material shrinks below the ski base surface.
  5. Scrape the cooled repair with a sharp metal scraper. If the plastic lifts when scraped, it did not bond to the base. Clean the gouge with wax remover and rubbing alcohol, and try again.
  6. Sand the repair smooth with 150-grit sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block.

You need a slow-setting (one hour or more), two-part epoxy glue, a 3-inch square of stiff cardboard, two six-inch lengths of one-inch by two-inch blocks of wood, putty knife, gloves, medium grip sandpaper, and two C-clamps. In comfortable air temperatures, use the putty knife and sand paper to remove any old adhesive. Mix 2- part epoxy, and apply to affected areas. Then clamp reglued delaminations between two blocks of wood with C-clamps, bench vise or even a stack of books. Wipe off the excess glue that squeezes out under pressure.

Sidewall Injuries

Minor sidewall injuries that break through the outer layer must be fixed immediately to prevent moisture damage to the core materials. Epoxy putty and creative sculpting will make them good as new.