Category Archives: Tuning

Home Ski Care 101 – Part 3, The Finishing Details

In Part 1 we looked at ski waxing basics, and in Part 2, we got a little more advanced with edge tuning. This week, we’ll take a look at finishing both of those jobs up with brushing and sidewall finishing.


A common mistake we see at Start Haus is folks who think they’re trying to create a glass-smooth coating on the bottom of their skis with wax, and the more the better. The truth is, glass smooth isn’t fast – in fact it creates suction drag on the snow. That’s why ski bases have a pattern in them, and we don’t want to plug up that grind pattern with wax.

We want the wax inside the base, not on top of it. So after waxing and letting the skis cool, it’s critical to finish with scraping and brushing.

It boils down to taking the excess wax off in steps from scraping with a plexi scraper down through a few levels of brushing.

For those who really want to do a detailed job:

  • Start with a wire brush to really dig into the grind structure
  • Follow up with a nylon brush to start smoothing stuff out
  • Finish with a soft brush like horsehair for a polished finish

For those who want to keep it simple, you can stick to a nylon brush.

See the technique here:

Sidewall shaping is a more advanced technique – using some of the tools previously covered in the edging tutorial, plus some specialized tools.

You’ll need:

See the technique here:

This is getting pretty advanced, and as always, the expert techs at Start Haus are here to help you out.

Get Your Bike Ready for Summer

Don’t wait until the trails are snow-free and prime to start looking at your mountain bike – now’s the time to get it dialed in for the season.

To get the most out of your bike, there’s a few things you can do at home, and a few you might want to schedule some time with our amazing mechanics for.


First off – check your tires. Do the treads look ok? Are the side knobs undercut? Center treads worn smooth? And if you’re running tubeless (we hope you’re running tubeless) – now’s a great time to open up the bead to see if you still have sealant, or if it’s formed a big snot ball at the bottom of the tire.

If it’s time to replace tires, check out our tire guide here. And if you don’t have the tools to get a tubeless tire off or back on the rim to check sealant, swing by Start Haus.


Quality suspension makes or breaks a good mountain bike – and too many of us neglect these high-tech pieces of our bikes, resulting in degraded performance and diminished lifespans. Fortunately, the Start Haus is fully set up to do a variety of service and rebuilds on a wide range of forks and rear shocks. Click here to find out more.


Got a screw loose? Now’s a good time to check all the bolts on your bike to make sure they’re tightened to proper torque specifications. Drivetrain check: Nothing’s worse than dropping a chain or skipping gears when you’re redlined on a climb. Brakes howling or not quite stopping? Brake pads and hydraulics should be looked at this time of year too.

All three of these things, and a lot more, are covered in a Start Haus deluxe tune, and now is prime time to book an appointment so your bike runs smooth all summer long. And if you’re ready to take the next steps in doing some maintenance at home, Start Haus has a full selection of tools and the experts to get you started.

Home Ski Care 101 – Part 2

Home Ski Care 101 – Part 2

Last week we talked about the first step you can take in home ski maintenance – waxing. This week we’ll take a step up in technique and tools for edge tuning. This can be a little more intimidating than waxing, and if in doubt the expert tuners at Start Haus will get your skis singing – but if you’re ready, follow this simple guide.

Like last week, we’ll assume you aren’t a ski racer for today’s blog. For most of us, a few files and a few guides to set base and edge angles will give all the performance we’re looking for.

Guides – Setting the Angles:

The most common ski tune at the Start Haus is a 1-2, or a 1 degree base bevel and a 2 degree side bevel. That’ sharp without being crazy sharp, keeps the ski from catching when it’s not on edge, and works in a variety of conditions.

So we’ll need a 1 degree base bevel guide and a 2 degree side bevel guide.

It isn’t required, but a custom clamp will help keep the file on the guide.

Files – Shaping and Smoothing:

We start with a first cut file to shape the ski. Then we move on to a second cut file to start smoothing things out.

Finally, we wrap up with a polishing stone to really get the ski edges running smooth and fast.

It’s easier to show, not tell how to use these tools, so take a look:


As always, our experts are here to answer any questions as you dive into the world of ski tuning.

Home Ski Care 101 – Part 1

There’s nothing like a freshly tuned and waxed pair of skis from the Start Haus award-winning ski tuners. But many of our customers like to take on some of the regular tasks of keeping there skis running smooth and fast, and we’ve got the tools to get you started.

First, let’s talk waxing- a great way to regularly keep your skis running smooth.

We’ll assume you aren’t a ski racer today – who have there own special waxing needs for training and race day. The rest of us can get a whole lot of benefit from a much simpler regime done regularly.

The Wax:

While racers deal in all sorts of high-tech additives, overlays and such, the rest of us can happily start off with simple hydrocarbon wax. Regardless of brand, colors typically correlate to temperature ratings.

Swix CH6

Swix CH6 Blue

Blue Hydrocarbon: for the coldest conditions we see in the Tahoe-Truckee area. It’s harder wax to stand up to the sharp crystals of truly cold temperatures (below 21 degrees F).


Swix CH8 Red

Red Hydrocarbon: If you just want to buy one bar of wax, red is the way to go for the vast majority of Tahoe-area conditions. Rated to between 34 and 25 degrees F, it’s durable, versatile and keeps up with changing snow conditions from powder to groomers.


Swix CH10 Yellow

Yellow Hydrocarbon: When spring skiing is in full swing, yellow wax will help with that sticky, on the brakes sensation in wet patches of warm snow. Rated 32 to 50 degrees F).

There’s a few other specialty colors, but those three will cover your bases. Each one comes with a recommended iron temperature – you want to melt the wax, but smoke means things are too hot.

The Technique:

Once you have your wax, first you want to do a hot scrape. Either using a base care prep wax or something like red hydrocarbons, drip melted wax off the iron onto the ski base, then spread it evenly with the iron across the ski.

Unlike the finishing wax, you’ll take your scraper, and pull off as much wax as you can – the warm wax will clean out the bases, taking out dirt, oils and other contaminants with it.

Once scraped, apply your finishing wax the same way – dripping and spreading it with the iron. This time, let the ski bases cool to room temperature.

Then scrape the skis again, removing as much wax as possible, followed by brushing. We’ll cover brushing with different brush materials in the finishing part of this series down the road.

Wax your skis regularly and they’ll perform better, the bases won’t dry out and deform, and they’ll last longer too. Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Start Haus for technique, tool and wax advice.

Pre-Season Tune Ups at Start Haus

Winter is approaching fast; Tahoe resorts start opening later this month. Are you ready? One of the best ways to start your season off right is a fresh tune and wax at Start Haus. How do you know if you need a tune? Take a look at your skis. If they have worn bases and nicked edges, you will notice the difference on the snow.

Well-tuned skis are more fun and easier to ski. Dull edges make turns harder to initiate and to keep on track. Rough bases can feel sluggish and make even a great ski feel lethargic. If your skis aren’t running smoothly on funky early season snow or your edges aren’t biting on those man-made icy patches, you’re more likely to throw in the towel and go into the lodge for drinks.

Ski bases dry out all summer long. You didn’t put storage wax on at the end of last season like we told you to, did you? If your bases are getting discolored, white or chalky looking, they’re drying out. Dried out bases also shrink, affecting the tune of your ski too. It’s not the end of the world, but they’ll run poorly – so get them in for a proper hot scrape and wax at Start Haus.

Dry bases

Dry bases

Edges get dinged and can rust in storage. Storage wax can also help protect metal from moisture, so if you skipped that step, chances are your edges won’t be ready for prime-time out of the gate. Getting a tune by the pros at Start Haus ensures they will run smoothly so you won’t catch awkwardly or skid unexpectedly.

Rusty and damaged edge before sharpening

Rusty and damaged edge before sharpening

Clean and sharp edge after tune

Clean and sharp edge after tune

Then there’s last season’s damage you swore you’d take care of over the summer. Don’t let scratches or core shots in your base keep you from making first chair. Get the repairs you need done by the best technicians in the business.

Base repair in process

Base repair in process


Base repair after final grind. Not a hint of what happened!

So you followed our advice and put on storage wax at the end of the season? That’s great. But that glopped on wax that was doing your bases so much good needs a good scrape and brush. Come into Start Haus and we’ll make sure you’ve got the perfect shiny finish on your bases so they run smooth and fast.

Proper storage wax for the off-season.  Needs to be scraped!

Proper storage wax for the off-season. Needs to be scraped!

Summer Prep for Race Training

Every year around late July and early August we get our annual influx of ski racers heading to the whiter pastures of the Andes and Southern Alps. Others are heading up to the summer camps of Mount Hood. This presents a good opportunity to take a look at your gear and see if it’s still up to the task. Have you outgrown your boots? How many holes are acceptable in race gloves? How about socks? What are the condition of my ski boots and skis?

We all have heard time and again that your boots are the most important article of gear- which is certainly true for ski racers. It’s hard to race when you’re hobbled in pain, or if your canting is catawampus. Summer camps are a great place to dial in gear and work on techniques or work on overcoming bad habits.

The following is a list of things we see and think are great items to be looking into at summer camps.

Ski Boots

If you’re in the same boots as the previous season approach the obvious questions first. Have you outgrown your boots? If yes obviously shop for some new ones, if not take a look at them and examine their condition. If you’ve been in your boots one entire race season odds are your liner is shot. If you’re anything like the vast majority of the racing population your toe and heel plates are also on the endangered species list.

To be brutally honest we really feel like at the Far West racing level race boots only last one year. Yes even at the U10 U12 level- perhaps especially at the U10 U12 level. The fact is those lucky kids spend and extraordinary amount of time in their boots, it’s fairly obvious by looking at them that their simply worn out. Remember, with the amount of days in them the liner is packed out and the material inside simply isn’t holding the foot the way it should. That being said, it makes total sense with a growing kid to wait until the last possible second to spring for a new pair of boots, which is generally somewhere around the month of November.

For the older kids summer is a great time to play with canting. Canting is planning the sole of the ski boot to match the natural stance of the athlete, particularly the relation of the center of the knee to the center of the ski boot. Some of the tell-tale signs that an athlete needs canting is that one turn is significantly better, i.e. left footers are always better than the right or vise versa. Another symptom would be excessive A-framing or cheating one knee over in the turn excessively. Coaches will often have a few methods to play with to determine if canting is necessary.


There are a few things one can do to prepare skis for the season. If you’re lucky enough to pick up a new pair of speed skis, hot boxing them is a great idea. A couple of cycles in the hotbox will ensure that the bases are super fast and ready to rip. Remember: the more you ski a speed ski in the faster they will be. If an athlete were so inclined she could play with changing edge angles the off-season would be the time to do it.

Coaches in the Lake Tahoe area do a great job of determining what edge angles they would like their athlete’s skis tuned to. Likewise, Tahoe coaches have a handle on what lifts they would like between the bindings and ski. For example max height or some variation of ramp angle is generally prescribed. If you were unsure of edge bevels or ramp angle, summer camps would be a great place to try some variations. ***Disclaimer*** Ski bindings are a major safety issue. Only certified experts should be working on ski bindings.

In summation the point is if you’re going to play with gear, the summer camps is one of the best times to do it rather than mid season when you’re doing your best to get on the podium. Most importantly summer ski camps should be fun! Don’t ever forget that while you may take racing seriously, it also one of the most fun things in the world to do! Yes train hard, but remember to make the most of it and have a ton of fun.