If like me you don't have a ski holding work bench or a wax iron, don't despair. For you and me the rank amateur , fun and fitness skier, or "mosjonist" as the Norwegies say, you really don't need one.
Even professional ski waxers use short cuts these days with smooth-on or spray-on products when conditions change suddenly or they have many skis to do. Also the latest racing skis** use a high molecular weight plastic like Dyneema/Spectra which has been shown to have so few "pores" that it does not absorb glider much at all, but may 'ADsorb' enough to be slower ie the coefficient of friction is higher than the bare ski in many conditions due to excessive amounts of glider left on the surface.
Spray and Smooth On Ski-Base Wax Products Are GO!!
Spray/Smooth on waxing products rely on gentle solvents to make the waxes mobile rather than the heat of the iron or friction from manual application. Thus for any of these products, for best results apply at room temperature , spread evenly while they are mobile, leave for 20 minutes at room temperature or warmer, check again for even-ness of application and then put them outside in the cold to set hard for 10 minutes before scraping, brushing or corking.
There by the solvent helps spread the waxes into the pores and structure of the ski sole, it evaporates leaving just the wax, and you then get best results from cooling it outside for both glider and kicking zone wax.
Smooth on glider in solvent has been proven to be pretty much as good as iron on ones for the amateur ski tourer / fitness skier. You would be better putting a half hour more into technique, for example without poles, and buying better shoes or trousers or of course skis than investing in a work bench, iron and range of glider blocks to melt in. Also on P-Tex 2000 UHMWPE it glider may be superflouous**
You can then, survive with basic plastic tools and no bench. In fact one company Ski-Go have now included the tools in very well priced packages: a spread on glider with a medium hard synthetic palm brush, and a two pack kick zone wax with both a neat 100 corn sandpaper on a tool, a blue which is high range replacing the need for green, and then a milder weather top wax : the wax cans include a cork at the bottom too! Really neat, almost bought a set but I have actually my own tried and now trusted technique as follows:
My 2012-14 Trusted Method with a Flourinated Update
part I : Base Prep, Glider and Base - Binder Waxes
Do the base prep on an evening with freezing conditions outdoors if you can then. The work is only about 20 minutes per ski but there is a lot of waiting around to be filled with dish washing and facebook!
How I do my skis: well first I would say that you should just clean the whole sole and any clister from the sides at the end of the last season. Then clean again very lightly and check for condition after you dig them out the attic again. If there are many small scores, or roughness or hairs in the glider zone then a trip to the service shop is worth the money as they will do a really even job for just a couple of hundred krone. If the ski looks okay, then you can start with glider**.
1) First tape off the kick zone at each end with good, wide masking tape or use paper strips taped over with any old tape tight up but not overlapping, on each edge. Tape from the kicking zone marks in over. If you have no marks, or washed them off, or become heavier after juletide then refer to sliding the paper under your skis on the internet to determine the extent of the kick wax zone.
2) Apply glider from the tube with sponge spreader fairly sparingly but firmly with round actions covering the glide area up to the tapes and avoid getting any amount building up at these points. Use a circular motion to spread evenly, squeezing out when you see it is thining out. Do this on the flats and then use the sponge tip on the tube without squeezing out any more and spread a little into the groove.
Do both skis!
For spray on glider read the can for directions : have it at room temperature, shake well and test spray on paper to see how much it goes on and how smoothly. Spread out with the plastic ski spatula tool.
3) Then leave for about 10 minutes at room temperature or 5 mins in a warmer drying or wet room. Then place the skis outside if it is dry and cold.
4) Now you can scrape off the excess glider with the clister spatula, an stiffer old credit card or a perspex tool which is purpose built, pretty aggressively.
One good fancy wee tool is the groove scraper "pen" which is ergonomic and great on both glider and kick wax.
5) You can repeat scrapings but it is best to brush the glider zones with either a soft copper brush or a medium plastic brush, or a natural hair scrubbing brush. This will remove the last of the glider which is free and not absorbed into the pores. Excess glider especially near the kick zone will cladd up new snow and will attract dirt from old snow.
Dust off with a cloth.
Kicking Zone Wax - Base
1) Now change the tapes with new ones which now cover the ends of the glider you have done, recommend paper under the tapes so you dont lift any glider off or add glue on. It is really important not to get any kick wax onto the glide zone.
2) Sand the kick zone gently up and down with 100 grade sand paper and if you have 120 to hand, do the final sanding in the direction of travel three to five times until an even dull surface is achieved. The Easy Grip Kit from Ski Go includes a purpose built sanding tool, top marks to them!!
3) Now I then use a spray on base wax, which is V90 from Swix in my case. You can also use a base clister which takes wax or clister above this. Shake very well, and you can take the can up in some warm water to make it extra flowing and well mixed. Test spray a little to check it is coming out evenly and to see what distance will lay down a line of spray which is sensibly wide to one of the flats either side of the groove so the groove does not get laiden with wax.
The V90 is a heavy green cold weather or base binder wax in a solvent laden spray can. It goes on held about 3 to 5 centimeters from each flat, avoiding getting it in the groove.
4) Once on, spread out with the end of a clean spatula immediately. Spraying and smoothing one side at a time can be a good idea.
5) Leave to dry out the solvent a little at room temperature and the pale dull wax will start to form within a minute.
6) At this point get some good lighting and check for any bald or thin spots what so ever and re-apply a short spray to the area, spraying outboard and spreading in over to avoid loading the groove. Spread until it looks even and then leave in doors as for glider for up to 1o minutes.
7) Then take outside if it is cold (zero or below) and dry weather for 10 minutes. If it is mild or sleeting outside, then leave overnight in a cool, dry cupboard or porch.
8) After cooling to set the hard wax, Take out the excess from the groove with a plastic tool avoiding getting hand warming on the flats.
9) Now cork the wax in using first a circular motion and then backwards and forwards along the zone.Then finally five strokes in the direction of travel, back along the ski.
10) Leave to cool a bit and then again take off the excess from the groove.
Ready for What Ever the Weather Throws at You!
You can in effect now just leave the green wax on now and here is why:
a) If it is very cold, below -15, with new snow then two layers of green v90 should give you a good grip. Apply another layer then, as above.
b) If you are expecting cold conditions -9 and lower with old, hard, transformed snow then repeat such that you have a better layered start for the season to either take a third layer of this or use blue.
c) The same is true if you expect to perhaps use clister on melted snow which can be applied in two layers on top of two layers of green wax or ontop of a base clister spray as an alternative which is even quicker to apply and used by pros.
Part II _ Day Conditions Kick Zone Waxing
Now you have single layer of green :
If conditions are normal range of +1 to minus 10 'C then apply first a blue cold wax along the whole length of the kick zone for good tracks*
I now swear by the fluorinated kick wax products because they last so much better and hold new snow less ie less cladding and it rubs off quicker. I use Blue VR now and Lillac Special VR from swix for general -10 to +1 conditions.
Twice the price often, and available from all the main makers and some specialist wax firms, the flourinated products are worth the money! I have done over 40 km on blue without needing to re-wax this year. In fact I have only waxed once this season ! Partly due to me using wax less skis on the days with most snowfall though.
*If you are expecting a lot of fine new snow, then I suggest not using more wax on the tip end of the kick zone than your base wax, instead starting further along the ski just infront of the toe with your day waxing. For good, hardened tracks though, you can wax the whole kick zone with one layer of blue at least.
Given conditions are forseeable below -3'C then you are best using blue especially if new snow fall is forecast as the lillac and other "round zero" waxes will ball up in minus four with new snow.
For new snow and conditions of under -10'c I would recommend doubling your layer of green V90 and going out to see if you can get traction or if you need blue.
If you are expecting abrasive conditions, hard and cold or sharp and wet, then do a double layer of base wax before you use clister or day wax.
Another Top Tip: The same rule of thumb for the wax itself applies in how you have it "stored" on the day: for blue and lillac wax, once outdoors, keep it next to your body so that it goes on easier, angling to the edge. For purple special and red wax, keep these away from your body heat so that they have a harder edge and will be easier to apply over harder waxes in an even layer. For clister in tube or spray, keep these again near to your body or pre-warm them on the cars heating outlets such that it flows better for the tube, and the solvent evaporates for the spray.
So given you are going for blue, do a second full length layer AFTER though you lay the ski out in the cold or even down on the snow to cool. This is a really good trick because what you want to achieve is lamination and not a thick layer of each wax grade which is massaged into itself.
After then corking this second layer, it is back on the snow to cool off. The aim is to have five or six layers in the "pocket" ie making a pyramid now of wax which has the last two layers only under the arch of the foot.
This has a number of advantages: it saves waxing time, it reduces the amount of friction when not kicking because it is in the area lifted most of the ground, if the snow is sticking it will stick less to the thinner applied ends at least, and finally, if you do encounter harder conditions or ski longer, you have a reserve of wax which is in this pocket and hence you may survive with less powerful kicks to finish your tour or race without losing time rewaxing.
The final layers are three to five in a "pyramid" on top of two full length layers, are day layers and should be done out on the course once you have assessed temperature and snow conditions. Make a mental note of where you have made these two or three pyramid increments by looking at the binding.
The extra 45 seconds or so of placing a ski on the snow after each layer is corked will be well worth its time in avoiding repeat waxing on the course, and in any case you work on one ski while the other is cooling off.
I now recommend going and kicking a bit in diagonal stride without poles to see how the wax feels and to see if it is cladding up or is slipping too much. You can then extend the "pocket pyramid out by waxing up those areas each side of it again and eventually adding another couple of pyramid layers going in over.
Alternatively you can experiment then with a softer wax or a clister just in the length of the sole of the shoe or even just under the arch of the foot to give a little extra bite if the snow is old and been transformed into a hard surface by many ski goers or freeze-thaw-freeze conditions.
Hard Snow and Wet, Large Crystaline Snow Prep
On very abrasive days over zero 'C, I am fed up using clister from the tube ( i have tried fancy thin layers put on at home and all) and try to hold to red wax, of which I have masses of sticks to use up as winter here before has been an all or nothing affaire with mostly blue and the odd lillac days. So VR flouronated is not worth getting until I use up my red.
However Spray clister though is something I will experiment with this year because I have heard both some serious distance racers and family folk talk highly of its ease of application and of course re-application if the thin layer wears off. I have seen some people not even taking their skis off to put a layer on in order to keep them going!
However, I reckon tomorrow's melted, wet conditions mean the jumble sale fish scale Trak skis are the most sensible choice for a quick slide around on slush and ice.
(** If you have the new P-Tex 2000 sole then due it's toughness I would definetly take a trip to the shop if there are small dammage. Also it is recommended by some not to have these skis textured in the glide zone when new because they do not absorb significant amounts of glider. Better skis from the last two years will all have this UHMWPE base in this brand or another btw)