Snowboard edges are always sharpened at the factory. When riding your snowboard for the first time, you will get a sense of how it performs when your edges are sharpened and tuned properly. If you want to keep this level of performance consistent over the life of your snowboard continue reading to learn everything you know about tuning your edges.
Safety Tip! Your snowboard edges are very sharp. Even when they are dull, you can still get a nasty cut on your fingers and hands. When sharpening your edges, go slow and apply uniform pressure. It’s better to do multiple passes rather than one or two forceful ones. Wearing some type of glove is recommended, whether it be a work glove or mountain bike glove. It not only protects you from getting cut, but it will also keep fine metal shavings off your skin, which can cut, irritate or puncture your skin.
Understanding Snowboard Edge Anatomy
A snowboard edge has a few different parts to it which affect how your snowboard will perform and contact the snow. Each part of the edge below can be tuned differently and sometimes requires you to visit a snowboard shop to complete. This guide from Alpine Carving provides visual descriptions to help you learn and understand the tuning and sharpening process.
Effective Edge – The length of the edge that makes contact with the snow. It is usually dependent on the length of the snowboard and the rise of the nose and tail.
Detuned Edge – This is a section of the metal edge that does not make contact with the snow regularly. It surrounds the nose and tail of the snowboard.
Side Edge – This side of the edge is what sits almost vertical when the board is flat. Sharpening this edge is what you will generally do yourself and the angle is called the side edge angle.
Base Edge – This part of the edge is what you see from the base when your snowboard is flipped upside down. Although it looks flat, there can be a very tiny angle between the base and the edge
The Importance of Sharp Edges for Performance
Sharp edges are what give your board stability and control. They allow you to make sharper, tighter turns, increase carving performance and provide safe control on varying terrain. Essentially, snowboard edges are what hold your snowboard on a specific path across the slope.
When riding with dull edges, your control can be inconsistent, unpredictable and it can be dangerous if you need to change directions or stop in a split second.
When to Sharpen: Recognizing Dull Edges
There are a few things you’ll notice which would indicate it’s time to sharpen your edges. A few you can see, others you will feel. A big indication that your edges need to be tuned is when you feel like you’re losing control and performance when riding. Carving and turning should feel grippy and solid. If it feels like you are slipping out when snowboarding, this is a strong indication you need to sharpen your edges.
Next is the visual inspection. How do the edges look? Are there any marks, scratches or burrs on the edges? Do you see any rust? Any of these indicate you should sharpen your edges. It’s also important to note people can be more heel edge dominant than toe edge dominant. Run your fingernail against each edge and see if one is much duller than the other. You’ll also want to tune your edges in this situation.
Determining the Ideal Edge Bevel for Your Riding Style
Remember the two edge surfaces introduced above? Both the base edge and side edge can be tuned with different angles, which change how your snowboard performs. There are also specific bevel angles that can be adjusted depending on your riding style.
The more base angle you create from 0°, the faster the edge will release. The higher the base edge, the less the snowboard will “catch an edge”. Decreasing the side angle from 90° will increase the edge hold and create more aggressive carving. This will cause the snowboard to bite more in turns and lock you in. Although lowering this angle will improve control, it will also dull faster beyond 88°.
Depending on your riding style and the snow conditions at your resorts, you can choose from a few different edge angle combinations.
Beginner (Base Edge: 1-2° Side Edge: 89-90°)
A beginner wants edges that don’t catch quickly or are grabby which can throw off the balance of someone who is learning. They also don’t need as much edge bite.
Intermediate or Advanced Freerider (Base Edge: 1° Side Edge: 88-89°)
These riders want faster responsiveness and edge hold. These angles allow for excellent edge hold, slightly delayed edge release yet are still forgiving enough to prevent from catching an edge.
Park and Freestyle (Base Edge: 2° Side Edge: 90°)
These riders don’t need much of an edge and having a larger base edge lowers the chance of catching an edge on a sketchy landing. It also lifts the edge up from the base, decreasing its contact with a rail or box which preserves the edge.
Racers and On Piste Carvers (Base Edge: 0-1° Side Edge: 86-88°)
These riders strive for strong carving performance at higher speeds. This configuration allows for early edge engagement and aggressive hold at high speeds and fast direction changes.
Tools Needed for Edge Sharpening Success
The tools needed to sharpen and tune your edges are pretty minimal. The hardest part of the whole process will be finding something sturdy to clamp the snowboard to when you’re tuning. Below are the tools needed to perform this maintenance.
- Marker or Tape
- Flat File
- Edge Guide (Fixed or Adjustable Angle)
- Edge Stone
- Gloves (recommended)
Step-by-Step Guide to Sharpening Snowboard Edges
Sharpening the edges on your snowboard is not a difficult task, but it can take time to learn how to do it properly. If you have an old snowboard lying around, it’s wise to practice on this until you get a feeling for the pressure and stroke length required for optimal sharpening.
Important Safety Reminder
Your snowboard edges are very sharp. Even when they are dull, it’s important to be mindful of where you place your fingers. It is advisable to wear gloves to protect your hands and fingers from getting cut during this process.
- Remove your bindings with a screwdriver. Make note of where your bindings were. This makes it easier to place your board on a table or clamp it in place when tuning.
- Mark the snowboard edges where they are at the widest part of the snowboard on both the nose and tail. This is important for where the edge will be detuned, preventing a twitchy ride.
- Clamp the snowboard or place it on a table base side up to secure it from moving. Having a snowboard move while your tuning can affect the quality of the tune.
- Take your flat file and file the base edge to remove any burrs and any high or low points on the edge. Do this by holding the file flat and at a 45 degree angle and carefully smooth it down with short passes.
- Use your Edge Guide and set the desired base edge angle (0-2°).
- Tune each base edge using light pressure and short passes rather than one long pass. Make sure you do it in the same direction, ideally nose to tail. You want to stop at the widest part of the snowboard where the markings were placed.
- Adjust your Edge Guide to the correct angle for your ideal side edge (86-90°)
- Begin sharpening the side edges similar to the base edges. Short passes with light pressure. If you find that some areas along the edge are sticking, there’s most likely burrs or scratches there. Go over these areas a few times to flatten them out.
- Examine the edges and run your fingernail around the edges checking the sharpness in different places.
- Wax your snowboard. Sharpening your edges will slightly scratch the snowboard base near the edges. You can use a harder cold temperature wax around the edges and then an all temperature wax for the rest of it. Cold wax won’t wear away as quickly and allows your base to recover.
Note on Detuning
Detuning is the act of dulling a specific area of your edges around the nose and the tail. It allows the snowboard to release from a turn and be less twitchy and unpredictable.
The above steps make it easy to determine where you can stop sharpening your edge. Some people will prefer to sharpen the entire edge right up to the nose and tail. Bring a flat file with you to the slopes and see how it rides before detuning. This allows the rider to ride the snowboard and detune as necessary. Usually, this is important for more experienced riders with a specific preference for their effective edge.
When filing, use short overlapping strokes and walk back as you move down the board. Lots of short, overlapping strokes will result in a statistically uniform filed edge. If you use a few long strokes, the
Avoiding Common Edge Sharpening Mistakes
One can make a few rookie mistakes when tuning snowboard edges for the first time:
Edge Guide Not Flat
When sharpening your edges, you want to make sure the edge guide is flat on the base of the snowboard. This ensures the angle you want is the angle you get. If the Edge Guide is not flat, your angle could be inconsistent over the length of the snowboard.
Too Much Pressure on the Edge Guide
The old adage is “you can always remove material but you cannot add it.” If you put too much pressure on the edge tool, you will remove material fast. This could lead to removing more than you intended to and can reduce the lifespan of the edge. Focus on short movements with light pressure to help with maintaining the same sharpness down the edge.
Not Properly Detuning Edges
Detuning your edges will affect how your board reacts, hooks and twitches so it’s important to know where and how to detune for your riding style. This might take some time to get used to but it’s best to detune at the widest part of the snowboard. If it is still too twitchy, detune a bit more until it feels right.
How Terrain and Snow Conditions Affect Edge Performance
Your edges are strong and can resist most conditions for several rides before you notice them starting to dull. There are specific conditions that will dull them faster, though.
Ice and Hard Packed Snow
Riding consistently on ice and extremely hard packed snow will dull your edges out faster. The more solid conditions make it harder to set an edge and will wear down the edge faster.
Park and Freestyle
Spending a lot of time in the terrain park will put a lot of wear and tear on your edges. Constant slides on metal rails dull the edges fast. Repeatedly hitting your edges on these features can also cause small cracks to form on your edges, which can eventually cause them to lift away from the board.
Exposed Slopes or Dirty Snow
These conditions are usually seen in the early season and towards the end of the season. Exposed terrain and dirty snow can cause major damage to your edges by scratching, denting and removing parts of your edges. Just be mindful when snowboarding during these times.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should I Sharpen My Snowboard Edges?
For most snowboarders, sharpening your edges once a year is seen as sufficient. If you ride somewhere with lots of ice and hard packed snow or you ride a lot, it’s wise to sharpen your edges once every 5-10 rides. The more you do this, the faster you’ll get. Avid snowboarders tend to sharpen and wax their snowboards at the same time.
Is It Possible to Sharpen Edges Too Much?
When sharpening snowboard edges, there will be a point where you can’t get them any sharper. However, if you continue trying to sharpen them, you will begin to remove excessive material from your edges. You want to avoid this because it will shorten the lifespan of your snowboard.
Can I Repair Damaged or Rusted Snowboard Edges?
Minor damage like scratches, burrs and uneven sections can be fixed with a good edge sharpening. Cracks in the edges can also be repaired but it’s usually done by a snowboard shop. Proper maintenance will also ensure your snowboard lasts as long as possible.
Should I Sharpen My Entire Edge or Just Specific Sections?
As described above, it is important to detune the nose and tail from the widest points for better handling. Depending on your riding style, you could have your whole edge detuned.
What Is Edge Tuning and How Does It Differ From Edge Sharpening?
Edge tuning is the initial step in setting the correct base and side angles for your snowboard. This removes more material and sets the angles you desire. Edge tuning also encompassed detuning. Edge sharpening is just the step in sharpening the edges that already have their angles set. It is usually much faster and removes less material.
Sharpening and tuning your snowboard are crucial steps that help your snowboard perform well in all conditions and is also important for safety and control when riding. Tuning your edges and changing the angles can instantly impact how your board rides and can aid in your improvement as a snowboarder.
Although this maintenance step can be intimidating, it’s not very difficult to learn. Going slow at first with light pressure ensures you get a feeling for the process and can sharpen sections slowly. Sharpening your edges regularly also keeps them in shape and prevents rust from building up on the metal. This, along with regular waxing, will keep your snowboard riding great and help prolong the life of your snowboard.