Pep Talk for Beginner Wax Techs
You’re going to be a great wax tech. Let’s make it happen faster.
Here’s some problems people typically face when getting starting with ski waxing.
1. Reluctance to Take On a New Chore
Let’s be honest, you’re not looking for more work and waxing cross-country skis sounds like a time consuming chore.
Waxing skis does take time. But what if you thought of it as a fun and relaxing hobby?
It’s actually a pleasant task you can do while relaxing with music and letting your mind wander.
The other really nice thing about ski waxing is the outcome. When you’re done your skis will look so nice you can’t help but feel excited to go out again asap.
It’s a positive feedback loop: wax your skis, get excited, go for a ski, wax your skis again.
If you’re not convinced, check out Advice for Skiers Who Don’t Want to Wax Skis
2. Start Up Costs
You need a waxing bench, a ski form, an iron, other tools, plus a variety of waxes. Where will you put everything? How will you pay for it? After all, you just spent a lot of money on skis, boots, poles and clothing.
If your local ski area has a wax room, you can save a lot of money by waxing your skis there. After you’ve recovered from your other start up costs and you feel more committed to the sport, then you can invest in Setting Up Your Wax Room.
The bottom line with ski waxing is the nicer you can make your wax room, the more you’ll enjoy ski waxing.
3. Fear of the Hot Iron
It takes nerve to press a hot iron onto your ski base for the first time. It’s normal to worry you’ll ruin your ski.
If your iron has a temperature gauge, set it to the temperature marked on the wax package. If there’s no gauge, set it low and increase it gradually. If the wax smokes, it’s too hot.
Ideally, you’ll watch someone else iron on wax before you try it yourself. Ski stores usually host “Learn to Wax” demos. It’s helpful to attend a few. You’ll pick up different tips from different techs and feel more comfortable about ski waxing as it all become more familiar.
All the major wax companies all have online video tutorials. We link to one we like in the Guide to Glide Waxing.
It’s helpful to see the speed the wax tech moves the iron along the ski’s base and you can pick up a lot of great tips from these videos.
The thing we don’t like is when the wax companies imply you should use a HF (High Fluoro) for everyday waxing. HF waxes are for special races only, when marginal increases in speed matter the most. Regular or LF (Low Fluoro) waxes are all that’s needed for everyday use.
We talk about glide wax selection in the Glide Wax Guide.
The first time you use the iron will be the toughest, but you’ll soon feel comfortable and think nothing of it. It’ll be as easy as ironing a shirt.
4. Fear of the Scraper
Once you iron on the wax, you let it cool then scrape it off with a sharp edged plastic scraper.
You paid good money for that wax. It seems wasteful to scrape it off and throw it away. Plus, it’s tempting to leave some on the ski so you won’t have to wax again so soon.
Your goal is to get the base as shiny and smooth as possible. The wax has to impregnate the pores in the base, not sit on the surface.
Use trial and error to learn how to hold the scraper and how much pressure to apply. You can see how the wax tech holds the scraper in this video, but you can’t see how much pressure he applies. Begin with less pressure then gradually add more.
You have to be quite firm with the scraper to get the wax off, but you don’t want to gouge your base. You’ll get most of the wax off with the scarper, but not all. Some patches will remain.
They’ll come off with the metal brush. If you start brushing and find you didn’t scrape off enough wax, you can always go back and re-work the ski with the scraper.
The first time you glide wax skis will take a long time, but if you finish with a smooth and shiny base it means you did a good job. Congratulations!
Next time you’ll be quicker and before long you’ll be able to wax a pair of skis in under 10 minutes.
5. The Mystique
Professional wax techs and ski wax companies have done an great of job making ski waxing seem incredibly complex. That might be true if your goal is to have the fastest skis at the Olympics, but it’s not true for us.
It’s not difficult to become a competent wax tech. It won’t take long to develop a decent skill level and after that you can progress as far as you like. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Be curious. Be experimental. Learn from others. Every excellent wax techs started out as a beginner.