The key to enjoying waxing cross-country skis is to set up a nice workspace. At a minimum, you need warmth, good light and a handy place for all your tools and equipment.
The time and money you invest in setting up your wax room will pay off in years of easy, enjoyable ski waxing.
Learning how to glide wax cross-country skis is a big step on the journey to becoming a cross-country skier. In fact, most cross-country skiers never take that step, which is a shame because skis that are regularly waxed are faster and more fun.
When starting, most of us feel overwhelmed by all there is to learn. (Here’s a pep talk, if you need it.) The biggest boost you can give yourself is to set up and equip a nice workspace.
The first and most important question to answer is, where will you wax?
Some cross-country ski areas have a public wax room equipped with a wax table and ski form (holds the ski while you wax). Sometimes there’s even a wax iron available for public use.
If you have access to a public wax room you can save money and space, but the trade off will be a loss of convenience. Having a place to wax your skis at home means you’ll wax your skis more regularly.
People typically set up their wax rooms in their basements, garages or sheds. A wax bench with a long classic ski on it is about 80 x 16 in, or 200 x 40 cm. You probably need a space at least 9 ft or 2.7 metres long so you can move along the length of the ski as you’re working on it.
The bench can be pushed against the wall. You don’t need to be able to walk all around it.
Setting Up Your Wax Room
The secret to enjoying waxing skis is to create a great workspace for yourself. You’ll need:
- Warmth You can set your wax area up outside, in your garage or in your basement, but wherever you work, make sure you’re protected from the weather. You need a heat source so you can work comfortably with bare hands.
- Ventilation Waxing skis creates potentially dangerous fumes. Wax rooms should be well ventilated.
- Lighting It can’t be too bright. We have overhead lighting as well as a construction-style stand light directed at our work area.
- Music Just because it’s nice.
- An Easy to Clean Floor The floor will get messy. It would be a bad idea to set your wax table over a carpet.
- Work Bench and Ski Form Both your wax table and ski form (which holds the ski) needs to be stable and well constructed.
- All the Right Tools in All The Right Places Get organized. Having all your tools and supplies within easy reach makes waxing more fun.
Your bench and wax form are the centerpiece of your wax room and your largest investments. If you plan to travel to ski races, consider buying a portable wax table and ski form. Check the table is stable. Some of the portable tables are flimsy and wobble too much.
Here’s a photo of our wax room to give you an idea of what a wax space can look like. Our wax bench is a portable workbench purchased at a hardware store. It’s stable, but heavy and not ideal for travel. Our ski form (the ski is clamped to it) is handmade locally.
You can probably find instructions online for making your own ski form, if you like doing that sort of thing.
Be sure the binding clip is adjustable for height and the overall length can be adjusted to fit different skis.
Also, here’s a Waxroom Equipment Checklist. Of the items on the list, the iron and the brush will be the most expensive. Treat them well, and they’ll last for years.
It won’t take long to learn to be a decent wax technician. After that, if you want to be a “wax geek”, go for it. There’s endless products and tools for you to experiment with.
If that’s not your thing, don’t worry. Just learn basic hot waxing skills and your skis will be great.
One way to fast track your learning is to attend a waxing demonstration offered by a store or ski club. There’s no better way to learn that by watching someone up close and asking questions about anything that confuses you. It worth attending a few. You’ll learn different tricks and each time you watch you’ll feel less intimidated by the process.
There’s not much that can go wrong. You can apply the wrong wax and not have optimal kick or glide, but those problems are completely reversible. You can fix the problem of your kick wax not working anytime, even when you are out on the ski trail.
The absolutely worst thing that can go wrong is you can burn your ski’s base with an iron that’s too hot. You can avoid that problem by setting the temperature according to the recommended temperature on the glide wax’s packaging.
Learning how to wax skis isn’t a huge challenge. Plenty of people do it, and so can you.