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Bindings for Alpine, Telemark and Snowboard Tips

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how to maintain ski bindings
How to Tune, Wax & Repair Database
Binding Tips
Peruse answers to common questions below, as well as our tips collected over the years from our wisened customers around the world.
Tip: Use CTRL-F to find a word you are interested in. .
BINDING CHECKLIST
  • Check bindings each time you ski for loose or protruding screws, missing parts, worn or damaged anti-friction device. Be sure brake arms operate without interference.
  • Before stepping into bindings, clean both boots and bindings of ice, snow and dirt. Do not transport bindings on car-top carriers without protection from road salt, grime and other contaminates.
  • Use silicon binding lubricant spray on your bindings at least several times a season. Do this as well on boots at all points that contact the bindings. Wipe off excess with a clean rag.
  • Squirt a dab of Tognar or Salomon glue in screw holes before mounting or remounting bindings. It creates a waterproof seal when dry, will not stop you from removing a binding screw again, and is not harmful to any ski core. The only exception is aluminum honeycomb cores that require epoxy and a syringe.
  • Some folks say it's good to lower the release settings on bindings at the end of each season to give the binding springs a rest. Most modern bindings are designed to perform consistently season after season without backing off on settings, but it doesn't hurt to relax the springs, especially if they're usually set near the top of their adjustment range. Just be sure to return them to the correct setting and have them checked by a certified technician at a ski shop before taking 'em out the next season.
  • Know your DIN - The DIN scale gives numeric value to a ski binding's release tension. A binding set to DIN number 1 will release easily when skiers encounter trouble. A binding set to DIN number 15 (a racing setting) won't release unless there is extraordinary force present. Your binding's DIN setting should be determined and set only by a qualified ski shop technician. Age, sex, body weight, skiing ability and previous injuries are all factored into a proper setting.

ALPINE SKI BINDINGS

HISTORY OF BINDINGS
Here's a brief look at some developments in alpine ski bindings over the years. Bear in mind that binding companies like to debate "who came out with this idea first", so these dates may be contested by some, but we think they're pretty accurate...1898- Geze develops first ski binding. 1950- Look Nevada introduces first turntable heel. 1971- Salomon unveils first automatic step-in heel (Salomon 444). 1975- Tyrolia develops first (and only) diagonal release heel. 1980- Ess Var makes first binding that moves fore/aft on the ski as one unit...also first free-flexing heel. 1982- Geze has first vertical toe release in a conventional binding. 1985- Marker uses first gliding AFD (anti-friction device). 1992- Marker introduces firt binding to offer three ski flex adjustments. 1993- Salomon unveils first binding with adjustable dampening capability. 

MOUNTING NEW SKIS
Because alpine skis are still mostly handmade objects, don't assume they'll always have identical side-cuts on each side...even if they are supposed to. Before mounting bindings on new skis, determine which should be the left and right ski to maximize the sidecut they offer. To determine this, set the two skis down on their bases side-by-side on a workbench so they touch at the tip and tail, and measure the gap between them at the waist. Make a note of this. Then reverse their positions on the bench and measure the gap at the waist again. Any different? If so, pick the best left/right ski arrangement to take advantage of the more pronounced sidecut for greater turning ease.

 

BINDING LOCATIONS
Mounting a nordic or alpine ski biding 2-3cm off can turn a good ski into a dog. On alpine skis, use the manufacturers' guidlines. 

AIR BLAST
I use a can of compressed air to clean off the small files in my bevel tool, as well as blow shavings out of freshly-drilled binding holes.
- Noah Sachs 

REMOUNTING BINDINGS
I’m remounting new bindings on a pair of my skis...they have the same hole pattern as the original bindings. Will it be okay to simply install the new bindings in the old holes, or should I fill the old holes and remount a few centimeters back? I don’t want the screws coming loose since I’m 175 lbs and ski freestyle/terrain park.
- Lorne C.
Unless the original screw holes are stripped or damaged, we’d recommend using them again. If one or two holes are damaged, and your ski has a core (such as wood) that’s compatible with epoxy, you could always make up a small mixture of steel wool and epoxy, put it in the damaged screw holes, then install the bindings. Otherwise you could use helicoils or screw hole inserts for these damaged holes. 
We’d also recommend that you only redrill all new holes a few centimeters back from the original holes as a last resort, since too many holes in the topskin can ‘perforate’ and sometimes structurally weaken a ski...and moving the binding location back could also change ski performance characteristics somewhat, as well. 

TAPPING BINDING SCREW HOLES
On my Volant (metal topskin) skis, I’ve had trouble getting binding screws to hold well, and recently had a separation problem between the internal mounting plate (near the ski core) and metal topskin. I’m not sure if this was due to moisture getting into the screw hole, or internal pressure created by the screw somehow pressing down against the internal mounting plate. How can I avoid this?
- Lee Merkhofer
Always tap binding screw holes before mounting bindings on any skis with a metal topskin or internal layers. Use a #12AB tap (our item #UBT-21916) after drilling the holes with a 4.1 x 9.5mm drill bit (item #SPK-DB49). This will insure that binding screws thread in smoothly through the metal sheets and internal mounting plates, without creating unwanted downward pressure or delaminations. Also, use a good vinyl-base binding screw glue (item #HOL-20475) to guarantee that all screw seals are watertight...as well as help lubricate screws during installation so they thread in smoothly and snug as a bug. BINDING

TORX WRENCH
I have some new Marker bindings on my Volkl skis. The bindings are attached to the skis by a pair of bolts that pass through the ski rails and the bindings. The bolts appear to require a star head-type allen wrench. Do you know what size and type wrench this is, and where to get one?
- Gary Weatherly 
The wrench that fits these (and some other ski/binding combos) is usually a Torx wrench...size T20 (2.5mm)...and can be purchased in most hardware or auto parts stores.

FIXING BASE DIMPLES
When mounting my bindings, I accidentally drilled one binding screw hole a little too deep. The drill bit didn’t go all the way through the p-tex base of the ski, but did raise a pinhead-size protrusion (dimple) in my base. What should I do to fix this?
-Robert Floro, Sydney, Australia 
Well first off, Robert, rest easy...this is not an especially uncommon occurrence, even in ski shops. As long as the surface of the p-tex base is unbroken, you can simply push this dimple back in. Crude as it sounds, we just hold the rounded head of a ball peen hammer against the dimple, then gently tap the opposite end of this ball peen head with another hammer until the dimple is pushed back in. 
If you had drilled all the way through, you could repair it by injecting a tiny bead of epoxy glue just inside the bottom of the hole, then top this off with some metal-grip repair material. Afterwards, you can restructure the base if appearances are important and you want everything to blend together...altho the surface area affected by these mishaps is usually so small that restructuring probably won’t affect performance.

AIM & SHOOT? 
To conveniently store and dispense plastic hole plugs when remounting bindings, we store 'em in a ketchup dispenser and squeeze 'em out when needed.
-Gary Buch, Allspeed Bicycle & Ski, Portland ME 

"ROLLER" DERBY
Removing Deflex plates can be a headache for sure unless you use this technique. First, grab an electric drill and insert a small diameter, round-shafted screwdriver bit in it, then set it aside. Remove all Deflex screws. Gently pry up the rear of the plate with a chisel taking care not to stress the plate to the bending point. Lift it up just far enough to slip the screwdriver bit (in the drill) across the ski under the end of the plate. Turn on your drill slowly, making sure it's turning in the right direction to roll the screwdriver bit forward toward the ski tip. As it rolls, it will disengage the plate in seconds, leaving the ski top unmarred and also nearly free of that messy butyl tape. It really beats the old "pull the string under the plate" routine.
-Chris Lundstrom, FL 

BINDING SCREW FACTS 
The screw used to mount alpine bindings is the metric equivalent of an ANSI #12 AB (measured as .216" x 14...or 5.3 x 1.81mm).

 

LIFT & RISER

 

CONCERNS 
In the beginning there were simple under-binding lifters like Derbyflex. They increased your leverage on a ski and made turning easier. Then came shaped skis, and skiers found that lift plates made carving deep trenches on super-sidecuts easier than ever. But too much height has also brought about some problems. One is that stacking plates reduces the effectiveness of standard ski brakes, which just aren't long enough to dig in the snow to stop a runaway ski. Make sure you get longer brake arms if you're stacking these puppies high. Secondly, although lifts make it easier to turn, they also amplify mistakes...catch an outside edge accidentally and you increase your chances of rocketing into another skier or off-slope into the trees. Yes, it's true that World Cup racers can use lifts and plates to stack up to 55mm above the snow, but remember that these are athletes in top physical condition who can respond with lightning speed to correct mistakes that most of us mere mortals can't. Stack responsibly and ski within your limits for everyone's safety. 

STUBBORN SCREW REMOVAL 
If you encounter a stubborn screw while removing ski or snowboard bindings, and suspect that glue or epoxy was used when the screw was installed, try using a little heat to help "unstick" it. One way is to heat the screw for a few moments using the tip of a soldering pencil or small base repair iron. Another way is to take your trusty electric drill with a dull old drill bit (that's small enough to fit inside the pozidrive flutes in the screw head) and use it with light pressure (no metal shavings should appear) to lightly "drill" the center of the screw head until it warms up (maybe 15 seconds?). At this point, the glue or epoxy should soften enough to let you remove the screw easily with a screwdriver.
-Robert Hills, Hudson, NY

EXTRA GRIP 
For extra grip when using screwdrivers, put an extra heavy-duty rubber band around the
handle.
-Dan Ferraro, Highland Mills, NY

MAKESHIFT CANT STRIPS 
I use old ski goggle lenses to make cant strips. After first determining how much cant I need for each foot, and which side (in or outside) needs to be lifted, I take and use flat strips of lens and put a layer (or more if necessary) under one side of the toe piece, and another under the heel unit. Be sure to place the strips so they don't stick out from under the bindings.
-Winston Bokor, Park City, UT 

DEFLEX REINSTALLATION TIP
If you need adhesive to reinstall Deflex underbinding plates, you can either try to get a Salomon glue kit for this purpose at your local ski shop, or get some adhesive window caulking at your local hardware store.

 

INJURIES 
Vermont Ski Safety, one of the largest independent ski binding testers in the US, claim today's binding have eliminated about 97% of lower leg injuries compared to twenty years ago. Further, most of those who do sustain injuries are using bindings more than 10 years old. Nowadays, the most common injury is not a broken leg (7% of injuries), but knee sprains...torn ACL's- anterior cruciate ligaments (93% of injuries). Fortunately, many ACL injuries can be avoided if you learn to recognize the danger signals. 

BINDING SCREW TIPS 
A common culprit of binding tear-outs on skis is overtightening the binding screws during mounting. To be precise, use 4-5 newton-meters of force per screw. Also be sure to use the correct drill bit size (3.5mm on most skis, and 4.1mm on skis with hidden top metal sheets); always tap binding holes if the ski has a hidden top metal sheet (or when recommended by the manufacturer); and use a glue that will not damage the ski core (epoxy can damage some foam cores, whereas white glue from Tognar, Salomon...or even Elmers in a pinch...is almost always safe). When in doubt, ask at the shop where you bought your skis for the manufacturers recommendations. 

CUFF 'EM 
An inexpensive binding cover can be made from the legs of an old pair of sweat pants with an elastic cuff. Slide them on over ski bindings with the elastic end facing into the wind when your skis are in a roof rack.
-Sam Maloney, Alder, MT

BOOT DUMMY
Use leftover wood scraps to make a boot template that will fit your ski bindings. 
Then clamp the fixture in a bench vice, shopmate, etc. to secure skis for base repair work. ski boot dummy

OLD TOOTHBRUSHES
Old toothbrushes make good cleaning brushes for ski bindings...they get to those hard-to-reach places where dirt and grime like to settle. They also clean silicon-carbide paper and diamond stones pretty good. 

LONG SKI BRAKES
If you use Deflex, Derbyflex, or other add-on EPB's (extra power boosters) under your alpine ski bindings, make sure your ski brake arms are still long enough to work effectively.

 

 

SWISS CHEESE SKIS
Q. How many times can I plug old holes and drill new ones in order to mount new ski
bindings?
-Dan Servetas, Loudonville, NY
A.Ah, the famous perforation (or swiss cheese) question! Well, as you no doubt can
appreciate, the more holes you drill in a ski, the more you perforate and therefore weaken
it. This means the ski may break more easily in these drilled-out areas...especially if you’re
skiing hard, pounding through moguls or landing lotsa big air hucks.
We recommend that you plug old holes with plastic hole plugs. This will help keep out
water and lend some structural strength, but not as much as the ski material you originally
drilled out.
So the answer really is this...there’s no way to say how many holes your ski can handle,
but the less holes, the better.

 

BINDING COVERS
Makeshift binding covers (to protect bindings during transport on cartop racks) can be made from the sleeves of an old nylon warm-up jacket. Just cut off each sleeve, slide one over each ski binding, and secure the loose ends with a shoe lace or strong rubber band.
-John Yozallinas, Hatboro, PA

 

TELEMARK SKI BINDINGS

MOUNTING TELEMARK BINDINGS
Telemark skis are looking more and more like alpine skis these days in terms of width and sidecut. When mounting freeheel pin and/or cable bindings, use a 3.5mm drill bit for most skis, or a 4.1mm bit (followed by tapping) if the ski has a hidden top metal sheet. Use glue in binding holes to prevent any potential damage to ski core materials. Add a 5/16" (8mm) or thicker lift plate under the binding and heel pad to give your boot more clearance above the snow and help prevent losing an edge ("boot-out") on steep slopes... but make sure all mounting screws are long enough to handle this extra height. In a telemark turn, the trailing ski sits against the slope at a greater angle, increasing the chance of losing an edge...hence the advantage of using binding lifts.

MACHINE THREADED SKI BINDING INSERTS
In a departure from using tradional wood-thread screws, K2 is putting snowboard-style (machine-thread) inserts in their telemark skis as of 2003. Bindings are mounted using a 3mm hex wrench (available at most hardware or auto parts stondings res) for the special (M5 x .8 x 16) countersunk screws. The mounting plate has a 4-hole pattern for BD and G3 Targa bindings...plus K2 is offering a shim that adapts to handle nordic 3-hole patterns for Voile, Riva and Rottefella bindings. This shim also has a slot in the rear that accommodates Dynafit ski crampons.
Line is doing the same on their alpine skis, but use screws with a pozidrive head instead. 

STUCK SCREWS 
Some binding screws really resist being unscrewed from skis...especially if they were installed using epoxy glue. To make this job easier, use your base repair iron to heat the head of the screw just a bit...this will often suffice to slightly melt the old epoxy and let you remove the screw.
-Suren Holbeck, Hayfork, CA 

TELEMARK GEAR TIPS
Telemark ski bindings frequently ice up under the ball of your foot. To help prevent this, apply clear or brown plastic packaging tape to the binding and/or any other surface underfoot. The tape is slick enough to prevent snow from adhering, and will last 20 or more days.
-Marcus Shell, Whistler, B.C., Canada

TELE SKI SWEET SPOT
Rottefella offers an underbinding plate called the Tele-Spacer, which allows telemark skiers to adjust the position of their bindings in order to better locate the ‘sweet spot’ on the ski. A track lets you move the binding about 25mm back and forth, offering multiple binding locations without having to drill extra mounting holes.
As a general rule...moving bindings forward usually makes turn initiation easier, but can affect soft snow flotation. Moving bindings back usually makes turn initiation harder, but can allow a more effective carve. 

FIXING BASE DIMPLES
When mounting my bindings, I accidentally drilled one binding screw hole a little too deep. The drill bit didn’t go all the way through the p-tex base of the ski, but did raise a pinhead-size protrusion (dimple) in my base. What should I do to fix this?
-Robert Floro, Sydney, Australia 

Well first off, Robert, rest easy...this is not an especially uncommon occurrence, even in ski shops. As long as the surface of the p-tex base is unbroken, you can simply push this dimple back in. Crude as it sounds, we just hold the rounded head of a ball peen hammer against the dimple, then gently tap the opposite end of this ball peen head with another hammer until the dimple is pushed back in. 
If you had drilled all the way through, you could repair it by injecting a tiny bead of epoxy glue just inside the bottom of the hole, then top this off with some metal-grip repair material. Afterwards, you can restructure the base if appearances are important and you want everything to blend together...altho the surface area affected by these mishaps is usually so small that restructuring probably won’t affect performance.

SNOWBOARD BINDINGS

 

LOOSE SCREWS
If you have snowboard binding screws that keep coming loose, put a touch of fingernail polish on their threads to create a better bond.
- Philip Engel, email submission

 

GETTIN' WIRED 
When snowboarding, there are just so many nuts and bolts that love to break loose on your bindings at critical moments. For a good sturdy quick fix, keep some lift ticket wire wickets in your pocket...they bend into any shape to fix and hold together those bindings.

SHOP SURGERY 
To help prevent T-nuts from spinning during installation, cut a cross-hatch pattern on the bottom of the T-nut with the tang end of a file. This will help epoxy stick and hold it securely for stronger spin resistance. Or file off two sides of the round insert to create epoxy reservoirs on either side...this can also help. When repairing a blown-out edge section on your ski or snowboard, set the replacement or repaired edge in place using super glue before putting in edge screws. This will bond it securely in place in a fraction of the time it takes epoxy to set up, and let you put in screws without a fight. You'll also find that super glue will make short work of installing p-tex base patches as well.
-Chris Walsh, Boise, ID

ski bindingsSNOWBOARD DRILL MARKS 
If your snowboard isn't correctly pre-drilled for the bindings you want to use, clamp the binding with spring or c-clamps temporarily on the board exactly where you want to mount it. Then take a transfer punch that matches the binding hole diameter (available at a machine supply house) and mark where each hole should be drilled. Remove bindings, drill holes, and then install bindings...the holes should all be perfectly aligned.
-P C Chapman, Rochester, NY 

TAPE TIP 
To help keep snowboard binding screws from loosening, stick some double-sided tape to the bottom of the bindings before screwing them to your board...the extra adhesive can help keep the binding from shifting around and loosening screws prematurely.
-Harold Fantel, McCloud, CA 

ELBOW RELIEF
Most riders carry their snowboards by tucking their elbow inside their front binding. To eliminate pressure on your elbow from this, secure a piece of soft foam to where your arm meets the binding...this is especially helpful if you're lugging your board up the halfpipe time and again.
-Dan Drazen, Portland, OR 

BINDING & BOOT WEAR 
To help prevent binding straps from rubbing and causing wear on soft snowboard boots, I take old mountain-bike inner tubes, cut them into 5-6" long pieces, and split these down the middle. Then I glue and sew them on the outside of the boots all the way around the heels, and near the big and little toe. These rubber patches don't wear quickly and are waterproof, too.
-Greg Olson, Olympia Fields, IL 

T-NUT TIP 
Loose and spinning t-nuts in snowboards are only slightly more annoying than trying to find those 6mm screws to fit them. For an American fix, visit your local hardware store for 1/4" t-nuts (20 thread) and a variety of the same thread size stainless steel cap screws. Use a 3/4" wood bore drill bit and carefully drill just far enough into the base so the t-nut face sits flush with the snowboard base when installed, or a little farther if you'll be covering the nut face with a p-tex plug or graphite/epoxy mix later. If your board has a metal plate inside, you may need to shorten the sharp prongs on the T-nut plate with snips or a file so they don't hit it, but keep 'em sharp enough to penetrate into the core as much as possible. Epoxy and tap the t-nut into place with a rubber mallet or similar so the prongs sink in. Once the epoxy has set up, install the bindings and crank down the screws...no spinning, no stripped threads, and parts are only as far away as your hardware store. And if you need to shorten a screw...first thread on a regular nut before cutting, then cut the screw to length. File off any resulting sharp edges, then work the nut off and on a few times to chase the threads clean.
-Jay Allan, Kodiak, AK 

LOOSE SCREWS 
Have you ever had a bolt or nut fall off your snowboard binding on the slope? The perfect place to carry spares is in any unused holes on the binding straps. You can't fall on them there and hurt yourself and you know they will be there when you need them.
-Steven Thair, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

BINDING SUCK
Frequently you'll find two concave pockets on the base of a snowboard that correlate directly to bindings mounted on the top. Commonly known as binding 'suck', this is a condition created by the binding screws pulling up those sections of the snowboard. Don't bother trying to sand or stone grind your snowboard base perfectly flat in hopes of removing this concavity...it'll remove much too much base and edge material from the rest of your board. Just tune your bases as though these areas didn't exist...chances are you won't even notice 'em when you're shreddin'. 

SNOW UNDERFOOT?
I'm looking for something to clean snow off the bottom of my K2 snowboard boots so I don. t have to bend over and clean it off by hand...otherwise it's tough to get in my step-in bindings. Got any ideas?
-Paul Petro 
Well, Paul, we've seen some boot sole scrapers you can glue on your board, but they looked a little cheesy and wouldn't dig out snow packed up underfoot. So we recommend spraying both your boot soles and bindings with spray lube...this'll help as much as anything to keep snow from sticking in the first place. It also works on ski boot soles and bindings, too. 

CLEVER TRICKS
Carry an extra snowboard binding screw and washer in an unused insert in your board...this way, you’ll always have one with you. If your base gets iced up, use a credit card or season pass card to scrape it off. Soap works like a de-fogger on goggles, and you can find it free in many restrooms. A boot lace or clothing draw-cord can be used as an emergency ski or snowboard leash. For FREE FOOD at resorts, make your own Tomato Soup...5 ketchup packets, 10 creamers, 2 salt packets, 1 pepper packet, and 1 cup hot water...just stir all together and enjoy!
-Randy Lu, Palo Alto, CA 

TIE ONE ON, DUDE
When you've just got off the lift and looking at 2000’ vertical all diamond and double-diamond...then notice your binding strap is broke and the hardware missing...bummer! Instead of suffering, just pull out a plastic tie strap and fix it...awesome, you're on your way!
-Rob Skala, Renton, WA

LOOSE SNOWBOARD BINDINGS
If the bindings keep coming lose on your snowboard bindings, check if you have the washers upside-down. If they’re domed washers, it could be important.
-Nick Kehler 

LOOSE SCREW REMEDY
Do your snowboard binding screws/bolts come loose? To keep them snug, take a candle and melt a little bit of wax. Pour a drop of wax into the hole and quickly rub a Q-tip around in the hole only leaving the threads with wax. Put the screws/bolts in and they’ll stay tight.
-Jason Kroeker, Landmark, Manitoba, Canada