Ski Vise Tips and Tricks
A collection of vise related tips and tricks sent to us over the years by clever customers. If you have a tip or trick the world should know about, send it to us, you could win free tools (as well as fame and adoration).
Last year I replaced the workbench in our ski patrol room that receives extensive use each season. Prior to clamping ski vises to the 3/4" plywood benchtop, I routed out a space to inlay a 3/8" thick x 4" wide steel plate to run along the full length of the outside edge of the benchtop. I used epoxy and bolts to mount this plate. Not only has this steel plate provided a solid foundation for ski vises to sit on, but the edge of the plate is handy for cleaning wax, p-tex shavings, edge filings, etc. off of scrapers and brushes too.
-Steve H., Laurier, WA
DOUBLE-UP BENCH PLANS
I recently built a ski vise using your “Build Your Own Ski Tuning Bench” plans.
I had a sheet of 3/4”-thick plywood that was wider than the plans called for...so I decided to add a second row of pegs next to the original ones, plus I made a second wooden boot “dummy” plate. Now I can use it to put a pair of skis in the vise at the same time to save me time waxing and tuning. Thanks for the great plans.
-Bill M., Fort Payne, AL.
Cap and radial sidewall skis keep popping out of my old pair of steel vise jaws. I use heavy rubber bands (brake hold-downs) and slip one over the tail of my ski. Then I put the ski in my vises, and wrap this band down and under the rear vise body. This applies enough pressure to pull down the ski. I start at the tip and work down to this band, then switch it to the front vise body and finish tuning the ski tail.
-Martin S., Erie, PA
REMEDY FOR OLD SKI VISES
I use duct tape to help keep cap skis in my old pair of ski vises. I take a short piece and roll it up sticky side out. Place it in the vise jaw before tightening the ski in the jaws. If you don't over tighten, the tape conforms to the sloping ski sidewall and helps hold it pretty firmly in place.
-Paul S., Port Jefferson, NY
BETTER SKI VISE GRIP
When using old style ski vises, newer cap ski models will often want to pop out. To help keep skis in the vise jaws, cut small pieces of some sticky-back boot-fitting foam sheets or pads, and stick them on the inside of the metal vise jaws...they might just be what you need.
-Fred R., Bellevue, WA
How do you get your cap or trapezoidal sidewall skis to keep from popping out of your old ski vises? Pencil out a jig on a couple 1"x4" pieces of wood to match the shape of your boot soles, then cut them out with a jig saw and sand them down. Snap 'em into your ski bindings, and grip the wood, rather than the ski sidewall, in the ski vise...it'll hold like there's no tomorrow.
-J. P., Visalia, CA
Cap skis, as well as those using underbinding plates, are sometimes difficult, if not impossible, to securely grip (base up) in a pair of traditional vises...but here's a trick that can help. Position the vises as usual on your workbench, then open the jaws wide enough to grip not only the ski sidewalls, but the steel edges of the ski as well, if you can. In other words, the entire ski is lowered down into the vise jaws.
When you start base edge filing or beveling... or base sanding, structuring or flattening... loosen the grip of the vise closest to the ski tip, lift the ski up high enough so the vise jaws only "cradle" the sidewalls there and leave the edges exposed, but keep the other vise clamped snug near the tail of the ski. As you work back toward the ski tail, reverse this arrangement so the ski tip is again snugly gripped in the front vise, while the rear vise grip is loosened and the ski is raised up to "cradle" the sidewalls there.
When waxing and scraping, move the two vises closer together so you can try to get a little grip on the thicker cap sidewalls there. This technique may not look especially pretty or professional, but it's surprisingly effective once you get it down.
-Duncan G., Ontario, Canada
The heel units of some ski bindings are pretty big...when you try to clamp the ski they're mounted on in a ski vise, the heel unit doesn't allow enough room for the ski to seat properly in the vise jaws. You can resolve this problem by slipping a 1/2" to 3/4" thick wood block between the workbench top and the ski vise before clamping the vise to the workbench. It effectively raises the ski vise higher off the bench to accommodate these bigger bindings.
-Mark S., Fair Oaks, CA
D-I-Y SKI/BOARD VISE
I made two simple wood supports from 2 x 6” scraps that rest (or can be clamped) on a workbench. They feature a strip of rubber bath mat on top to create friction, and you set your skis or snowboard atop that for waxing or basic tuning needs.
- Bill R., Bay Village, OH
HOMEMADE SKI VISE
A makeshift ski vise can be fashioned by opening the leaves of a dining table about 18" (or the distance from the front of your toepiece to the back of your heelpiece), then laying some nonslip rubber-like mat (like Tool-Mate) down over the table halves. Set your ski base up with your bindings in the table gap, or turn them diagonally as necessary if the leaves don't open wide enough and you now have your skis secured base up on a non-skid surface. This technique can also be tried using 2 end tables, nightstands, sawhorses, etc.
-Peter D., Merrimack, NH
MAKESHIFT SKI VISE
When travelling, I sometimes use the motel sink and counter to tune my gear. I use towels to help support the skis if necessary and lay newspaper under everything to keep the mess to a minimum.
-Gail S., Wenatchee, WA
SKI BRAKE RETAINERS
A good ski brake retainer can be fashioned from a short length of 12 or 14 gauge three-strand electrical wire. The plastic cover over the wire protects both the skis and your hands from scratches and the wire is flexible but strong enough to hold the ski brakes up and out of the way.
-Kirk N., Allentown, PA
MORE SKI BRAKE RETAINERS
Other items you can use for ski-brake retainers as suggested by our readers:
*short length of coat hanger wire
*large rubber O-ring
*long velcro ski straps
*bicycle innertube section
*rubber band from broccoli bunch
*bicycle pedal toe-strap
SKI BRAKE REMINDER
If you install taller lifter plates under your alpine ski bindings, make sure your ski brake arms are still long enough to work effectively!
I've found a very effective ski brake retainer (at least for Tyrolia bindings) is the metal hook paint can opener found at paint stores. The little bend on the end keeps the retainer from slipping off, the loop on the other end makes removal easy, the length of the opener is about the width of a ski, and the price of these items is very attractive...usually free!
-John S., Okermos, MI