How to Perform Snowboard Base Repairs at Home
If you've taken a chunk out of the bottom of your snowboard but can't make it to the ski shop for repairs, you just might be able to fix it at home!
So you rode over a few rocks on your way down the mountain that took some chunks out of your snowboard. Maybe you don’t have the time or the money to take it to a repair shop for a full tune, or maybe you are just a die hard do-it-yourselfer who enjoys fixing things. I get it! Scraping together pennies as a snow bum has forced me to get pretty resourceful when it comes to snowboard repairs, and it has been a pretty rewarding experience. Sometimes I have more fun fixing my snowboard than I do riding it (only sometimes). In this article I'll give you step by step instructions and some helpful hints on how to do snowboard base repairs.
First, I'll say that a ski shop is going to be better equipped to handle any of these problems, but that doesn't mean you can't fix them yourself. There is really only one thing that you won't be able to do without some heavy machinery, and that is to put structure back into your base after a repair with a stone grind. Any ski shop that does repairs will have a base grinder that will be able to do this, but it is not essential to get you back on the mountain.
So, what kind of damage will take your board out of commission and stop you from going out and slippy sliding down the mountain? A core shot is when a chunk gets taken out of your base big enough to expose the core material of your board. If you have a core shot you'll need a base weld to ensure that the core doesn't absorb moisture from the snow and start to warp. A core shot needs to be repaired before you can ride your board again. If you have deep scratches in the base of your snowboard that do not expose any base material, you are still okay to hit the mountain; however, if you want to fill those gashes with p-tex (p-tex is the plastic material that your base is made out of) to prevent them from getting deeper (eventually exposing base material), that is probably the easiest and most fun repair you can do on your own.
So, here we go...
Before you start any repairs, you'll need a good work space where you can lay your board top sheet down without it rocking from side to side. A sturdy, waist height workbench and two pieces of 4x4 plywood a little longer than the width of your board will get the job done pretty well. You can add some strips of carpet or non-abrasive fabric to the tops of the 4x4s so you don't scratch up your top sheet while working on your board.
Your workspace should be room temperature. If the room is too cold it will cause your p-tex and other materials you're working with to cool down and contract too quickly, which can cause problems.
Ensure that your work space has good ventilation. You will be working with chemicals and lighting things on fire that you really don't want to inhale.
Think About It
Having a designated workspace will not only prevent you from ruining your kitchen table, it will also enable you to lay out your tools and materials in a neat and organized manner so that you can think through the process of the repair and, hopefully, avoid screwing it up.
Before you start any repair, you should mentally walk through the process step by step. Write them down on paper, if it helps, or keep this article handy for reference. Take your time. Rushing through a snowboard repair can lead to costly mistakes that leave your board in worse shape than before you started.
Wear safety glasses and gloves to protect your eyeballs and fingers from harmful chemicals and sharp edges. I prefer nitrile gloves. They are more durable than latex gloves, and they are disposable.
Consider wearing an apron while in the workshop to avoid ruining your clothes. It will also make you feel like a pro snowboard mechanic (or a mad scientist).
Cleaning the board thoroughly will remove any contaminants that may interfere with the bonding of your repair materials to the base of the board. It will also allow you to assess the damage that needs to be repaired. More than once, I have been sure I needed a base weld before cleaning my board, only to discover after further investigation that what I thought was base material peeking through was actually just dirt or small pebbles. This brings me to the next step.
Assess The Damage
Set your board down on your workbench, make sure you have good lighting, and take a good, long look at the base of your board to identify any and all of the damaged areas. You may notice something that didn’t seem apparent at first glance. If you're lucky, you’ll decide that the damage isn’t that bad and that a repair isn’t even necessary.
Let’s pretend that there is a board in front of us that needs some major work. The base material has been over more than a few rocks. There are some deep gashes, and a big core shot with a five inch patch of exposed base material. This thing needs some work.
Here is what you’ll need:
P-tex Base Repair
We'll start with p-tex filling since it will be the first step in any of the other repairs I'll discuss in this article.
Here are the supplies you'll need:
- Base cleaner and rag
- P-tex repair material / P-tex stick
- Steel scraper
- Propane torch (a lighter will do in a pinch, but it won't look as good.)
Before you start filling every nook and cranny in your base, remember that you only need to fill in the gashes and scrapes that are close to exposing base material or deep enough to affect the ride of the board. Keep in mind that the more p-tex you drip onto the base of the board, the more time you will spend scraping it off. Do not fill core shots with p-tex until you are ready to start your base welds.
Now that you have identified which spots only need p-tex filling, you can fire up your propane torch. Start heating up your stick of p-tex on one end until it starts to melt into liquid and begin dripping this liquid into the gashes that need to be filled. You can hold your metal scrapper underneath your dripping p-tex stick in between fills so that you aren’t oozing p-tex all over your work space.
When you are done filling gashes, let the material cool down to room temperature. Once the base has cooled you can use your metal scraper to scrape off excess p-tex. Be careful to only scrape the material off the top, leaving a level surface with your factory base material. This will take multiple passes and it probably still won’t be perfect, but hopefully it will look better than before you started and prevent future problems. In order to get your base completely level again (or as close as possible to it) you’ll need to get a base grind. This will be included in most “full tune” packages at your local ski shop.
If you are wondering why you can’t just fill a core shot will p-tex, it’s because p-tex alone won’t stick to the base material, and it will fall out after one to two runs on the mountain.
There are many differing opinions on the best way to do a base weld. Many shops use a base weld gun. Some people will glue in base material patches for larger core shots. The method that I am going to describe requires less materials and time. This means it will cost you less money and get you back out on the mountain in under 24 hours.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Base cleaner and rag
- P-tex repair material / P-tex stick
- Steel scraper
- Propane torch
- Five-minute epoxy (it won’t last quite as long as the 24 hour epoxy but it is pretty darn strong and should last at least a couple seasons)
- Razor blade or exacto knife
Start by identifying the area that needs to be base welded. Clean the area to make sure it is free of dirt and wax.
Next you can rough up the exposed core and surrounding base material inside the gouge using your razor blade. Epoxy and p-tex will bond better to surfaces that are not smooth. Prep your epoxy by referencing the instructions on the packaging, but be ready to use it as soon as it is prepared. Five-minute epoxy will get you out on the mountain faster, but it also dries very quickly, making the timing very delicate to work around.
Apply a very thin coating of epoxy, covering the exposed base material. Keep in mind that you need to leave room in the gouge for a layer of p-tex as well. Fill in the rest of the gouge using a p-tex stick exactly as I instructed you above. I prefer to fill in the p-tex while the epoxy is still drying, but others believe you should wait until it is completely hardened and rough it up with your razor blade first. I’ve seen both methods work successfully.
After you’ve done all of your base repairs you’ll need to give your board a fresh coat of wax.
So, what did you think? Do you feel prepared to do a base repair on your own snowboard or did you decide to take it to a repair shop? Did you start a repair and run into some problems halfway through? If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or confessions I would love to hear them. You can click on the link to my expert profile and live chat with me directly! If you're looking to find the perfect gear for you, reach out to a Snowboard expert here on Curated for free, personalized advice and recommendations.