Whether you’re a touring novice or a backcountry warrior, learning how to tune a splitboard properly is an important skillset that all splitboarders should master.
Not only does a well-tuned splitboard ride smoother and faster, regular splitboard maintenance also ensures safety and reliability when it matters most. Fortunately, in many ways tuning a splitboard is like tuning a regular snowboard so home tuners should already have the basic knowledge and tools.
In this guide, we will review how to tune a splitboard, including when to tune, how to tune and detune edges, how to wax a splitboard, and some general splitboard binding/hardware maintenance. It is also worth noting that unless otherwise stated, the recommendations in this guide are specific to factory splitboards with metal inside edges.
How often should you tune your splitboard?
This mostly comes down to personal preference, but at a minimum, we recommend tuning your splitboard after every three uses and at the beginning and end of the season. With that said, if you regularly ride rocky terrain or low coverage snowpack in the backcountry then you may want to consider tuning more frequently.
Another factor to consider is the weather. Waxes are primarily designed to be most effective within specific temperature ranges so if you’re planning a tour during a big warm front and you’re currently rocking a cold-weather wax you may want to consider a quick tune (or vice versa).
How to Tune a Splitboard: Edge Maintenance
The terrain you ride (inbounds versus backcountry) will usually dictate how sharp your edges should be, but in general, the outside edges should be sharp, and the inside edges should be less sharp; this approach will allow you fully utilize your inside edges on the uphill and reduce the likelihood of inside edge drag on the downhill.
Also, remember that edge sharpening is effectively removing tiny amounts of metal so a lot of sharpening over time can result in a wider seam between the individual skis—easy does it. Once you are satisfied with your edge sharpness, maintaining splitboard edges is mostly about keeping them free of burrs and clear from rust.
Tuning Splitboard Edges: A Step-by-Step Guide
Tuning splitboard edges should be a fairly straightforward task for anyone who has tuned a regular snowboard, but with the inside edges there are a few extra things to consider. Follow this easy step-by-step guide to get your splitboard edges dialed in.
- Gummy stone
- File Guide (or Edge Tuning Tool)
- Tuning Vises
- Clean up the edges
- Work out the imperfections
1) Clean up the Edges
Break down your splitboard into two skis (touring mode) and tune each ski separately. Securely position the ski in your tuning vises and make sure there’s no wiggle or wobble that would cause any issues. Then gently run the file guide along the outside edge (from nose to tail) using long, smooth strokes. Focus on getting rid of any large burrs. If necessary, repeat the process for the inside edge. Repeat the process for the second ski.
Finish up this step by running a damp towel along all the edges to remove any lingering metal shavings.
2) Work out the Imperfections
With the ski securely situated in the vises, run the gummy stone lengthwise along the entire outside edge 3-5 times. You will feel the stone working out the smaller imperfections; repeat on the inside edge. Swap out for the other ski and perform the same task.
3) Sharpen the Edges
To sharpen the outer edges, hold the edge tuning tool flat against the base of the split ski so the metal file is flush against the edge. Next, run the tool from nose to tail along the length of the edge 3-5 times using long, smooth strokes. It is unlikely that the inside edges need additional sharpening, but you are free to tune those according to your personal preference.
It is important to detune splitboard edges to align with the intended terrain and conditions. For outside edges, it is common to detune the contact points so they are less catchy when riding downhill. For inside edges, it is common to detune the length of the board.
To detune, hold the metal file against the edge at different angles with medium pressure and stroke back and forth along the zone you are detuning; rotating the file between strokes will create the rounded edge that we’re shooting for. Try to complete your detuning in as few strokes as possible to reduce the amount of metal that is removed (typically 4-6 strokes).
Pro tip: Detune the entirety of the inside edges except for a short section directly beneath where your feet are located in touring mode to generate reliable grip when sidehilling.
Waxing Splitboards: A Step-by-Step Guide
A smooth base is a fast base. Minor wear and tear to the base of your splitboard is normal and most of the time, a fresh wax is all you need to keep your turns effortless. Check the base of your splitboard for visible dirt, sap, and oils; also, look for dry areas, which often first appear along the contact points. If you discover any of these issues it is probably time to wax your splitboard.
- Clean up the edges
- Prepare for waxing
- Apply wax
- Scrape the wax off
- Buff smooth
Step 1: Clean up the Edges
Break down your splitboard into two skis (touring mode) and tune each ski separately. Securely position the ski in your tuning vises and make sure there’s no wiggle or wobble that would cause any issues. Then gently run the fileguide along the outside edge (from nose to tail) using long, smooth strokes. Focus on getting rid of any burrs. If necessary, repeat the process for the inside edge. Repeat the process for the second ski.
Step 2: Prepare for Waxing
Next, wipe down the base of each split ski using a clean rag and some citrus-based cleaner to remove any contaminates, impurities, and edge shavings. This is an important step that is often overlooked but can significantly improve a splitboard base’s ability to absorb wax.
Step 3: Apply Wax
We recommend a wax-specific iron to better control the melting temperature, but we all started as broke snowboard bums using thriftstore clothing irons and can vouch for the fact that they work in a pinch. Note that most waxes will list a recommended iron temperature on the packaging but if you’re unsure it’s best to start on a medium heat setting.
Holding the iron at a slight angle about four inches above the splitboard ski, press a piece of wax against the bottom of the iron and let it drip onto the base. Move from tip to tail, dripping wax evenly to cover most of the base.
Next, place the iron directly onto the base of the splitboard ski and begin spreading out the wax with smooth consistent strokes. Continue spreading out the wax until the entire base is covered, from edge to edge and nose to tail. If you find areas that are uncovered or extremely dry you can add a few more drips of wax as needed. Never hold the iron in one place for too long to avoid damaging the base of the board.
Once the base of the first ski is covered completely, swap it out for the other split ski and repeat the process. Once both skis are completely coated, let the wax dry and cool a bit (slightly warm to the touch is best).
Step 4: Scrape the Wax Off
Double check that your splitboard ski is secure in the tuning vises, and then proceed to begin scraping off the wax layer. Working from nose to tail, press firmly at a slight angle and scrape in overlapping, continuous strokes until there is no visible wax remaining. Don’t forget to remove any wax that may have covered the edges (some scrapers include a notch for this). Repeat the process on the other split ski.
Pro tip: Make sure to completely scrape all of the wax off; wax left on the base can impact how well the glue on your climbing skins performs.
Step 5: Buff Smooth
And finally, finish off your tune with a scouring pad or wax brush. If using a scouring pad, start with a rougher pad first and finish with a smoother pad, buffing from nose to tail. If using a wax brush, 15-20 strokes from nose to tail is usually sufficient.
While this last step is optional, we highly recommend buffing out your wax to maximize performance of the tune.
Splitboard Bindings & Hardware Maintenance
There are more moving parts on a splitboard than a standard snowboard and it’s good to periodically give everything a once-over to make sure all of the components are in working order. Most modern splitboard bindings are pretty bulletproof and require minimal maintenance, but it’s better to discover any issues in the comfort of your garage than on the top of a mountain somewhere.
Check the Bindings
Check every screw in your bindings (strap screws, highback screws, forward lean adjustment screws) and make sure they are all appropriately tight. Also, double-check that the ratchet buckles lock securely and that the teeth on the ladder straps are in good shape.
Reminder: Always hand-tighten screws; never use power tools.
Check the Split Interface
The interface is comprised of the hardware that is attached directly to your splitboard that connects your bindings to your board in both riding and touring modes. Make sure all of the screws and pins are in-place and tight.
Add Spare Parts to Your Pack
Again, it’s unlikely you will need spare splitboard parts while you're out touring, but it is much better to have some and not need them than get stranded somewhere with a tough exit. The potential benefit is well worth the added weight, according to one Burton rider who carried an extra screw for 10 years before needing it (spoiler: it saved the entire trip). Toss an extra screw and bolt in your First Aid kit.
How to Tune a Splitboard: General Tips & Tricks
Once you tune a few times this process will become second nature, but here’s a few things we’ve learned over the years that are helpful for first time tuners:
- Make sure to wax somewhere with good ventilation. Melting wax can give off fumes that, while not necessarily toxic, are probably not great to breathe.
- The right iron temperature makes a huge difference. You want your iron to be just hot enough to melt the wax but not too hot to cause smoke; if your melting wax is producing smoke, your iron is too hot.
- A sharp scraper is crucial. The sharper your scraper is the easier it will be to scrape wax off. In fact, most regular snowboard tuners get a new scraper every season. A dull scraper makes the scraping step much harder and take a lot longer.
- Don’t overdo the wax. All the wax you drip onto your board has to be scraped off. Getting as efficient as possible with applying wax will save you time in scraping and save you money on expensive wax.
- You can recycle wax scrapings. If you scrape over a box or something else to capture scrapings, you can reuse those scrapings for additional tunes to cut costs and reduce your environmental impact.
Looking to get started with home tuning? Burton offers a complete line of tuning products to help get your splitboard dialed.