Shaping The Core

After glueing the core was an even surface but it needs to taper off at each end to almost paper thin. This meant I had a fair amount of planeing to do. A planer is used to decrease the thickness of the wood. I had to first measure out the taper I wanted and draw a line for reference. After this I started up the planer and carefully went back and forth over the wood until I shaved away the line I had drawn.

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I then had to replicate the results on the other piece. It has to be almost perfect. I then redrew the line and followed the same process until It was close to the other one. I then broke out the sander and sanded until they were level.

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Hopefully I will start planeing the other pair next week after I glue them together. Now I just have to worry about finding fiberglass and other building supplies.

The Core

The core is one of the most important parts of the ski. It defines what the ski feels like and how damp or springy it is. In order to build a ski that is entertaining you need a balance of feeling. The type of wood used is the key factor in this. You want a combination of a dense wood to have a bit of dampness as well as a lighter, softer wood to create a more playful feeling. I chose a combination of Maple and Poplar. Maple being the dense wood and Poplar being the softer wood. Once I had the wood I ripped it into one inch segments so that I could glue together the wood in different orders. I decided to glue it with poplar on the inside edge, then a piece of maple followed by another piece of poplar for the middle, and finally a denser wood for the inside edge. I purposely used maple on the inside edge because when skiing you generally have more weight and force on the inside of the downhill ski. Maple is a denser wood so I believe it will hold an edge through a turn more efficiently. No one else is using denser wood on the inside edge to increase edge hold.

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After deciding on the order of the wood I had to glue it all together which proved difficult mainly because the wood is so thin and it had to be lined up almost perfectly. In order to do this I had to make a platform for the wood to rest on while I glued it. After I spread the glue on the edges, I pushed the whole thing together using almost all of the clamps in the wood shop. I had clamps on the sides, as well as clamps on the top in order to make sure the wood would be flat and even when it was done. After clamping I wrapped some of the ski in tape just to get the pressure to spread out instead of being centralized to where the clamp was.

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Eventually the glue dried and I peeled off all of the tape. There was quite a bit of tape. I think we used almost a whole roll.

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I will have to repeat his whole precess next week for the second pair.

Finishing The Molds

The first mold was fairly straight forward. It had a more gradual curve than the second which made it much easier to attach the plywood to the top. However the second mold was a different story. It is a much more defined curve so when I attached the plywood, the wood split at the point where the bend started. Fortunately I came up with a solution which was to cut the split wood in to one inch segments and then screwed each one in.

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I repeated this on both the top of the mold as well. It seems to work well but it is not a smooth of a curve. This could be problematic so when I do finally press the skis I will most likely use a piece of metal on the top and bottom of the skis. Hopefully this will smooth out the tip shape.

I attempted to glue the metal to the wood, but that was unsuccessful mainly because the glue created small lumps under the metal which is not ideal.

Making Molds

I decided to start my ski building process by making molds to shape the skis. I started with a template for the basic outline of the ski in order to help with cutting out materials to a consistent shape. To make the shape I took some measurements from an existing ski in order to understand the proportions of sidecut to width. Having these measurements as a baseline so to speak, I came up with my own design using various ideas that I think will improve the overall feel of the ski. I decided that I wanted to move the widest parts of the ski closer to the middle to reduce the amount of drag from snow. I will also be using some advanced fiber glassing materials in the building process. IMG_20150926_161148

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The next two molds I had to make were for the actual shape that the ski will be formed to. This is where I decided how much tip rise as well as camber underfoot that I would incorporate into the ski. The tip rise affects the skis efficiency in different snow conditions. If there is a good amount of snow or if the snow is heavy you want to have more tip rise. You also want to start the tip rise a bit closer to the center of the ski to increase floating ability over variable conditions. This is what I decided to do in my wider pair of skis as they are meant for powder and heavy snow. This ski also still has some camber under foot to promote good edge hold when the snow does firm up. For my narrower pair of skis I decided to make the tip rise to camber more abrupt and defined because these skis are meant for quick turns in and out of bumps. In this ski I also have more camber because I want to emphasize edge hold which is quite important if you want to make quick and precise turns on hard snow. To make the molds I used 3/4 inch plywood. First I cut out the shape I wanted in about eight six inch wide strips of wood. After they were cut out I made spacers out of two inch thick planks to go in between the pieces of plywood. The whole thing was then glued together. Once the glue dried i filed out the form to try and make the shape consistent. This was a struggle and I realized it was near impossible to make the shape completely consistent so I decided to use thin plywood over the top of the form. This smoothed out the shape considerably. After I screwed in the plywood it was almost good to go. The only remaining thing to do on the form is glue a metal sheet to it so that the epoxy does not stick to the wood. I then repeated the process for the second mold using a different shape. The only change I made to the process was steaming the thin plywood before attempting to bend it to the shape of the form. This worked far better than just screwing it in.

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Steam Box Construction

My original plan was to steam the wood in order to get it to take the shape that I want. I have been informed that because the wood I will be working with is so thin epoxy should be able to hold the shape as well as the ski together. Before I knew this I constructed a steam box which is a devise that steams wood so that it bends more easily. In essence it is a box with a hole in one end for steam to come in by means of an electric teakettle or something similar. On the other end there is a door where you insert wood as well as a meat thermometer to regulate temperature. The whole box has to be built on an incline so that as the steam goes back in to the liquid state of water, the water flows towards the back and out of a small hole drilled in the bottom. The steam also needs to circulate throughout the box so I installed wooden dowels down the center of the box for the wood to rest on. These dowels could not be installed using screws or glue because the screws would let steam out and the glue would deteriorate. I then decided to drill holes halfway through the pine i was using for the construction and sort of wedge the dowels in place. Once the box had been completely assembled I had to find a way to bring steam to the box. At first I used an electric teakettle with a garden hose taped to the hole. This was a failure. The hose melted and no steam entered the box. I then went online and found a sealed kettle with a screw on hose that would lead the steam into the box. This worked fabulously. I reached temperatures in the box of around two hundred degrees. Even though this may no longer be relevant to the project it has its uses.

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