To make skis hold wax longer, you’ll want to build a wax box, or hot box*, which is an oven to bake your boards in. The dry, consistent heat opens up your bases’ pores†, allowing better wax penetration than you’d get with an iron.
To generate heat, you’ll need a 120-volt space heater or a low-profile baseboard heater (about $65), preferably one with a reliable thermostat and timer—otherwise, buy them separately (about $20 each). Get two compact floor fans with four-inch blades (about $25 each). You can find these items at an industrial-supply store like Grainger (http://grainger.com).
The box itself should be compact: a touch longer than your skis and tall and wide enough to hold the fans, heater, and skis. Make it out of wood lined with that silver, space-blanket-like foam insulating material, available at places like Home Depot. Use hinges to allow the box to open from either the top or side.
Position the heater in the middle of the box floor, with the elements facing up. Place a fan on both sides of the heater to blow and suck air. This will create a convection current of hot air circulating throughout the box.
Place a heat shield—a piece of thin sheet metal—a few inches above the heater with enough room for air to move freely. You want a deflector to keep the heat even throughout the box. One way to support the shield is to put four long bolts through the bottom corners of the box. Use metal shelving brackets to hold your skis six inches above the metal plate. It’s OK to stack more brackets for more skis above.
Be sure to set the box away from walls and on a nonflammable surface like concrete. For added safety, you can use bolts drilled into the floor to hold the box off the ground. Or install a backup control to switch the heater off if the box gets too hot.
Use an iron to melt wax onto your bases. Then cook ’em up at about 125 degrees Fahrenheit for four to eight hours for maximum saturation. With harder waxes, you can go up to 140 degrees for no more than two hours.
Nathan Schultz, a cross-country ski racer and owner of Boulder Nordic Sport, has baked more than 3,000 pairs of skis in his shop’s hot box. His is an industrial jobbie that can hold 80 pairs at once. If you don’t want to build your own, he’ll cook your boards for less than $30 (http://bouldernordicsport.com).
*Skiing’s use of the term “hot box” is not an endorsement of hotboxing your parents’ Camry.
†Skiing does not recommend the use of a hot box for deep-pore facial cleanses.
- SKIING MAGAZINE, JANUARY 2009