When to Sharpen Skis – Not an Easy Decision to Make!

When to Sharpen Skis

Do you usually rent skis but have recently acquired a perfect pair of your own? You might be curious about how often you need to sharpen them.

If you are new to skiing, you may also not be sure how to sharpen your skis and take care of them to ensure maximum performance. 

But this shouldn’t be a problem at all since I’ve got you covered. I’ll show you everything you need to know about when to sharpen your skis in this article. 

If you are a regular skier who skis several weeks per year, you can sharpen the edges once every ski season. 

It’s important to keep in mind that skis are limited to about 5 to 10 times of sharpening before the edges wear off

And when the edges disappear, you’ll need to replace your skis. Now, this may have come as a complete surprise, especially if you are a new skier, but there is no need to worry. 

Let’s first learn why your skis and skis edges need sharpening in the first place. 

Why Do You Need to Sharpen Your Skis?

Why Do You Need to Sharpen Your Skis

As a skier, you need to keep in mind that every skiing event is a task for your skis and their edges. 

Sure, the skis and ski edges can stand the extreme friction that happens as you ski downhill, but they eventually wear off. 

Skiing on hard snow wears down your skis and won’t provide the best control when they are not perfectly flat. 

Furthermore, the skis’ steel edges will definitely become dull as you skid and carve on hard-packed snow. 

Safety comes first in all factors of skiing, so it’s vital to keep the skis and ski edges in optimal condition. The edge should particularly be adequately sharp, especially for black slopes on hard snow. 

When your skis are sharp and the edges perfectly smooth, you’ll enjoy great control and better performance when skiing. 

Another reason why you want to keep your skis and ski edges sharp and tuned is speed control and stopping. 

Sharpening your skis as needed will enhance performance and allow you to control speed, stop properly, and enjoy parallel skiing. 

Remember, the skis will glide smoothly across the icy slopes when the edges are flat, and there are no burrs and scratches. 

Nevertheless, if you usually ski on powder ice, your skis may not need regular sharpening or edge tuning since sharp edges are as necessary as on hard ice. 

How Often You Should Sharpen Your Skis

How Often You Should Sharpen Your Skis

While opinions vary widely on how often you should sharpen your skis, it’s essential to have it in mind that the ski edges will disappear after a certain number of sharpening. 

On average, you can sharpen your skis and side edges about 5 to 10 times before the steel edges disappear. 

So, one professional sharpening every year is ideal for someone who skis a few weeks per season. 

If you usually ski more than twice a year, you may want to consider sharpening your skis twice every ski season. 

Whether you sharpen your ski once or twice a year, you should always use a handheld file to get rid of small burrs, rust, and scratches in the ski edges every 1 to 2 days, depending on the slope’s condition. 

If you are an everyday skier during the season, your skis will need professional sharpening every month or two. You should combine this with regular filling for top-notch performance. 

For enthusiastic hard snow skiers, remember that the side edges need more tuning than the base edge. 

I also recommend seeking advice from the ski tuner if you need more specific advice based on the number of hours you ski every day and skiing conditions. 

How Much It Costs to Sharpen Ski Edges at a Ski Shop

How Much It Costs to Sharpen Ski Edges at a Ski Shop

Ski shops provide skiers with various ski tuning services, from sharpening to waxing. The prices may vary in different shops, depending on the specific services your skis need. 

On average, you can expect to pay around $15 when sharpening your skis at a ski shop. If your ski edges need sharpening, hot waxing, stone grinding, and polishing, you should be ready to pay about $25 or even more. 

When base grinding and other ski tuning procedures are involved, you will pay around $50. 

If you are not willing to pay such amounts for the ski services in the ski shop, but you want an optimally tuned edge all the time, you can buy the tuning tools. 

Buying your own ski tuning tools and doing the maintenance yourself will save you some bucks in the long run. 

All you have to do is ensure that you get high-quality ski sharpeners and tuners to sharpen edges and keep our ski equipment tuned.  

How to Make Your Skis and Ski Edges Last Longer 

How to Make Your Skis and Ski Edges Last Longer 

If you want your skis to serve you for an extended period, here are some essential care tips you can apply:

  • Polish the ski edges regularly with a fine diamond stone. 
  • Bring a pocket stone or small ski file to remove rust, burrs, and scratches when skiing to prevent rust. 
  • Ensure that your skis are dry before zipping them into a bag to prevent rust.
  • Avoid transporting your vulnerable skis on the car roof rack, as this will expose them to salty conditions that will cause rust. 
  • Do not leave your skis exposed to the bright sunlight since the ultraviolet rays will damage the plastic surfaces on the top sheets and the ski base. 
  • Handle the ski gear with care to prevent the sharp ski edges from ruining the wood veneers and plastic surfaces, which are sensitive. 
  • Do not sharpen your race skis and the edges more than needed, as this will cause the edges to disappear soon. 
  • You also want to avoid skiing over stones or pebbles as they can lead to side edge damage. 

Generally, taking care of your skis is crucial not only for longevity but also for ensuring that you have a lot of fun in the snow. 

If you are unsure whether you will sharpen your skis properly, you should take them to professionals for machine tuning. 

While you can easily remove burrs and scratches at home, sharpening the base edges incorrectly can damage the skis and reduce performance. 

If You Don’t Sharpen Your Ski and Ski Edge…

If You Don’t Sharpen Your Ski and Ski Edge…

You might also wonder what will happen if you don’t sharpen your skis. 

Well, the truth is that the skis will become blunt, and skiing will be much harder for you. You’ll need to work hard to keep going downhill, and it will be nearly impossible to slide on hard-packed ice. 

Along with difficulty in sliding in snow conditions, this is what will also happen when you don’t sharpen your skis:

  • Burrs and rust will accumulate on the ski, reducing their lifespan and deteriorating performance. 
  • Uneven skin edges will make it hard for you to maintain balance at high speed when skiing. 
  • It will be even more challenging to do parallel skiing, and gripping through turns will be quite a trouble. 
  • Stopping on steep slopes will demand greater leg strength. 
  • Controlling your speed and taking turns will be problematic since the edge bevel is not established correctly in the tip. 

Is a Sharp Edge Dangerous on Skis? 

Is a Sharp Edge Dangerous on Skis 

Yes, a sharp edge on skis can be dangerous when you don’t wear gloves when carrying your gear. Sharp skis can also hurt you when they knock you at high speed. 

So, you should always wear gloves when handling your sharp skis, as the side edge can easily cut through your skin. 



Q: How Do You Tell If Your Skis Need Sharpening?

A: You can quickly tell if your skis need sharpening through traction. If your skis don’t grip as perfectly as they used to, then you need to sharpen them. 

When the edges start to become dull, you may not notice it instantly since this is a gradual process. But you’ll eventually realize it when they can no longer grip as much you’d like them to. 

Nonetheless, professional skiers can easily notice even a slight difference in grip from one day to the next. 

If you ski on hard-packed snow and feel like your skis are not offering the grip you normally have, then it’s time for an edge tune. Hard ice requires sharp edges for better control. 

Also, when you buy a new pair of skis, you need to test whether they are sharp enough for maximum control. Skis are not always optimally sharp and tuned from the factory. 

But this doesn’t mean you must take the file immediately. Depending on your riding style, you may want to ski for about 5 to 6 hours on normal slope conditions before going over the edges. 

Q: How Often Should You Sharpen and Wax Skis?

A:  How often you should sharpen and wax your skis will depend on several factors, including how regular and where you ski. 

If you ski more than two weeks every ski season, you need to sharpen your skis once a year and stone grind them regularly to remove scratches and burrs. 

But if you ski more than two weeks every season, you should have the edges sharpened about two times annually. Then combine this with regular filling after you have skied. 

Now when it comes to waxing, you don’t have to do it all the time, but some racers do it after every ski day. 

Checking the base is the best way to know whether you need to wax them. When you see a gray residue on the ski’s base, it’s time to apply wax. 

There are different types of wax for ski gear, including universal wax and hot wax. 

If you see snow sticking on the ski’s base, it can also signify the need to wax your skis. 

You should keep in mind that lack of wax on the ski’s base indicates that the edges are not flat anymore and they need grinding. 

Whether you are a professional skier or just do it for recreation, you should always wax your skis before storing them to protect the ski bases from rusting. 

For ski days that involve riding over rocks and stones, you need to wax the skis even more frequently. 

Q: How Many Times Can You Sharpen a Ski?

A: You can have your ski edges sharpened about 5 to 10 times before the edge material wears off.

To know whether your skis need to be sharpened, you can run your finger across the ski sides. If you feel any burrs, it’s time to sharpen and tune your gear. 

Q: Do You Wax or Sharpen Skis First?

A: When tuning your skis, you should sharpen your skis before you wax them. However, this does not mean that you have to wait until you sharpen the skis again to use wax. 

You can always apply wax on your skis throughout the ski season to ensure they glide smoothly. Some ski racers even wax their skis after every ski day. 

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Skiing is a lot of fun and much safer when you gear is in the right conditions. Be sure to keep your skis as sharp as needed for optimum performance. 

If you are unable to tune your skis, don’t hesitate to seek help from professionals at a ski shop. And don’t forget to file your skis regularly to remove burrs after you have skied. 

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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