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Experience report | Ski building seminar at Build2Ride

The dream of self-made skis comes true...

by Alex Schober 11/23/2015
What skier doesn't dream of owning a ski that they have built and designed themselves? From the base to the length, waist, stiffness and design - everything is tailored to your own wishes. DREAMY! A small Bavarian company is now turning this dream into reality: at Build2Ride in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, you can build your own (winter) sports equipment as part of a two-day workshop with a little bit of manual skill. Of course, we didn't want to miss out on this and paid the guys in Garmisch a visit.

What skier doesn't dream of owning a ski that they have built and designed themselves? From the base to the length, waist, stiffness and design - everything is tailored to your own wishes. DREAMY! A small Bavarian company is now turning this dream into reality: at Build2Ride in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, you can build your own (winter) sports equipment in a two-day workshop with a little bit of manual skill. Of course, we didn't want to miss out on this and paid a visit to the guys in Garmisch.first day: First things first: For chronic late risers (like me), the "early" start time (08:30am) on Saturday morning may seem daunting at first! But the guys from Build2Ride had of course thought of that and got everyone in a great mood right from the start with freshly brewed coffee. There was also a lot on the agenda on the first day of the ski building seminar First, the general structure of a ski was explained to the course participants and demonstrated using a model. The edges were then attached to the pre-cut base, which required a little effort and skill, as the steel edges sometimes didn't bend the way they should have.

The steel edges are temporarily fixed to the decking with superglue

After some time, all four edges were finally attached to the bases and the next work step could begin: Cutting the fiberglass mats and the vacuum bags, which we would later need to press the skis! The participants were divided into two groups so that the cutting could go quickly and everyone had the required fiberglass mats and the vacuum bag to hand as quickly as possible.
As fiberglass mats of different thicknesses have different effects on the stiffness of the ski, we discussed with one of the leaders at the beginning of the seminar which properties we expected from our skis and which thickness of fiberglass mat was suitable accordingly. In the next step, the molds were covered with foil so that no resin could stick to them. The press molds were already equipped with the appropriate blades for the ski, but could be subsequently adapted to individual requirements. For example, if the ski was to have a pronounced rocker, an additional wooden block was placed under the mold at the front and rear ends to give the ski the necessary shape. The same applied to the preload: a small wooden block in the middle under the binding ensured positive preload.

Working out the correct preload

But before we got back to work, we first had a short lunch break on the agenda. Thanks to the fantastic weather, we were able to enjoy our meat loaf in the sun on the beer benches in front of the workshop and have a relaxing shandy.

The resin-hardener mixture is distributed on the skis using small rollers

A short time later, however, the work continued: after the skis had been cleaned with acetone, two of the leaders, Flo and Michi, mixed the resin with the hardener and the first layer of fiberglass was applied to the skis. This was done as follows: First generously smear the base, then place the fiberglass mat on top and again generously pour resin over it and spread. The next layer was the wood core. The guys from B2R swear by ash wood as a core material, as it has a better force/stress distribution than other woods (such as those used in commercially available skis with a wooden core) or foam cores. The procedure for the wood core was very similar to gluing on the fiberglass mat: first coat one side, lay it down and then coat the surface with a sufficient resin-hardener mixture so that the next layer of fiberglass mat adheres well to the core. Depending on individual requirements, a printed fleece (for a motif as a design) or a wood veneer was then applied as the final "solid" layer and coated with resin again. This meant that there were almost no limits to the design and anything from a dark acacia wood look to the final summit photo could be "printed" or applied to the ski. Now it was time to use the vacuum bags that had been cut and glued in the morning: Each press mold and ski went into its own bag, was sealed and then connected to a vacuum compressor, which sucked out the air. The extraction of the air was strictly monitored, as care had to be taken to ensure that the vacuum bag was not damaged and/or trapped between the ski and the mold. As soon as the air is "out", the pressure inside the bag is minus 0.9 bar, which corresponds to a pressure of approx. 4.5 tons per square metre. Under this pressure, the skis nestle perfectly into the desired shape and can harden overnight at around 60 degrees. Second day: The second day started just as early as the first, but thanks to the coffee and meat loaf left over from the previous day, the mood was great again and we got off to a highly motivated start. The first step on the second day of the seminar was the so-called "Bescherung": Each participant was allowed to unpack their now hardened ski from the vacuum bag and admire their work for the first time. The glued-together "something" made of wood, base, fiberglass and resin does not yet bear much resemblance to a finished ski, but that should change after sawing it out. After all participants had been professionally instructed in the use of the jigsaw, they worked in teams of two on a pair of skis. One person fixed the board to the table and the other carefully sawed along the edges of the skis with the saw. This sounded difficult at first, but in the end it was relatively easy to master. The steel edges guided the saw along the ski almost independently and if you did get a little off course, this could be corrected during the subsequent sanding.

Almost finished - only the sealing varnish is missing

As the surface of the skis was still relatively unclean after curing in the vacuum bag, it was then sanded smooth. Each participant was given sandpaper of different thicknesses and, if required, a sanding machine. As soon as they were satisfied with the result, the ski was sealed with boat varnish and then put back into the drying oven to harden. The waiting time was passed comfortably with a beer in the sun, but the anticipation of the finished skis made the minutes pass very slowly... Once the curing time had finally elapsed after what felt like an eternity, the almost finished skis were taken to the service department along with the selected bindings and ski boots. There, a professional structure grind was applied, the edges sanded, the bindings fitted and the bindings adjusted. In the meantime, a delicious lunch was served and another sunbath on the roof terrace of the inn shortened the waiting time. Earlier than planned, Flo called and announced the good news: "The skis are ready!"" The tension suddenly rose and the anticipation shot up among all the course participants. Together we made our way to the B2R store in Ludwigstraße in the Partenkirchen district. There they were: ten self-made, individually designed pairs of skis! The joy and relief that the work of the last two days had paid off was written all over the faces of every course participant. Every single pair looked great and immediately aroused anticipation for the first turns in the snow. Statements like "I'm going to cry so much when the first scratch is in there" were not uncommon - and that in an all-male group ;)

Magnificent specimens! The hard work of the last few days has definitely paid off!

This workshop really gave you a very special connection to your skis. Once you've seen with your own eyes how they are made and how much heart, sweat and effort goes into them, you see them with completely different eyes! Without a doubt, this was a unique experience that I can recommend to everyone! The seminar alone was so much fun and then there was the fact that you really have your OWN ski - who can say that? I would like to take this opportunity to thank the guys from Build2Ride once again, whose expertise, great atmosphere and fantastic concept ensured that not only every ski was a success, but that the whole weekend was a lot of fun. Thank you on behalf of all course participants and PowderGuide.com

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This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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