Breaking Down Mounting Skis
Illustrations by Scott Howard
In life, most simple things can be made very complex, and most complex things can be made very simple. The following steps attempt to provide an answer to a seemingly impossible question: just where, exactly, do you mount your bindings on your skis?
STEP 1: THE SKIS
Ski manufacturers work very hard to produce an amazing product, and they spend a lot of money on research to do so.
When a ski manufacturer gives you a recommended boot sole center, use it. For instance, K2 does a great job of giving you a range of options for sole center seating. They have the traditional mount for performance in powder (further back for float) and a park mount (closer to true center for an even swing weight). It is always advised to double check; measure to see if the manufacturer’s marks are accurate. It is possible that the two marks do not line up. If this is the case, take the difference between the two marks, divide by two and mark that spot as the new boot center.
STEP 2: THE BOOTS
Telemark boot manufacturers often do not provide markings on the boot that indicate where the boot sole center is.
Use an ancient technique that was nearly lost to the ages: measure your boots. Measure from the back of the heel to the front of the toe—just behind the 3-pin holes, not to the front of the duckbill—and divide what you get by two. Measure that distance from either end of the boot, and mark the boot sole center. Now, match the marks from your boot to your ski.
STEP 3: THE MOUNT
Either use a jig or take your skis into a shop.
While eyeballing, using paper jigs and conducting science experiments can all work for the do-it yourselfer, none of these methods work as well as using a proper jig. It’s just the way it is. Make it explicitly clear to the shop tech what you want done to your skis. If you are anal like me, you may even stick around and watch them work. If you typically mount several pairs of skis a year, it may be worth the money to buy a jig from your favorite binding company. Jigs usually run about $150. If your local shop charges $50 for a mount, you will have it paid for in three mounts. Along with the jig, another essential component to the process is the correct drill bit. Usually, the ski will say what size drill bit to use. Even if it doesn’t, the general rule of thumb is to use a 3.5 drill bit on wood core skis and a 4.1 drill bit on skis with metal in them. If the skis have metal in them, you will need to tap the skis first. Tapping creates grooves so the screws go in smoothly and hold strong. Again, you can do it by eye and put tape on a traditional drill bit, but the mount will never be as strong unless you use the proper equipment. Use some waterproof wood glue as a final seal. The glue does not add strength to the mount; however, it will keep water from entering the screw holes and rotting the core from the inside out. Wait at least 12 hours for the glue to dry before you ski on the equipment. These steps cover the basics for all mounts. The tools and techniques have not changed in many years. What has changed immensely is where people put the mount. The location can be debated ad nauseam, but it really comes down to personal preference. After mounting dozens of skis every year, and actually skiing all of them, I can promise the steps listed above will help you find what works best for you.
*This originally appeared in TS #18