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
I am receiving a new pair of 2018/2019 Solomon QST 92 skis today at 177cm. I will use them for resort skiing (mostly steep bumps and trees), and I plan to mount 22-Designs Vice Bindings on them. I contacted one of the “experts” at Solomon, and was told that due to liability, they can’t tell may anything about where to mount a binding. My local ski shop refuses to mount Telemark bindings (liability). Does anyone have any suggestions on how these bindings should be mounted? I don’t want to overthink it, so If I don’t hear otherwise, I think I’ll just put boot center over the printed center line on the topsheet. Make sense?
Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Laura Gayle Henkel
So in the Conundrum. Bought some DPS skis at a great price. They have very similar turning radius to my Atomics which I like. I am low, old school girl. Agonized over binding placement. DPS guys didn’t really know. Initial thought was maybe forward of center for more power. My local shop suggested back of center. We settled on center. Went a little longer in skis which is appropriate actually for my height but having a hard time controlling in tele turn. Better in downhill. But def need to give it my all to hold. squirrely. Thinking I need to mount forward. I have G3 old bindings. Tried the 22 designs hated. Like to drop the knee. Shop suggests trying Voile Switchbacks before mounting bindings forward. They have the same screw pattern. Thoughts? Bummed. Want these to be the skis but I’m fighting them.
i typically get high AF and then go Sarah Palin on the bitch – drill baby drill
Even after mounting dozens of pairs of skis, I always rethink, question, and re-research what I am doing. This article and Todd’s advice are helpful. Thanks TS and Todd!
Todd – thank you for chiming in on this with some great insight! I’ve been in your shop and know that it the place in Missoula to take your telemark gear. Thanks for tuning in and hope all is well up north.
I once spent an entire hour appointment at Outdoor retailer talking to one ski designer about how they/he determined where to mount a binding on the ski. It was a fascinating conversation that I walked away from with a tiny bit more clarity on how the spot was determined on skis he was building and designing that year. We have been at this for over 43 years and have watched it evolve every year, Under my 16 years of ownership our shop has conservatively mounted in excess of a thousand pair of skis with almost every kind of binding ever made. I only wish I had a photo record of the reinvention of free heel skiing.
I have a couple of comments
1. as the author said, trust the ski designer
2. don’t ask the shop guys to “just do what you think is best” I require all customers to do the research and tell us exactly where they want them mounted if it is a ski we don’t sell. my shop guys don’t have time to spend on the internet researching the worm hole to see what people think, and what some loud mouth internet tweaker thinks is likely not relevant to your style of skiing.
3. rocker changed everything and I mean everything
4. Our final gut check is to see where the ball of the foot (the power point in a carved trailing ski) is relative to the center of the running surface of the ski. as I said Rocker changes everything but the one thing we know is a ski skis better (on more firm snow) if the control point of the ski is somewhere in the near vicinity of the center of the running surface. Since the real beauty of most of the newer ski designs (5 point and rockered) is that they are not total boats on harder snow and actually are skis that old guys like me who still enjoy a carved turn can enjoy.
So we as a FINAL double check before drillng we always mark the point where the ball of the foot is at the center of the running surface, put the boot on the ski and step back and look.
as for buying your own Jig, I have a basement shop full of Jigs that no longer fit skis made, change as they say is constant.
Thank you Todd. You filled in what the article forgot.