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Sidewall Profiler

Author:  Kam S. Leang
Date:  May 26, 2005

Summary:  The following article outlines a design for a jig that can be used to put an angled (beveled) profile on a ski's sidewall.  The design simply serves to tilt the ski on its edge and uses a router to trim the sidewall to the desired angle.

Description:   The finishing process of a ski mainly involves the trimming the ski's sidewalls and putting a beveled edge on them.  Although an beveled sidewall is not necessary it does enhance the ski's look and can reduce some weight.   Traditionally one would use a router bit with a angled cutting edge to put the final bevel on the sidewalls.  However, this method may require a handful of custom made router bits if the builder wants the option of beveling sidewalls at different angles.  But by building a simple sidewall profiling jig that clamps onto a router table, the builder can use a single straight router bit to profile sidewalls at any angle.

Building a Sidewall Profiler  The following outlines how to build a basic sidewall profiler.  Please note that you will need a router table.  Pre-fabricated router tables can be bought at any DIY store, such as Home Depot, or you can build a simple table out of wood.

Step 1:  Gather the Following Materials

  • router table

  • router

  • 1/2" diameter straight router bit with 1/2" diameter ball bearing

  • plywood

  • 2 metal hinges

  • 10-32 screws

  • 10-32 T-nuts

Step 2:  Set Up the Router and Table  Install the 1/2" diameter router bit with the 1/2" diameter ball bearing in your router. 

Now, set the router in the table and raise the router bit to its highest position.  Measure the distance from the top edge of the ball bearing to the top surface of your router table.  For this example, the distance was measured to be 5/8 inch.  

This measured value is important because it is the maximum thickness that your plywood can be in order for your jig to work.  If the plywood is too thick then the ski's metal edge will not make contact with the ball bearing and will end up being fed into the cutter (shown in blue above) which will damage the ski's edge.

Step 3:  Prepare Plywood
  The plywood is the surface that your ski will lay upon and is secured to the your router table with clamps.  As previously mentioned the plywood should not be thicker the distance measured in the above step (5/8" for this example).   The wood should be thick enough so that when placed on the plywood a ski's edge will make contact with the ball bearing.  You can see in the following picture that the plywood just barely reaches the ball bearing leaving plenty of room for a ski's edge. 

For this case the final thickness ended up being near 3/8 inch.  A planer helps in quickly reducing the thickness of the plywood, however, it is possible to buy thinner sheets of wood and glue them together to get the desired thickness.   With the plywood at the right thickness, cut two separate panels out.  The size does not matter.  The only requirements are that they can be clamped onto your router table and that the panels are wider than your skis.

After the wood is cut to shape, cut a semi-circle out of one edge of each panel.  These semi-circle locations should coincide with the location of the router bit on your router table. It's easiest if you have a drill bit like the one shown below but a jig saw can be used as well.

You should have something similar to the following picture:

Step 4:  Attach Hinges  The two pieces of plywood will be attached together with metal hinges.   But before you secure the hinges you'll have to chisel out a recess for the hinge so that it sits flush with the wood's surface.  The hinges will screw into the bottom of the plywood so make sure you do the chiseling on this bottom surface.

After all the chiseling is complete, attach the metal hinges to the plywood panels.

Step 5:  Glue Smooth Surface (optional)  To provide for a smoother surface for the ski to glide on you can glue a thin sheet of plastic to the top surface of the wooden panels.


Step 6:  Adjustment Screws  Screws are used to raise or lower one of the hinged panels so that it sits at an angle.  By increasing or decreasing the length of the screws you can adjust the angle at which your ski will be in relation to the router bit.   Begin by placing the 10-32 T-nuts in 2 corners on the bottom side of only one panel as shown below.  Make sure that before the T-nuts are inserted you drill holes (large enough for the 10-32 screws) all the way through the entire panel's thickness.

Step 7:  Clamp the Profiler to Table  Finally, align the profiler jig to the router table and clamp the panel not containing the T-nuts onto the table.

Insert the screws into the T-nuts and adjust to the desired angle.  Construction is finally complete and you can begin beveling the sidewalls of the skis right away.  Remember that when facing the router bit, the ski should run from right to left across the cutter.   If it feels as if the bit is grabbing the ski then you are pushing the ski across the bit in the wrong direction.  Another tip is to apply a lot of pressure on your ski while pushing it across the router bit.  This will flatten out the camber and ensure that the ski's edge makes proper contact with the ball bearing.

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