Plastic vs Wood sidewalls, advantages?

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RYM Experimentals
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Plastic vs Wood sidewalls, advantages?

Post by RYM Experimentals »

So we make our sidewalls currently out of maple and rub them down with a mix of epoxy and teak oil. Many of you are using plastic sidewalls (ABS, DuraSurf product or other). My question is what do you gain in using plastics sidewalls? In my opinion the bond breaks down over time between the sidewall and the core and you lose significant energy transfer between the two substances (plastic to wood). A wood sidewall is much easier to make and gives an improved feel that doesn't break down so why does the market dictate that we use plastics? Obvious reasons are for durability but our decks get 50+ rides a year without any problems ( and yes we grind the sidewalls down every year and redo them, maintain your deck Man!)

Please tell me what I'm missing here?

Thanks all, - Don over at Ryme

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Post by MontuckyMadman »


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Post by vinman »

UHMWPE sidewall is better at dampening. Wood sidewalls sound different and feel different on snow. Uhm doesn't absorb water is abrasion and impact resistance, if you bond things right these should be no issues with uhm sidewall.
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Post by gozaimaas »

wood sidewalls look like a job half done IMO

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Post by MadRussian »

gozaimaas wrote:wood sidewalls look like a job half done IMO
lol I like the looks of wood sidewall.

If use waterproof wood like IPE, black Locust, mahogany or similar I don't think it should be worry about water penetration..

As far impact resistance UHMWPE definitely better but wood easy repair imo
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Post by Richuk »


Are you using epoxy mixed with teak oil? Or applying epoxy then teak oil? Does teak oil polymerise over time?

Paraffin wax is the best wood sealant. I don't have the technical paper to hand, but its better than most other products, surviving the seven day immersion test. Personally, I mix it with natural turpentine and ski wax - the resultant wax is quite soft and is absorbed by the wood. Making these two products is a fire hazard - low heat is needed. An alternative product is a gycol base product - I seem to remember is was polythene glycol - but don't quote me, it will actually penetrate the cells. I think they make a product used to preserve antiques with a high concentration of this compound.

As you no doubt appreciate, to seal wood you need to block pores and coat the exposed open cells to prevent further damage. The size of the pores are important, so is the orientation. I'm using engineered beech, if that helps. It been exposed to high pressure and heat. Beech is the base wood they use to make compreg for the barged board under F1 cars. Compreg is still made in Germany, as are a number of other resin infused wood products

This is an interesting website:

The wood you use needs to be dimensionally stable - that's a real priority. The main problem we have using wood, is the cycles of wet and dry and cold and heat slowly releasing the mechanical bond made between the resin and the wood - moisture then tracks across the laminate.

A strip of bamboo makes sense - although I haven't used it.

IPE is Brazil walnut. I can't think of a good reason to use such a fragile natural resource. If someone is ripping up their decking, sure, put it to good use, but virgin wood in skis ...

RYM Experimentals
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Post by RYM Experimentals »

I mix the epoxy then add a little teak oil to it and mix again then apply it first with a sponge brush to get a good coat on there, wait about 15 minutes then wipe it down with a smooth cloth. I haven't had any problems with water getting into the wood unless the sidewall gets cut (hence the lack of durability). I do refinish my sidewalls at the start of each season or if they get damaged so yes they do require some maintenance.

I like the look of the wood if you do it right but realize that plastic is more durable over time. Never thought about the gliding of the sidewalls on the snow as a performance factor. That's an interesting tidbit but I can't imagine it provides much in performance improvement.

I do want to try using bamboo but the only decent bamboo I can find is flooring which is super expensive but Ill probably buck up and give it a try here in the near future. And you've talked me into giving UHMW sidewalls another try... I just hate working with them during the finishing process, they're toxic when you trim them off and sand them down.

Thanks for all the good feedback folks. On another note I ran into another builder up at Crystal yesterday and we had a good time talking shop riding up the chair. Always good to see others out there riding their builds.

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Post by Prak »

uneva sidewalls make contact with the snow and assist in glide. ...
Most of the boards I've owned over the past 15 years had sintered sidewalls and I had a habit of treating them as a base (never had them stone ground, though).
Did waxing the sidewalls help? I can't be sure, but when 6 (boardercross) riders are entering Turn 1 at terminal velocity, any possible advantage for self preservation is worth having.
Richuk wrote:...IPE is Brazil walnut. I can't think of a good reason to use such a fragile natural resource. If someone is ripping up their decking, sure, put it to good use, but virgin wood in skis ...
I debated with this myself and chose replenishable/biodegradable IPE over a synthetic material which essentially, once created, lasts forever. Which is worse for the environment, i do not know.

As a substitute for IPE, I'd like to try the Ironwood sidewalls that Sandwich Tech sells on their site: ... uction.htm
(EDIT: Upon further investigation, it appears as though IPE falls into the category of an Ironwood.)

Reasons I chose wood over UHMW for my first dozen builds:
- I enjoy the exciting/nervousness feel of wood sidewalls. Keeps the adrenaline flowing.
- Availability. I wanted to be able to purchase as much material as possible on a whim.
- Easier to bond. IPE may not bond as easily as other woods, but still sounds like less hassle than synthetics.
- Easy to repair. Sawdust has been stockpiled.
- I enjoy woodworking.
- Appearance. The beauty of wood grain is hard to beat.
- The Sound. As an audio engineer of 12 years, I gotta say, wood resonates with me.

Wood vs UHMW seems like it comes down to personal preference. Excellent results can obviously be achieved with either. What I do know is that ABS has a hard time surviving more than a season or two here in Wisconsin; bitter cold conditions and man-made snow so hard that edge chatter can shake your teeth loose.

I'll inevitably do a few builds this summer with synthetic sidewalls, and was thinking about trying the Phenolic sidewalls offered by Blank Slate Skis. ... x-1746-mm/
I only saw a few posts about that substance in the past. Has anyone experimented with it recently?

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Post by skidesmond »

I did some testing with phenolic material awhile ago. It bonded w/o any problems to wood. Machined very nicely. I thought it might be brittle, crack or chip when machining but it didn't.

The only reason I didn't build skis with it was availability. I found a supplier (Fiberesin) but it came in 4x8 sheets and the material is very heavy in full sheets. With 4x8 sheet there is a lot of waste too. Basically a 2x4 chunk is wasted, so you'd need t find another use for it or toss it.

I looked locally for a shop/business that might use it already and buy what I needed from them but struck out.

I think it's a good material to use and may give it a try at some point.

Since then Blankslate has offered it as a sidewall. It's not cheap... well ski building is not cheap ;)

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wood sidewalls

Post by gerryrig »

Just found this thread. I haven't been to this site for a couple years but I still make skis with wood sidewals. I have been debating whether to go to synthetic sidewalls or sticking with wood. I'm going to stick with wood. I presently use hard maple but will use IPE or some other iornwood on my next pair. I especially like the paraffin wax mixture that Richuk mentions. Thanks for the discussion.

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