Earlier this year I spent quite an extended period visiting my family in New Zealand over the winter. It was nice to get away for a while, get a some perspective on a few things and to share a lot of time with so many members of my immediate and extended family.
This isn’t a post about my family though, it’s a post about snowboarding and more specifically, DIY splitboards with inside edges! Whilst in NZ for the winter, I couldn’t really pass up on the opportunity to get some snowboarding in, and I headed down to Christchurch and then made a trip out to Temple Basin and Broken River. I was keen to experience the NZ club fields, and get in a few tours between clubs in the Craigieburn range. Before setting out, I figured that if I was going to be doing some touring, I would need a splitboard. With my factory production S-series sitting somewhere in storage in Kashmir, I decided that, given the time at my disposal, the access to tools in my father’s garage, and my penchant for figuring things out, I decided to split an old 165 Option Freeplus. I’ve written about this board before. I liked it for a wee while, before it started to delam, after perhaps 15 riding days on it. I got really bad after-sales service from the Swiss agents for Option and I ended up putting this puppy to sleep prematurely.
Now, considering splitting a board, I figured it would be a perfect candidate as whilst I was putting in inside edges on my new splitboard, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem to replaced some of the outside edge and base material of my old board and sort out the delam issue. There are some great write-ups out there on other’s experience of splitting a board, most of them in the forum at splitboard.com and I would suggest anyone looking to split there own board take a look there before starting.
I didn’t find too much on putting in an inside edge, but I figured it couldn’t be too much more difficult that replacing an outside edge.
This post documents my experiences, and the lessons I learned and I hope it will encourage anyone else out there that is considering splitting their own board. With some time, a fair amount of patience, and access to the right tools, it really isn’t very difficult. I’m sure no expert, but was able to work it out.
Unfortunately the DIY Voille kit was not available online at the time I was looking to split my board, and neither were the appropriate Voille pucks. Instead of buying the kit, I bought individual parts. Because I also intended buying the dual height heal risers, and the Voille bindings, there was no need for me to buy the normal heal risers, nor the slider plates, as these are incorporated in the bindings. Also, I was able to source a local supplier for stainless steel M6 T-nuts. I decided to mount all hardware using M6 T-nuts. This might have been overkill, and certainly means drilling more holes in the base of the board.
I have a rather neutral stance and was able to get away with buying goofy pucks and mounting them with a regular stance. I was forced to do this because regular pucks were not available online for a number of months and I couldn’t afford to wait any longer. They ended up working out okay, but I would have preferred getting them perfect.
Beyond the Voille parts, I ordered most of my material, p-tex base material and steel edges from Ski-builders.com. Their prices were great and their forums proved quite useful.
The one thing that I was unable to find, despite trawling numerous fastener suppliers, jewellery stores and hobby shops, were jewellers screws which I wanted to use to mount the new edges.
- 1 x snowboard
- Voille kit in parts
- Voille template
- Steel edges
- P-tex base matterial
- Epoxy resin and hardener
- M5 nut and screws
- Skill saw
- Electric file
- Electric Sander
- Drill press
- Drill bits (Spade bit, Countersinking bit and ml biy
- Routing table
- Multiple clamps
Splitting the board:
Marked centre line with a ruler. I checked this by overlaying fishing line and taping this down which created a seam down the centre of the board.
Start the cut on either side using a hacksaw. Using a skill saw at the tip and tail are not recommended as this will probably rip out the steel edge and cause the board to begin to delaminated. Also, as the skill saw takes the profile of the board, and the tip and tail are convex, it is very easy for this part of the cut to end up being skew. If i were to do it again, i would cut the first 10cm of the tip and tail using a hacksaw.
Because my cut was far from perfect, I decided to straighten both side up with an electric sander, and built up the areas where too much had been cut away using epoxy. Once this was done I began replacing the outside edge that had been damaged and inlaying the inside edges.
Replacing the outside edge:
I cut away the base material about 2cm from the edge, using the opposite edge as a template. Using a matte cutter I tried to cut this edge at a 45 degree angle. Whilst doing this, I also used the opposite edge as a template for the replacement base material. By clamping the based material between the two skis, i cut out the replacement p-tex from a sheet.
I then cleaned out the base and cut away the damaged and rusted edge. It is clear that the damaged edge had allowed water in which was the cause of the de-lamination. A lot more of the edge was rusted than was visible from the outside. One comment I’ll add about the construction of the board is this: The base graphic is created using an image printed on paper which is laminated directly below the clear parts of the base. Where this paper layer was present, it was much easier to remove the edge and base material. It clearly doesn’t bond as well as the areas where the laminate is p-tex/wood or p-tex/urethane sidewall. It was at just such a paper layer that my de-lamination happened and I think this was in part a manufacturing or design defect. In future I will favour boards with die cut base graphic over ones that use clear p-tex over paper.
After cutting out the old edge, I then filed down the profile so that it was less likely to snag anything. I cut a new piece of edge material to size and gave this edge a matching profile. Because I could not find tiny jewelry screws, I instead temporarily superglued the edge into place before putting in epoxy along with steel wool filings (for structural strength like rebar in reinforced concrete). At this stage, the steel edge was a little bit proud of the board, which I later worked back until they were flush with the old edges.
Once the edge was epoxied into place, I then snapped my replacement base material into place with a generous dose of epoxy, and clamped this under pressure for about 16 hours.
After this, it was just a matter of cleaning up the edge and base material with a file and then sharpening the edge with an edging tool.
Inserting an inside edge:
I’ve seen very few people insert an inside edge into their DIY splitboard and I’ve always wondered why. One an icy traverse, I’m always pretty happy to have inside edges and I also think you protect your board a great deal by having inside edges. Putting in these edges really wasn’t too difficult at all. This is how I went about it.
I cut about 2cm of the base material away from the intended inside edge. Once again, I used a matte cutter in order to cut this at a 45 degree angle. I then cleaned the exposed area up using an electric file before routing out a channel in which to put the inside edge. I secured this place before putting in epoxy. It is critical that you rout out the correct dimensions for the new edge as you will need these to line up on either ski, and the top of the edge will need to be flush with the base of the board. You can always file down a slightly proud edge, but you’ll struggle to fill any gaps that you leave. You might consider putting in a strip of vibration dampening tape before putting in your edge, but because this edge is primarily there to prevent impact damage to your board and to provide an additional edge in touring mode, I didn’t consider this necessary.
After the epoxy holding the new edge in place had set, I cut out the required sized pieces of p-tex base material, with a 45% angle to match the profile I had cut into the base, and snapped these into place with a generous amount of epoxy. I then clamped this down and let the epoxy set before cleaning up these edges and excess epoxy.
Mounting the Voille hardwear:
In many ways, this is the easy part. There is plenty of information on how to do this and it is rather self explanatory. It is important that you only do this after you have split your board and, if you put in an inside edge, after you have done this. If you don’t you’ll find that that everything might not line up perfectly once you then split it.
I’ll focus on the difficulties I had, or things that I might have done differently. As I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t get regular pucks because they were out of stock in the Southern Hemisphere winter. Instead I took goofy pucks, and because I have a very neutral stance, I was able to mount these. I also decided to mount all my hardware using M6 nuts. I guess I’ve not skied enough to have faith in binding screws and the possibility of ripping out a puck in the middle of nowhere seemed like an unnecessary risk to me. On the other hand, I also wonder how much of the structural integrity of your board is compromised with the base has more holes in it that a piece of Swiss cheese.
One area that I did struggle with was drilling through the existing metal binding mounting plate. I ultimately had to trim a few M6 nuts with a dremel.
I plugged the holes in the base using circular cutout of p-tex that I had created using a coin as a template. I later found that I had mixed results with this. There were obviously some air bubbles in the epoxy and when I later waxed my board, I found that this air would expand and these plugs would get forced out. When I used P-tex candles to fill these holes, I also had problems. The p-tex would not bond to the stainless steel M-6 nuts and as soon as these got cold, the p-tex would crack and soon fall out. I had a chat to a ski-tech guy and he told me that I should score the nuts with a dremel to increase adhesion. I ultimately decided to fill them all with epoxy. A much easier, but cosmetically slightly less appealing solution.
Slight redesign of topdeck graphic, sanding, base grind, wax… etc.
I don’t know how many times it is said but it is worth saying again. Measure twice, cut once! In fact I met a Swiss German guy that told me the saying in German is actually measure 7 times and cut once, or something similar. I didn’t practice cutting my board on others. I simply drew a straight line done the middle and got busy with the skill saw. Although I made what I thought was a reasonably straight cut, it was only once I lay each “ski” on top of each other that I noticed how much wider one was than the other. I had not taken into account the width of the blade, and also the curtain that I had set on the skill saw was not particularly accurate. If I had to do it all again, I would have used MDF to cut out a jig which I would then use to to hold board, and I would find someone with a table saw.
Because the split was unacceptably skew for me, I decided to build up the inside edge of the smaller of the two skis with epoxy, and sanded down the larger of the two before sealing them with epoxy. Having done this, the two edges didn’t mate perfectly. This required a lot of fine sanding to ensure a snug fit. Although I think this was a very good solution and I was very happy with the final product, this created so much unnecessary work, and because of the amount of time it took for the epoxy to dry and the number of coats I needed to apply, this stretched out construction time by a number of days.
I did not have the correct countersink bit for the chinese hooks and instead a decided to simply use a larger drill bit to countersink these holes. Whilst doing this with one of the holes, this bit caught the woodcore and in an instant it ripped a much wider hole through the entire board. This had me really frustrated and I was ultimately able to build this space up with a combination of sawdust and epoxy. I was pretty happy with the finish of this too, although it was quite a headache at the time.
Because of all the clamping that I had done to put in both the inside edges and the outside edge that I replaced, I scratched up the top deck quite a lot. I realised this quite late and only taped over it once a lot of cosmetic damaged was done. The red paint on the Option chips really easily. I decided to put a black strip around the edge of each ski as I felt this would cover these scratches and highlight that this board was split and would also look good against the red top sheet.
Unfortunately the paint I chose took more than a day to dry in the cold NZ air. At this stage I was under a lot of time pressure to get all the final touches done and I probably should have waited another day before final assembly and finishing. I didn’t. As a result quite a bit of saw and epoxy dust ended up in this paint layer and my finish was not nearly as glossy as I had hoped. If I were to do it all again, I would put multiple layers of tape over the top deck, and the base for that matter. There was also unneccesary dried epoxy that I needed to sand off my board which I could have prevented.
On the mountain:
Unfortunately, late on day three on my splitboard, 50 meters from the Temple Basin clubhouse, I ripped out a heel-side edge on a rock. There was a pretty nasty ding and I ended up finding some fiberglass, resin and edge material and in a day I was up and running with a pretty nasty looking running repair. In truth I think that this was almost fatal to this board already on borrowed time. I was able to continue to ride the board for the rest of the season, but I certainly feel ill-at-ease on this edge in super icy conditions.
Once I find the time again however, I will very easily be able to harvest just about all the parts from this splitboard and split another one. It should be a lot easier, and tidier, having learnt from the mistakes I made on the last one.
I hope some of my experience are of use to any readers out there considering the same. Feel free to leave comments or ask me if you have any questions.