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Tom’s Musings – Musings #9

January 9th, 2019 

Since the 2015/2016 season I’ve been able to shed some of my store responsibilities and work exclusively at stonegrinding. Back to my roots. In my college days back in the early 70’s, I worked seasonally at an alpine ski shop tuning skis initially by handfiling and in subsequent years with various dry/wet sanders . Downstairs in the shop all by myself, me and my tools. So it’s a gas to be working only on skis again. And going from hand files to sophisticated computer driven grinding machines is a dream.

In the previous month I’ve had shoulder and knee surgery. My stonegrinding has been limited or nonexistent. But this speed bump has given me a chance to work with fellow store grunt, Devin Arenz, on learning grinding skills. In addition to being really tall and incredibly busy and being the stores go to guy doing everything , he’s got good hands. And he’s a quick study.

I will be back to grinding in a few weeks in time for all big races coming up in February. With the erratic snowfall this season, our new grind testing guys are slowly getting out and testing a variety of new skate and classic grinds I produced before my surgery. A new concept diamond bit has been involved in some of those new grind ideas, too. I am very anxious to finish vetting the new grinds and getting the success’s on our grind menu.

— Tom Novak, Head Stonegrinder at Finn Sisu

Tom’s Musings – Musings #8

January 9th, 2019 

Thoughts about the past 2017/2018 season.

Depth, line spacing, texture, frequency, linear, broken linear, bias and compound. Grind characteristics that xc techs explore. We explore them to determine whats fastest for broad and narrow range use in the myriad snow conditions mother nature or manmade throws our way. We continually explore to upgrade, amend or delete grinds. Ideas and observations are continuous. What works? Well, all, some or none. That’s why we test. And test. And test. Besides, the guys like getting out of the store. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of testing. Especially with the variety of snow types that we now ski on – real, manmade and mixed. So when snow changes, when sun angle and sun duration changes, and all that other temp stuff changes, we get out and test.

One last thought – I can’t emphasize enough how fortuitous it was to recognize the need for 2 stonegrind machines. Or more to the point, 2 different stones. An aggressive aggregate stone for prep work and a finer aggregate stone for finish work. This setup efficiently speeds up the grinding process. AND, offers the chance to dedicate a different diamond bit to specific use on a specific machine. Life is good.

— Tom Novak, Head Stonegrinder at Finn Sisu

Wax and Grind Punch Cards

If you want to take both the stress and the mess out of waxing, or a devotee of the refresh grind, then consider buying one of our wax and grind punch cards.


Ski Flex Primer

by Kermit Pattison


As we head into another ski season, here’s a timely reminder of the importance of having skis with the proper flex:

Tom’s Musings – Summer Musings

September 17th, 2018  

Some random thoughts while biking this summer.

We all understand that, along with an appropriate grind, wax is a big part of making a ski slick.

However, keeping most of that wax on the bottom of a ski for the entirety of a race is a challenge. Longer length races—as opposed to shorter length races—and colder, more abrasive snow—as opposed to warmer, wetter snow—emphasize this challenge. Here in the north, cold, abrasive snow rules. Whether man made or natural, it is continually ripping wax from a gliding ski. And while correct wax application is certainly a huge deal in regards to strong wax adhesion, maybe, with stonegrinding, I am also contributing to giving that wax a better chance to stay stuck to the ski base.

During the stonegrinding process, when developing a structure for a given snow condition, shape and depth are variables to consider. The complexity of the shape and depth is also a factor to contemplate. In the past, I thought of a structure’s shape, depth, and complexity as equivalent aspects manipulated during polyethylene milling to successfully create a better gliding ski for a given snow condition. But maybe it’s the complexity, the tooth of the structure—line length, width, bias, frequency, bottom of etched line shape (whether “V” or squared grooved), minute residual detritus in structure pattern—that is the primary contributor, from a stonegrinding perspective, in glide wax retention. Think of sanding the kick zone on a classic ski to hold kick wax. What if this structural complexity, or the particular degree of structural complexity, in addition to enhancing glide in a given snow condition by itself, also adds to wax adhesion?

Often I hear from our employee racers that their skis, following a break-in period, seem to be at their fastest right after grinding. Why? Over time, factors such as the repeated use of a ski on cold abrasive snow, the progressive build up of snow contaminates in the ski base, and the sealing of a polyethylene base due to the constant use of a hot iron during cold wax applications, can cause a ski’s structure and complexity to degrade. These are some of the reasons why a ski eventually slows and the effectiveness of waxing can lose steam. Therefore, a fresh grind can often be when skis are at their fastest.

When I’m satisfied with a structure or structures, it is ground onto test skis, waxed, and sent off for on-snow glide testing. This upcoming winter, I will need to find a way, through this on-snow testing, to quantify each structure’s potential for wax adhesion. And I have some ideas. But those will be musings for another day.

— Tom Novak, Head Stonegrinder at Finn Sisu

Gear Talk: A Little Goes a Long Way

After skiing for a number of years, the need to purchase additional gear – whether it be ski equipment, waxes or clothing – can ebb and flow from one year to the next. One season may find us trying or adding small things here and there, while others are notable for big purchases such as new skis, boots or poles.  This time around, I made a few additions/substitutions to my skiing toolbox that while relatively small, were key and worthy of passing along. (more…)

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