Bending Wood for Skis

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/26/06 - Editor's Note: The following message comes from a skier that is building his own wooden skis from scratch.
Just a note to let you know that I have the wood cut and that I am in the process of sanding. After I am finished sanding to the correct thickness I’ll attempt to bend the tips. I got a little carried away with the belt sander and took a little too much off in one area but I think it will be OK. Hopefully I’ll have the bending completed this coming weekend! Every time I make some small imperfection I remind myself that 500 years ago someone was probably carving a set of skis using a primitive knife or tool made from a whale bone! I went to Menards to look for pine tar. They didn’t have any but told me where to check. What ratio of pine tar to turpentine do you recommend?

I practiced bending a piece of wood. I put two coffee cans together (cut the bottom out of one and jammed it into the top of the other), filled it with boiling water and placed a piece of wood (covered with two old tube socks) in it. I covered the top of the can and wood with aluminum foil and let it soak for about 30 minutes. Then I bent it at the tip. I used a three inch diameter piece of PVC pipe to bend it around. I was working with a pine 2X4 that I had cut down to 3/8 inch thickness and it was easy to bend. I may have to soak the birch a little longer.

I still haven’t decided how to bend the middle for the camber. I was thinking about wrapping the wood in a blanket; soak it with boiling water and wrapping aluminum foil around it to keep the heat trapped. Then after about 45 minutes, unwrap it and place the balance point of the ski on a piece of 1 1/2” diameter PVC pipe and place a weight on the ski at the front and back and let it set overnight. What a learning experience! I’ll keep you posted on how things are going. Kenny

KENNETH J. VENNELL, Lt Col, IL ANG.........Springfield, IL