I can build skis better than any machine can. I wouldn’t be selling my skis if they weren’t better than the ones currently being mass-produced. I wouldn’t even be skiing on my skis if that were the case. You don’t need a giant factory full of automated machines to build the highest-quality skis. In fact, you can’t build the highest-quality skis in a giant factory full of automated machines. All giant factories are good for is cheaply churning out thousands of the same exact ski so that a company can slap their logo on it and sell it to you at five times what it cost for them to buy from the giant factory.
There are a few steps in the lengthy process that require expensive machinery, but most parts of the process are better done by hand. A well-trained set of hands paired with an eye that knows what to look out for can do things that a machine can’t. This is why World Cup race skis are made by hand in separate shops.
When building skis, there are so many variables that are constantly changing. If you’re not able to identify all of the variables and adapt accordingly, mistakes are going to be made. Giant factories can’t closely monitor the rapid production of thousands upon thousands of skis, even when they are making the same ski. Mistakes are constantly being made. Unfortunately, even though mistakes are made, you can’t see them in the final product and you end up paying full price for a poorly-constructed ski.
I’m a well-trained engineer and I’ve had years of experience learning from some of the brightest minds in the world while working on incredibly intricate projects. I’ve taken their approach to technical design and applied it to designing and building skis. I’m used to being very attentive to detail and I make sure that all of our skis are built to incredibly tight tolerances.
When you buy a pair of WSD skis, you’re paying me to build your skis. I have some help along the way, but every single pair of skis that we produce is in my hands for at least seven hours. Building skis isn’t simply a manufacturing process – it’s a craft. Every pair that I build is different, which means that there are many degrees of freedom in the tools that I use. It has taken me thousands of hours to get a feel for my tools so that they do exactly what I want them to do. Even if I could hire someone to do my work, I wouldn’t. Building skis is what a nerd like me does for fun and that’s why I started doing this in the first place.
If every manufacturer out there built a physically-identical pair of skis, the only difference being that they use their respective construction materials and methods, there would be a huge variance in the way that they would perform. Different materials make the ski feel different. If WSD built your current ski using WSD’s materials and construction methods, we are confident that you would like our version a lot more.
We dig through large pallets to make sure the wood we choose is knot-free and has the best possible grain structure. We don’t try to save money by buying shorter wood scraps and gluing them together to make longer pieces for your skis. This yields a discontinuous, uneven flex. We only use full-length pieces of poplar and ash.
Poplar is desirable because of its high elasticity to weight ratio, giving the skis lots of pop while keeping the skis light. There are two ash stringers embedded between poplar stringers in each ski. The ash stringers serve two purposes. The first purpose of the ash is energy transfer. The two dense ash stringers act as power rods that run from tip to tail. When you drive into your boots, your energy is instantly transferred throughout the entire length of ski, making them quick and responsive.
The second purpose of ash is binding screw retention. Softer woods such as poplar, aspen, pine, paulownia or bamboo are great for making light weight cores because they are very porous. The problem is that porous materials do not hold your binding screws tightly. Ash is a very dense wood that holds screws securely. Your bindings will break before the screws pull out.
All of our cores are book matched. When we cut our wood into stringers, we number and label each stringer so we know which piece of wood they came from. For every individual ski, the stringers on the left side come from the same pieces of wood as the stringers on the right side. Stringers from the same pieces of wood are used for both skis to make a pair. This ensures that the weight and flex are identical not just for each pair of skis, but for the left and right side of each individual ski. Our cores are glued and milled in-house.
We use Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). It is tougher and more durable than any other commonly-used sidewall material. We make our sidewalls extra thick for added protection. Our sidewalls cover the entire steel edge, including the teeth. This means that if you land on a rock, the force of the impact is taken by the sidewall material sitting on top of the edge, rather than wood sitting on top of the edge. Sidewall material is less likely to compress or break, so this lessens the chance of edge compressions.
To save time, most manufacturers simply tack the sidewall to the core prior to layup, using tape or staples. The result is a poor bond between the core and sidewall, which leads to blowouts. We evenly spread epoxy on the core and on the sidewall before clamping them together. They are then heated for one curing cycle. A properly bonded sidewall is significantly less prone to blowouts.
Our sidewalls are beveled to 12 degrees to minimize topsheet chipping and snow drag, without compromising power transmission to your edges.
We use 22oz triaxial fiberglass to support the ski longitudinally, laterally, and torsionally. This makes the ski responsive and allows the ski to have better edge hold. Thermoplastic prepregs (fiberglass that comes pre-impregnated with resin) are frequently used so avoid the messiness of using a liquid resin. We prefer to get dirty and use our hands to apply liquid resin to the fiberglass. This allows us to ensure that the fiberglass is fully-saturated during layup. Excess resin is later squeezed out when we pressurize our ski press.
Unidirectional carbon stringers are used to make the skis longitudinally stiffer without adding weight. They also add elasticity, giving your skis more pop. Depending on the performance characteristics that you want in your skis, we lay the carbon at different locations on the ski.
Strips of rubber create a strong bond between the edge and sidewall. It also dampens vibrations.
360 Degree Wrapped Edges
The industry has been moving towards using 3/4 wrap edges, meaning the edge doesn’t wrap around the tip or tail. This allows the manufacturer to save quite a bit of time and money. Taking a hard steel edge and making a tight radius bend to perfectly fit around the tip and tail is a very difficult process. By not wrapping the edge around the tip and tail, manufacturers are able cut out the edge bending process entirely. You don’t need to bend edges to fit it on the rest of the ski – it’s only required on the tip and tail.
If you eliminate the metal edge from the tip and tail, you create a serious stress point where the edges end. After continuous use, the edge ends are going to separate from the rest of the ski.
We use 360 degree wrap edges – meaning the edge wraps all the way around the tip and tail. I bend all of our edges by hand and I make sure they fit perfectly. Since the ends of our edges are all the way on the tip and tail of the ski, they see very little stress when the ski is flexing. Additionally, a metal bumper around your tips and tails provide additional protection to your skis in the event that you run into something.
We buy our edges from the world’s leading manufacturer. Straight out of Austria, our edges are hardened to a Rockwell 48 and urethane-treated for bonding.
4001 Sintered Bases
We use plain black, 4001 grade, sintered bases because it is the hardest and fastest. We have found that the color of the base makes a significant difference – black bases perform better than any other color – not surprisingly, it also costs more than any other color. Clear bases that have graphics printed on the underside look nice, but it performs the worst. If you look at the bases of world cup ski racers, they’re solid black. While I like my skis to be as pretty as possible, performance takes precedence and nothing beats a plain black base.
An extra layer of fiberglass is placed on the center of the ski. This makes the underfoot portion of your skis extra damp to minimize vibrations that would otherwise be transferred into your boots. The extra fiberglass also reinforces your binding screws.
Our environmentally-friendly epoxy is made in the USA and the formula was created specifically for skis.