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Board edges - how sharp is "sharp"?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all,

We're off to Les Arcs for a week in a month's time, and I'm in the process of booking rental boards and boots.

They'll be two of us snowboarders and 4 skiers, 2 of which are pretty swift, so I'm looking at this as a good chance to hone carving and bring some extra speed (yeah, yeah, where appropriate) to my riding. I'm also expecting to be riding everything from blues to blacks... all of this makes me think I want to know I'm getting decent edge grip.

So how sharp should your edges be? We'be had some fairly dull stuff from hire shops previously, and I've seen stuff on the mountain that is super sharp. My wife had her trousers cut open across the thigh by someone who sideslipped into her!

I know quantifying sharpness isn't obvious, but how about some vague guidelines.

Would you run your thumb along the edge of your board?

If the edge has a bit of a round to it, what's the diameter? 2mm?

I'm going to be renting the top end kit available, but would quite like to be able to judge whether it's actually prepped properly. I don't know my snowboarding gear perfectly, but I've seen plenty of "expert" kit for hire for mountain biking or sailing that certainly wouldn't help you perfom.

Any hints or tips for checks to do for edges or waxing in 30seconds in the shop?


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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Les Arcs is good.

I guess it's probably a can of worms with lots of different views. Angles and bevels are a different thing, you're asking about sharpness only...

Personally I ride a race board (Kessler SL) on piste and my edges are sharp end to end.

You're supposed to run the back of a fingernail across them to test them, but if you just sharpened them then you know they're sharp anyway. Testing them on trousers is another approach. Rather like wax, I can just tell from the feel or the board if the edges need sharpening, although I can't remember particularly how and why. The board should feel crisp and responsive. To me, the edges are either sharp or they're not, I don't really have a way of judging between the two.

Quite a few people reduce the sharpness of their edges at tip and tail. I think the theory is that rider mistakes are less likely to cause the nose (or tail?) to auger in.

You could tell the hire shop how you want your edges, or take your own edge sharpener.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Unless it is icy I doubt if you'll want the ultimate in sharpness but a 2mm strikes me as as blunt as you could make a board. The usual test is paring off a bit of fingernail, but the racers I know still describe this as blunt. It will do for testing your equipment in a hire shop. If you really want to test the sharpness try shaving with the board.

You could try running your thumb along the edge and it could cut you quite easily. However that could come just as easily from a serated as opposed to sharp edge.

Just looking at and feeling the base of the board should show wether it has been waxed, but only by tring it will you knowif it the right wax for the conditions.

My experience of the hire shops in 1600 is that they really know what they are doing. I would and do trust them.
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I always use the back of the finger nail test. If I can shave off some nail then I am done. Never felt lack of edge grip.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Thank you all for responses, that's really helpful. It's good to have an idea of what I'm after.

@philwig, yeah, I know your raceboard, and the way you ride it, is going to be a whole different thing compared to what I'm after.

I've had some hire kit that has just felt "untrustworthy" when it's come to committing to an edge, but didn't know enough to question it. We're hoping to get 2 or 3 weeks in this year, but previously it's only ever been 1 week a year. That's not given me much memory of how kit should feel.

Time to get booking!

Thanks again,

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run your nail trough the edge. If edge is sharp enough and shaves of some of your nail - edges are sharp enough.

if snowboard geometry is trash, you can have edges shark as knife, that won't help.
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