Friday, March 4, 2011

Filling Old Binding Holes on Skis

It would be great if every ski I owned was new. Buy skis, get them mounted, ski the piss out of them, then get rid of them. But the truth for us budget minded skiers is that one pair of skis often serves many roles in its life time. These many roles usually involve mounting and remounting various bindings. Because of this, a "new to me" ski usually has a set of holes from a previous set of bindings. Sometimes there are so many holes already in the skis that they look more like a peg board. Three sets of separate binding holes are about max. Beyond that you run into hole over lapping issues.

The first thing to do is to make sure that the new holes for the new bindings do not overlap on an existing hole. It is recommended that the distance of a holes width, reside between the old and the new hole. In practice half a holes width is fine. I have even had holes over lap before and been fine. Just make sure to use plenty of epoxy when setting the screws. In a situation where two holes are overlapping, I have read that a hardwood plug can be inserted into the old hole to provide some structural support. I have never used a hardwood plug, but think that they would be better than nothing.

Before mounting new bindings, the old holes need to be filled and smoothed out. How to do this has always presented many different solutions. Two things need to be accomplished. The old holes need to be filled so that water does not seep into the ski. Water into the ski could fill and water log the wood or foam core. The freezing of this water could then swell, bulge, and ultimately rip apart your ski. The next thing to deal with is the circular ridge of material that has built up around the old binding hole. The holes drilled for the bindings are slightly smaller than the the screw that goes in it. As the screw is inserted into the binding hole it taps it threads into the hole and top sheet. The first few twist of the screw will force a ridge of material up above the top sheet. This is ok for the old binding as the correlating hole in the binding itself is slightly counter sunk to allow space for the ridge of material. But for the new binding, this extra material will not allow it to sit flush on the ski. Many people use a sharp chisel or a razor knife to remove this ridge, but there is a better way.

Most ski shops stock an assortment of ski hole plugs. These are plastic plugs that are hammered into the old holes. These plugs are
slightly larger than the hole which they are fitted in. This interference fit not only seals the hole but locks the plug in place. Plugs can be had in various colors so the holes can be camouflaged. I am not a big fan of these plugs. Sure they are cheap and easy, but I never seem to have any on hand. I also believe that they are not very secure. Sure the fit is tight initially, but a lot of flexing and movement goes on in a ski. Old binding holes are typically underneath the new binding so inspection of these plugs can not be performed.

Now that I have told you how other people solve these two common issues, let me tell you how I do it. After all isn't that the reason you follow this blog?

For filling old holes, I use to use epoxy. You already know that I am a fan of the two part wonder and use it anytime I can. But getting the sticky resin to completely fill the hole is difficult. Making sure that top of the hole is sealed is the best you can hope for. I now use hot glue for my old ski hole filling. The hot glue flows into the deepest corners of the hole, and seals up nicely. I apply a healthy dose of the glue and leave a little dome of glue on top of the hole to insure that it is completely filled. Once the glue has dried, I use a cheese grater type rasp to remove not only the extra hot glue, but the ridge of material around the lip of the old hole. This type of rasp, often called a multi rasp, has a cutting surface that is relatively smooth to the touch. The cutting teeth are flat, and require the material to enter voids before they are sheared off. Running this type of rasp over the top of your skis does not damage the top sheets, as only things that sit above the surface will be cut off. Be careful though. If you really hog down on the rasp, it can still mark up the ski; especially if you hit the edge of the top sheet. Do not use a standard type rasp with sharp protruding cutting teeth, as it will rip up the top sheet of your skis. Using a chisel or a razor knife often results in cutting off more material than desired as these type of cutters tend to dive.
Once I have smoothed out the holes, I will go back with the hot glue gun and touch up some of the holes that might need it. Bubbles sometimes form, and the top of the hole, once leveled to the top of the ski, will not be completely filled. You can use to hot tip of the glue gun to melt some of the old glue before pumping more hot glue on top. This is insure that the two separate application of glues are bonded to each other. Wait till it is dry and rasp again.
Now you have a clean ski which is ready for mounting.


  1. At long last a simple and definitive where's that hot glue gun,gone?
    Thanks Bill


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