And the ski press — either pneumatic or vacuum —
compresses and heats the skis into their finished
form. (Plans for all of the above, and links for part
suppliers, are available at skibuilders.com.)
First, you use your profiler and a router as a
guide to shape your wooden core. Poplar, maple,
and birch are all popular woods to make skis from,
but you can be creative in the wood selection and
in how you layer each type — the finished laminate
looks like a thin kitchen cutting board in the shape
of a flattened ski.
Basically, you make a
snow-ski lasagna, with
fiberglass layers acting
as your noodles.
Next, you cut your ski base material to the desired A
ski shape, and bend edge material around the contours of the ski; at this point, a thin strip of rubber
is often added to the top of the edges for vibration
dampening. Now we get to the fun, and messy, part:
epoxying layers of fiberglass sheets to the wood
core, base, and edges. Basically, you make a snow-ski lasagna, with fiberglass layers acting as your
noodles. You can also go wild with your graphics
(the sample pair shown on the next page features a
cut sheet of fabric and some printed paper logos)
and place them under a clear topsheet (often made
of clear P-Tex, the same plastic used for the bases).
The ski press that Wu built for his garage is pneu- B
matic: two ski-length sections of 5-inch fire hose
are clamped off and filled with compressed air to
force pressure onto the skis (a method taken from
skateboard deck manufacturing).
Here, pushed against a heated ski mold for an
hour or two, the pair will cure into their desired
shape and camber. Some garage builders have simpler setups: single ski presses made out of wood
and car bottle jacks. Basically, you just want to safely
get the skis to stick together long enough for the
epoxy and fiberglass to become solid.
When the skis come out of the press, they are
often attached to each other by the now-dried fiber-
glass and epoxy hanging off the edges. Using the
skis’ edges as a guide, you use a jigsaw to cut off
the excess material, and then use a router to shape
Fig. A: A router shapes the wooden core.
Fig. B: A thin strip of rubber on top dampens vibration.
Fig. C: Wu’s pneumatic ski press.