Thursday, March 27, 2008

Making Skis Part III

Another dispatch from Nils Larsen, as he builds his own Altai skis:

I tried first to bend the tips in the fire as I saw done in the Altai. The problem with this was that I waited too long and a lot of the moisture that was in the tree when I cut it had evaporated. I tried soaking the tips in water too, but this didn't work either. I had been told by people in the Altai that when the wood was dry they simply boiled the tip for a while and then bent it.

I finally came up with this set up: a 20-gallon barrel over a fire with a slot cut out of the top.

The bender is made from Douglas maple, a good stout wood that grows in the creek draws around here. The benders in the Altai were a mixed lot of whatever they could find, but generally White Birch.

The bender is worked up and down the ski tip to get a uniform bend. I found the thickness and taper of the tip needed to be right in order to get a good shape to the tip.

In my movie, Skiing in the Shadow of Genghis Khan, Gessir tied off the bender to the ski to hold the bend while the ski cured, but I chose to secure as Chokue had. He was the premier skier in the region as well as a great woodworker, and I only had one good bender.

This is the blocking method Chokue uses. The skis need to cure now for a week or two. I plan to have them finished to take to Powder Creek, BC on April 6.

For more on Nils' project, read Making Skis Part I and Part II, and watch a clip from Journey to the Source.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So Nils, what's the tip rise and what kind of turn radius we looking at here? ;)

Psyched to hear and see how they turn out!