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Chapter 4: A guide to base structuring and rilling tools

Chapter 4: A guide to base structuring and rilling tools

This comprehensive guide covers the essentials of ski base structuring, from understanding different snow types and temperature effects to utilizing our manual and machine tools for optimal ski performance in various conditions.

Base structuring involves cutting or pressing patterns into the ski base to reduce gliding friction. The goal is to minimize the contact area with the snow and release surface tension from water films caused by gliding friction. Stone grinding machines typically produce structure patterns during factory production or by shops specializing in stone grinding. Manual tools can also be used to create structures.

Experts have experimented with different stone grinds, including stone grinding depths, widths, and patterns, to find the best one for different snow conditions. However, recent developments have simplified the process by classifying snow types and matching them with appropriate ski base structure patterns, resulting in fewer machine-set variations. More standardized stone grinding allows for easier comparison of other significant factors, such as ski construction, waxes, and manually applied structures. Combining manually set structures with stone grinding can enhance the effectiveness of a basic stone ground base, making it possible to travel with fewer pairs of skis.

Stone ground structure vs manual structure

Manual and machine-produced ski base structures differ in permanency. Stone-ground structures are cut into the base, while manual structures use imprint tools and are temporary.

Our manual imprint structure tools are easy to use and adaptable to snow types and conditions. After re-waxing, the manual structure pattern can be removed with heat, leaving the stone grind pattern intact for the next treatment.

Lern how to set manual structure:

Three different grades of stone grinding

There are three categories of base structures: fine, medium, and coarse, each with different variants of roughness.

However, we always refer to these three categories when discussing base structure and recommendations. Choosing a medium or fine universal structure for your skis is a good idea when planning which skis to bring to a race. These structures can be adjusted by adding manual imprints, so you won't need to bring multiple pairs of skis for different conditions. Adding manual structures before the race can improve your glide in most conditions. The base structure on classic skis and skating skis can vary a bit. In classic, the fine structure is rarely used, while a coarse structure is seldom used in skating.

Fine structures

Fine structures are mainly used on new and fine-grained snow in cold temperatures. For skating, fine structures are normally used from 0°C (32°F) and colder. For classic, -5°C (23°F) and colder. Sharp snow crystals (present in dry new/fine snow) and a sharp structure are not optimal. A newly set (fresh) structure generally gives a “sharp” structure. In dry, cold, new, and fine snow conditions (usually lower than -7°C (19°F)), a ski used over time and waxed several times is usually better since the sharpness of the structure will be “rounded” over time.

Medium structures

This is a commonly used structure in skating, suitable for most snow conditions from -7°C (19°F) to wet snow. In very wet conditions, a medium/fine structure combined with an imprint tool has proven to be effective. For classic skiing, medium structures are recommended in new and fine-grained snow (normally between -7°C (19°F) and 0°C (32°F)).

Coarse structure

This structure is rarely used in skating. It is mainly used for classic skiing on coarse, moist snow and in wet conditions. Glazy new snow between 0°C (32°F) and +3°C (37°F), a medium/coarse structure is preferred. This structure is also sometimes used in skating on wet, coarse-grained snow. In this case, using a manual tool, most racers would prefer to adjust a medium structure towards a more coarse one. Reference the table below for specific recommendations.

Note: Generally, it is better to use a finer structure than a too-coarse structure.

Improving stone ground skis by using our structure tools The following chapter explains how to adjust stone ground skis to specific snow conditions using our manual structure tools. These tools work on all basic stone-grinded structures, allowing racers to customize the structure to fit current conditions. This benefits racers at all levels, from World Cup to citizen racers. All Swix structure tools have rollers that imprint the structure, except for the Super Riller, which uses threaded brass blades to produce the pattern.

The Super Riller structure tool T0401

Super Riller is combined with stone-grinding, normally after scraping and brushing of glide wax. See table belove for details.

The following blades are available:

(T0401-1U) 1 mm
(T0401-2U) 2 mm

In moist and wet snow conditions, the 1 mm blade is a must to get fast skis both in skating and classic. This is a standard procedure in the World Cup. Apply more pressure on T0401 at the tail of the ski. The pressure when adding manual structure is the key to success. Don't press too hard. The T0401 is often used with other rolling structure tools like T0424 or T0410.

World Cup structure tool

Properly structuring a ski base requires consistent pressure. Our WC structure tool (T0410) is an excellent choice to achieve this. The tool has an adjustable handle that makes setting and maintaining the desired pressure easy.

With four rollers, including 1.0mm G, 1.0mm SR, 1.5mm SR, and 0.5mm broken V structure roller, the tool can improve glide on both skating and classic skis. Additionally, it provides recommendations for pressure based on the snow conditions, ensuring optimal performance. Manufactured in Norway, ourx structure tool is a reliable and high-quality for serious skiers.

Included structure rollers are:

  • T0410-050V. 0.5mm broken V structure
  • T0410-100G. 1.0mm linear structure
  • T0410-100SR. 1.0mm thread right
  • T0410-150SR. 1.5mm thread right

In addition, the following structure rollers are available:

  • T0410- 030V. 0.3mm broken V structure
  • T0410-100V. 1.0mm broken V structure
  • T0410-050G. 0.5mm linear structure
  • T0410-075G. 0.75mm linear structure
  • T0410-200G. 2.0mm linear structure
  • T0410-050SR. 0.5mm thread right
  • T0410-050SL. 0.5mm thread left
  • T0410-100SL. 1.0mm thread left
  • T0410-150SL. 1.5mm thread left

T0424 Structure Roller Tool

An ergonomic and high-quality structure tool for cross-country skis, our structure tool T0424 improves gliding properties in almost all snow types for classic skiing and skating. It comes with a standard 1 mm linear structure with an arrow indicating the correct direction of movement. All rollers have ball bearings for easy rolling, and the plastic chassis has a new ergonomic shape. Changing between rollers is easy, and the tool is compatible with all structure rollers made for the T0410 WC structure tool.

Included structure rollers are:

  • T0424100G. 1.0mm linear structure roller

In addition, the following structure rollers are available:

  • T0424200G. 2.0mm linear structure roller
  • T0424050V. 0.5mm broken V structure

More and more people are using manual structure tools. This allows skis with a fine and medium stone ground structure to be adjusted for warmer conditions, reducing the need to travel with multiple pairs of skis.

Practical advice for the use of our manual structure tools

Skis with the right structure should be easy to move, give easy release, and have high speed. The two first properties are often called “feeling.” If the skis stop quickly or feel too heavy to move, the wrong structure or application technique could be the reason.

Check-list when choosing structure:

  • Check out the snow type, temperature, and air humidity.
  • Choose a technique: classic or skating.
  • Choose the skis to be used after testing. Evaluate if the skis have the right properties for the conditions. Is the basic structure correct? When you have found the right ski for the day, several processes can give the skis optimal glide, and manual structure is one of them.
  • In fine-grained snow, a fine structure often gives the best result. The pressure you put on the tool influences the gliding properties. It is recommended to use fairly light pressure when applying manual structure. Evaluate if the skis have new or worn stone ground bases. A newly stone ground base gives an advantage in fresh snow, while a worn structure often goes better in colder and slower snow. Usually, the performance is lifted by adding a manual structure, regardless of the conditions.
  • Testing before a race is crucial to achieving a good result. Applying structure can be risky without prior testing, leading to slower skis. Use the structure chart to narrow down which manual structures to test. One way to test is to use training skis where one ski is without manual structure and the other with the recommended structure of the day. Choose the structure that gives the least resistance between ski and snow.
  • Manual structures can be applied differently, such as on the entire base, parts of the base, or only the tail. For skating skis, we recommend applying light pressure on the front of the base and increasing the pressure from the binding toward the tail. Different structure tools can be combined with varying directions and pressure to achieve different results. We encourage testing before competitions and during training.

Pro tips

  • Most manually set structures will disappear after rewaxing with iron.
  • Typically, hand structure is applied after waxing and brushing with powder or glider. However, use caution with cutting tools such as T0401 as they can damage the wax layer on the base.
  • T0401 can be used advantageously before waxing. After manually setting the structure, apply topping wax, such as TSL and TST.
  • Apply the proper pressure with the structure tool as it significantly impacts the outcome. For light, fresh snow, use minimal structure and pressure. For wet snow, increase pressure to create a visible structure that drains water under the ski.
  • Practice using the different tools to learn how they perform on different snow types, temperatures, and stone grinds.
  • Ski preparation involves curiosity and experimenting with waxes, structures, and application methods. Becoming familiar with the structure tool will improve results.