Introduction to Hand Structure
*How-to videos at bottom of page.
Hand structure is added to a ski using hand tools to physically imprint structure patterns in the base. These structures are
(usually) a temporary complement to the permanent structure that stone grinding creates. Hand structure helps manage
moisture and reduce surface area contact in order to make the ski faster. Hand structure is typically added as a final layer
immediately before race time. There are many different hand structure tools and methods available, so there is no simple
and complete set of how-to instructions. It is smart to practice working with the tools on rock skis to get the feel for each
tool and how to use them effectively. Hand structures, with the exception of rills, usually rebound out of the base after
several passes with a hot iron—once you put hand structure in a ski, you’re stuck with it until it is ironed out. On race
day, this poses a challenge because you can’t test hand structures on top of each other. The rule of thumb is that each
structure is effectively permanent for that day on the snow.
Finding the Right Hand Structure
It’s possible to test two or three hand structure
modifications on a backup pair of race skis using
- Make a mild hand structure modification on one ski. Leave the other ski unmodified.
- If the modified ski is better, then make another slightly more aggressive modification on the other ski.
- If more structure seems to be better, it may be worth making a new modification to the first ski and making one more test, but you’re probably reaching the limit of what you can learn at this point.
- It’s important to think ahead about temperature changes and solar effect through the day. When in doubt, use a less aggressive structure in order to limit the potential for liability.
How to Apply Hand Structure
1. Prepare the ski by waxing. Typically this will involve base prep, paraffin layer(s) and possibly an ironed fluoro powder application.
2. Brush and polish the ski well.
3. Apply the hand structure in a single pass using firm, even pressure from tip to tail.
4. Lightly brush with a fine steel brush.
5. Apply a liquid or solid fluoro topcoat if desired.
6. Polish with a nylon brush.