1. Heat Gun
Countless uses, everything from quick-drying wet gear to softening boot parts for informal molding operations such as adding more or less curve to cuff flaps. If in doubt, buy an antique chair and strip the paint.
Bosch 1942 14.3 Amp Heat Gun
2. Cordless Drill
If you are a man, you already have one. But what if you are a woman, do you own a cordless? Is that a sexist take? Prove we are biased and get a cordless drill before you are discovered without one. If you use infrequently just pick up an el-cheapo at your local big box store. Or go with quality and get my current favorite, the Hitachi 14 volt. I like this middle ground in weight and power. The 14 volters are generally not as beefy as the 18 volt models, but I’ve built houses with 12 volt drills so I’m not too worried about getting screws in and out of skis. The medium size drill handles better for ski work, and the power is easier to regulate (I don’t even bother with the clutch on mine, using instead my superior reaction times to regulate torque).
3. Pozi & Star TORX Bits
Be it known that the ski binding screws you’ll most often challenge require a sharp #3 pozi-drive screwdriver. Of late, some brands are requiring #20 TORX instead of Pozi. In either case, for full tooling you want to own regular #3 pozi and #20 TORX screwdrivers, as well as bits and screwdriver bit holders. Following links lead to most. Note: for ski work you want the longer (usually 2.5 inch) insert bits with a small diameter neck (for reaching into tight spots).
4. Popsicle Sticks
Keep a box handy. Available from crafts department at most stores that carry such stuff. Use as disposable paddle for mixing epoxy.
5. Razor Scraper
Works as everything from a box opener to a window cleaner. Use for removing annoying stickers (heat first with your heat gun) or smoothing existing screw holes in a ski.
6. Angle (Disk) Grinder
Aha, now we get into the seduction of real power tools. The brutal ones that can remove appendages or large amounts of skin. I use my disk grinder (usually equipped with a sandpaper flap disk) for everything from de-tuning ski tips and tails to shortening screws. Once you have one around, you’ll discover a thousand uses. The cheapest one you can find at the big-box can work. For a time in budget days, I burned out cheapos every few weeks and returned on warranty. Must have gone through a dozen. Eventually bought a better quality unit, but since I’m not a full-time carpenter any more (at least not unless I’m building a porta-hut) I’ve had no need for the top-end grinders. Your choice, but link below is a good low-end option. While shopping look for smaller size of total unit, using the common 4 1/2 inch disks.
7. Wax Scraper
Yeah, pretty basic. Me, I just use a steel cabinet scraper for everything. I keep one side sharp and leave one side dull. Some folks would rather use a plastic scraper. Try ’em both and see what you like. Get your cabinet scraper at the hardware store. For a variety of plastic wax scrapers, check Slidewright.
8. Wax Iron
Though the thing might present an electrocution and fire hazard, we use a ramshackle clothing iron from the thrift shop. Perhaps we’re due an upgrade. If you have any chance of being absent minded be sure your iron has an auto shutoff or plug into a 10 minute timer. No sense burning down your house just because you waxed your skis. If you want a real wax iron, or wax, Slidewright is again a shopping option and indeed what I’d recommend over a suspicious junker that might involve your local flame warriors.
9. Soldering Iron? Nope.
I have good success with warming ski screws up for ease of extraction, so we included this odd item on our list. Then a reader left an excellent comment below suggesting that screws could be heated by simply running a drill bit that’s inserted backwards in the drill, so the butt end of the bit is exposed. Something like a 1/8 inch bit. You just press the rotating bit against the head of the screw to heat it up. Works super. I give each one about 15 seconds. No more need for a soldering iron.
10. Dear readers, fill in the blank. What essential item have I left out?
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.