— Which Brush Do I Use? —

Depending on which company you ask, you'll get a different answer. Below you'll find two articles, one by the TOKO tech team and one by the SWIX tech team, describing their thoughts on what brush to use when. Note the major disagreement where SWIX favors aggressive metal brushes as a way to redefine structure, while TOKO rejects this in favor of stonegrinding and instead relies on brushes solely to remove wax.

You can also read Zach Caldwell's excellent explanation of brushing and brushes at the CaldwellSport blog.

TOKO Brush Recommendations:
"Different Brushes, Different Results"

Brushing is a critical part of waxing and deserves much careful thought and analysis, just as other areas of waxing. Brushing is one of the final things the waxer does to their skis before they are skied on. Additionally, it is the delicate process of removing sometimes very hard paraffin from a soft plastic ski base: no small feat. This is definitely something that deserves your utmost attention! There are 4 main categories of brushes now: Nylon, Metal, Nylon Polishing, and Horsehair. These brushes are quite different from each other and each have their own strength and purpose.

Nylon Brush: The Nylon Brush is the "all around brush." If a beginner skier were to only buy one brush, this is the one! As this brush has the thickest diameter bristles of any brush type, it is known for its general wax removal capabilities. Large diameter bristles remove large particles of wax from the ski base, particularly with softer waxes. However, due to the large size of these bristles, wax deep down in the structure of the ski base is not effectively removed. This job is reserved for finer bristled brushes. The Nylon Brush can be used scrubbing the brush back and forth, or in one direction.

Metal Brushes (Copper Brush): Metal brushes have undergone many changes over the past decades. In the past they were used to create structure in a metal scraped base. The metal brushes of years past used very stiff metal bristles which actually cut the ski base, removing base material and creating hairs. Today, brushes creating structure is not appropriate as we now use stonegrinding to create structure. Today’s cutting-edge metal brush, the Copper Brush refreshes a ski base, removes wax, and cleans. The Copper Brush does all of this without damaging the ski base in any way. Be careful, some companies doubt the value of a very soft metal brush such as copper, but a stiffer metal brush simply has no place touching a ski base in today’s waxing world. The Copper Brush should be used before waxing to refresh (or open) the base as well as clean it. It should also be used to brush out hard, cold weather waxes such as Blue. It is important to note that any metal brush should only be moved from tip to tail.

Nylon Polishing Brush: The Nylon Polishing Brush is the most recent significant innovation in the world of brushing. These brush bristles are similar in size to the Horsehair Brush and are about 1/4 to 1/5 the size of the standard Nylon Bristles. This brush is preferable for finishing off all paraffin based waxes (System-3, LF, and HF waxes). The bristles of this brush reach the "nooks and crannies" of the structure in the base, effectively removing fine particulate of wax. At the same time this brush does an excellent job of shining or polishing the base which will improve ski speed in most conditions. A dedicated Nylon Polishing brush is also the perfect brush for brushing Fluorocarbons. When treating a ski base with any 100% Fluorocarbon (not fluorinated waxes such as HF) the fluorocarbon simply bonds to the base surface and does not penetrate the base. Brushing a fluorocarbon with an overly aggressive brush can remove a great deal of the fluorocarbon from the base. In review, the polishing brush should be used to finish off all paraffin based waxes and for brushing fluorocarbons.

Horsehair Brush: Horsehair Brush bristles are quite fine, about 1/4 to 1/5 the size of a standard Nylon bristle (or the same size as the polishing brush bristles). At the same time, they are quite stiff and aggressive. These stiff, fine bristles make this brush work well for removal of hard, cold weather waxes. One must be careful with this brush not to over brush as this brush is aggressive enough to strip the base surface of wax and create a very dull finish.

SWIX Brush Recommendations

Basic brushing and the brushes needed are quite clear. It is in the specialty brush area that brush materials and brushing techniques are changing year by year. Interesting, but hard to keep up with product offerings and instructions. This article, compiled from experience during the 2004-2005 season by the SWIX Racing Service Team, World Cup Service Technicians, coaches, and a group of 45 Norwegian tech reps, aims to simplify and explain the purpose and use of each brush type.

- The most important brush of all is the Oval T182 or Rectangular T162 Medium Coarse Bronze Brush. This is the first brush after scraping. Many technicians consider the brushing completed after using this brush. Note: It is recommended that metal bristle brushes not be used for brushing Cera F.

- The nylon brushes mostly are used as the final finish brush. The primary result is sweeping away the last remaining wax particles and giving the base a good finished appearance.

- Steel bristle brushes are increasing in popularity. The new T-180 Oval and T-163 Rectangular are used periodically to recondition the base surface by removing burnished and oxidized polyethylene and redefining structure.

- The T-181 Oval Coarse Bronze and the T-158 Rectangular Coarse Bronze are used each time before waxing, but now, so is the new T-192 Steel Brush.

- Also new is a Fine Steel Brush, T-197 that is used after scraping especially in wet snow to ensure the structure is opened to help reduce wet snow friction. This brush really gets into the structure and has a scary feeling when using it. Some feel it is better used along with the coarsest steel brushes to clean out and redefine base textures. This fine steel brush is expensive to manufacture and therefore has a high price for a brush that might not do much more than the Medium Coarse Bronze Brush.

- Also popular in cross country is the new Stiff Black Nylon Brush, T194, for "brushing-up" Cera F after the first pass with an iron. The final finishing brushes for Cera F are now mostly the horsehair brush or the new short bristled blue nylon brush. Note: It is recommended that metal bristle brushes not be used for brushing Cera F.

- A new handy brush for use at the start site in alpine & snowboard, and XC sprints is the T-196 Combi Brush. Natural cork on one side for corking in Cera F, and short nylon bristles on the other.

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