I want to make some traditional skis, can anybody help?

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Forum topic by OhDear posted 12-25-2012 10:04 PM 2297 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 2486 days

12-25-2012 10:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: ski norway help skiing tradtional

Hi folks, happy holidays. I hope everyone is having a great day!

I have a suitably seasonal project I would appreciate some help with.

I have just come back from a wonderful skiing trip to Norway, I’ve fallen in love with the sport and the place and plan on returning ASAP (I’d love to work a season over there at some point, and I can already feel something telling me I might even want to live there in not too long…)

Anyway, I was enjoying the alpine skiing and travelling quickly, but I kept noticing all of these people skiing without any bindings on the rear of their boots. It turned out that these were a more traditional type of cross-country ski, and I have been informed there are some really beautiful places that you can only really get to if you go CC. Fast forward to the last day and I see the guy from the ski rental going past with the most beautiful pair of wooden skis I’ve seen: long and slim, well designed; they looked like they were basically one-piece construction with some veneering used for highlights and decoration -very nice. Before I could ask the guy where he got them though, he was gone!

I’ve since managed to find a picture of what I believe to be as close to what I saw as possible (albeit, less decorated and much older) here we go:

I have found information for some of the dimensions for me to build a cross country ski to my size and weight (does this sound about right for a 5’9 and about 145lb?):

(Dimension of length reached by using the formula I found: height in inches multiplied by 2.6, plus 15. This gives me 194.4cm)

Length: 194.4cm

Middle width: 51.5mm

Tip width: 57mm

Tail width: 55.5mm

I don’t know about the height of the taper though, I don’t know about the height of the camber and I don’t know about tapering the sides so I was hoping that someone would either be able to give me a bit of help or point me at thread where I could find out.

As far as materials go, I was hoping to track down some hickory (as this seems to be a good choice for a thinner ski) but it’s a bit harder to track down in larger lengths in the UK. I had also thought of Birch or Ash but am willing to be dissuaded by people with more know-how than myself. I’d also like to use some veneers to add a bit of aesthetic value to the skis.

I plan on finding a nice, straight-grained piece of un-knotted pine to make an un-functional practice set from first.

I’ve found a few good pictures of molds which don’t look too difficult to construct and I know I’ll be able to workout a method for steaming or soaking the boards. Actually building a mould though seems like a real challenge so if anyone can give me some ideas I’d really appreciate it!

Here is a picture I found that looks close to what I’d like to (or, be able to) build as far as the mold goes:

Like I said, any help would be appreciated, if there is anyone out there who has done this before I’d love to hear from you. Thanks in advance for your time,


7 replies so far

View patron's profile


13641 posts in 3578 days

#1 posted 12-26-2012 07:21 AM

here hopefully is some info for you

good luck

send some danish
when you get there

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 4041 days

#2 posted 12-26-2012 01:41 PM

The style of ski you are looking for (and the freeheel turn) is called telemark. Traditional telemark skis were basically slightly beefier wood laminate x-c skis. Sometimes they would be single camber, whereas a x-c ski is double camber. The camber is there to allow the push wax zone to elevate during the forward glide step, so your weight determines the camber. When one foot is weighted (leaning forward, weight to a front foot), your weight needs to be sufficient to push the camber flat. Standing flat-footed on both skis, the push zone under your feet should not have good contact with the ground (slide a paper under the area). The height of the camber simply flows from this performance requirement.

Some were made as laminates, but I think the most common method with the traditional birch is a bending. It is possible to make a working x-c ski from spruce and pine. Downhill use tends to give a bit more of a pounding, so the birch and ash are probably preferable for that – but no reason not to make a pair in a clear spruce or pine. As far as I know, the traditional construction was in green wood (a great-uncle made these when I was a child, maybe someday…), but I suspect anything you can bend would work. Use the grain direction to help the wax, just like hand planing – you flow with the grain, push against the grain. The taper is precise to the ski, but the removal of that material does much of the work to get the ski to balance in the center your foot, ideally under the ball of your foot.

Not sure where you got the formula, you need to be cautious about what ski it was intended for – modern x-c and telemark skis use much stiffer materials so they can be shorter. Rough guideline for wooden skis was always to your wrist when standing with your arm straight over your head, so you can’t be too far off. However, the more telemark skiing (as opposed to flat cross-country) you intend to use them for, the shorter you can go. The push-glide zones are not that relevant when you are ascending or descending.

View Cole Tallerman's profile

Cole Tallerman

392 posts in 2422 days

#3 posted 12-26-2012 02:43 PM

Thats the type of skiing that I do. It’s called telemark. it is a totally different style of skiing and requires much more from your body. For me it feels very natural. I think that 194 sounds to long. The longer the skis, the harder they are to control. As a general rule for skiing, your skis should be about as high as your nose(+/-). I am 5’ 11” and my tellies are 174’s

View exelectrician's profile


2328 posts in 2665 days

#4 posted 12-27-2012 05:09 AM

I was going to say break a leg – oops! I hope you use modern bindings on your beautiful skis, the older guys had many horror storys about the old “bear trap” bindings. See you on the slopes!!

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View OhDear's profile


10 posts in 2486 days

#5 posted 12-27-2012 09:34 AM

Thanks for the help. I guess the best thing to do would be to follow the appearance of the mold in the picture as best I can and make sure that everything is easily removable so that dimensions can be tweaked. I’ll have a go with some nicer pieces of pine first and we’ll see what we get :)

I’ll reduce the length too then, as instructed. Yes, I’ll definietely be using modern (but stylish, haha) bindings. The old school ones look like they would be pretty scary if you found yourself in a tight spot.

View OhDear's profile


10 posts in 2486 days

#6 posted 12-27-2012 07:28 PM

Ok folks, does anyone have any ideas as to the taper?

What should I be aiming for at the tip and the tail and what height should I be looking for under the bindings? As I said, I’ll be using modern bindings so I don’t need the skis so think for the bindings to pass through.

Also, if I decided to go with the length being my eye height or the formula I used before, do I count the length as end to end or just the centre after the tip and tail have finished their curve?

Just struggling to find these pieces of information.

Thanks again for the help :)

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 4041 days

#7 posted 12-27-2012 10:51 PM

The measurement is with the ski vertical, heel on the ground, the tip makes the measured point of contact with whatever part of your body you are measuring from – so you will need to make a careful guess with the uncurved ski.

By the taper, you mean how thin the ski gets at the tip and tails, measuring with the ski flat on the ground? I don’t know, but I can try to get some measurements from a couple of handmade sets we have up at the cabin – I can take a look this weekend. I do know the driving logic is getting the ski to balance in the middle.

Minimum thickness in the middle is probably going to be defined by the fasteners used for the binding you use.

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