Filing tool: Comprehensive guide to manually structuring your skis
It’s the little details that can make you go from good to best when skiing. In recent years, it has become even more important for skiers to be able to manually structure their skis to get the best results in the waxing cabin.
Manual structure: We use a filing tool with roller to set the manual structure in skis. In the image you can see the Swix T0410 World Cup using rolling rollers. Learn more about it in this article.
Structure or filing?
First of all, we need to make sure we're talking the same language: The structure in the skis is often called ripples or waves. In Swix, we call the tool that manually adjusts the structure a filing tool. The filing tool consists of a replaceable roller that leaves patterns in the ski base.
What is the structure of your skis?
The structure is a pattern on the ski base, i.e. the side of the ski that is in contact with the snow. All skis come with a structure from the factory that produced them, but you can adapt this using a filing tool. You can adapt the structure based on temperature and conditions.
Structure on wet vs. dry skiing
If you're going out in mild temperatures and wet conditions, you want to use the structure to drain water away from the base.
If you're going out in cold and dry conditions, you want to create a friction that results in the formation of a thin film of water between the snow and the ski. On this page you can learn more about the different types of snow you're likely to encounter during the winter.
Did you know...? Swix’s waxing tips always include a structure recommendation. If you’re going to Birken, Vasaloppet or any other large cross-country skiing events, you’ll find these tips on our pages.
What you need to get started
You need a filing tool and its rollers, but before we go into the different models, you need to know that there are two types of filing tools:
One that rolls the structure onto the ski base and one that cuts the structure into the base.
Rolling filing tools: The safe choice for those who haven't spent hundreds of hours in the waxing cabin before. Rolling tools add a pattern that marks the ski base but which doesn't last. This means that you can easily remove the manual structure by base grinding your skis again.
Cutting filing tools: Requires more experience because the tool cuts ripples into the base. To change the structure after using this tool, you need to re-grind the skis in a workshop.
File and roller: All filing irons consist of replaceable rollers. In the table further down the page you can see which rollers are recommended for the different irons.
T0424 is the product name of our most basic rolling filing tool. This is a great tool for beginners as it allows you to experiment with different pressures, rolls and combinations. With T0424, it is impossible to damage your skis. The tool is supplied with a 1-mm straight roller.
You can also buy a kit that contains the tool and three rollers.
Filing tool for advanced skiers: T0401 Cutting filing tool
T0401 has been on sale ever since filling tools came onto the market, and it is still just as popular. T401U cuts the pattern into the ski base as described above. Recommended only for experienced and advanced ski waxers.
T0410 is our most advanced filing iron, yet it's easy to use. This tool can adjust the pressure for you, so you don't have to worry about how much force you need to put on the tool when adding ripples. T0410 comes with four different rollers.
Rollers: What you need
You probably already realized it, but the rollers are what actually determine the structure you put on your skis. These are replaceable and can be mounted in the different filing tools as shown above. The big question for many is which roller fits which thread. To help you make the right choice, we've created a table that tells you when to use the different rollers:
Temperature and snow type
Broken V structure
-0°C to -18°C (32°F to 0°F)
0°C to -10°C (32°F to 14°F)
Coarse, old snow
+1°C to +15°C (34°F to 59°F)
|T0410-100V||T0410-100SL together with
T0410-100SR together with
T0410-150SR together with
The table lists all of the Swix structure rollers. The column starts with the product number followed by how many millimeters the roller penetrates the base. For example: T0401– 1 mm U. This sets a straight structure of 1 mm. You can search for each product number on Swixsport.com.
Frequently Asked Questions about filing your skis:
What pressure should I put on the filing tool?
Here we recommend that you test this out for yourself. One tip is to look at your skis when you get in from skiing: If all the structure has gone, file harder next time. If the structure is still very clear, you may want to file a little lighter next time.
Can I ruin my skis by using the wrong roller?
"No, you can't go wrong when trying it out, but stick to rolling rollers if you’re unsure. The biggest mistake you can make with a filing tool is not trying it out. You will always get improved glide no matter what the conditions are, by adding manual structure to your skis," says Swix developer Jan-Olav Bjørn Gjermundshaug.
How much better does adding structure make my skis?
We have seen that the transition to fluorine-free ski waxes has made the structure of skis even more important than ever before. You get more structure when using fluorine-free products than when using old fluorine products.
Do I need to add structure every time I've been skiing?
Yes and no. You can easily ski without a fresh structure, but we recommend that you structure between each ski session if you use a rolling roller and want the best glide on all your runs. Apply low pressure to the tool if structuring frequently.
Are some rollers more popular than others?
Straight rollers are universal and widely used on all tools, such as 1-mm straight.
What’s the difference between base grinding and structuring?
Base grinding is often done in a professional workshop, where they mill away the outer layer of the base to produce a fresh new one. The workshops can supply skis with various base grinds. It is common for many people to typically have a pair of skis with a cold-weather base grind and a pair with a warm-weather base grind (klister skis). After the skis have been ground, you can adjust the structure with a filing tool as described in this article.
Watch video: How to use a Swix structure tool: