05 Jan 2014

Photos and article: Tennille Barber 

Bigbend Skis was so cool and so detailed there’s just no possible way I can explain how much in one article.  Over three articles I’ll include some background, along with an explanation of just how amazing a custom ski build at Bigbend is.  This is number one of three in the series.

As I get to know the people behind the ways to ride in the snow industry, I’m noticing a trend.  Each one of the individuals behind the product are fuelled by a passion they may not be able to explain.  All I can do is my best to help a person understand just how deep that passion runs.  Here goes.

the layup studio

the layup studio

Daryl Ross works out of a shop in Revelstoke with three rooms.  Obviously starting a venture like this in Revelstoke has taken a little research, being that shop space is at a premium and getting material here is a challenge.  Bigbend is 3 years in so far, and every facet of the business has Daryl’s blood and sweat poured into it, from sourcing materials to building the manually operated machines, down to building his own WordPress website and implementing a marketing plan.  The drive it takes to getter done?  It takes consistency.  Research.  Constant learning.  Experimentation, sometimes failure… most of all and as I said earlier… passion.

Bigbend’s 3rd year has seen a continued growth in interest and sales as well as another substantial leap in the quality of materials, designs and craftsmanship going into each pair of skis.  The idea is to bring a full custom build, right down to the wood cores with specs on length, turn radius, and the flex you’re looking for to the average person.  Custom skis by bigger manufacturers can cost upwards of $2000.  You and I know better than anyone, the average ski bum that wants to shred custom sticks can’t afford that.

It all starts with a comprehensive form built on Bigbend’s website to figure out exactly what you want.  Your height, weight, and type of skiing you do, along with maybe even a picture of your favorite or most disliked skis are taken into consideration.  You can specify tip, waist, and tail measurements along with camber and rocker profile.  Sometimes people are even looking to replace a pair of skis they’ve had forever, not available to purchase anymore.  He’s even examined client’s old skis to figure out the best way to replicate that preferred flex or design.

Here it is:  the first step in Daryl’s design process- handcrafted custom design.

speedball handles already adjusted on the core profiler

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Milling Cores in the Woodshop

Custom Handmade Equipment: Core Profiling Machine

When the order comes in via the detailed form on the Bigbend website, he starts work with customer to design the ski.  He takes the tip, waist, and tail measurements then prints a shop manifest and his design software gives him the dimensions of the ski.

marking the sidecut into the cores by pencil

marking the sidecut into the cores by pencil

He starts by drawing a line down the centre of the core, then gets the half width dimensions for the ski.  The first step is milling the cores using the core profiling machine he built by hand.  By adjusting speedball handles placed every 20 cm down the length of the ski, he pulls a long vertically mounted strip of aluminum in and out to create the shape of sidecut he wants for the ski he’s making.  He lays the unshaped core that’s cut to the right length on the top of the core profiling machine, then traces the sidecut onto the wood.  He then moves the core to the table saw and cuts the traced line into the core, then moves it back to the machine and routers the sidecut with more precision, sliding it along the aluminum strip.  He flips it over then does the other side to achieve perfect symmetry.

Next in the series:  Bigbend Skis: Custom Local Art on 100% Handmade Sticks