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Part Two: Structure & the use of the Swix T401 & T405 Imprint Tools

Tue, Nov  21, 2006 - By Kevin Sweeney

[Part 1 of the article can be read here.]


Although there are variations in the patterns applied, structures can be classified into “fine”, “medium-fine”, “medium-coarse” and “coarse” structures. The most frequently used structures in World Cup are “fine” and “medium-fine”. For classic races more coarse structures are used as well. The difference between classic and skating is related to more varying conditions in a skating coarse than in a classic track. Also the factor of “feeling” that has to do with the resistance when “pushing” the ski forward is significant in skating, but less in classic. The “free feeling” can be lost, especially when skating uphill, when the structure is too coarse.

Swix Super Riller Structure Tool T401

When using the Swix Super Riller in combination with stone grinding, it is generally after scraping and brushing. In cold temperatures the fine brass blades are used. From -1°C / 0°C (30 F/32°F) and warmer, the medium and coarse brass blades are used. The Swix Super Riller T401 does not deform the base, but presses the structure in.  The 1mm and 2 mm rilling blades are constantly used by top racers and technicians on the World Cup. It can give an increase in speed of as much as 1 km/h. The Swix T401 comes standard with the Medium (0.75 mm) blade. Optional blades include: X Fine 0.25 mm, Fine 0.5mm, Medium 0.75 mm, Coarse 1.0 mm, X Coarse 2.0 mm and XX Coarse 3.0 mm.

Swix World Cup Imprint Tool Set T405

The Swix World Cup Imprint Tool T405 is a hand crafted, high quality tool. It comes with imprint rollers manufactured in a very high quality advanced production process. The T405 creates a unique structure in a different way than other imprint tools. The most accurate yet shallow structure is applied in a rolling movement. The steel rollers have a cross-hatch (fishbone) structure for the optimal result. The World Cup Imprint Tool T405 comes as a set with three structure rollers (0.3 mm, 0.5 mm and 1 mm). Due to high production cost, the T405 has been mostly used at top racing levels, but Swix expects its advantages to be recognized by club teams, colleges, specialty tune-up shops, and dedicated World Loppet skiers. The Swix T405 includes the following rollers:

FINE 0.3 mm:

  • To be used in new fine grained and coarse snow from -12°C to 0°C (10-32°F).

MEDIUM 0.5 mm:

  • To be used in new, fine grained, coarse, and icy snow from -5°C to +1°C (23-34°F).
  • To be used in mixed (new and transformed) snow from -1°C to +3°C (30-37°F).

COARSE 1.0 mm:

  • To be used in wet- and very wet-, coarse snow from 0°C to +20°C (32-68°F).
  • Can be combined with the T401 structure tool (1, 2 and 3 mm.)

Practical guidelines when setting structure with hand held tools: 

  • Use of the different imprint blades will vary with the underlying stone grind. If the base has a fine structure it can be taken to “medium” by using the coarse imprint blade. In this way you will be able to make a fine stone grind fit “medium” conditions. However, it is not possible to make a coarse stone grind ‘fine’ with a ‘fine’ blade.
  • In skating, a medium/coarse or coarse structure is rarely used due to varying conditions in a skating slope and the negative effect this will give on “feeling” (which has to do with the resistance in pushing the ski forward). In skating, a fine or medium structure is preferred as the standard, these structures will then be modified with the use of the structure/imprint tools “on top of” the underlying stone grind. Be aware of the amount of pressure when applying the hand made structure. In skating it is most important to apply light pressure on the front half of the ski. A harder pressure will be applied from the binding and backwards. This has shown to give an optimal mix of “good glide” and “free feel.”
  • For classic skis, use even pressure, but preferably lighter pressure on the front part.
  • Manually produced structure should be set after waxing, and after application of Cera F and brushing. After setting the structure, brush once more with the Blue Nylon brush.
  • Always apply manual structures on race day since the intended effect can be reduced over time.
  • If two or more imprint blades are used in combination, always start by using the coarser blade. 
  • In more humid / wet conditions, it is normal to use more pressure and to make 2-3 passes with the imprint device to facilitate better drainage of moisture.
  • The T405 has a broader range in temperature and snow conditions versus the T401. The T405 is also perhaps more “gentle” with the ski base which allows change / removal of structure pattern more easily.


Never clean your structuring blades (or steels) with a metal brush. Use a soft toothbrush.