Category Archives: Surfing

Reshaping An Old Surfboard Into New

the BONUS round from cliff kapono on Vimeo.

Hilo surfer/shaper Robert Patterson gives a 80’s relic an extreme makeover, changing the game and breathing new life into an old friend.

7’5 to 5’5

Welcome to the bonus round…

Great concept: take an old surfboard, peel the fiberglass off, reshape it and give it new life. These guys did it with an old 7’5 single-fin (as did the dudes in the fantastic surf film Picaresque — one of my faves). Check out the interview with the surfer who received (and then rides) this board in this video too.

Related: A little over a year ago I inherited a 9′ longboard that looked like it had been used for target practice AND batting practice — possibly on the same day at times. I started removing the raised areas where the fiberglass had separated from the foam underneath, and soon had a board that looked like a zebra. Finally I decided the best bet would be a full restoration. I’m halfway through it, and honestly I don’t have much confidence that it will turn out well, but seeing that it’s a first attempt, I have no expectations that I’ll be able to shape the like pros do. My point is this: You gotta start somewhere, and where better than with a busted up board?

This video gives me inspiration to head down to my workshop and get messy. You know where to find me.

Peeling the fiberglass off. Lots of foam tends to come up with it. Especially on the rails.

Shaping the Perfect 40-Minute Surfboard

Wonderfully shot video piece by The Surfers Journal from a couple years back with iconic board shaper Terry Martin. While not a brand new, it’s always awesome to watch a master at work. Martin has shaped over 75,000 boards, spanning many decades. He’s a true legend.

“Terry Martin and the perfect 40-minute board”

Having started with wood as a lad in ’50s San Diego, on through to shaping sleek Phil Edwards Models, to the now – where he finds himself an in-demand builder of boards of all denominations for Hobie- Terry Martin is the consummate craftsman. In this episode of TSJ/POV Shorts, Terry shapes a perfect traditional noserider, talking us through his philosphy and technique as he works.
Terry was featured in a “Soundings” interview in TSJ 14.4.

Terry using the Skil 100 planer -- the "must have" power tool in the board shaping industry; Skil stopped making them years ago.
Block planing the wooden stringer
Checking the tail for square

Check out all of The Surfers Journal videos here.

Wooden Honeycomb Surfboard – Taking board making to the next level

Surfboard making of the foam variety is one of those arts that really appeals to a select few. Most surf fanatics tend to live in coastal areas, and at that, the largest concentrations are those in favorable climates. But there’s something about wooden surfboard making that seems to extend beyond this population, impressing people by the sheer beauty and craftsmanship of the art.

These wooden boards are most often hollow constructions with an internal spine-and-rib-like framework. Carefully milled and planed wood planks are layered and shaped into the elegant curves that are typically carved from foam blocks on conventional boards. Depending on the material, the finished product is then laminated, or not.

There are some amazing artists making these wooden boards – check out Danny Hess and Grain Surfboards for two examples that you can find and purchase. But New Zealand computer engineer post grad Mike Grobelny has stepped the game up with his latest project, a CAD designed, CNC-routered honeycomb surfboard. This takes things to an awesome new level.

With a workshop that would make almost anyone envious, Mike graciously captured the entire build process in time lapse, from digital all the way to first-person view of the board in action.

Hard to not get inspired by footage like this. And remember, you can never have too many clamps.


Watch Beginners Shape and Glass Surfboards To Learn From Their Mistakes

Photo: O'Rourke Surfboards, by Matt B. Click the image to see his shaping gallery.

All surfers begin to contemplate building their own board at some point. Maybe it begins on a day of slow rolling waves, while the long boarders take all the rides a hundred yards behind the one guy on a shortboard. Or while watching the segment in Picaresque when the dudes strip that thriftstore board and reshape it into something sleek and fun. Or perhaps, like Luke Skywalker, you just feel one doesn’t become a jedi knight until he/she builds their own lightsaber.

No matter the reason, there are some great resources out there for the aspiring board builder. Online, check the forums on Swaylocks for years of discussions on people’s foam creations. Retailers like Foam-EZ sell all the materials and tools needed to build any board imaginable. And you can buy DVDs or watch an unlimited amount of Youtube clips of people explaining how to round the rails and so forth.

The first look at a blank block of foam waiting to be shaped can be overwhelming. Smooth, consistent, and equally even contours are a real art. And once a board is shaped satisfactorily, it is said that fiberglassing it is even trickier. So what is the best way for a beginner to learn how to do this?

Stephen Pirsch has answered this in a cool way. Rather than showing yet another video of expert shapers effortlessly carve and epoxy a new board, he’s created a video for beginners to watch other beginners fumble through the process, see the mistakes they make and the adjustments needed to correct them. One of the best initial videos I’ve ever peeked at – this is a brilliant concept.

Steve emphasizes that you use that knowledge to shape and glass your own small sample piece of foam. Do this before diving into any major board project of your own and your outcome will much pain-free.

Check out Steve’s site for more very insightful info on making your first board — the “tips” and “misconceptions” sections in particular have super useful notes, but the whole thing is a goldmine.

DIY Surfboard Rack

Growing collection of surfboards starting to clog your garage or hallway? Jeff Z solved this problem in an elegant, quick and cheap manner, with easy to find materials from your corner hardware store. Check out the full how-to and get your board collection organized!

Best of all, you can pull this off for next to nothing using stuff lying around the house/garage.  However, I did spend some cash, which I’ll price out for you later on. (Had I been more diligent though, I could have cut the price down even further!) Price really depends on how many board you are building for and how deluxe you want the rack. (I went deluxe.)  But look around your house and garage for materials to use, be creative.  Chances are you have much of the supplies you’ll need at the ready. (This whole project could fall under the Reuse portion of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ethos!)

Read: How to build a vertical surf rack on the cheap


How to Wax A Surfboard

wax-removalPeriodically all boards need to be waxed, new and old alike. It’s pretty simple but if you haven’t done it before, this guide will get you familiar with the process.

1. Take your basecoat surf wax and bring it across the board from rail to rail.  Start at the tail and work your way up, slightly overlapping as you move upwards. Apply enough pressure to leave a layer of wax as you move.  Continue reading How to Wax A Surfboard

Two cardboard projects: Cardboard Frisbee (easy), Cardboad Surfboard (super-challenging)

Cardboard. An awesome material, great for boxes and backing paper pads.
Also useful for more advanced projects.

Here are two how-to’s from the web: a simple frisbee, and a badass surfboard.

Cardboard Frisbee
More DIY How To Projects

or, Cross-sectional Notched Rib Assembly for Aquatic Sliding Boards

I’m building hollow, cardboard core surfboards. Cardboard, seriously. These are ridable prototypes for a new approach to building boards out of interlocking cross-sectional ribs cut from sheet materials.