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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.