- 16 November 2012 | Surfing
Surfboard shaping is a challenge. It takes time and determination to learn how to build the first surfboard, but there's nothing like surfing with your own creation. Meet the easiest the step-by-step guide to surfboard shaping.
Shaping surfboards is similar to sculpting. Art is in constant improvement, but there's a moment when the artwork is finished. Surfboard shaping requires attention to detail and a learning attitude. You don't want to overshape your plank.
A surfboard blank costs between 35 and 50 dollars, that is 10% of the price you pay at your local surf shop. The overall investment - preparing the shape room and buying shape tools - can be paid after producing two or three surfboards. It is worth it.
Always film and/or photograph your shape steps. Take notes to compare your future actions and correct previous shaping steps. The surfboard shaping notebook is your owner's manual.
Nowadays, it is very important to order the best surfboard blank for your future stick. When buying the new close-to-shape blanks, pay attention to three characteristics: template/outline, rocker and size.
1. Define the template/outline of your future surfboard
2. Choose the size and rocker of surfboard blank
3. Order a thick surfboard blank, bigger than the desired size
4. Setup a boardroom and paint the walls in blue or green
5. Install waist-high horizontal white lights, in both sides of the shaping room
6. Install racks on which you'll shape your surfboard
7. Protect your health and get goggles, a respirator and ear protectors
8. Once the shaping bay is set, set the blank on the racks
Shaping the Template:
1. Adjust the template paper over the blank, one side at a time
2. Cut the blank with an handsaw, having the board bottom up, on both sides
3. Smoothly sand the rails, with a 36-grit sandpaper, until you get square edges
4. With a caliper, measure the thickness of the blank, in order to know how much foam you will need to mow
5. Pick a power planer and remove the extra foam by passing it perpendicular to the stringer, from tail to nose or vice-versa
6. Repeat the process on the other side of the board - bottom down - with extra care
7. Get the desired tail and rocker by slightly passing the planer in these critical areas
Preparing the Fin Setup and Rails:
1. After deciding your fin setup, mark the front fins' position with pencil dots, on both sides. If you're unsure about the position, check other surfboards
2. Using a T-square mark the back fins
3. Remove all imperfections in the blank with a 40-grit sandpaper
4. Be careful while sanding the vee zone and apply moderate strength
5. With a surform, cut the rail bevel from nose to fins, to give a more rounded edge shape to the board. Use a pencil to define the cut angle, beforehand
1. With the deck up, start turning the rails with the planer, from nose to tail
2. Try to create a 45 degree angle, from the turning point on the deck to the top of the imaginary radius (see picture below)
3. Confirm the symmetry on the other rail, from nose to tail
4. With a light sanding block, try to round the rails so that you reduce the sharp edges, from deck to bottom
Smoothing the Outline:
1. Sand the deck with a light 40-grit sandpaper until it blends with the rails
4. Round and smooth rails to your favorite profile, on both sides
5. Use a 60-to-80 grit sandpaper and apply an overall passage, on the board, without changing the structural shape
6. Confirm the quality of the rail work by passing them through your thumb and index fingers, from not to tail
8. Set and center your eyes at surfboard level to confirm an overall symmetry
9. Measure and take note of the dimensions of your newly shaped surfboard
10. Sign the surfboard board with pencil and send it to glassing
You can shape your own surfboard for less than 150 dollars (120 euros), blank and tools included.
The main tools for shaping a surfboards are: two sheets of 60 and 80-grit screen/sandpaper, a 6-10" surform, a David Plane; a 3.5"spokeshave, a T-square, a C-caliper and a dust mask.