How to measure a skateboard deck

September 26, 2022 | Skateboarding
Skateboards: one of the biggest misconceptions about skateboard dimensions is the actual length of a skateboard | Photo: Shutterstock

Do you need a new deck? Are you installing a new grip tape? Learn how to measure a skateboard and understand its dimensions.

One of the biggest misconceptions about skateboard dimensions is the actual length of a skateboard.

With the advent of Computerized Numerical Control (CNC), files project data into board shaping.

However, the surface length is not the same as the aerial length measured from nose to tail because of the curvature of the skateboard.

"I have always considered surface dimensions more important," notes Paul "The Professor" Schmitt in his iconic "Skate Science Saturday" sessions.

"If I look straight down and measure a board, it says 31 and 1/2 inches. But I disagree with that because, with my feet on the board, I consider surface dimensions more important."

"If I cut my grip tape at 31 and 1/2 inches starting at the nose, I will be really bummed when I come back to the end, and it is shy."

Skateboard: always measure the surface dimensions of your deck and never the aerial dimensions from nose to tail

Surface vs. Aerial Measurements

As a result, Paul Schmitt proposes measuring skateboards using surface dimensions.

"So when I measure this on the surface, I have to hold the tip of the tape measure and push it against the surface. For the same board, I'm getting this actually to be 31 and 15/16ths inches."

"16ths are a little confusing, and in my factory, we round down everything to 1/8 inch increment. I used to use 16ths, and 30 years ago, I dropped it."

For the nose, you can use a similar technique - push the tape measure against the surface of your skateboard and look at the center of the truck holes.

You'll get, for instance, six and 7/8ths. If you get a similar measurement on the tail, then it's probably a twin tail design.

"Width is really important, but I don't use the surface measurement because when I press on the tape measure, I barely see it move."

"In the middle of the board, the widest point is usually behind the front truck. It could also be parallel or, if it's an egg board, it might be widest in the middle."

Skateboards: if you need to install new grip tape, get surface dimensions | Photo: Shutterstock

Measuring the Wheelbase

According to Professor Schmitt, the great thing about a skateboard is that there is no right or wrong, and the more you measure and understand it, the better you will be.

The wheelbase's dimension is also extremely important.

The deck wheelbase is the distance between the front and back, mounting holes closer to the middle of the deck.

The truck wheelbase is the distance between the center of each wheel on the same side.

The slight problem is that the tape measure has this little metal tip, and if you bend it to get the dimensions, you probably need to discount/adjust the final measurement for improved accuracy.

"But in general, this is not a high-precision item like a wheel that's cast from a machine or a truck," underlines "The Professor."

"Imagine if your axle was off by a tenth of a millimeter - your bearings wouldn't fit, right? But that's not how the boards are made because they're organic raw material."

In conclusion, when measuring skateboards, some people use 8ths, and others say 10ths.

Usually, it's a combination of what marketing, sales, and manufacturing do, and they rarely line up.

"So the best way to line that up is to go to a skate shop, bring a tape measure, or ask for it."

And don't let emotional variables get in the way when buying a skateboard.

"You go to the store and get excited to see all these brands, pros, and the graphics, right?" concludes Schmitt.

"But pay attention to the product you're actually buying because that's what's going to make your skating perform better."

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