Surfboards: understand the terminology of shapers | Photo: SurferToday

Surfboard shaping is a sophisticated art that involves science, creativity, and experimentation.

Are you getting ready to shape your first surfboard? There are thousands of possible winning combinations when crafting wave-riding vehicles.

If you're into the science of surfboards and how they interact with the waves and the rider, then you should definitely master some of the following concepts, techniques, and tools.

Bringing a surfboard to life is a magical adventure. Explore and learn more about the expressions commonly associated with surfboard design.

Whether you're a shaper or a curious surfer, it's always good to know the lexicon of surfboard manufacturing.

Base depth - the length of the largest section of the fin that attaches to the surfboard;

Belly bottom - a convex surface that can be spotted when standing in front of the nose and looking down toward the tail;

Blank - the pre-shaped block that is used to make surfboards;

Bottom - the bottom side of a surfboard;

Bottom contour - the shape of the bottom side of the surfboard that channels water and creates speed, maneuverability, and stability. There are five main types of bottom contours: flat, belly, concave, channel, and vee;

Boxy rail - a full, round, high-volume rail that retains thickness through to the outline curve. Also known as a forgiving rail;

Buoyancy - a flotation force that determines by the amount of water displaced and how well a surfboard floats in the water;

Carbon fiber - an alternative material to fiberglass;

Camber/Cant - the angle made by the fin when its tip moves out toward the rail while the base stays closer to the stringer;

Channels: an- optional bottom contour design feature that drives water fast from the nose to the tail of the surfboard;

CNC cutting - the first step in modern surfboard shaping in which the CNC machine removes the board's core, layer by layer, until it is ready to be roughened by the shaper;

Core - the main light component of a surfboard;

Concave - the bottom curve found on the bottom of the board that involves a gradual reduction in thickness when moving from rail to stringer;

Convex - the bottom curve found on the bottom of the board that involves a gradual increase in thickness when running from rail to stringer;

Deck - the top side of a surfboard;

Density - the low or high weight per unit of volume of the blank;

Down rail - a rail with the widest point being found down toward the bottom of the surfboard. Also known as a hard rail;

Drag - a force that acts opposite to the relative motion of the surfboard;

E Glass - the most common cloth used in surfboard;

Epoxy - the only resin that can be used with expanded polystyrene (EPS) surfboards;

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) - a light type of surfboard foam blank that is usually molded by shaping machines;

Extruded Polystyrene (XTR or XPS) - a closed-cell type of surfboard foam blank that does not absorb water and is highly resistant to strong impacts;

Glassing - the second or third step in modern surfboard shaping in which the shaper applies the fiberglass to the surfboard using either polyester or epoxy resin;

Fiberglass - fiberglass cloth that forms the skin of most surfboards and is applied before glassing;

Fins - the thin and curved skegs installed at the tail of a surfboard that provide drive, stability, maneuverability, hold, and speed to the ride;

Fish - a short, wide, double-tailed surfboard originally designed by San Diego's Steve Lis;

Foam - the core material found in surfboards;

Foil - the thickness distribution of the surfboard when observed sideways;

Form drag - the drag caused by the shape of a surfboard as has as it moves through water;

Friction drag - the drag caused by the stickiness and roughness of the surfboard as it glides across the water;

Gun - a long surfboard designed for big wave surfing that usually features a pin or swallowtail;

Hard rail - a rail with sharp edges;

Hemp - a natural type of cloth that can be used in surfboards to replace fiberglass or carbon fiber;

Hydrofoil - a high-performance hydrodynamic structure that replaces fins and allows the surfboard to plane above the surface of the water;

Lift - an upward force exerted on a surfboard as it moves across the water;

Lamination - the process of applying cloth and resin over surfboards;

Leash plug - a small plastic cup that is inserted in the surfboard core during the shaping process to allow the use of a leash;

Length - the size of a surfboard from nose to tail;

Longboard - a classic surfboard design for riding small waves;

Malibu/Funboard - a hybrid, medium-size surfboard design that adapts to a wide range of waves;

Nose - the highest tip of the surfboard;

Outline - the overall shape, layout, or curve of the surfboard;

Pintail - a single-pointed surfboard tail type that provides maximum holding power;

Pitch - the rotational movement of the surfboard caused when different forces are applied to the front or back foot;

Planing - a phenomenon that occurs at high speed, in which the force of the surfboard exerted on the water results in a lift force that makes it travel above the water;

Polishing - the final step in modern surfboard shaping in which the shaper polishes the board to obtain a high-gloss finish;

Polyester resin - a liquid resin that is used to create the skin of polyurethane-based surfboard;

Polystyrene (PS) - a light type of surfboard foam blank that is greener than polyurethane;

Polyurethane (PU) - the most popular type of surfboard foam blank used by surfboard shapers;

Quad - a four-fin setup featuring two fins at the tail and two forward close to the rail;

Rails - the outer perimeters of any surfboard;

Rake - a measurement that determines how far back a fin curves;

Release - the effect that allows water flow to be accelerated as it passes along the surface of the surfboard;

Rocker - the curve of any surfboard from nose to tail;

Roll - a) the convex shape that can be seen when standing at the nose looking down toward the tail, either on deck or bottom; b) the rotational movement of the surfboard from rail to rail seen when standing at the tail of the surfboard looking toward the nose;

S-Glass/S-Cloth - a reinforced fiberglass fabric;

Sanding - the third or fourth step in modern surfboard shaping in which the shaper sands off the gloss finish by smoothing out and flattening the surfboard;

Shaper - the craftsman responsible for producing the surfboard;

Shortboard - a high-performance surfboard made for small and medium-sized waves;

Single fin - a one-fin setup used in longboards;

Skin - the outer layer of surfboards, comprised of fibers and resin;

Soft rail - a curved rail;

Stand-up paddleboard - a long surfboard used for paddleboarding;

Stringer - the thin strip of wood that runs from nose to tail down the center of a polyurethane (PU) foam blank and adds stiffness and rigidity to the surfboard;

Tail - the lowest tip of the surfboard;

Thruster - a three-fin setup originally designed by Simon Anderson. It's the most popular fin configuration in the world;

Tow-In board - a heavy, medium-size, foot-strapped surfboard designed for towing behind a jet ski and getting into big waves;

Twin fin - a two-fin setup typically used in short, wide swallow-tailed surfboards and made popular by Australian surfer Mark Richards;

Width - the measurement of the widest point of any surfboard;

Yaw - the rotational movement of the surfboard when the nose rotates around the tail;

For more in-depth information on surfboard shaping, get "The Surfboard Book."

Top Stories

The most successful competitive surfer of all time, Kelly Slater, rode what may have been the last heat of his 24-year professional career.

We can't choose our height, and 80 percent of it is genetic. But if you're into surfing, taller and shorter surfers feel noticeable differences in getting acquainted with boards, paddling for, and riding a wave.

Big wave surfing is an industry with an industry.

Ryan Crosby is the new chief executive officer (CEO) of the World Surf League (WSL).