Surf Tips

How To Order A Custom Surfboard From A Shaper

As with any relationship, communication is key. Also bribery, flattery, emotional blackmail, etc. Christiaan Bradley. Photo: @euroglass

Knowing how to order a custom surfboard is key to getting the surfboard you want. 

Some surfers order their first custom surfboard aged 8, some at 48, but no matter what age, the experience is profound. Just like getting barrelled, ordering a custom surfboard is a unique charm of surfing, something that most sports just don’t allow for.

And thus the act should be similarly cherished and savoured. Even the trip to pick up your custom surfboard can be as exciting as checking the surf at a new spot.

But there are so many ways custom surfboards can go wrong… Did the shaper nail exactly what you wanted? Was the spray guy really listening ? Should you have ordered thicker? So many potential banana skins…

To avoid disappointment, there are a few things to consider before submitting that custom order form for your next custom surfboard.


Whether it’s the shaper or the shop owner taking your order, make sure the details are clear and precise. When the form is filled in, read it again, as if you had no prior knowledge of the surfboard. Is there enough detail? As your surfboard gets built it’ll be passed around the factory from shaper to glasser to sander to sprayer etc, so the order form must be clear and accurate.


Be open and honest about how rad you are(n’t) when discussing exactly what you want. A statement full of heartfelt candour like ‘I just want to catch waves, go fast, have fun, man… I’ll probably not be doing rodeos’ will probably see you getting a better surfboard than any silly faux posturing as the second coming of Dane. You might even get a hug.


If you really want a particular shape, don’t let the shaper talk you into their latest wacky whimsical creation. If you want a a singlefin, don’t let em talk you into a bonzer. Or vice-versa… Reign them in. Listen to their advice, and sure, there should be wiggle room, but stick to your guns. It’s called a ‘custom’ and you are the ‘custom-er’. Be firm, without being a tool.


On the other hand, don’t go experimenting with your own dimensions too far outside the standards for a particular model. That particular surfboard has been designed to have that form. The shaper’s job is to know what width and thickness suits what length for what board. Let them advise you here, they know their own models.


Sure, you want it to look great, but keep it in perspective; functionality over aesthetic – the real importance of a custom board is how it is going to make your life better by being insane in the water.

On the other hand, if it looks awful (some colours look ‘heavy’, flames are always shit, etc), you might find it hard to love it. And we all want to love our boards, right?


Give the board a chance once you finally do get in the water. The poor thing has so many expectations on its shoulders and it will need time to show you its talents. Many a magic stick hasn’t feel good immediately but unleashed its magical power after given a proper chance in a range of conditions. For further tips on that tricky first surf/test drive are here.


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