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Surf Tips

How To Shape Your Own Surfboard

Pro surfer Daniel Jones has access to the best shapers in the universe around his North Shore home, yet still elects to shape his own. Why? Coz he can. Photo: Foley

Some people are naturally good with their hands.

Jesus, reportedly, was a carpenter, and despite what would have been a brief career, would have understood how to work a planer.

Today, shaping your own surfboard is a la mode, and can be creatively fulfilling, albeit messy and a touch carcinogenic.

1. ATTEMPT A BUXOM, VOLUPTUOUS SHAPE AS YOUR FIRST EFFORT

If attempting to shape your own surfboard for the first time, don’t try and make a 5’11” x 18 3/16” squash tail for Maccas, where precision governs. Go for something a bit different, whereby you might be able to lean towards ‘artistic licence’ over precision engineering.

A short n’ wide piece of shit is generally more palatable/functional than another kind.

2. SET UP YOUR SHAPING ‘ROOM’ SOMEWHERE WHERE YOU WON’T HURT WILDLIFE

In order to shape your own surfboard in peace and tranquility you need the right space. Choose somewhere where you have time unmolested, a few days perhaps, as your shape space. If possible, use ‘u’ trestles, but if not, use whatever you can; a wonky stepladder and an old chair, perhaps.

Whatever you use, try to make the garage your shape space, rather than in the lounge.

You’re a ‘backyard’ shaper, not a front room.

3. PROTECT YOURSELF

Goggles, mask and bodysuit are recommended when shaping your own surfboard. These are available from a hardware store, and are relatively inexpensive.

Otherwise, in terms of kit, you’ll also need: a blank, saw, planer, steel square, pencil, sandpaper and a sanding block.

4. TAKE YOUR TIME

 

Shaping your own surfboard requires a degree of Zen. Mentally prepare to make slow, measured, therapeutic passes of tools rather than frantic hackery to go from unshaped blank to finished shape.

If you use accompanying music, choose a genre that instils calm creativity, or heightens focus.

Classical music or long indulgent Pink Floyd instrumentals might be better than Dubstep…

Mentally prepare to make slow, measured, therapeutic passes of tools rather than frantic hackery to go from unshaped blank to finished shape

5. VISUALISE YOUR PLAN SHAPE WITHIN YOUR BLANK THEN DRAW IT

On the underside, draw your outline, using a template from a board you like.

Mark off a foot in from the nose and tail and at regular intervals along the blank, making pencil lines perpendicular to the stringer.

These can be measured to aid outline symmetry.

6. GET THE ORDER RIGHT

 

In shaping, as in life, certain things are best done in certain order. Mirror – signal – manoeuvre is one such example, when operating a motor vehicle. Eye contact across the (excercise) yard, then nice chatting, then light petting, then heavy petting is the conventional order in courtship. So too, does the shaping of surf craft from raw materials follow an advisable set of progressive steps:

1. Saw your outline.

2. Shape rocker and foil using the planer on deck and underside.

3. Bottom shape using sanding block.

4. Shape the rails.

SIGN THE STRINGER

Ahhh. This climatic moment of supreme satisfaction is what you were really after all along.

Temper any creeping pride/satisfaction by remembering that all unglassed blanks look pretty cool.

Take a couple of pictures, coz it’s all downhill from here sunshine.

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