So in order to build one of these things you need wood, lots of wood. Ok, maybe not a lot of wood, but it seems like a lot because it’s frigging thin and in some case more than 12 feet long. Now I have a wood guy. And, I am sure some of you have your own special ‘guy’ that is able to hook you up with something or some service, at a great price. And those of us who have a ‘wood guy’ or a ‘car guy’ or a ‘cable guy’, have a hard time giving that guy’s name to someone else for so many reasons. The primary reason being the fear of him no longer giving you the smoking deal you have been accustomed to because he is giving all of your friends deals since you were stupid enough to give out ‘your guy’s’ name. So I will only tell you this about my wood guy, he’s cheap, he has reclaimed wood that’s been sourced locally, and he is located somewhere in the 250 area code.
Now I have been building furniture, among other things, for a long time and I hate planing wood. But, in order to make these surf and paddleboards the wood has to be no more than ¼ inch thick. So when you purchase 3/8” thick lumber you inevitably create a lot of shaving and sawdust during the process of milling down those thicker boards. Now, when I first looked into making a wood surfboard I did so believing that this was a “green” and “eco-friendly” endeavor. And, I guess technically it is. Trees can re-grow so it’s sustainable, and since the blank is wood, not foam, there is less reliance on petrochemical by-products (we still can’t get away without using fiberglass and polyurethanes). But the fact remains that I am left with a ton of wood shavings and scraps no matter how frugal I am with materials. So what that means is right now I have about 3 garbage bags of shavings , and ½ a chord of cedar kindling, so if you own a hamster or use a wood stove have I got a deal for you.
|Sawdust and bundled kindling|
The actual build is pretty straightforward. It’s pretty much like building an airplane wing. There are a number of ribs and a center spar and on that ‘skeleton’ we attach the top and bottom decks, along with the rails to create the surfboard blank.
Perhaps the most finicky part was railing the board. The process is borrowed from ship building and is called the ‘strip and feather’ method. Ideally each rail strip has a tongue and a groove (we in the biz call it a bead and cove). These are interlocked around the rib to shape the rails of the board. The tedium comes with waiting for glue to cure each time you lay up one rail strip. Some quick math for you…
…11 rails strips per rail (left and right), 1 hour to lay up 2 rails (one on each side), 2 hours for glue to cure, that right 33 hours to rail a board…this time commitment comes on the heels of me inadvertently using the ‘slow cure’ adhesive, not the ‘fast cure’ to glue the bottom deck to the ribs and spar. Slow cure requires 7 days to cure, fast cure requires 24 hours. Note to self, use only the fast cure from now on…
Once the board is railed blocking is added for the vent plug and fin box. I did this while waiting for glue to dry. The vent plug is so the board doesn’t blow apart. Since it’s hollow there will be a difference in pressure inside and outside the board that needs to equalize or else….KABOOM… I am putting in a fin box because a glassed on fin doesn’t seem practical and kind of scares me a little. Speaking of fins, Christmas came early when I received the call from Scott at Island Longboards that my fins were in. I found some replica’s of the Velzy style wooden skeg fins that are thick and weigh a ton and look frigging cool so since this board is fairly retro I figured we should keep the fins pretty classic as well.
Chances are if you are reading this and it’s not New Years Eve yet, I am probably still waiting for glue to cure. The top deck is on and clamped up and the petrochemical by-products are doing their thing. In addition to adhering the deck to the frame these petrochemicals may also cause impotence with prolonged exposure. Thank god I have two kids...
|Ribs and spar prior to being glued up|
|Ribs and spar ready for decking|
|Ribs glued to bottom deck, starting the railing process|
|Railed board and fin block installed|
|Sweet wood fins|