Are you kidding me? Talking about surfing in a woodworking forum? “Hey bro, I’m stoked, surf’s crankin’ at 22nd street, we gotta jam before the kooks take over and it gets blown out! Uh, you got any money for gas?”
Growing up in Southern California and being the proud son of one of the Pioneer Members of the Hermosa Beach Surfer’s Walk of Fame, I have repaired, remade, and made my share of surfboards. The parents’ garage was a beehive of activity in the summer as my brothers and I fixed friends’ boards and were lucky enough to have a father who was able, and not only that, enjoyed, helping us learn the art of repairing, shaping, and glassing surfboards. I do think it was unfair to make me chip off the resin from the garage floor with a hammer and cold chisel before I left for college, as I’m sure it was mostly my brothers’ fault, but hey, parents aren’t perfect.
Wood Surfboards Were a Thing of the Past – In the Past
Wood surfboards were something we had heard about, seen once or twice, but knew were things of the past. We had foam, man! Dad showed us pictures of the redwood board he made in his heydey that was so heavy when he took it to the PV Cove to surf he didn’t have to worry about it being stolen, because it was too big a burden to carry back up the cliff, at least by a thief on the run. These were solid surfboards made of redwood stop sign posts that had been “mysteriously” broken. Before it even became fashionable, my father was a strong believer in recycling.
Now You Can Build Hollow Wooden Surfboards
In 1929, surfing guru and innovator Tom Blake built a board around an internal frame which at the time was called a “cigar box construction.” It was hollow, with a plywood deck and bottom, and had a plug you could take out to let the water out. The evolution of wood surfboards that you and I can make has blown my mind. Grain surfboards is an awesome website for ordering plans and getting hands-on help to make your wooden stick. Another site for hollow wooden surfboards is Wood Surfboard Supply. Who knew!!!
And here’s the kicker- and I’m serious- Grizzly.com has surfboard kits as well. No s__t! I would have lost the farm on a wager on that one. So if you want to branch out a bit from traditional woodworking methods and finishing techniques, try one of these kits and get to know your inner fiberglassing self. It’s a whole new world of resin, catalyst, and acetone that will only broaden your already wide world of wood. We’ve got the clamps, we’ve got the glue, let’s make some boards! SUP (stand up paddleboards) are what I’m going for next. I’m also going to send requests for a sit-down paddleboard that I’m sure will be a first (and I mean with a chair).
I would be remiss if I didn’t include that the undying love shown by our mother through our formative years, when Dad and sons were mixing toxic batches of resin just before dinner, going surfing on Thanksgiving Day morning cause Dad said no one else would be there, and burning out the dryer because we needed to heat up our wetsuits, was an essential contributor to our success and survival. Thanks, Mom. And I’m sorry for what my brothers did.