Surf Forever Dude – Making a Wooden Surfboard Phase 3

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A major bonus in hooking up with an old friend to do a project like this wooden surfboard is the camaraderie that comes from working together on a labor of love…  and using his garage. To make a wooden surfboard takes patience, perseverance, and someone else’s garage. It also helps if you work at a wood shop where you can collect scraps and falloffs from projects that you can use instead of just going into the dumpster. I’ve got to admit, I have no idea how a regular surfer dude or chick would be able to make their own surfboard. The wood strips used for the deck and bottom need to be around three sixteenths of an inch thick. There are certainly a fair share of weekend warriors out there with bench top mounted planers, but how many are surfers? And how many want to make their own surfboard?

I figured out the other day why I haven’t made a wooden board before….. who had the time? Now I realize I should have done this sooner. It’s like not taking a vacation to somewhere special, because it wasn’t the right time to take off from work. Two years or even two months later, no one remembers whether you went on vacation or not! So WTF!

On With The Surfboard – Phase 3 Step 1

So we have our interior structure put together and now we’re ready to start putting on the deck strips. All we have to do is go over to the table saw and rip some wood and glue it on, right?

I don’t think so.

First, you’re supposed to plan ahead and get the strips of wood pre-bent to follow the rocker of the board.  But what surfer plans ahead? To pre-bend, you actually put the strips together like they’re going on the board, and using steps or wood or whatever, weigh them down so they begin to have, what will be more or less, the same rocker as your board. If you pass on this crucial step, your strips of wood, straight wood mind you, will try to take the rocker out of your board. I would be remiss if I were to fail to properly expound upon using someone else’s garage….. you need their patio and side yard as well.

pre-bending wood strips
high tech bench & concrete block method for pre-bending wood strips

Here’s How to Apply Your Surfboard Deck Strips

You start by gluing on the center strip of wood right down the middle. It is the same for all projects: If the foundation sucks, it will go downhill from there. Make it nice and straight and start off right. The kit maker recommended buying stretch wrap to use as clamps. Here’s how to do it: Buy some three or five inch wide rolls of stretch wrap and peel off some three foot lengths. Take the wrap and twist it so you use it more like rope. It’s still very stretchy and it sticks to itself, so its really easy to use.

shrink wrap for clampsWe used strips of wood one inch wide and we set down one strip on each side of the stringer at a time and worked our way out to the rail. As the strips were laid down further and further from the center, we had to pass the stretch wrap “ropes” under the suspended frame – and I am glad we have no video of that. Sometimes the strips would not lie down as flat as we wanted, so actual clamps were needed. Time to Break Out Another Roll (of) Dollars….. now I know what BOARD stands for.

Timing and Dress Code for Gluing Your Strips

We used Gorilla Glue from our sponsor Rockler and I really think they should offer some type of award for the sheer number of bottles I have relieved them of. This was the water resistant glue. Try to wear the same sweats, jeans, t-shirt or whatever every time you work with this stuff, unless you have an unlimited supply of clothes you don’t mind having decorated, permanently, with dried glue. The Gorilla Glue is fast setting so the opportunity, or lure as it were, to try to do two strips a night after work is strong.  Note:  If you decide to succumb to this temptation, I recommend a call to the home front to follow proper protocol. Failure to do so will result in bad things happening. At HomeFixated, we not only look out for your you, but we’re looking out for your marriage too! Single folks, please disregard, and simply revel in the autonomy you enjoy.

Making a Surfboard Involves Neglecting One’s Children Too

My friend Jimbo’s two daughters have been great in helping document our journey to wooden surfboard heaven – shooting a few pictures as we work and making more than a few disdainful comments.  Shea just graduated from South High In Torrance (my alma mater with the amusing acronym), and was a member of the championship surf team, while Olivia, at 13, is going into 8th grade and is a member of Junior Lifeguards. They have been patient about Dad hanging in the garage with uncle B-Rad.  Wait a minute – I have a sneaking suspicion they like having dad in the garage … Just sayin’…

At one point the two lovely young ladies asked when the patio and side yard were going to be available for use again, and I said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.”

With a slight tilt of the head, and a “Wha?” look on their faces, they just shrugged and went back in the house…

clamps on board
Who wouldn’t want this setup in his garage?
Photo of author

About Brad

Brad Baker is Vice President of Operations at Miller Woodworking in the Los Angeles area, designers and builders of custom cabinetry and interior millwork for the rich and famous. They make the impossible, and their work has been featured in fancy schmantsy architectural glossies more than a few times. All that high end creative stuff aside, he maintains a strong spiritual belief that the real sign of a good woodworker is all 10 fingers. He and his wife Ann Baker co-write for HomeFixated. Ann is CEO of Publicity Pros, a firm that provides “All Things Publicity” services and training for small businesses. She’s a hopeless nerd who revels in anything and everything having to do with the technology of attracting attention. And, no joke, she loves to bake.

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