1st build - small waves

Hi friends,

I’ve finally decided to shape my first board! I plan to use it (if it even floats lol) in Normandy (France), where the waves are mostly mushy, often smaller than 2ft, and pretty long. Even though I usually ride thrusters, the board I’ve enjoyed the most so far in this spot is a 9’ longboard with either the single fin all the way back to walk on the board or the fin all the way forward for a floaty flowy feeling during turns. If I could shape a longboard I would but it seems complicated for a first shape (lots of shaping, sanding… etc), doesn’t it? I’ve looked at templates online but I couldn’t find what I’m looking for. For instance Egg C on the blending curves website seems better suited for clean waves, not for mushy super small conditions. I’m thinking:

  • somewhere between 7-8’ long, single fin

  • quite fat (3" ?)

  • quite wide (22" ?)

  • with a tail large enough to catch anything

What do you think? 

(I measure 1m87 and weigh 75kg)

Slow, mushy and long is noserider conditions.   There’s no point in trying to build a board that will do it all.Better to fit the board to the conditions you’ll be surfing it in.  Save the midlength for your next shape and for use in waist-to-head high conditions.  .   If you are accustomed to surfing a shortboard then a pig-type layout may be an easier transition for you, however those are a little less forgiving in terms of paddling and transitions.  It’s easy to pearl one of those if your positioning and timing are sloppy.   Otherwise a traditional noserider setup will be more forgiving for most people who are new to longboarding.   

Wide tail block with rounded rails that will suck to the face of the wave, fin set to the rear so it will hold when you are forward, low nose rocker, some kick in the tail.  At your weight go a little longer than 9ft.   A longboard will be a little more work just because there’s more surface area, but not that much more work.   They sell blanks for this style of board so you won’t even have to get creative in order to hit your dimensions and rocker.   


i get where you’re coming from - its a lot of foam, and a longer rail line so it can be tricky. I personally really like shaping longboards. longboards are special.

do you have help?

If you’re glassing it too and you’re worried about materials and time, perhaps going smaller is smarter. If you’re passing it off to a glasser, why not just go for the 9’? I don’t see one foot making that much of a difference. it can be a really rewarding experience because you’ll be able to ride it all the time (especially in <2ft like you described).

there should be a few templates on BC for this kind of thing that will more closely match your desired dimensions: 9’ x 22" x 3’ 

I think the general consensus for a first shape though would be something in the midlength realm. you may need to combine a few templates from BC to get what you’re looking for if that is your only source for a template. if you do end up going with a 7-8’ symmetrical, popsicle stick kind of shape, you may consider adding some fins on the rails as well to aid in turning. I will say that for rails specifically a midlength is probably much more similar to what you have experience with in terms of surfing and handling boards.

Thank you both for your answers. There is no glasser around so I’ll have to do everything myself, but some friends might help me in the process (they also have 0 experience in building boards though). I get what you say with the longboard, what would be the difference between a pig (like longboard template C) and a noserider (template E)?

If I decide to go midlength, what do you think of a shape in the style of the furrow stubbie or coastal cruiser? Will the wave catching ability really differ from a longboard? In the same spot I’ve surfed a 6’x20"x2" fish and you do have to paddle a lot lot more to catch waves but it’s a more aggressive shape than these two. 

Midlengths are good for cruising in day-to-day conditions, but they’re not a substitute for a longboard in the conditions you’re talking about.  With that said, if you’re fixated on the length then it doesn’t much matter which midlength shape you pick.  Pick the one that appeals to you and don’t worry about it because regardless of which one you pick you’ll still be losing waves to every kook on a longboard in your vicinity.  

If you’re smart you’ll take our advice and stick to glassing your first few boards in clear until you become competent with your laminating techniques.  You should be striving to get the clean and tight lamination with good saturation and adhesion.   And it’s never too soon to start working on doing your lams with cutlaps because that’s an essential skill for a board builder.

On the other hand, if you’re like most new builders you’ll ignore that advice and attempt a resin tint or a wild resin acid splash to make your board stand out among your friends and it’ll end up looking like dogsht precisely because you haven’t yet gotten competent with your laminating and cutlaps.       

These are all learned skills.  It’s up to you to decide where in the learning curve you’re going to attempt to jump in.     

Actually I wasn’t thinking about doing a resin tint because I believe UV resin + freelap is easier?

It is easier.   

I think those are good choices for new builders.  More noobs should do like you.      

UV is definitely easier to do, but you do have to time your lamination job to take full advantage of the sun’s exposure.   Freelap is easier to do well so long as you do short laps and don’t get too far up onto the flats.    

One problem with long lamination time frames is that the resin will soak into the foam, thereby draining the lamination a bit.  You can beat that problem by using a cheater coat on the blank itself prior to laminating.  Add in a little catalyst and apply a thin coat of laminating resin to the blank, flash it and you’ll have a bit of a shell for your lam to adhere to and thus avoid excessive drainage.  If you want.   

well here they are so we can all see what you’re referring to…

Not a whole lot of difference aside from widths in the nose and tail, and the pig obviously has the wide point back with “hips”. both of these have a lot of parallel lines, but the log outline is moreso considering how much fuller both the nose and tail width are. Gdaddy already outlined the merits of the pig shape.

as for those furrow boards, i personally think the appeal is in the bottom contour, and i would not suggest you try to match it. just shape something as flat as you can get it. also like gdaddy said, these will not substitute

and yes uv resin and clear all day. I’m actually really excited to potentially get back into glassing and thats what I’ll be doing. sand only finishes.

Thanks for all the information! I guess I prefer to shape something in the 7’ range for my first board, and I will keep borrowing my friend’s longboard for the smaller days :wink: I’m thinking single fin, flat to vee, low rocker & boxy rails.

A few kooky questions:

For the outline, does a “flat” nose (when seen from above) behaves differently than a “slightly pointy” nose? From my experience I would think the latter cuts through small waves & chop when paddling but I’m not sure

Do you recommend any other source than blending curves to find a good template? I messed around with Shape3D light (I couldn’t change the fin configuration and the bottom countour/rails though) but I’m quite confident I have no idea of what I’m doing 

Do you recommend any good tutorial for rail shaping?

I totally forgot to order a squeegee and couldn’t find one at my local store, is there something else I can use or is it best to use the real thing?

I’d go a little longer than 7 feet, something closer to 8 feet with low rocker like the image you show. I’d make the tail a bit more square and pulling it in a little more. I have found boxy rails a terrible choice. I prefer a thinner rail about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, and closer to a round curve or 50/50, but with a little bit of a tucked under shape that gets a hard edge about a third from the tail.

I’m making a 7 foot fish tail board but it will only be about 2 1/2 inches thick. Very flat deck and flat bottom with a bit of vee in the tail. Wide point a bit forward and a straighter tail for more drive. It is 22 inches wide. The width and thickness should give me good paddling, and I plan to use the board in small to overhead surf. It will have side fins and a long center box. The plan is to be abe to ride it as a single or twin in smaller surf and as a single plus 2 sidebites on bigger days.

What I do for the rails is use a tool to draw lines along the side of the blank, once it is profiled and outlined trued up, at 1/2 inch and 1 1/8 or 1 1/2 inches from the bottom. I draw a line on the bottom 1/2 inch from the rail. That line is my guide to the bottom cut at about 45 degrees. I start cutting about 18 to 20 inches from the tail and go all the way to the nose. The line along the side at 1 1//8 or 1 1/2 inches is the final thickness I want the rails, so I’ll make a cut at about 45 degrees until I reach that line, but I make adjustments as the board gets thinner at the nose and tail. Then I’ll make another band just inside of that to bring the rail down and a third band that might go to about 3 1/2 or 4 inches in from the rail. Then just smooth out the deck but don’t mess with the final rail shape. Running a sanding block from the opposite side of the board is an easy way t smooth out the rail bands. Make sure it looks right and then I do the rounding of the rail. I use a piece of belt sander media for the first part, 100 grit or so, just to start the rounding off, then go to a 220 screen material for drywall, then 220 grit sand paper to do a final smoothing. I try to make the rail shape close to round, but with an edge on the bottom, so it’s not completely round. That edge goes from barely noticeable at the first third to noticeable but not hard at center to hard by the last third of the board. On many of my boards the bottom at the tail is 90 degrees, and in many cases the shape of quarter round wood molding.

Hope this helps, but take note that I’m a hack, no formal training, just years of making boards for myself. I’ve found that extra width and thin rails is better than extra thickness and thick rails. I also have found that a rounder rail shape works well where I live. I also like flat bottoms with a little concave under the nose with flatter rocker. But my new board has more nose kick because low rocker tends to get tricky dropping into waves overhead. Another thing, I’m a small guy, 5 foot 6 inches and just under 160 pounds now, been surfing regularly for more than 50 years. Board size and shape is very dependent on the surfer and the location that person is surfing. What I like may not be right for you.

There is much wisdom, in the above post.     Read it twice per day, for three days, so that it sinks in.

Let’s all keep in mind the OP is surfing in Normandy, “where the waves are mostly mushy, often smaller than 2ft”.  


Hi friends! Quick update: I finished the board, thanks to all your replies and also other posts I saw on swaylocks. Due to different limitiations I ended with a 7 x22x 3 1/8 blending curve retro D template with quite thick rails, and little vee in the nose (to cut through chop) to almost flat to subtle vee. I went for a Greenough 4a 8.5’ fin.

I tested the board for the first time today! I had loads of fun, and I love it even though I can feel that it’s far from perfect. It’s flowy and connects through turns if that makes sense. However I was quite surprised to realize that even though it paddles like a longboard, you really have to be in the critical section of the wave in order to catch it. It’s also a bit slow. I’m wondering why that is. Could it be the rocker? But then wouldn’t the paddling be also hard? Could it be the thick tail/rails? Also would the position of the fin in the box influence the overall speed? Thanks again for all your knowledge!

There’s nothing bad about your design, but if you go back and re-read, we DID tell you from the outset that a 7ft length wouldn’t surf small/mushy as well as a longboard.  The 7ft length is better suited for other conditions, including conditions where a longboard won’t be as easy to surf.    

A 9ft board has a 2ft longer rail line and that much more wetted surface area so of course it’s going to be much more forgiving on your margin of error insofar as syncing your board speed with the wave speed.   A 2ft longer rail line has that much more rail engaged in the face of the wave, which that rail line is your engine.   Unlike with a thruster, you’re not generating the energy with pumping a fin cluster, but are allowing the rail line to generate that energy - the board is doing more of the work.   

A 7ft singlefin is going to surf like a 7ft singlefin; you can set a rail and run down the line but the design is really more about surfing the wave a bit more actively.  Making more turns and using more of the face, which you will have in slightly larger and faster conditions but which you don’t have in really small/weak conditions.   

There’s nothing wrong with your rocker.  That board will almost certainly make any drop you’re capable of taking.  

Next time hit us up before you take the board to the glasser and we’ll point you in the right direction with the rails and the foil.   But in the meantime you should enjoy this board for what it is and work at figuring out it’s strengths.   Most new-to-you designs will have something to teach you that will translate into how you surf your other boards.   Build-your-own is as much about testing out new different way to surf the wave as it is about improving your shaping and glassing skills.   

Thank you for your reply! English is not my native language so maybe I was unclear: of course a 7 feet board won’t catch every tiny ripple wave like a longboard. However I’ve surfed a 5’10 groveler which I feel has a better wave catching ability than this one. I’m wondering why that is, and it is the point of my previous post :slight_smile:

I’ve surfed it again today and I really liked it. Still figuring out the right fin positionning though. By the way I glassed it myself! hence the sloppy glass job lol. I’m starting to see some checkerboard patterns on the deck under the gloss coat, should I be worried? I’m quite sure it’s not burn-throughs that happened during the sanding

Good for you for doing your own glassing.   

As I’ve been saying, I think you should just surf this board and not worry about any imperfections.  Everyone has to start from the beginning in this process, so just enoy that process for what it is.   The next one will turn out better and in 10 boards you’ll have a lot more confidence.   

One reason your 5-10 may have moved better may have been if it was a thruster or a quad and you were able to use the cluster.   Most singlefin designs move faster if you just let them run.    With those you’re looking for smoothness and glide, not thrust.    With singlefins you need to do a proper bottom turn and look ahead to plan your turns; you’re not creating your drive, you’re extracting it out of the wave for all it’s got.      It’s a different approach to rufing.  

My guess on your speed issue is lack of lift. (the bottom rocker looks pretty flat and, funilly, flat is not always fastest, but let’s leave that aside)

It’s normal for first shapes to have soft undertuck and softer tail edges.

You can try to build up a resin edge from 2’ off nose to tail and see if it helps.

But then again, it could be there’s not enough power in the wave.

Thank you for your replies! I tried it again and as gdaddy said the bottom turn really sets the wole wave. I’m intrigued, why would a flatter rocker be slower? I might try to build a resin edge, on the tail it’s not really sharp at the moment.

You can play around with Bondo or other form of bodyfiller that they use on the body work for cars/trucks.   It’s a temporary fix that you can add or adjust or remove in order to see what the different contours are doing to the ride.   It’s less of a commitment than adding a resin edge.