Alaia Surfboard help...

Hey guys,
i have just recently discovered the art of the alaia surfboard, and am wanting to know more. i am trying to come up with a design for one myself. i need to know a couple of things…

  1. Will douglas fir and/or cedar wood work for the board? any others???

2)What size to make the board?? i am a pretty good surfer(not to get a big head or anything), and am looking for a cruiser that can also be used for cutbacks/sliding? (i am only about 140-150lbs)

3)Does adding a fish tail instead of a square tail give you more “grip” on cutbacks/turns?

  1. Do i have to have an elec. planer to make this board??(trying to keep cost down)

thanks and if you have any tips or anything that could possibly help…please say

All your questions can be answerd in doing some research in the archives! There is a ton of stuff in there, and if you want to learn then figure it out on your own. Make your own mistakes and make your own designs. This will help you understand things in real time not what someone suggests would work for them or other. Good luck with it. I have made  a few alaia's and they have come out alright. Pm me if you want some info or questions. R

  1. Yes.

  2. Six to seven ft.

  3. Leave it square till you can actually do cutbacks and turns.

  4. No.

a grinder is my favorite tool when making alaias. a template with a wider forward point then a narrow point about 1 foot from the tail then a wider tail is really fun.

i used pine and it works well

thanks guys for the responds. if i am only 145 lbs will a 6’6" float me good?? i want it to be able to catch waves well and cruise but also be able to turn(when i get that good haha)

anymore advise??

No it won't float you. But thats the way they are. I had one over 7 but it was little help. I would guess it would need to be quite longer to get more float. Wax up the deck real well so it doesn't slip out when paddling. Sometimes I have to keep my knees low in the water to keep the board strait paddling out. Mine catch waves well but getting into position is hard. Oh yeah, I'm the same weight.



I don’t want to be a dampener but as tbod mentioned alaia aren’t super floaters. They are harder work. In a crowded lineup you’ll be at the bottom of the pecking order. As for turns and cutbacks, it will be a process of relearning. You’ll soon find that an alaia isn’t simply a performance wood board. I ride a prone wood board (s) and a guy was speaking to me in the surf. He’d made a wood alaia to ride standup, rode it once barely caught any waves and couldn’t really ride it. He gave up on it  Like the zen student, you have to learn to surf all over again. You appreciate difefrent trypes of waves and different feelings from riding them. They are fun. You won’t win an ASP event on one though.










I ride mine about once a month and it really tunes up the rest of my surfing because it forces me to paddle hard and be in the right position. my general feeling is, after 2 hours on an alaia, all other boards feel easy.

like tbod says, wax it up, and sit back on it at first. get the nose out of the water, get moving, then once you get going put the nose down and start sprint paddling.


if you are still shaping it, adding a single concave out the back or vee in the bottom will help it paddle more in a straight line. otherwise the board moves around while paddling

so would in between 6’10"-7’0" be a better way to go?? and do i seal the cedar wood with varnish coal?? if so…what kind?

thanks much!

Like any board you will have to see what you want from it to know the right dimensions. You can always make it shorter though. You should seal the wood to stop the cycle of taking water in (mostly in the end grain) and rapid drying which will distort and split the wood. Anything that does that will work in varying degrees. You can do a search to find more on that.

Do a search using the word ‘linseed’ You will find threads regarding sealing alaia, alaia construction & all sorts of other interesting stuff . Resin, oil or varnsih all have their advocates.



will this “loctite 1 min. epoxy” work to gule the cedar boards together. it claims that it bonds wood, but what about in the saltwater?? will it hold up?

I would stay away from all the minute and five minute epoxys. You are better off with quality water resitant wood glue and keeping the water out of the wood. Not polyurathane glue though. (gorilla glue). Some Sways guys swear by laminating epoxy but I have not had success with it. Lots of info on sways so you have to try some stuff use your best experience and judgement. Maybe make a few mistakes and have a good time. Best thing for the joint is to get it joined flat and strait on both surfaces.

It might glue it - but you want plenty of time to set the joins.One minute will equal disaster unless you are superman. My latest glue up had a little more hardener than usual because it was winter and  it was getting on dark. It seemed to set a bit more brittle than usual. Fast drying gllue is definitely not what you want.

There have been a few glue threads here & on th epaipo forum.





Hi Bob,

Almost a simultaneous post. I have had the minute epoxys fail too often regardless of the task. I use cyanocrylate for almost everything it seems.


Pstalls you could add an extra 1/4 in. width per glue joint so if the method you use doesn't work you can rip out the joint and re join and try something else.


Hello tbod,


Simultaneous posts can get a bit confusing, but here there is agreement. Wood can be quite forgiving and allow re-joins as you say. A definite advantage for the error prone like me.



  1. As mentioned above, once you get out into the lineup and have been paddling around for a little bit, you will be much much more focused simply catching a wave and standing up then anything else. I started with a square tail and hope to cut a swallow in in a few months or so. Will I (or would anyone besides say Rasta or Harrison Roach) even notice the difference? Probably not

  2. I did the whole of mine pretty much with just a standard hand plane, pictured below, and that did a great job. A surform helped round up the nose and an orbital sander was necessary to put in some concave, but that probably could have even been done with the surform if you had enough tenacity. 



can i just seal the board with thompson waterseal? i found it at my house…so it would save me $ :slight_smile: or do i need to go buy some marine varnish? and does the linseed oil completely seal or just repel water?

I shaped my 7'11" alaia out of pine (I'm 175lbs) and it didn't have but minimum buoyancy.  If you can't accept the fact that you're gonna be paddling like a madman, then alaia surfing isn't right for you.  For me the hardest part was learning to paddle.  I typically ride the rails, so that part came fairly easy.  For your concave I'd suggest a razor sharp wood chisel or razor blade planer to make your passes. I planed a slight rocker in the nose to help with pearling, threw in rounded rails all the way around, 25" up the tail I started my concave at the "stringer" and ran down to within 2" of the rail, no more than 7/16" deep.  the board is 1 1/2" thick, 20" wide and actually is fun to ride on the nose.  Used Japanese Kuro Sumi calligraphy ink on the deck (waterproof after drying), threw a light coat of PU resin on it to protect the wood and to hold wax better. 

I am a firm believer after my first board was shaped that linseed should be used to seal the board.  If you're gonna use pine, don't use it for alaia.  It does surf well, but protecting the wood is a pain in the you-know-where.  I'm currently doing some research on cedar and multiple other woods for alaia, as theyre easy to pop out and fun, cedar is a plentiful wood and easy to shape out.  As for tools, I use a jigsaw for my rough cut, surform planer for shaping my rails and a hand chisel to ease my concave in... i think concave is just as important as the shape! 

when my buddy Brett took my board to Kure Beach (center pier) he stood on the sandbar til he got the hang of getting up and setting the rail on the alaia, but within 15 minutes he was paddling into waves on it!  (note: he's 6'3" adn 185lbs on a 7'11"x1 1/2x20")

I hope any of this helps.


Yes commercial water sealers like the one you mentioned can be used.