Board #001 In Progress

I figured I’d start a thread to document the board’s journey. Those are some of my favorite threads to follow, anyways.

I’ve started with the fins. Someone was kind enough to give me a piece of quality plywood to work with. I drew up the template on graph paper. It took me a dozen or so attempts to end up with something I liked.

I traced the template onto the ply and cut way outside the lines with a jigsaw. The ply was thin and the cutting was shaky, so I figured I’d give myself room to breathe and then clean it up with the dremel. That worked alright, but it takes a very steady hand to sand smooth curves with the dremel. I ended up with pretty rough cutouts, but I cleaned them up some with sand paper and a small plane.

Then the foiling. I’m really glad everyone suggested I shape a fish, and I’m especially glad I went about shaping the fins first. Foiling the fins with a dremel is giving me a better sense for what shaping rails will be like. It’s nice to have a testing ground for blending bands into a smooth curve and connecting them one side to the other.

The more I went at it the better I got. One fin is roughly foiled, although I’ll take more volume out of the trailing edge and smooth everything out tomorrow. The other fin still awaits. One long evening and they should be good to go. I can already tell I’m going to be slow at this :slight_smile:

Thanks for all the help.

I think you are on the right path to take your time and document. there’s no rush. get the technique down and keep on keepin on. keep us posted!!

that’s a great first attempt Phill! I’d figure the Dremel, being a small tool, would be difficult

to get smooth lines, but you’ve proved that wrong. Keep the good times coming!!!

Thanks! It definitely took some getting used to, but once I got the speed set to something comfortable and got a good feel for how much wood is taken off with each pass… things started to go pretty smoothly.

It’s worth mentioning to anyone considering using one that you’ll want both eye protection and a mask. The dust that thing sends off is very, very fine!


It’s nice to have a testing ground for blending bands into a smooth curve and connecting them one side to the other.

The more I went at it the better I got. One fin is roughly foiled, although I’ll take more volume out of the trailing edge and smooth everything out tomorrow. The other fin still awaits.

So this suggest pertains more to rail bands, but your comment on your on blending bands on your fins is what brought it to mind… One thing that really helped me with my first board a few years back… Work each side a little bit at a time. In this case I’d say work each fin together not finish one and start the other. The idea is that you will learn a lot as you go and will allow you to have more understanding when you get to the end of the first side or in your current phase, first fin. The other important part is it will give you a lot of practice in trying to make each side the same.

Work the left rail for a little while, stop, make the right rail match the left, then continue to repeat the process until you have what you want.

This can also help because when your starting out it can be hard to get your second rail to match the first, but if your only trying to match baby steps as you go then it is easier.

On the first board, I’d even suggest going so far as to lay one rail band on each side before laying the next.

Symmetry is key and a tough thing for the first timer to get. Yeah it takes a little longer, but remember…

It not the destination it is the journey, and the journey of the first one only happens once. Take your time.

Glad to hear that suggestion… I had been thinking about doing exactly that for the rails… laying one band on each side. I figure if I keep each band symetrical, the rails oughta be… if I do an entire rail then the other… fixing any symetry issues will probably be impossible for me :slight_smile:


Nice work so far on the fins! Have you gotten a blank yet?


That’s a good way to go, fins first. Plus it will make you really think about the board comprehensively rather than just as a bunch of different pieces.

They look good, man! The board must be a twinkle in your eye.

Thanks Max and C…

No blank yet. I checked out the selection at Mitch’s in Solana Beach. They had some rhino blanks but they were incredibly expensive. The guy at the shop admitted they paid too much for them and told me the price would be dropping when they got a new shipment in. Also, he said they’ll be getting US Blanks in a couple of weeks.

Both companies have blanks that run close-ish to the 6’2"C… This week and weekend I’ll finish the fins and get the rest of what I need together… Still planning to build calipers and I have to clean out the attic-space where I plan on doing the shaping. It’s crazy how much prep-work there is once you finally sit down and decide to shape something!

It's crazy how much prep-work there is once you finally sit down and decide to shape something!

Yes but generally you only have to (the major prep) the first time and it makes shaping #2, #3, #4 etc., so much easier!

(2 cents from a noob)

Yeah… that makes sense. We’ll see how many I can get done before my shaping room gets converted into something more domestic :slight_smile:

As far as the fins go… Chip was kind enough to PM me and prod a bit. He uncovered something I had managed to miss in the archives… I should be foiling the fins more completely. He warned that viewed at a profile, the fins shouldn’t have any parallel (flat) spots… curved the entire way… like an airplane wing.


If you look at the photos, you’ll notice that I only took off material at most a couple of inches into the fins center. There was around a 4 inch parallel run through the middle. I double checked PlusOne’s very helpful photos from my previous thread about keel templates to get an idea of what a well-foiled fin should look like, and went to work.

Only to discover something else you’ll notice from the photo above… The dremel tool won’t nicely reach the center areas of the fins. That combined with the very small, very fast, moving head of the dremel… I’d say makes it a pretty bad tool for fin foiling.

I imagine the rest of you vice a rotary sander down and work the fins against it… or vice the fins down and go at them with a rotary sander?

At any rate… With a lot of elbow grease and sand paper, I’ve been able to get the parallel spots out and I’m working on trueing up the symmetry of the foil. Since it will come up for sanding and polishing anyways… I plan to invest in a sander.

The other thing I’m noticing is that my stock is pretty thin compared to the stuff it looks like PlusOne uses… This stuff is 1/4"… That seem right? I may foil the second one with a new sander and then redo the first…

Thanks, all… I’ll turn out some workable fins yet :slight_smile:

Hey Phill,

Not sure if this will be useful as you probably got this figured out:

3/8 inch thick, 7-ply birch seems to do well for symmetrically foiled keels. Ben is right

there should be continuous curvature in the foil, and the curve should not be constant.

What this means is the curve should be winding tighter up front and flattening out in

the trailing edge.

I use an 11,000 rpm, 4-1/2 inch high-speed grinder with 40 grit disc. I knock out a pair

in less than 5 minutes. I find that the keels come out better if I take the material down

very quickly, if that makes sense. No problem with taking your time, as you’re new at this,

but just throwing it out there for reference.

If you use power tools be sure the fin is well-attached to your stand/bench, I really hate

it when a perfect fin goes flicking across the room or into my belly!

Shape the fin with the intent of putting glass on it. I like a small 1/8 inch bead all the

way around, so my wood keels do not come to a knife edge. If they were sharp, the

1/8 bead would stretch the foil out, especially on the leading edge and this may not be

what you wanted.

I pre-glass my fins using 6 oz. doing one side at a time. No squeegee, but a 3 inch brush

and pretty hot lam resin. Cloth is uncut, so for 2 keels, there would be a 1 foot square

piece laying over them when I start. Be sure to wet the cloth 1/2 inch out past the fin


Once the first side is dry, I use big shears to trim the glass, leaving a 1/8 inch bead “cup”,

and I cut the bases flush with a utility knife. Second side is same as the first but use the

3 inch brush to “stipple” air out of the bead. A small bead with 100 percent resin and no

bubbles should not be too difficult.

Second layer gets rough trimmed w/shears. I detail the outlines and foils using the same

high-speed grinder.

I tack my fins down using lam resin rather than hotmelt glue or CA, and I try to have resin

on 100 percent of the contact patch for less headaches when fin glassing takes place.

Hope this helps,


VERY useful, especially all of the glassing info…


hi George !

as Phill [the ‘famous actress’]

asked for a profile shot , THIS was what i sent tim …to show him what NOT to do , basically .

When I realised then that he was doing double foiled [‘symmetrical’] keels , I sent him the shot of the two single foiled fins , back to back.

As you can see , they are still with a few bumps / 'flat spots ’ in the profile .

I feel I need to take down the thickness from the second tab back , and have a thinner , “less curved” trailing edge profile …your thoughts , George ?

as Phill pointed out , the middle [near the base of the fin] is often [for me at least] the harder part of the keel / fin to maintain a curve in , particularly when , in this case , my fins have tabs to work around . Any hints on that ?

cheers mate !


Hey Ben,

yes that area can be a pest, but it is totally do-able.

Just one word Benjamin: tools

If you are into fins, then the High-Speed grinder is mandatory. I don’t like to

spend more than a few minutes per side when roughing out a fin. Seriously

consider using a fast grinder with very coarse grit (40). Once you gain the control,

wood fins, glass fins will foil like butter- and this is IMPORTANT. Your ‘will’ is imparted

to the fin blank. You won’t compromise what you envision because the material is

too hard or you get burned-out on it.

Get the set up and start thrashing stuff until you gain the skills. Foiling is like doing

rail bands on a smaller scale. You will become aware of things like your posture,

stance, and arm position are just as important as at what you are looking…

The fin you are showing doubled is the ideal candidate for some toolholder to re-foil.

The middle tab area does need to come down, you are correct, and for reference

you can do a Google search for ‘NACA foils’ and click on images. The thickest part

will be about 1/3 of the way back from the leading edge, back further for higher

speed ranges or thicker media (most foils you will see are for AIR but WATER foils

run through a fluid that is 400 times more dense).

Maybe you could post some example foil images and we could decipher what is most

likely to work/not work for the delta planform (keel)…


To confirm, you’re talking about something like this?

I was hoping that the same tool that aided in fin foiling could be used to sand and polish as well… Is that a realistic possibility?

Thanks for all the info, guys. I’m excited to have another go at it!

That is the tool, and that’s a pretty good one. I find Bosch to be well-balanced and you

can find deals on the 'net. Usually the rubber backing wheel needed for grinding disks is

not included, they run about 10 bucks or so if you shop around.

Unfortunately, the speed is too high for polishing. This is a great workhorse tool though,

I use it for fins and doing ding repair. This is the tool of choice to take down hardware

like fin boxes and deck plugs. A slightly dulled but coarse disk is great for flushing out

hardware as it will still cut plastic down but will just float over HC if you have a light

touch, and you better have a light touch. This tool is not for the wimpy crowd.

(I often thought a cordless version would be great for bouncers…)

this looks to be a slightly newer one than what I have but basically the same…

Hey 4est,

actually the polisher is similar but it is not the same. The wheel on the high-speed is

4-1/2 inch and speed is 11,000 rpm. It is much smaller and very aggressive in cut.

If you are into fins, this is the tool. I tried the bigger grinders but they are too slow

to get the desired action…


Bosch Reconditioned Tools