Board #001 In Progress

also, (correct me if i’m wrong) but i was told that a “polisher/sander” works on

a different mechanism than a “grinder”. a “grinder” just spins where as a

“polisher/sander” has a different motion that you can actually keep from spinning

with your hand while it is running…

anybody watch “trucks”???

most people just use the name “sander” or “grinder” for either but there is a difference.

There are both kinds of polisher/sanders. You’re talking about the random orbit ones, I think. There are also some, like the one posted above… that just spin (much slower than a grinder apparently).

I’m still waffling on whether or not the budget will allow me to pick up a grinder. Tonight I’m going to make another attempt with the dremel and a finish sander I have. My thinking is to use the dremel to foil the base (bottom 1.5" or so) and rake of the fin… and then use a finish sander and sanding block to blend in the the ‘meat’ in the middle…

Convoluted, I know… but I’m high on patience and low on expendable cash. If the grinder could help accomplish anything on my very long honey-do list… that’d be different :slight_smile:

I agree that the fast spinning 4" or 4 1/2" grinderette (what we call them in the UK ) with an aluminium oxide sanding disk (I use 80 grit or coarser to avoid clogging or melting) on a semi flexible backing pad is the way to go with foiling fins. You have to be fast and confident.They are so cheap here and can have a basic fin done in minutes. I like then to use a Milled tooth file ( I think if you do a search for Vixen in the forum you will see what type I mean) to quicky smooth the surfaces and blend the curves. This type of file planes the surface of the material off in a very satisfying way. I do this bit under a trickle of water as it cuts better and keeps the dust down. Finish as desired with wet and dry.

The camera isn’t cooperating tonight, but I’ve completed foiling one fin. I used a finish sander and some elbow grease and managed to get all the flat spots out. It’s not as curvy as it would be if I had used 3/8" stock, but I was thinking I could make up for that some during glassing, no?

Also, my wide point is between a quarter to a third of the way back… a touch forward according to PlusOne… but I’m pretty happy with it. Now to get moving on the other one.

Also, I bought some doorskin yesterday and I plan to make my template tomorrow. For those picking through the archives… it took me a bit to figure out that they don’t label it ‘doorskin’ at home depot. You’re looking for 1/8" luan hardwood ply… or something to that effect. I had it cut into 12" strips… that was a good tip I found soulstice mention in the archives…

I’ll get the camera working and post photos of the foiled fins and template soon. Thanks for all the help!

Okay… Managed to get a bit more done this weekend. Here’s the picture of the fin I’ve foiled:

My eyes are really not good enough to distinguish the finer points of curves in 1/4" plywood… so I ended up setting the fin on a blank piece of paper and tracing it’s foil with a pencil a few times… correcting problems in between. I highly recommend this method for anyone else who’s been avoiding the optometrist.

Then I worked on my template (a bit burned out on fins at the moment, but I still hope to get to the other one this evening).

I had a template in APS and couldn’t bring myself to bring it to kinkos and have them print it out. I don’t know why, but I think it had something to do with the fact that I have less faith in my ability to trace a smooth curve than I do to draw one. So instead I took width measurements at every three inches and plotted them out on the template. Then I drew a curve more-or-less through the points I plotted. I say more or less because whenever I was too rigidly pushing the pencil through the plot points, the curve came out terrible. In fact, it may have been better to have measured only ever six inches or so… It lets your intincts do more of the work. Is my outline the exact same as it was in APS? Nah… but since I’ll almost certainly shape something that’s not-quite-my-outline… this one’s every bit as good as the others… Here’s the final drawing (pre-cutting)…

I’m curious on feedback. I like the shape (a lot!)… but is 20" total width too narrow? The measurements on the outline are 5’6", 20" wide… 10 3/4" at the buttcrack, and you can pretty much see the rest…

I wasn’t sure how to cut the template, but I have a fairly small diameter circular saw that seemed to cut cleanly without any ‘chatter’ when I chopped the piece to size. Is there a better way?

I’m starting to really understand the idea behind tools that make fast cuts (like PlusOne’s grinder)… The more time I have to overthink or adjust my hand… the worse things come out. It definitely seems like the best approaches just come from making fluid, long, drawn out lines… whether it be with a pencil, a saw… or… a surfboard?

–By the way… We don’t usually keep our coffee press and pepper grinder on the kitchen floor. We’ve been painting this weekend, as well :slight_smile:

why is the coffee press and pepper grinder on the floor?

The outline looks good. that is what I make when I want more

“performance” in my fish. Nose width at 1 foot? tail width at 1 foot?

Where is the widepoint located?

tip-to-tip span is 10.75, what is the depth of the split? What will be

your fin location?

Have I asked enough questions?

okay, what will the bottom contour be like?

Nose = 15 7/8"

Tail = 15 3/4"

Depth of the spit is exact1y half the tip-to-tip span… at 5 3/8". For that I just noticed that it seemed to be a general rule of thumb for folks. If there’s some benefit to changing it, I’m all for it.

The wide point is exactly 3 inches forward of center.

I haven’t really figured out fin location at all. I’d been planning to run them parallel, and I just set the fin on the template to eyeball it… rear edge an inch or so forward of the buttcrack looks appealing. Is that scientific enough for you? :slight_smile:

As for bottom contours, I’d planned to go flat. The only thing that occurred to me at all besides flat was a single concave all the way through.

I’m 5’7" 130lbs, if that matters. I’m looking for a fish that less corky than my current one… which is why I brought the width down… More “performance” is okay… Not specifically what I was going for, but I guess in some ways maybe it is… I want something that sits a bit lower in the water and digs in a bit better on steep faces…

I’m very, very, open to suggestions and have no problem redrawing the outline if there’s a good reason :slight_smile:


I made most of the following design features about 20 to 25 years ago and I find they still hold some validity for this specific type of fish. Take them as ONE strand of the design and not a dictation.

I’ve built and tested literally hundreds upon hundreds of this type. More performance means a little more up-and-down (vert) surfing, but still keeping that unique glide and momentum. Making the board narrower brings the rails closer together and for active surfing this is an absolute improvement. Imagine the pontoon effect of

a fat-railed fish, as it goes from one rail to another. Kind of like a catamaran trying to swap hulls quickly.

Oh, also you can afford to shift the widepoint aft to about 1.5 forward of center. This will also reduce the nose width (or should) to about 15.5 or a little less (maybe, suit to taste).

Bottom contour is fastest with single con (rail-to-rail) in the front half of the board then running to flat by the back foot area. Con is subtle, like 1/8 deep. Important to have flat in the tail area as this will reduce the spin-out and improve backside surfing.

Rails are super-important, not too much vert area (sidewall) as you want to keep them penetrating the water for added drive and reduced drag. Fairly down and hard.

Fins will most likely not line up with the tips, but this is okay. More important to get the board working properly. Rear edge would do quite well about 1-1/8+ in from the outline and parallel. Cant is around 4.5 deg.

IMO, the distance up is best around 6 or so. Drive, esp at low speed, is very important; this gets lost rapidly as the fins move further forward. But of course this is assuming a low rocker, like 1-1/4 tail and 4-1/4 nose referenced from zero at center. That’s pretty flat- most likely requiring a custom bent blank.

Of course it all gets down to personal preference and what kind of waves you want to tune it for, but my advice would be to put the plastic soap dispensers on the floor and move the pepper mill back up to the table. The pepper comes out of the bottom of that thing man!

Those measurements sound good to me. I made a very similar dimensioned fish this summer (EPS/epoxy) that I love. (I’ve been meaning to upload some pics but haven’t gotten around to it. Maybe I’ll do that on Chipfish61’s thread soon.) I’m close to your weight also. Of course your dimensions are somewhat dictated by how heavy of materials are you planning to use. Density of foam, type of resin, glass schedule and gloss coat or no gloss coat can all add up to a very big difference in total board weight which is obviously a major component in “corkiness”. The wide point looks good too.

famousphillactress ,

I LIKE it !!

if you make it thin ( you’re a fairly light and compact guy) , it will fly , I reckon !

good job mate ,

glad to see it coming together !



Wow… Thanks, once again, for all of the info and help. Those bottom contours seem accomplishable (I hope!).

With some of the blanks I was looking at, the rocker would be pretty close to that with the board pushed back in the blank. If I went with the Walker blank… since it’s long… It looks like those measurements are workable… no?

I’d been looking at around 4" nose and 1.5" tail. Pretty close to what you’re talking about.

Hadn’t occurred to me to put any cant at all in the fins… In fact, I don’t think I realized parallel fins would ever be run with cant. Thanks for opening my eyes!.

Stink – That’s a good point, but I’m not even sure there’s pepper in that thing… they threw it in when I bought my pots and pans… The soap goes on the counter because we’ve got two dogs that love to show off their ability to open bottles of anything :slight_smile:

Chip – Thanks for all the help and encouragement!

It’s nuts how real it starts to get when you’re staring at a full size template.

Couldn’t wait to get home today and cut out the template. I used a cordless circular saw that did a good job… I should have taken my own advice and cut to the line though… Instead I cut anywhere from 1/8"-3/8" from the line for fear of making an unrecoverable mistake. Then it was a lot of cleanup (rough cleanup with a dremel, finer cleanup with sandpaper and the finish sander)…

It started to get too close for me to pick out the flaws with my eyes… I started to bring the board inside and trace the outline out. When I decided to paint the pantry door with chalkboard-paint I really only figured we’d use it for grocery lists. In reality it’s mostly used for my friends to leave dirty jokes on, and now… testing surfboard templates. At any rate… The chalk is too coarse a line to detect much with, but this worked very well anyways, because I could feel the inconsistencies better than I’d be able to see them anyways… Whenever I hit a high or low point that felt wrong, I marked the template with chalk and went back outside to make adjustments… Finally, I ended up pretty darned close.

(I know… I still need to get that crap off the floor).

I saw pretty close because there’s still one flaw. See, even when sanding I left myself about an 1/16" of comfort room all the way through… That is… except for 1.5" fore of center… There’s a bit of a parallel spot there that you may be able to detect from the photo… I worked it to a very, very, subtle issue… and I’m afraid to go further for fear of taking to much material off.

My plan is to thicken that area when I draw the outline on the blank… and cut the correct line (which is a touch outside of the template.

If you look in the first photo you can tell where it is… there’s a little chalk line at the rail in the middle…

At any rate. I’m pretty excited by the outline on the chalkboard. It’s nice to see both halves of the board. When you’re not used to staring at half an outline, everything looks narrow!

In other news, I’ve been starting to put a list together in order to source materials… which makes it time to determine glass weight. I have my heart set on volan. I’ve seen a number of volan weights mentioned in the archives… Is 8oz all the way around, without any patches reasonable?

You’ve got a bump about 6 inches down from the nose and a dip about another 6 inches down from there.

You can fill dips on templates using Bondo or sometimes SolaRez if you are careful.

You have coffee in the pot that’s still on the floor…

…how old is that coffee?

Thanks! I don’t think I paid enough attention to the nose… Must’ve been more focused on the center area. Fortunately, the nose area still has breathing room. In fact, I’m thinking I’ll take the breathing room out of the nose and tail, which should fix the middle. I was too scared to do it today, but if I go very, very slow… and trace often (with a finer tool than chalk)… I should be able to pull it off.

No coffee in the pot… Just the plunger. We’re not quite that messy :slight_smile:

just curious, are you sighting-down the template as you true it?

Sorry… What do you mean by sighting down the template? If you mean flat out, with me standing at the tail… nope. I actually wasn’t doing that. I was mostly looking at it flat…

If I’m right about what you mean, I’ll try to watch it like that.

One of the main processes and pleasures both in template making and shaping is to regularly sight your work down. You must get accustomed to doing it.

For the template, you hold one end up to your face, literally inches in front of your jaw, with the other end laid out in front of you and look along the curved line for any bumps or dips.

Sometimes you may bring your work right up to your eye, rocking the workpiece for good flow. Or you may keep the piece still and tip your head, to see any anomalies.

Here’s a tip: if you can see a bump, go after it. This is a measure of being honest with yourself. Basically, “that’s good enough, I’ll get that later” is like giving up. I might work a template from one end to the other several times. First time I go after the BIG issues, like overall morph of the curve. Huge dips or bumps get neutralized in this step. Then I go after bumps and dips. Then I go after tiny bumps and dips. I may sight down a template 30 times before I get it roughed out. I even sand on templates that are decades old.

Once you get in the habit of sighting things down, you’ll find yourself sighting down furniture, doors, your car’s body, chicks… …everything. Sighting down is a part of shaping…

Hope this makes sense.


That makes perfect sense! I just spent a few minutes sighting the board down and I can see that I’ve only really done the rough work. I found four or five spots I would have taken sandpaper to if I’d had it in hand. Tomorrow I’ll really sit down and go over it with a patient and intentional touch.

Thanks for the kick in the ass.

Well. The last few days I’ve pulled the template out and sighted it down… the first day of this I spent 45 minutes or so picking off small bumps and valleys… Yesterday I had trouble finding anything… except at the wide point there’s still a flat spot that’s close to two inches long. I can’t get rid of it without taking volume out of the entire outline…

Not sure what I’ll do. I may go ahead and round it out. I’ll probably try to trace the entire thing on paper first to see what it looks like.

Other than that, I’ve got the space cleaned up some… Need to hang a tarp or two to protect all of our junk from foam dust :slight_smile:

Also, I built calipers from the templates in the '77 book. They came out okay, but the plywood I used turned out to be crap! I’d hoped it would make good fin plywood, too. Surely, it wouldn’t!

I’m going down to Mitch’s to look at blanks today. I may also pick up some glass and resin for the fins. They don’t carry Volan (which I want to use on the board…) Anyone know the best place for someone in Encinitas to get that?


So, have you gotten a blank?

That’s great you are taking the time to get the template right. In my very limited experience, I have found that the more things you take the time to get right in the beginning of shaping, the better the end product, and the easier it is to finish. It is so easy to say:

Making Template: “I’ll just take that bump out when I am fine tuning the outline on the blank with my sanding block”

Shaping Rail Bands: “I’ll just fix those wiggles (partially from the bumps on the template) when I am fine sanding”

Finish Sanding Blank: “I hope the glass will hide some of that stuff, I still have to sand the laps/hotcoat anyway, I’ll fix it then”

Then, you are sanding the hotcoat, and realize you cannot fix the things you should have a long time before, because you were impatient. Oh well.

You are doing it the right way, taking your time. I wish I could say the same about my first try.

Keep us updated,