Boxed rails

I have shaped a dozen boards or so now and I keep ending up with boxed rails. I cut decent rail bands, about 4" into deck 2" in width, with a skil 100 and I use screen or dragon skin to finish. It isn’t so noticable until it comes back from the glasser and then it looks bulky. The bottom looks good as well as the center line on the rails, but as it flows from the centerline up onto the deck it looks flat and square. I can’t figure where I am cutting incorrectly to end up with boxy rails. It’s bumming me out. The rest of my work is great. The locals ridding my boards say they ride ok, but I don’t want to be known for square rails.


Full rails = less speed.

The way you foil your boards imply on your rail contours. There are several ways to reach this understanding.

  1. Play with the plane a little bit. Try more bands and keep checking the contours with you hands as you finished each band on both sides and at the nose/middle/tail areas.

  2. Download the APS3000 software and play with it. It will give you a cross section visualization.

  3. Check some surfboard design articles at . Try to find a part where it’s described the “primary foil” and “rail foil”.

I think it will help you to answer some question, ok!

Good Luck!!!

Mike, How is your lighting? If you don’t see the problem after shaping, but do see it when it’s glassed, maybe you’re not getting the right shadows during the shaping process.

Try lifting the board up a little once in a while as you progress, so you can get the shadows to reveal as much as possible. I’ve also found it helpful to look at the board lit from one side only, and from the nose only, then from the tail only.

Also, some advice from shaper Joe Blair, “You have to look at the shape from at least two angles. Look at the tail from the end of the board deck up, then flip it over and look at it deck down. Look at the rails as it sits on the stands, then set the board at a 45 degree angle in the racks, and look at them that way. That’s how you see everything and get the flow right.”

Keep trying for perfection. That’s all we can do: keep trying. Doug


the easiest way to fix this is to set the board deck up on your racks… You’ll notice a shadow just above mid rail, this is your problem spot. This is assuming you have proper side lighting. Use your sanding block and reduce this shadow line. Check after every pass or two as it doesn’t take much to have a big effect.


Try a standard pattern maker trick - cut cross section templates at every 12" or so and use them to check your rail thickness. You can use a contour gauge to take a pattern off a board you like or design something you like. Just transfer to cardstock and cut out. You can buy a contour gauge at Home Depot or online but the store bought models don’t reach very far.

This home made device shows one mid rail position of a Skip Frye longboard…

I’m no scientist, but you gotta place both rails in your hands, board atop your head, and run your hands from WPoint to near tail, and then from WPoint to near nose.

When they glass, they add material, so it’s slightly thicker…you gotta make up for that by thinning the blank a little more than your final goal.

And blocky rails have nothing to do with fast or slow. Most fast gun boards have blocky rails…less wave penetration, maybe needs harder tucked edge, but certainly not slower than knife thin rails.

Foil is also a fallacy. For speed, it’s useless. For allowing you control and turning, foil good.

Thanks Dude, I downloaded the software and I can really see and shape different contours with it. Now I wish I had the $65,000 to buy the machine.

Thanks, I love the guage. I am going to get one ASAP. I think for starting out it would be great to know the rails fit the guage before I blow a bunch of money glassing my boards. Hopefully I get better in time and I can get that natural feel developed.

Better to develop the natural feel by board #3, so you won’t need all that scientific stuff.

Since you have some catching up to do, spend some time feeling and sighting your board as you shape it.