Every once in a while I pick up a magazine or stumble across a shaper’s bio resume on the web that provides the reader with around 100 or 150 words on when a shaper started shaping, his age, and how many surfboards they have shaped. When you happen to see a ‘surfboard buyer’s guide’, the claims and numbers guys start making to out-do one another gets…well… let me say that we better get a damn big scoop to even begin seeing what the floor looks like.

This is what a friend of mine once termed “the BSF aka Bullshit Factor”.

“So and so, 31, started shaping in 1996, a terrific craftsman, having shaped over 50,000 surfboards”.


So in his 15 years he claims to have shaped:

3,333 per year

278 per month (rounded off to the nearest board)

70 per week (rounded off…) 

10 boards a day EVERY DAY if working & days a week.


So let’s put this into perspective. Let’s say that Surftech produces 80,000 boards one year. This guy has now done 5/8ths of their entire production. 

The other bits and pieces that I have to laugh at are the guys that have somehow “worked with” a long list of luminary legendary shapers. 

In what capacity? 

If you swept their floors, I guess that means you were in the shaping room collaborating on leading edge design changing tomorrow’s surfboard into today’s utility go to board.

How come we’ve never heard of you?

How come I’ve never seen ANY of those 25, 35 ,50, 75 THOUSAND BOARDS YOU’VE SHAPED?

Certainly SOME OF THEM must be around… are they at every corner in…say…Estonia?

Probably one of the most honest answers I’ve ever heard was from a guy that has made his own boards and boards for friends and also works as a house painter. He said “over the last 25 or 30 years I’m guessing I’ve MAYBE made as many as 1200 boards…and that’s just a guess. I probably could have done more, but over the last 8 to 10 years I work half the year here and theother half spend my winters in Baja. It works for me”.

Next time someone tells you they have shaped 30K, 40K, 50K, etc. # of surfboards, divide that by 2 then -30% nd you maybe will get a number that starts to resemble the truth. 

And those guys that CAN PROVE they’ve shaped that many boards, the IRS will be calling you first thing in the morning.

Great post DS, great post. And to think, that's just the bs on 'shaping'...


DS-------------  Good and realistic comments.  I've been a housepainter for a good portion of my life.  That's how I kept Kids and ex-wives in the good things for the middle portion of my life.  Gave up shaping and glassing in the early '70's when I moved North.  Got back into it in '93 or so as therapy and a room or place I could go to get away from kids and ex-wives.  What I used to call my "pressure-free" room.  I do remember walking into one of your shops sometime in the early 80's (I think) in SLO "Surf'n'Wear" and looking thru the boards in the rack.  Seeing a few by a local shaper from Orcutt/SM and thinking to myself ; " Hell! I could shape one up better than that. "  The crack up was some of the comments in the recent Surfer Boardbuyers Guide..  Especially the numbers of boards shaped.

Luv your work D/S !!

 Say it like it is.

The B.S.F. exist’s in just about every area of surfing, from, “you shoulda been here yesterday”, to 

“It was better when the tide was a bit lower” to, “that last one was a smoker”.


     Howzit ds,tell it like it is, I can say that the shapers I have worked with never tried to build their ego or rep by inflating the number of boards they shaped,especially if I was around because I would call BS on them and they knew I would. As a laminater I have glassed boards shaped by some big names and some no names but as far I am concerned they are just shapers and I was friends with a lot but some I never even knew since the blanks just happened to be on the rack for me to glass. One of the nicest shapers I worked with was Mark Angell and we were really good friends and used to surf together a lot after he moved to Kauai. Keep up the good work. Aloha,Kokua

“So and so, 31, started shaping in 1996, a terrific craftsman, having shaped over 50,000 surfboards”.

That would be a pretty tough deal, if you mean pick up a blank grab your planer and go shaper, 

I was talking to a guy who was running one of the “Machines” once and he told me that he had really put up some big numbers. He considered every board he put down on the racks a board he personally shaped. I knew the guy and how he got the job. He had never “shaped” a surfboard BUT he was a shaper with thousands of boards under his belt. 

So I guess whats a “shaper” mean anymore…

i think i would call bullshit on the whole buyers guide.   its is more like an advertising guide all payed for advertisement !   if it was a guide it would be independent reviews of products not who paid to put it in there.  The surf industry as a whole is bullshit most of the lastest and greatest products fall apart after limited use!

I started shaping boards as a backyard guy in SoCal in 1968.

My best year since then has been 35 - 40 boards one season.

I don't know the exact number because I wasn't keeping records then.

The average up until the last recession period was closer to 25 or less.

That would give me about 1000 or so shaped/finished boards.  I do count

machined boards because I spend around an hour per board that comes

off a machine.  Guys like Becker really do have those high numbers but

some one 31 years old?  LOL

I know a few guys that advertise in the Buyers Guide and that helps them

with out of area/website sales.  I don't condemn anyone trying to make a

living shaping surfboards by advertising.  It is really tough.  But you must

weigh how well are you representing yourself by outright lying to prospective

buyers against a few spot sales...........  Just my 2c!


With the proliferation CNC shaping machines since the early 90's, it's kind'a become a moot point.

From groove smoothing machined blanks cut from a scan of one of your shapes, to designing a board completely in software and machine cutting it.

Most, if not all of the shapers in that guide, are doing it that way.

I've seen production ghost shapers easily finish a machined short board in less than 20 minutes.

A better guage would be the number of boards shaped by hand from a raw blank one has done.

But is this really that relevant anymore these days?...unless it's a way to market yourself as a shaper by differentiating the value that hand-shaping adds as a more pure and credible alternative to machined CNC.


I can get a cut done for glassing in 20 minutes too, but is that

custom?  That's my "business model", a custom shape at a reasonable

price.  I have a bunch of shortboard blanks cut all at once with generic

dimensions and then "tweak" the shape depending on the customer.  Some

guys go thru quite a few boards in a year so this gives me the opportunity

to get them dialed in without much blank/board waste that I can't afford to pay for.

I've seen a lot of cuts come out wonky too which if you can't afford to throw

them away and cut another one, takes time!!  Tim Stamps has some of his

cuts done with square rails so he can custom shape them as well.  The thing

about my boards are that they are all done by me, mostly hand shapes, 

and usually for a specific person.

To me and the people that pay me, that is what is important and why they come back.

I have been shaping for a few years now(2002) and always put the real number on the bottom of the board. I believe it is at 168 as of today. But had a other shaper tell me one time that i should not do this because then people will know how many you have done. He said i should use a code so i know but no one else knows. Well i thought it was funny cause i am a hobbiest and don’t care if people know. I think it is cool to put the real number on it, or else why bother. I took it as a compliment that he thought i did it for money, and told him i do it for fun only.

So yes they inflate their numbers

I'm not a pro.  There is a certain freedom in that, which I am currently appreciating.  I can do stuff a pro can't.  For example, I can take as long as I want.  I can design my boards on graph paper with a pencil.  I can change the design to anything I want at any point as I go along.  I can set a board aside for a few months, and come back to it later.  I can build weird shaped boards if I want to play around or try something different.  I can roll the dice and experiment with unproven methods.  I can glass it myself.  Even build the fins myself, if I want. 

I respect the professionals.  Especially the ones who come here to swaylocks, and help guys like me along, who are willing to share information and answer questions openly.  Also guys like Kensurf or John Mellor or Bud who are not professional per se, but whose work is professional level, who have years of experience,  who likewise share and teach and mentor for nothing more than an occasion 'thanks brah' or 'you da man', and sometimes also along with it get a boatload of sh!t just because someone out here is having a bad hair day and needs to vent. 

I like the pictures in the buyers guide.  At some point in building boards, you start to like looking at pictures of surfboards as much as pictures of surfing.  But I think the BS level on swaylocks is way less than anything in print at the magazine rack.  I don't always "call BS" on everything I think is BS here, because we all gotta get along, and for the most part, I think we do pretty doggone good.  The magazines are good throne room reading material, but this place is therapy for me. 

…hello DS,

few years ago I opened a thread in the gral discussion, about similar things, because I was tired of that bullshit here in Swaylocks, and everywhere.

Might be that you still was not a member, I cannot remember.

Refered that I was tired of people here rapping about how many boards they made, blah blah blah, that they never worked in their life because all was only fun…BS!!! alert is what I say.

I remember Kokua talking about burn out if you made (a board builder) board after board at around 500 per year!! so imagine thousands…no matter if only shapes.

Then also check this thread :

that have a relation about the circumstances talking here.

BS factor when Clark foam closed and all in USA said that he had 80% of world market, etc…BS

Is like what Farrelly or Huie said about the Cocoon thing.

Exactly of how many boards Firewire and othe factories make…BS

Where s those boards? like well you say about the newbie shapers…


-I really know how many hours you need to build (a board builder) a complete board included but not always: custom shape; make the fins and glass ons on the board, full color, fabric inlays, resin panels, pinlines, resin pinlines, taping everywhere several times, sanding, then sanding by hand between intrincated places, checking that all is correct; reinforcing nose and tails; gloss coats polishing, etc

AND to do it RIGHT because you can do all those steps but not the best way…

not in ONE board but in many, in hundreds…so stop the BS

I do not even count the time spent checking the emails, dealing with customs offices, paying, etc


I reaaallly tired of this BS

now tired than ever due to the fucking machine that CONVERT a smart ass in the best shaper or whatever he wants to be.


That thing that ACE say about that guy is incredible…I want to hear more about it.


      Howzit reverb, I like what you said and it is very true and the thing is some people are good shapers from the gitgo and then you have the guy who has shaped a couple of thousand blanks and still don't have it down. Not every body can shape a good shape no matter how many they do it. I learned the basics in the late 60's but probably hae not done more than 100 but that is because I hate the foam dust getting in my eyes, ears  and anywhere's it can. For me it's the glassing I am into and just love to do it. Aloha,Kokua

I started my new factory last December and I have already done 4991 hand shaped boards…and glassed them too!

BS is alive and wel,l thats for sure!

Yorky you don’t need no machine.

Close to 5,000 boards your first new shop year = $500,000 after overhead and taxes.

Who said there’s no money in making surfboards?

You are a machine!

I have done close to 100 in two weeks with a machine and I can barely keep up.

I would love to have your youth!


Kind regards,


…hello Kokua, thanks


Hello Surfding, what s your opinion about more and more production and the IRS tax or like that.

Seems that in the end the state is the only who wins, or I am in a mistake here?



good post, i will be happy if i get 20 boards this year done.


       is this the new joke factory?



**     cheers huie

Reverb I won a bid away from an importer.

100 board order all made in California.

The Machine has made a lot of Pseudo Shapers.

It has been abused exploited the world over.

However in my case I run the machine myself so I can do the quality control of each shape.

The Art Graphics 3/4 Rice Paper Lam all done in house.

Glassing with crew of legal USA residences.

My wife did all the art work and printing including hand packing each board for shipment.

Complete financial disclosure no grey books all checks and cash are accounted for with Quick-books.

I could have gone overseas to make this production.


Having given you my formula now I can properly answer your original question:

"Hello Surfding, what s your opinion about more and more production and the IRS tax or like that.

Seems that in the end the state is the only who wins, or I am in a mistake here?"

Profit Margin?

Not really after this production 6% is the most you can extract from this.

Remember in house CNC, Printing, Shaping, Glassing. (nothing is sent out) (capital investments made) in our case.

40% Profit Margin and no effort if I went overseas to produce these boards. (no capital investment)

For a large board builder they would not be able to afford to take this job in the state we live in.

My company is small and run very tight. (my overhead is kept low)

I don’t think it’s a problem with IRS or the man.

We have been through an IRS Audit.

If your books are done well your covered.

You actually get ahead faster with good accounting.

It’s more about efficiency.

40% profit with no physical effort?

6% profit labor intensive?

I took this job for the challenge not the money. (great experience)

Here is the comment received from the customer after the first 25 were delivered. (25 boards first week until we ram up production)



"The surfboards turned out phenomenal!  Thank you again for this great partnership!  Keep me posted on all future deliveries."


I don't believe it's the State who wins here. It's our system of building boards.

Overseas the factory employee is paid by the hour gets medical benefits and a free lunch.

In California the shop worker is paid by unit has no medical insurance and buys his own lunch.

Overseas the people are more united.

In California we want the Big Gulp, Big Truck, Big Pay.


In our case we took 6% if I took our personal labor out of the equation I actually lost money from a true PROFIT sense.

OK we keep some people busy and shared the spoils.

If someone made them overseas they would have made 40% profit after taxes with no people to manage or stressing.

The difference between people with money and people without money is attitude towards it.


To hand shape all day every day year after year?

I'm sorry but that does not impress me any more than a gardner cutting the grass of an 18 hole golf course with a small push mower.


When guys make big claims?


Water off a ducks back!

Let them claim!

kind regards,