First Time Shaper

Had a longboard that needed significant repairs, so I took the plunge and chopped it. Shaping out a “new” board from the blank has been a fun experiment, and I found myself using a few tips and tricks from this forum so I figured I’d say hi and show you all the progress. Longboard was a 9’6" Midget Smith out of California, and what I hope to come out with is a 6’3" single fin/ 2+1.  The shape was sorta inspired by CI’s new twin pin, but am sorta using what I got (fin box and all). Came up with a little name Reform Boards (for fun), and a model name, “que sera”… because, you know… Actual dimensions were based off of my CI fish beard (nose) and a Rawson thruster called the ego booster (tail + changing it to a pin). Those two outlines smashed together, and basically my hands as calipers is what I ended up with, and I’m pretty excited. Even if it comes out like complete crap, its been fun, and cool to think I may soon be ripping on my own shape. Here are some pics, the foam is pretty compressed on the deck, and without sanding off every layer I am just going to hope for the best and laminate it. As the name states, it is what it is. wink 


Note:tips and tricks welcomed.

Hello; regarding to be a shaper; the best thing to achieve is a “developed eye”. A feel for the curves (lines) with simply your eye. With that in mind, is better to start that path with a contrast of directed light and shadows; reflected on the blank; hence, you would find that to do all that is better to do the job in a room with side lights (put the blank on the racks and see what height is the best) and no other external or indirect lights.

Then you need space around; more space, if the shapes are big. You have space there.

Regarding lines; in this era where you have close tolerance shapes etc, if you have a mistake on the rocker, still you would obtain numbers or curves that are good; however; I see a plenty outlines that are not so smooth and “pure” so spend a lot; yes, a lot of time when you build your next template. Go for smooth as possible over the total curve. Water is not complicated.

-In the case of this shape; try to finish with the stringer as much flush as possible with the foam; or you will have problems with the lamination.

One of your challenges was you were working with an existing set of plugs and finbox.    Like Reverb said, you need to at least bring your stringers flush to your foam.   Planers are good for that; you just want to take it slow and make long passes.   For this one, once you get the stringer down then stop right there.  Don’t try to refine the foam any more than that because you’re already into having overshaped the blank.   

The bottom side of your rails near the nose could use some attention; round them from the bottom to the apex of your rail.   Gently.  Just a few passes  - walking end to end - will probably be sufficient to get the shape you want.       

And when you go to glass this one please do yourself a favor and skip the color.   No paint, no resin tint, no cloth inlays, no art; heck, I wouldn’t even do a logo.    A plainwrap homeshape will attract way more attention and positive vibes from people who actually know surfboards than any hacked up airbrush or acid splash lamination.  Do what you can with the shape and getting a clean lamination and then go enjoy the board for what it is.     Five boards from now when you’ve gotten more control over your shape and glassing skills will be a much better spot for you to start working in your artistic “look-at-me” expressions.        


Hey those are some great things to notice, will do. To be honest I was thinking about a tint, but now perhaps I will hold off and see what it comes out as. The blank is nearly there, trying to leave good enough alone, but still have some fine tuning to do. I was having a hard time with the two side fin boxes, as it was an old board they were sorta showing anyway, and every time i try to delicately get at them with some sanding action it just doesn’t seem worth it to fight it more.

That thumb plane is getting a work out! Setting the rocker by hand has been a processes, I’ll keep fine tuning it though. Good eye

Set your power planer up with a shallow cut and use that.  It won’t cut into the foam until it gets to the foam.   Stop when you level the stringer to the foam.  Limit the thumb planer to the curve in the deck rocker at the nose.   I wouldn’t even use it to finish the flats on this blank because you’ve already cut way into the foam.    .    

Very cool that you took the plunge, hope this is the beginning of a very rewarding hobby for you. We’re lucky that surfing is one of the few sports where you can design and make your own equipment. I wiish every surfer out there would give it a try!

Has that “cut down” longboard look of the 70’s.  Complete with “proud” stringer.

If every surfer out there gave it a try;  Every surfer out there wouldn’t bitch so loudly the next time they went into a Surf Shop to purchase a new board.


Now those are some words to live by

Thanks! I’m stoked too. Just gotta try

Did some fine tuning and than went to glass. Question is about lamination amounts. I followed what I had thought to be acceptable advice. About 23 or so oz resin for 6oz bottom with a tail patch. My scale wasn’t tare-ing correctly so I eyeballed the catalyst ( bad decision I know ). Proabably about 9 drops or so. Mixed it up and went to glassing. It seemed to be kinda hot ( judging from the copious amounts of videos I’ve tried watching ). No perfect waterfall of resin saturating my laps etc… So I figured i screwed up and have to deal with the issues later. Oh well first time who cares. Came back the next day cause it wasn’t fully kicking the night before and it was still tacky. Took it outside and let the sun do its thing. OK, so i knew that maybe it wasn’t hot enough after all, laid up the deck ( two layers of 6 ( I know its overkill )) and mixed it with a different scale, 35 oz resin and about .4 oz of catalyst. Started going and it was working great, had the deck pretty much all saturated and started moving on to the laps, than it kicked, and kicked hard. Made a split second decision and pulled the cloth and scrapped it for the day.  

Suffice to say I have a decent amount of " Fix my crap " to do before I can attempt another go at the deck. 

My question here is this, ill attempt the deck again with probably 35 oz resin and two layers of 6 again. A tiny amount of pigment. WHAT should I aim for with the catalyst? 1% ie .35 oz??? I live on the big island so pretty average temps. 75ish with 65-80% humidity depending.  Is 1% an ok bet to have it waterfall and still be workable  for 15 min?


Sorry for all the kook questions. Just don’t want to throw away another layer… I know there is no perfect answer here, just looking for general guidelines. Thanks all


There are some pros here who came up in a professional shop and who were taught by a hands-on master, but for the rest of us your story will be very familiar.  We’ve all done something similar in the beginning.  

One lesson here is to work to your known limitations.   It’s cool to watch a vid and see a veteran laminator lay down the perfect 8-minute lamination on his 3000th board, but it took him a long time to find that rythym and to hit that groove.   That’s a great example for which to aspire.   But it’s gonna take most people a while to get there.   So plan to work more slowly and not as efficiently or elegantly or with the same economy of motion the masters have.   

Temperatures and humidity figure into pot life, and so does allowing the resin to sit in the cup or in big puddles (exotherm: look it up or else ask and we can explain it).   So one thing a backyarder can do for themself is to pay strict attention to the temps and use the recommended catalyst for the temperature.   Don’t eyeball it.  Then make sure you mix really well.   The pros can make the 10-second mix work but you’ll get more consistent results if you mix for 100 strokes, stopping to scrape the sides of your cup as you go.    

Another trick you can do for your first few boards is to break your laminating resin into two parts; mix up one part and work on one side of the board at a time.   Pour out enough the wet the flats on one side and spread that, then come back to saturate the lap.  Then wrap the lap on that side.   Now go back and mix the other half of the resin and repeat the process on the other side.  Now you’re not chasing the clock so much and you can focus on being smooth and consistent with your squeegee action.   Your laps won’t be dry when you get to wrapping them.       

Another caveat is to keep your laps relatively narrow when you’re starting out.   The 3" cutlap they use of the traditional singlefin longboards looks cool and they are stronger, but they also require a fair amount more skill to get them to lay cleanly.   A 1" lap will still work when you’re starting out and that’s a lot easier to wet out and wrap.   If you’re using 6oz cloth and if you start wrapping from the middle of the board you should be able to wrap around the curve in the template without any relief cuts except for the corners.      Use a cut if you need to, but don’t be doing 6 relief cuts per side.   That just makes a mess.

The half and half method sounds appealing thanks for the tip. Lap is probably about 1" or so currently… didn’t dare go for the 3"! Thanks for that. I guess I’ll focus on the 1% (or slightly less) ratio and just keep at it. If it doesn’t set up for a week who cares haha

Good learning experience.  Much better than the landfill.  When a board is snapped that bad a repair is just too uphill.  Better to recycle.  I have a “Midget California” in my shop.  Pretty badly delammed, but fixable.

So, glassed it up. Ended up having some minor repairs to do becuase of my crap laminating job. Second deck layup went pretty ok. Got the scale and amounts figured out which helped my peace of mind. Did a opaque tint to cover up the boo-boos. And pretty stoked on how it ended up! 

Take away points for next time.

  1. get my crap together before hand

  2. dont eyeball catylist 

  3. use a power planer

Just have fun and listen to all the suggestions on this forum. Thanks for the help. Attatched are some final pictures and also grabbing a couple waves the other day. Hopefully the swell picks up so I cant take it out it some proper waves.

Just a couple shots

Very cool!