Hard Rails

Hi all,

I’ve searched the achives but can’t find the answer I’m looking for. I’m just about to shape a shortboard. I’ve got Shaping 101 and the DPG Shaping DVD. Just a question about how far the hard edge is carried. JC, if I remember correctly, suggested carrying the hard edge about a shaka’s length up from the front fins. Most boards these days seem to lose their hard edge just in front of the fins. Is there a reason for the change? Do most of you experienced shapers connect the length of the hard edge to the bottom shape (eg will you carry a hard edge longer/shorter if the bottom is flat?) or rocker or waves that will be surfed (or all of the above). This will be my board for surf up to 4-5 feet.

Hey bish… for my high performance shortboards I usually carry a sharp hard edge up to 16’’ from the tail and then start to gradually soften the rail up to the nose… a hard edge rail = speed but less forgiving rail, hard edge rail provides leverage and release so the board can accelerate off the rail and out of the turn… soft rail = more forgiving rail, more control, lets the water wrap around the rail, this facilitate easy transition from rail to rail in critical tight areas of the wave…


When I was putting 50/50 rails on the mid section I would carry my hard rails up 18" off the tail… seemed to work OK. Then I learned how to make the tucked under edge… now I only have a pure hard rail on the first 6-8" of the tail before it transitions into the tucked edge - which is still hard on the tail, gradually softening out up through mid-section.

People here claim that the 50/50 offers more stability, and I understand the ‘water wrapping the rails’ theory, but I’m somewhat convinced this applies more to gliding and cruizing than modern day shortboarding - i.e. constantly pumping and turning. I’m sure it has a lot to do with your surfing style.

…I don’t even like riding my old 50/50 shortboards anymore.

I was wondering if the thinner the rail, the harder it could be.

Hey rKelly… I like 50/50 rails on longboards, mainly classic noseriders… I personally don’t like them on high performance shortboards, I prefer 60/40 or 70/30… on my shortboards I use fred tool for shaping tucked under edge, but for shaping 50/50 rails I don’t use it at all, I prefer marking two or three railbands and shape them with planer…


Howzit Cabeto, I know you guys are talking about shaping but remember the sander is the one who puts the final edge on the board. I tell my shapers to put the start of their signature where they want the hard edge to end, that way I get it right. Most shapers have a different idea as to where they want the edge to end. I have one board in the shop that will have a semi hard rail from the nose to the tail. Aloha, Kokua

hay this site is really cool.

I have had a lot of performance luck for boards 7-8ft by sticking to an extreamley hard rail for about 18"from a rounded pin and a little extra flip in the tail. (18" measured along the rail not the center line).

then almost imediatley soften up to almost a 50/50 all the way to the nose.

easy to turn and really fast off the tail.


Actually, I’ve found flat decked, thicker railed boards to be better with hard, edgy rails. So the edge doesn’t sink, and the flat deck gives the rider a true feel to flatten out the board if it does sink.

I shaped thru those early '70’s, when even a small wave board of 7’6" x 18 had hard, turned down rails from nose to tail. They worked fine.

Most of the “bunker” style (hard turned down, nose to tail) boards were shorter, like 5’4" to 6’6"ers.

Staying short, it works fine, but NOT for trim and gun speedsters. THEY like softer edges at WP, round rails forwards of, and thin hard behind the center of mass.

So possibly surfer style has something to do with rail shape preferences?

My best 10 surfboards were hard turned down, nose to tail, flat decked, thick, and corky!

Hi guys,

thanks for all the replies. I have a pretty good handle on the characteristics of hard rails and soft rails, the use of 60/40 or 70/30 as more predominant on a shortboard, and the tucked under edge (I made myself a Fred tool). I guess what I was looking at was that it appears to me that the hard sharp edge is not being carried as far forward on most shortboards, even compared to boards from a few years ago (eg as shown in Shaping 101). I was wondering if there has been a trend in this regard or maybe I’ve just misread it. I also realise that the sander determines the final edge, Kokua. As I’ll be doing the whole process, there is room for me to play a little. I’m still interested in anyone’s thoughts re the hard sharp edge and I appreciate the forum. I’m just trying to get a handle on the basic shaping process but this is certainly an area that I may experiment with (in future) and see what I like.

I was just reading this and other threads on rails and was wondering if anyone has ever tried doing a hard edge forward then transitiong to a softer rail in the back. My thought would be that if you were a very front footed surfer (drive front foot turn back foot) the release in the front would help you get speed and the soft rail in the rear would allow you to sink it for turns and control. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

You may want to check Glassing 101 as well, as the hot coater and sander have quite a bit of say in edges too.