How Does Skip Frye shape his rails?

Lets see…

Back in 2007 I was building boards in my garage…had an accident with my jointer and chopped (blended) off my middle finger…Went to my neigbors house to call for help & Skip happened to be there picking up an order of fins. Somehow, out of the goodness of his heart, Skip took the last Clark Foam blank out of my garage and showed up with it again 4 months later on my 20th birthday. 

The board is a true pleasure to surf…I only take it out on perfect days on a lonely break.

So, its been 13 years and ive had about 5 attempts re-creating this board, but cant get the rails right. They are thick, yet knifey and upturned.

I just picked up one of those profiling tools, so I traced the rail shape and provided some measurements. 

can anyone suggest railband widths or techniques to create this rail?




Matt’s approach Is what Ilike to use. I also keep a lot of rail templates that Cole Simler showed me how to produce many years ago.



The wire is a good method!

Skip Frye is an old school shaper.  Probably didn’t use a wire to shape those rails.  Since you have a contour gauge, start by establishing thickness and flow of thickness throughout the blank.  Nose to tailblock and rail to rail.  Determine thickness at points along the rail and 3 or 4" onto the deck and less at the bottom.  Then you can use the diagram and measurements that you have made.  You can check your rail at each point with the contour gauge and compare your rail at that point along the rail line.  Make adjustments as necessary.  Without the thickness and flow of the blank established, you will struggle.  PS. To clarify;  the above would be done after the blank was taken down to thickness and sanded top and bottom.  Fish template already cut out.

Since you have the original board in hand to play with.  Take a small block of wood and literally pretend it is a Skil 100.  Run it along the rails and use it to feel and visualize the bevels, angles and sequence of strokes you’d have to do to arrive at the rails on the existing board.  You can literally practice making the new board using the block of wood and the existing board.  I know this may sound crazy.  Just try it.

A very practical way to create ‘‘muscle memory’’ prior to shaping the board.     Good tip.   (said the Moil)

…yes; interesting approach to learn how to shape. I wrote an essay some 20 years ago and never thought about that way of thinking. In my “defence” I can say that the idea is to start from zero without an intended board to check.

I can add that the block would be not so small and similar in base to the planer that would be used; because the perception of the lines or shapes could be different with an small block.

I’m sure Skip Frye pretty much cuts by eye but by analyzing the shape, you can get a better idea of how to approach your own.  You have a good idea on rail contours out by the edge based on your rail templates but you will need to establish how he blends those in to the bottom. 

Many of his shapes have that pronounced edge in the tail.  It is important to establish where it starts to fade as it advances towards the nose.  Lay a good straight edge across the bottom and determine how far in from the rail edge he cuts his bottom bevels for the belly.  On Frye boards I’ve owned it is a somewhat abrupt transition from sharp edge in the tail to a rounded ‘belly.’  I’d say measure that bottom ‘bevel’ every 6" or so and see how far in from the rail he blends it.  Many of his boards do have a lot of bottom contour.

On a couple of longboards the tail rail was nearly squared off and sharp while the rail/belly transition became fairly wide in a hurry… like 1/3 of the way up from tail.  Here are pics of a couple of longboard showing something similar.  I just snagged these off the internet (not Fryes) but they show the bottom transitions quite clearly.  

I like to think there is a ‘pivot point’ that includes outline curve, tail rocker, bottom contour transition and fin placement that optimizes performance in any board…


Those transitions look horrible but hey they may be amazing! Could be a great pivot point.