I got a chunk of wood...

So today I purchased this overwhelming chunk of wood from Bill Thrailkill, and in spite of the fact its heavy enough to sink the Bismark, I’m actually pretty stoked about it. This has been on my bucket list: carving a surfboard from a solid chunk of wood! 

So I’m considering my options. Maybe a historical reproduction. Or a classic shape with historic roots. Trying to come up with something appropriate to the blank. I’m leaning toward a functional board with a classic look, maybe 9 foot by 22". But my work schedule is kinda crazy right now, so I probably have plenty of time to mull it over.

The second pic is how I imagine my blank started out :-)  Because the first pic begs the question, Who grabs a chainsaw and roughs out a couple surfboard slabs, then stores them in the barn?? 

What is the back story?  I mean, it had to be a surfer who was also a shaper who was also a lumberjack or sawmill worker, someone who would look at a slab of western red cedar like, that would make a good surfboard.  So that puts it back in the 1930s? 40s? 50s?

I don’t know, but I’m curious as heck.  There just can’t be too many people throwing 10 foot slabs of surfboard blank in the back of their truck after working in the lumberyard all day.  Or did some old time surfer have a big tree fall over in his backyard, and just jumped on the opportunity? Dying to know, but apparently, its just a mystery, end of story.


My vote is functional board to be used. Please show the milling procedure if you are going that route. Is 22" wide all you can squeeze out of it? Looks like a super fun build and all your skills will be in use.

I’m clearly in over my head on this one, but determined to take my time and hopefully get it right.

22" wide is a design choice. At first I thought I could go wider, but there is a big pocket of rot along one rail.

Whatever you do Huck I’m sure it will be epic. Can’t wait to see the process. Thanks for sharing.

I’ve kinda been obsessing over this blank since before I ever even saw it. Just hearing about its existence got me tingling.

Old growth means wood grown naturally in the forest, you can see in the pic below the difference between old growth and modern tree farm wood. 

Clear (meaning NO KNOTS - not even one tiny one!) vertical grain (this is the good stuff, better looking, more stable, easier to work wit) western red cedar, barn dried for 20 years plus (maybe 60 years, 70, 80??) - it’s like something I could only dream about.

I don’t think you could get a piece like this today, anywhere, other than a “barn find”, as they say.

I want to do something that honors the grand old woodies of yesteryear.

Huck, if you want a functional template that also has a clear nod to our history, consider a take on a Hobie Makaha Gun. Great lines, timeless, very functional in my opinion. Just one option among many, and I’m sure you’ll find the right one for you.
Couldn’t agree more about a minimalist approach. The wood is sufficient in terms of visual interest!

Tools. You need an adze and a drawknife. Keep it authentic here. No stringers.

Wow that brought up some cool images!

There are a few beauties in that lot!
Totally different construction, but that was the board I had in the back of my mind when I made this years ago…


Hmmm, I still have the template and rocker from this one I did a few years ago…

I remember that board, great work sir!

Thanx! To be honest, I would love to make a trip down to the Surfing Heritage Museum to look at some old wood boards.

It’s 9’ 8" long, 23 3/4" wide, 4" thick (thicker at ends), and weighs about 120 lbs. The rough cut was crude, and there are some issues to work around. Pics

I have to agree with Bill Thrailkill’s observation that the end roughed out as the tail is going to be better as the nose in terms of rocker, and dodging some of the issues with the wood.

So looks like the square end will be my nose, determining my rocker will be my first order of business.

My goodness, Huck. Reminds me of the story of Michelangelo and the hunk of marble that no one thought could be saved. And having sweated and starved and endured the ridicule of almost everyone, he produced the David.

No pressure.

all the best

Haha, thnx greg! Should I call it The David? The Big Z? The Cody Maverick?

Looking at this thing, as crude as it is, you gotta respect the mystery guy who carved this out of a tree trunk.  Man-handling a hundred-plus pounds and coming up with a viable surfboard blank probably working by sight with nothing more than a chainsaw.  

This pocket of rotted / punky wood is without a doubt the most limiting aspect of the blank. Its like a giant pothole on the road to my success. It’s gonna be a challenge to deal with, for sure. The wood has a spongy, pithy quality that makes is completely unsuitable, so I have to cut it out in shaping, or cut it out and splice a better piece in.

Hey Huck. Incredible project. I know you are a talented and creative wood worker and it’s gonna be bitchen! I trip to the museum is a must in my opinion. Also, discuss with Bill T. if you are going to do a gun. His are as good and clean as any. I think your pieces of wood are rare and sacred. Plus, it smells so good when you cut into it! Mike

Hi Mike, thnx, although you may be overstating the case for my woodworking ability. It’s not going to be a gun per se, but some of the old wood boards that inspire me were called guns in their day, different from a modern big wave gun. Like the Hobie Makaha gun Jeffrey suggested.

Both Bill Thrailkill and Uncle Grumpy have assured me they will grease the wheels for a peek at the SHACC Surfing Heritage museum’s wood boards, so I’m hoping to make a trip down before the shaping begins in earnest.

I have a LOT of work to do, cleaning the huge, crude slab of lumber up and prepping it. I’d like to get it resembling an actual blank before too long, cuz just moving it around is gonna give me a hernia! So right now I’m gonna focus on that, and deal with the real shaping once I have a definite design.

All I can think of is “Big Z” haha.

Can wait to see what you come up with.