i'm making fins thanks to sways

i spent a lot of time reading stuff about making fins and i have had plenty of boards lying around that needed them so i decided to make some. i got my sheet of window glass to lay up on and made a large fin panel. i finished the panel a couple of weeks ago and just cut a couple of fins out today. now i will need to fix up the outline by sanding and then foil the fins afterwards. probably have a long time to go but i am stoked with what i have done so far…

thanks for the inspiration and information…

This brings back some memories for me....

I learned to do fins the right way at Jim Phillips' place in the early 80s. If Jim has posted on this before, it would be good reading.

Or you can check out Greg Tate's ''how not to build fins'' thread, one of the funniest things I've ever read on here.

I don't do fins much anymore, but I still remember a thing or two....


Tips on symmetrical sheets for double foil fins:

1) Mix all your resin colors first.

2) Hotcoats are needed to get crisp color change in finished fins. Usually you'd lay up your first color, hotcoat (with same colored resin + wax), and as soon as it kicks firm, put down an ''accent line'' (a hotcoat of a contrasting color). Then go to another color layup, etc.

3) If your hotcoats don't come out flat, or you let the HC cure completely, you need to sand before doing next layer(s).

4) If you've got exotherm issues, stop and let it cool.

5) Think about what it's going to look like when foiled. Example; transparent outer layers over contrasting accent lines are going to ''fade'' when foiled, a nice look. All kinds of things are possible. It's always fun to rip into the first fin out of a new sheet and see the colors reveal themselves...


1) When you cut your fins out of the sheet, don't cut the base. Mark it, but leave the excess hanging. It gives you a tab to clamp on, and you can foil past the baseline. Cut the base off last. Cut a slight curve in base, not a straight line. Then it won't ''rock'' when you tack it on prior to glass-on.

2) Cut ''bands'' when foiling. The big one that takes the meat out of the back of the fin is the hardest and most critical. Use a hard disc, not a powerpad, for the rough-out.

3) Don't scrub on spots. Smooth ''passes'' with grinder are best.

4) Don't sweat small wiggles in outline, they'll be much easier to clean up near end of process when the outline is thinned considerably.


Best tip of all: HAVE FUN!!!

thanks yaar, looks like you have a good set up there. i work in my dark old garage that i can’t fit a car in at the moment because of boards and other stuff.

i don’t think i did see Jim’s post but maybe i did. i looked through the archives for a while and talked to Gil when he lived around this area and then decided to have a go. i probably did it all wrong but it worked out so far.

i used blue tint on the outer sides with blue pigment inside and a beige pigment in the centre. we’ll see how it turns out. my main reason for using the colours was so i could see the centre easily when foiling as i need as much help as possible.

my fins aren’t for boxes, they will be for single fin shortboards that don’t have any fins in them. i have a lot of old boards and several had lost their fin in a past life so i want to fix that and get them back in the water. i wound up using 36 layers instead of 40. i originally planned on making it 40 but changed my mind. hopefully 36 is enough…

thanks for your feedback and encouragement, your blue fin looks really nice and i can only hope mine come out looking nearly that good.

thanks Richard, it could be a while yet before i get to sand them. i’m really stoked to have them cut though. i’m going to take some more templates from old fins i have in other boards and make some more.

your boards are looking unreal man, you’ve been making them for a while now though eh?


I just started making fins also.  You must have read the Jim Phillips post, he pretty much lays it out.  I am interested in how you did yours.  I did 40 layers of 6oz, blue also (making center fin).  Had to drop 8 bucks for the carbide jig blade but it gets the cut done.  Foiling the fin was kinda tricky. I am really new to the whole board building thing let alone fins.  I want to add color layers, any info? In Jim’s post he mentions adding sanding resin when changing colors but I can’t figure out what he means. In your second cross section pic it looks like you have some color in the fin. Looking forward to seeing your finish photos. 


fins are lookin good! cant wait to see them all done up!

Congrats - your fins are looking very solid!

Two quick thoughts -

1.) PROTECT YOUR LUNGS! Always wear some kind of breathing mask - fiberglass fibers that go airborne while you sand / grind / clean up are probably never coming out of your lungs once you inhale them.

2.) Harbor Freight Tools has a triple pack of carbide jig saw blades for less than 10 bucks, if I recall.

good on you lucas !


I'll be keen to see just how old those old boards are ...are any of them 'A.D. 68's ??!! [the very same guy who told me about swaylocks in the first place , ['chipfish' days.... aggghhh]


  keep up the good work


 if at first you don't succeed ...foiled and foiled again




  ben chipper

MikeD - thanks for the info, i’ll try to remember the foiling tips when i get to rip in. i will try and remember to leave a tab on the bottom for gripping next time i cut some out. bummer i didn’t do it this time…


JJ - thanks for the compliment, i have been wearing my respirator for this stuff, my wife has made sure of that. she looks out for me…


Chipper! - long time since i’ve heard from you! Andrew and i just swapped boards for a little while to try a few out. we have always shared boards anyway. my brother swapped Andrew a little 5’10 double ender for the red blob! he has been riding it the last few years and loves it. basically the whole deck is delaminated and he wants me to fix it for him. i’m not sure it’s possible though… i don’t think i have any more of Andrew’s old boards apart from some that i’ve had for years.


have been taking some new fin templates from old boards again. i’d like to make more fins i am pretty nervous about the foiling though…

good on you lucas

just take the foiling slowly and i’m sure you’ll do fine !

‘gill’ here seemed to do some nice foils [mine are not the best unfortunately] , so it might be worth having a chat to him eh ?

and , can you please post some photos of the finished fins , Lucas ?



...SO , Lucas ....


  it's been a few weeks now ...


  HOW are the fins coming along ??


  have you FINished them yet ??





Hello Yaar43,


Do you have the link to the Jim Phillips post you mentioned?





and ....LUCAS,


  ARE the fins finished YET ???


if so , HOW did they go ?


  please let us know , eh ?!


  cheers !