Intro / First Board

Howdy all,


I’ve been reading a ton on this website the past few months. Man, what an abundant resource of knowledge and thank you in advance for your patience and help.

I’ve been surfing for several years, (I’m 19) and couldn’t help but think that making my own surfboard was the right thing to do. Especially after buying used boards for awhile and wathcing them fall apart right under my feet. I figure I can save a few bucks and still make a super fun board if I get the hang of it. Being a college student, there sure isn’t a whole lot of money around to fork over $400+ for a new board especially when you have the fun doing the DIY thing like I do.


Anyway here’s the start, I found an old 80s looking board sitting at the goodwill lot behind some markets where I live so I picked it up and brought it home. it was about 8.5 ft long 23 wide and just over 3 thick. It was badly damaged with rotting foam all over it. I dove into it and started taking the fiberglass off of it which to my newbie surprise ended up being a nightmare for the blank itself. Now, not only was it rotting all over it had chunks of the rail missing. Long story short, I’m now dealing with a board that is about 5’8 x 20 x 3. I’m not finished with it yet and would like to see what you all have to say about it. The rails towards the bottom of the board are not symetrical, as you can see in the photo one has a nice bow to it, while the other is a lot straighter due to a little mishap I had earlier on in the process. I would hate to think that the board is too far gone especially because i’ve put so much effort into it at this point. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do if anything, or if in your experience it doesn’t seem like too big of a deal if I should just keep on keeping on with it or what. I really am unsure at this point. I’m thinking I should just finish it out and surf it because I can’t see it being THAT big of a deal. It may not be great yet, but it is my first and it has come a real long way.

Here are the pictures, thank you again



"I’m thinking I should just finish it out and surf it because I can’t see it being THAT big of a deal "



…what you said !


 I stripped 15 boards , reshaped them , sprayed them , glassed them , put in fin plugs .


  that is the sum total of my experience.


oh , and two made from fresh blanks .


They were quicker and easier to do …


  but hey if you like a challenge [as I must have , I guess ?] , then , yes , persevere.


  don’t let wet blankets put out your fire.


I waited till I was 25 , to strip a board ,  and try shaping .  [ Don’t know why I waited so LONG ,  really ! ]


  you have a head start .


  another guy who used to come here , josh , was , I think , ? 14? ,  when he did his first.


  good luck … and keep us posted on the progress , eh ?






  WELCOME to swaylocks , by the way , mate !


  cheers !




 look at boards you like , notice the rails , see if you can also get hold of the  john carper ‘shaping 101 , and glassing 101 dvds , too … the only other thing is its a bit easier starting and finishing with pretty much the same sized blank / board . I made a 5’8 fish from a 9’ blank  [a bit like what you are doing] and it was a bit flat



Print out a template from look in the retro and stub section. Something that will bring the tail in but still keep a full outline. Even if it turns out ugly, youll have fun and it will float and you will be able to surf it.

Keep the bottom flat and the rails full. Youll be alright.

You have enough foam to make a nice board. 5’8" x 20" x 3" is more than enough. Stop cutting till you can get some dimensions of a board that will fit inside the foam you have left.

There’s plenty of thickness to add nose and tail rocker. I see enough there to add an inch of tail rocker and at least an inch of nose rocker. Lay a long straight edge on the bottom and see what you have measuring from the stick all the way to the top of the blank at the nose and tail. Then figure that you’ll want about an inch of thickness at the tail and a half inch at the nose. That will tell you how much you’ll end up with. You could probably bring the thickness down to 2 1/2" and keep the deck fairly flat to give you lots of volume. That gives you about a half an inch to play with. Make sure you get the bottom setup without any twists. Keep the rail edges square until you are done with the bottom and have the outline cut. Make sure you deck is even in thickness from rail to rail, and there’s a flow of thickness from nose to tail (thin to thick to thin), with the thickest part about where you chest will be. When you have the deck figured out you can work on rail bands. The bottom edge at the tail should be pretty square not rounded off.

Watch these videos before you do any more cutting. There’s a lot of really good stuff to learn. Don’t try to use the planer the way Ben does, just learn how he cuts out a board from a blank. Look at the rails and decks on their boards.

Ben Aipa cuts out a board from a thick blank with a different rocker. Exactly what you need to do.

Geoff McCoy talks about board design.




You might be able to fix that if you sand from thik point into the thin part. …or if blanks still thick, remove layer, or enough til fixed… then be more careful not to sand in one spot. Not sure what happened? But good luck.

Re-templating? I can’t tell from the pic? It kinda looks like you sanded too much near tail by rail? But if you did screw up outline - re-templating is
a option as told by poster. But you obviously have to go narrower. Only you will know as we can’t see your blank up close…

Try sanding in wider strokes and don’t sand in one spot too long next time around…

I had an accident where my blank flew into the air - took a chunk out of a rail! I was forced to figure out how i could repair it… i opted for a bit of belly on my bottom…or belly in forward third - vee in rear third. But your build might call for another route? All’s not lost, i think. Regroup and figure it out.

Wow, first of all thank you everyone for all the replies and help. Yes, I did sand too much down by the rail. It was actually an super stupid, impatient type mistake. I only had fine sandpaper so it was taking my hours of hand sanding to get anywhere, so I fired up my belt sander and tried to get the rails closer to the template line with that. What an idiotic thing to do. I was being really easy with it and it worked for a little bit quite well actually. Up until the point where I was showing a friend’s little brothers what I was doing and I lost focus while talking to them for a second and whamo, the belt sander got real hungry and starting chewing up the rail. I mean just a fractions of a second. Anyhow, that’s where the board is at now. 

I’m 6’1 190 so I’m trying to keep as much foam on this bad boy as possible.


The blank is still thick, although it is not super wide anymore. Youre right, maybe I should just re-template it. As far as I can tell, even taking off .5" would make the mistake a lot less bad. What kind of problems am I looking at if I do take the width down to say the 19.5" area but keep it nice and thick. As far as hydrodynamics go I’m trying to picture what would happen to a board too thick for how narrow it is. Seems like it would be really hard to put it on rail and get a solid turn from it. Probably more of a long drawn out turn I’d imagine. All of this is based off the assumption that it is in fact too narrow, which it may not be. Again, I’m trying to keep as much foam as possible. 


Thank you again for all of your responses.



You can keep the deck flat and just foil the rails to get a thinner rail. Here’s a few shots of mini simmons types of board that keep a lot of foam in the deck. You can also run a bevel along the bottom of the rail to help make the rail curve smaller. There’s also something called an S-rail from Bill Stewart and a G-deck board from Santa Cruz Surfboards. They incorporate thicker decks with thin rails.'4_Deck.jpg