Man Vs. Machine

…and that 1/32 stuff is the most stupid thing a heared in a while


the blank stringer always or mostly have that 1/32 imperfection; so the machine translates that imp to dee other side or whatever…

Tell me about it dale. I see asymetrical shapes every day when I mark fins and place boxes. I don’t hear any customers complaining either. But when I see perfection from a hand shape every so often it is a sight to behold. Those of us who work within millimeters of percision notcie such things. I also notice when a shapers tree gurus sends something very off I just chuckle and realize they are just surfboards and not mission to mars rockets.

I just disagree that the machines aren’t making boards symetrical. Don’t believe my word either, go measure for yorself.


giant wave surfers and tow surfers for giant waves demand perfection. Those waves aren’t perfect either and not using a death trap of a board is important to those guys. The things you can control are very important to control. So why not control them?

Fin markings are done now by laser for certain tow board makers. I see the magic big wave boards in the “to be probed” rack all the time and even from the shapers that some here claim NEVER use the machine cutters.

I still stand by my thought that machining today has opened up the gates for many new shapers/glassers/sanders/fin guys and of that greater number, the future great ones will rise to the top.

I am glad you are a purist in your craft, but I think you said you don’t need to make a living at it either. To me it seems like pure bs to be so offended by it.

Now I can understand if it was a machined epoxy because will all know pupe is the cats meow.

I guess I’ll throw my 2 cents in. This topic is very close to me right now because I’m about to build. I’m not a shaper. I’m a newbie. If I design and cut on a machine will I be a shaper? Not in my mind. I’m just a guy who wants to make some boards. I would have to change, improve, evolve lightyears before I’d let anyone call me a shaper.

I’m not a shaper but I understand a couple things, machining and craft. Two very different things.

I’ve run and worked around CNC equipment. The POTENTIAL precision and repeatability exceeds that of a human in a production situation. Of course a human can screw-up the precision as described in the above posts.

Machines have no craft or creativity. That comes from humans. We need to translate what we see in our minds to foam. This is the point where, I think, the carving human has the advantage over the design software. A good shaper can look at a board and tell you in seconds if it will work or if it’s a dog. Pull that same board up on a computer and they might not be so confident. The ability to run hands over a shape using tactile sight as well as visual sight is powerful. Subtly shifting a board in the light will show small differences in shape that you may not see on a screen. This inability to handle a board in progress is probably a shortfall of the computer.

So, as this person is shaping real foam, he’s assessing, reading, modifying the orginal vision until his eyes, and his hands, tell him it’s good. This is craft, experience, expertise in action.

I don’t have any of those so I have a dilema. I want to make boards but lack the craft. I might make a couple a year, not nearly enough to gain the craft anytime soon. I think I have some idea about shapes but the ability to accurately translate my them to foam I don’t have.

Enter the computer. I can develope a template, rocker, foil, rail, etc., in the computer and the machine will produce them faithfully and, most importantly for a beginner, symetrically. Then, I will have it in my hands, on the rack, under the lights and I will feel it, sight it, sand it, tune it to the best of my limited ability. I will have a symetrical version of my design to fine tune. I won’t scan anybody’s shape, but I will consider them and pick and chose and hybridize for my purposes.

It’s a compromise to get me boards. I don’t have the craft yet, but I have ideas. It will probably slow my learning process. I won’t be able to hands on evolve a shape but I can get something that’s not twisted and asymetrical.machine. Maybe as I handle them and begin to understand them, I’ll pick-up a planer and really test myself.

Thanks for listening.

Man Vs. Machine

Is it your HOBBY


Is it your BUSINESS ???


Buy some hand tools and make a board. It’s not that hard. All this computer talk can be saved for your supervisor at work. Really, it’s not that hard…

I checked around and having a board shaped on a machine is only good if you have a 20 board min or plan on spending lots of cash.

If it’s your business of course you are using machine shapes…It’s been happening for years

…what you re talking about?

I make a living ¿? from building boards dude

I never said other thing

resinhead said that

and what do you say about the 1 /32 or more stringer imperfection?

Richard makes his own blanks and takes pride in his craft so he starts with better than any blank you have probably ever seen. I don’t doubt what he says.

My limited 12 year experience with machined blanks is that symetry is easy to achieve but thickness errors still occasional occur and of those 99.9% is a human error related factor.

Sorry if I insulted you in any way about you not making a living at surfboard manufacturing. It’s not to late to change careers though.

I still stand by the machined blank as a more perfect result than most hand shaped boards.

reverb the machine dose not shape off the stringer it takes the center of the tip and tail and shapes off its own center line, if the stringer is not straight it dose not mater the board will still be shape straight equal left and right .

A example of sham created by the use of machines is the owner of a large company re-entering the world of shaping after not owning a planer ,templates and the ability to finish a pre-shape for over 30 years as a legitimate board builder -designer with a label that reads - TIMELESS LINES SINCE 1971 on every board. It cant get more fuzzy than this and reveals the moral fiber of this company.

…I dont talk about Richard s foam

I talk about most PU foams

and that you said that when put the fins you saw imperf., etc

by the way, the irony in your comment is very silly

may be you re a rich guy…

but yep, I m studying Systems Analyst too

-Ricahrd L

I understand what your machine does


Thanks for the feedback Bill. All points well taken. Especially “just have fun and don’t take it too seriously”. I guess my interest for starting this discussion was sparked when I was researching the computer numeric controlled “shaping machines” and saw the price tag. I can’t beleive that some aluminum, a computer and a servo/stepper controlled router head could actually cost $65K. I can’t see anyone besides millionaires and mass production board builders being able to afford that. I am still fascinated by it though. And, I would love to see if the two different shaping methods have been put to a side by side precision test.

Actually I think 65K is quite cheap if you set up for production. How many board do you need to make before you make a profit from it? But I digrees.

You can get a controller and stepper engines for 3 axis for less than 1K in the US(far less actually, but getting something good gets you close to 1K. Servos and controllers will cost far more). Use a tooted belt drive for the logitude axis for speed, you don’t need that high accuracy on that axis. The rest is up to you. It would be slow, but accuracy would be good.

Personally I think that you can’t beat a machine for accuracy provided it’s not operated by a bozo. However there are a lot of guys on swaylocks that do amazing craftmanship. However accurate they are, I doubt if you really checked every shape they do that you would find some inconsistencies in thickness and flow if you checked over alot of board. On the other hand, that may be a good thing as one that is off may actually work better than the other. Computer shapes offer the ability to check very subtle changes to shapes tho, smaller changes than you can see and would be hard to feel.

As a novice hobby shaper I kind of have a love/hate feeling to the shaping process. There is way too much dust, way too many things to screw up, it takes so long to get everything just right. However I find that I appreciate it more and more, coming back to the rails to check everything again and again untill it looks and feels (almost) just right. Secondly I’m quite surprised how much off you can be with a shape but it will still ‘work’. It will not be magic, but still work. (fin plcement, different story).



One day I like to read the story of the worlds greatest shaper

only because he was totally blind

and built by feel/touch versus sight.

like the great blind instrument makers who build only by the sound of their result…

now that would be a story

even a guy who lost his sight after starting out with it…

That’s heavy Oneula, please take extra care with your eyes in the future

If I could wave a magic wand I wouldn’t wish for the tragedy of blind shapers but rather that the blind could regain their sight for Christmas.



You can get a controller and stepper engines for 3 axis for less than 1K in the US(far less actually, but getting something good gets you close to 1K. Servos and controllers will cost far more). Use a tooted belt drive for the logitude axis for speed, you don’t need that high accuracy on that axis. The rest is up to you. It would be slow, but accuracy would be good.

Thanks for the info Haavard. I’m really interested in finding more information on this. You seem to have allot of knowledge on this subject. Do you know where I could find specifications on some of the machines that are out there now? (i.e. 3DM, APS3000, cnc machine) I would like to break down the machine specs to find the cost of the individual parts. And, then see if I can put together my own design in solidworks or another engineering program. Do you build or work with CNC machines?

As a newbie, both to the concept of shaping and to this forum, I have a respectful comment to make that’s not intended to upset the many talented and experienced residents of this site:

I believe that designers have some knowledge and views on how to combine rocker, outline, rails, etc etc for the best speed, maneuverability compromises.

Artisans can design and repeatedly hand cut foam so that the glassed boards work - a special breed of person like fine furniture crafters.

Shapers are artisans who can make boards for other people that suit their individual styles. This comes from their intimate knowledge of their own special solution to the speed/maneuverability conundrum.

Great shapers are shapers who are great communicators - they listen and the customer gets what they thought they wanted, but it actually works!

There are shapers who are fine craftsmen, but they spring surprises on their customers. In my eye they are fine technicians, but not rounded shapers. For them, computer 3-D models that customers can view can help reduce the surprise element.

People like myself who design boards for themselves that work a whole lot better than anything I’ve ever had from a shaper are not shapers. We’re just hobbyists who know more or less how to achieve what we want. For me machines were a great way to refine things quickly and cost-effectively. I’m backing into hand shaping - starting to finish the boards by hand - next I’ll turn the rails myself. Computer designing has allowed me to figure out a whole lot of the 1/8" decisions and understand what I want to see far faster than if I had hand cut my first couple of boards. My design experience is also allowing me to help a talented, non-computer shaper to migrate designs to machines, so we both benefit.

There are enough machines around to where we don’t have to put up with lackadaisical set up and asymmetric boards, so this problem will go away over time.

Machines are bringing about a segmentation to the industry. Inevitably the economy mass produced models (these guys are making waay too much profit at present), mid-priced individually customized production line produced models (individually designed but machine cut) to top-end finely crafted hand-cut equipment.

i just think machines are boring

who wants to stand in a boring factory staring at boring machine making the same boring surfboard

for a a bunch of boring dicks wearing the same boring t shirts

trying to impress some boring blonde bimbo on the beach

it a matter of Boring Vs fun

wgaf if they can make a precisely perfect and accurate close tolerence stick that floats

shit man the only measurements i take are fin positions

Regardless of what you think, machines ARE the future. There will always be custom surfboard shapers, but I’ll bet anything that within 5 years, 80%-90% of all surfboards are done by machine. Adapt or don’t…Not saying I “like” it or not, but it’s the truth.


no i surf


no I shape


do you own a planer

can i get some sand paper?

what drives the body possessed

of ‘making surfboard’?

job for freud

job for fraud squad?


required study


a movie ,silent movie

man vs machine?

popular plot

we have covered john henry

in passed threads

yet the query persists

Advocates of machine options

steadfastly justify shorter cuts

justifying them with the accuracy card held high

bless them machines and opperators.

if the machine breaks or is out of reach


or financially

they will likely buy a pop out simulation and never choose

to discern the difference between hand shaped and machine rendered

so the list of just becauses grows

just because ones training lies

as an opperator of machine

what level of machine along the evolutionary

industrialization of surfboard manuf

might one be.

a planer is a machine

make a jig for a planer

a router is a machine

make a jig for a router

how bad do you want it

bad enough too drop trou

and take the financial hit of the BIG MACH

so be it.

pitch a tinkle at the guy with the program

ram the thought form through the gigabytes

and simulated synapses

schazam you are the MAN!!!

your coming was fortold!

masturbating with fingertips?

or with full palm down

seven hundred passes

maybe even two thousand passes per board

how bad do you want it

walk a mile?

tinkle tips?

well what can one say

to somebody trained as a team player

about individual efforts

its just hard for them to concieve

some body said the aboriginals in the west indes

couldn’t see the spanish ships

carrying Columbus

because they were not within their field of familiarity

computer assisted design implemented

surfboard fabrixation…?

living in the future is computer

assisted.when the power goes out

everything stops in that world.

infrastructure infrastructure

infrastructure dependant

craft creativity hand tools

archaic lineage

so what?

machine brave new world?

industrial revolution

sales pitch.

thousands of toasters sold world wide

the art of toasting bread on a griddle grill or camp fire

a lost art.

how many obsolete and broken toasters are there in the

pyramid called land fill.

progress to what?

what percentage of the land fill will be represented by

cast off cnc aps 300 generated surfboards

in the name of the enviolentally sound

of mind and morally straight.

do what you can do

why compare skills lacking

with skills aquired.

if’n you the computer trained ? swell.

if you wanna shape? shape.

dont feel so bad

someday you might aquire greater skills

so what.

make the popski outski

tow yerself with a water harley

bat yer way into a wave with a kayak

drag yerself with a kite

the coolest thing is to catch a wave with a no paddle take off

on a board yoou made yourself

taake the drop turn

glide and have

the wave explode


ya all wet


for the top of your head

I invested fourty six years

to do that .

and i dont wear a chord

and I didn’t have to swim.


fortune favors the brave

maybe your coolest thing is to run

a flawless program.

the video game of surfing G-land is nice.

100% of all computer assist designed

boards will be computer assist designed

in the nex five minutes

why wait 5-ten years

the future is now

and lets just not compare apples and oranges

you can eat the peel on the apple

the peel on the orange is an aquired taste.

they are making cad stradavarius violins

in cuba ,china,and yugoslavia

the next factory is being set up in mogadishu

in a hundred years they may rival the original.


I just made that up.

apples and oranges are the same.

make and buy pop outs

they fit well in a toaster.


All good points and options, but for me (and, I would imagine, for many other non-production shapers), it’s just as much about joy of process as ‘accuracy’ of product.

yes & amen!