Minor Repair Advice

Just came back from Cabo with a really nice swallowtail and sure enough one of the tips has some impact damage. The damage is relatively minor but it did leave a small hole with some chips coming off around it and some additional fracture lines surrounding the hole for about an inch. The shape of the tip has not been impacted.

I have never repaired a board and don’t live near a shop so any repair solutions would be appreciated.


looks like you may have to reglass the tip.

while you are doing this why not use one of herbs tips and stop it happening again:


Tired of breaking off your swallowtail tips when you pull

it out of your;car,garage,house?So was I,

27years ago (or so) Rich harbour had come

up with a way to reinforce the tips of his

tails using wood stringers.The reinforcers were

short lived ,because of construction hassles,and

material used(wood).I have re-introduced the reinforcers

(about 5 years ago) with great success.


thin sheet of fiberglass(I use realty

forsale signs,eg.21st.CENTURY,FIRSTTEAM,

etc.etc.)during the hot coating(when you come

to the boxing,and plugging phase)make a vertical

cut running parallel to the stringer from each tip.

They can be from a half inch to 3"or 4" long,up from

the tips going toward the nose.Angle your cuts like your

toed fins are.I use a jig saw to cut with,and pre-tape the

cut area(using masking tape,TAPE BOTH SIDES!TOP&BOTTOM)to

prevent chipping.Using a pencil& a straight edge draw your

cutlines on the tape,TAIL SIDE UP.Then makeyour cuts(they go

all the way through the board)After cutting;file with sandpaper,

or my favorite ,a finger nail file.Check sizing to have a sure fit

.The fiberglass sheet should fit like a wedge in the cuts.

(leave alittle extra hanging out to gring off, but not flush,

leave a 1/16th-1/8" exposed to give you a bumper effect(you can

sand them flush also)Mix-up some glue(lam+pigment+cabocel)on the

thick side,push some in the cut, and coat the fiberglass sheet.

Re-insert the sheet, check it for placement,let it kick,and then

come back and sand it out with the rest of the board.For max.

reinforcers you would make horizontal cuts as well with wedges,

before the vertical cuts,but thats another story.P.S. It won’t

stop the major blasts,but it will help with the wallbanging stuff

.Since I have been doing this the tail tip dings have disappeared!

tips like this i have all over the place in my shed as they help out a lot thanks Herb!!!

Hi Bas,

As Pauluk brought up ( and Herb before him) , swallowtails are very prone to tail damage and reinforcing 'em is a good thing. But I have a feeling you’re not really up for tackling a job like that just yet, not until you’ve gotten a little more practice in. In the meantime, here’s how to fix the damage you’ve got.

First, is this a ‘conventional’ construction board, polyurethane foam and polyester resin or is it an epoxy resin / polystyrene foam board? Use the same type of resin as was used in making the board.

You will need to get some sanding resin with catalyst ( or epoxy if that’s what was used originally ) , some fiberglass cloth ( 4 or 6 oz, the latter preferably), a roll of masking tape ( 3/4" or 1" wide) , a sharp blade ( a single-edge razor blade is good) , a ‘chip’ brush ( 1/2" wide or so single-use natural bristle type, usually with an unpainted wooden handle) ,and some sandpaper , 80 grit through 300 grit - a good setup wouyld be a sheet each of 80, 120, 220 wet and dry, 300 wet and dry. The first two should be gotten from a surf or windsurf source as the stuff they sell for boat use really isn’t great for surfboard repairs. The rest can be had at a hardware store. Lots of mail-order and on-line sources for the resin and cloth, including buying a standard ding kit which should have everything but masking tape included.

First, sand gently with the 80 grit to remove any further chips and to give the area a light once over. Clean off the dust. With the board bottom-up on a couple of sawhorses, use masking tape to make a small mold at the tip of the tail, open at the top. Mix up some resin and catalyst ( in a paper cup, probably a spoonful of resin and a couple of drops of catalyst ) and pour it in the mold. Let it harden.

Okay, now that the resin has hardened, you can remove the tape, remove any tape adhesive residue ( acetone does a nice job with this, or some of the citrus-based de-greasing cleaners) and sand the cast resin to the appropriate shape. The good thing about swallowtails is that you have another tail right there to copy.

Now for the no-fun part. Cut a piece of fiberglass cloth about the size of the palm of your hand, then cut a slit from the center to the edge of the piece. With the center at about the tip of the tail, wrap it around the tail, almost like making a cone from a sheet of paper, overlapping the cloth as need be. You’ll find that you can deform the weave somewhat to make it lie very flat on the original surface. Tape it on, then put a little resin on the cloth, enough to wet out the cloth for the first inch or so. Carefully use a business card or something like that to scrape very gently across the cloth to get the excess resin out and to get any and all air bubbles out from under the cloth, starting at the tail tip and coming towards the nose. When the resin has started to gel, use your razor blade to cut the cloth where the resin stops, working carefully so that you don’t leave a cut line . Ideally, you’ll cut it on an angle so there is a slightly bevelled edge. Remove the extra cut-off cloth and all the tape and let it harden completely.

Use your 80 grit paper to sand the edge of the cloth to a feather edge, go to the 120 if need be. Sand lightly over the cloth too, to remove the wax residue that’ll be present there. Get all the dust off, tape around the tail and paint on some more resin to make it smooth. When that has hardened a little, remove the tape and sand the edge just slightly. Let it harden completely - if you got lucky it won’t need further sanding, otherwise sand lightly with 120 grit, 220 wet/dry and 300 wet dry, using plenty of water with the last two.

And you’re done. That was the easy way, and you see how involved it got.

Swallowtails are prone to damage like that - you’ll rarely see a guy who does dings professionally owning one. Reinforcing the tips is a very good idea, and if you have another one made it’d be a good idea to specify that you want the tails beefed up.

hope that’s of use


Thank’s for the advice Doc and Pauluk, I think the easiest solution for me is to order the ding repair kit. Any recommendations on brand or are they all the same?

Hi Basil,

All the kits are pretty much the same, excepting that some use UV catalysed resin and some use more conventional resin. I’d go with the conventional resin, myself, as you can use more or less catalyst to tweak how the resin hardens while with the UV stuff you don’t have as much flexibility in how fast it goes off and such, it comes with the catalytic agent already added.

Though I’ll add that that’s me, I’m used to using catalyst and ‘tuning’ the resin to the conditions, but as you’re starting out with this you may find it easier to go with the other stuff. The way you make UV resin harden faster is to set it in the sun or use a UV light source, to slow it down put it in a cool darker place.

With catalyst and resin, use the least catalyst you can get away with, that will make the resin harden. Nobody ever had major problems ( other than repair customers who wanted their boards fixed in an hour) when the resin hardened slowly, but if the resin hardens too fast it you can definitely have problems.

hope that’s of use