One Last Time...................3 piece Balsa Gun

I have a balsa blank, made with only three pieces of wood.       The majority of balsa boards were made with four to five pieces of wood.     The only thing more rare than a three piece balsa board, is one made with only two pieces of wood.       I’ve only seen three examples of a two piece surfboard.     One was a Hobie, the other was Velzy&Jacobs, and the third one was a Burland Surfboard, shaped by Wayne Land.     This last 3 piece example, that I have, will likely be made into a classic pintail balsa gun.       The first gun I ever made, circa 1959, was shaped out of solid balsa.     I can’t imagine I’ll ever shape another balsa surfboard again.     Frankly, it’s just too much like work!      This last one has already been spoken for, if I decide to make it.      Like that famous line in the movie, Lethal Weapon, ‘‘I’m too old, for this shit!’’   

Just have fun…no good without that.



I like to believe that you are only as old as the number of days since you were born divided by 365. Somehow comforting. 

Well, in my case it’s still a number, I’m not entirely at peace with.

Well, the ‘‘perhaps’’ is gone, I’m moving forward with this one last balsa gun.       I’m going to select some attractive wood today, to use to make the glass-on fin.      I like to select a grain pattern that mirrors the shape of the fin.      It’s a subtle thing, but one of those details I like to pay attention to.     I’ll keep you posted, as I make progress.



Looking forward to this. It may be the last three piece balsa blank but hopefully it is simply the next one. Please consider the book idea. You have a multi storied legacy that shouldn’t be forgotten.


I’m sure someone is going to be very happy when you finally do it. Lucky person indeed.

As it turns out, I had a piece of well figured Black Walnut, out in my man cave.      The wood has some beautiful grain loops, well conforming to the shape of the classic period gun fin.       The fin is 3/4ths inches thick, and will be hand foiled by me, prior to being mounted on the board.      I’ve been applying a hydrodynamic foil, to my wood fins, since 1960.     Something I was encouraged to do, all those years ago, by Mr. Phil Edwards.


Just wanted to say i enjoyed seeing the pic of you and your latest 9’9 longboard creation on Bird’s instagram account recently… and he also posted a tail shot of the 5’10 broomtail you made him

hope we get to see the end creation being discussed here, always enjoy anything you are doing.



(i’d post the pics but I am at work and can’t upload the pics on my work computer)


Aloha Lankameese,

That 9’ 9’’ balsa longboard, is a copy of my last personal balsa board circa 1961.      That original board ended up deep in Baja Mexico, on the side of a Cantina, as a turtle soup sign.       After its rescue, it was obtained by the fellow that is now the owner of the above mentioned board.      So the man now owns two balsa surfboards, that were made by me, fifty five years apart.     When the current nine foot, 3 piece balsa gun is completed, I’ll see that photo’s are posted.

here it is.



What with the holiday season, family obligations, and some rainy weather, I’m getting thing done more slowly than I had hoped. The fin is almost finish foiled, just needs about another two hours of TLC, to get it where I want it. Weather permitting. This balsa gun (which may well be the last balsa gun I make) is going to be a near twin to the first balsa gun I ever made. (circa 1959) just six inches shorter, at nine feet. Sort of a full circle thing. This particular board is very special, because of the rare three piece construction. This board will get the classic, early red dot era, decal.

Anyone ever heard the expression, ‘‘Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans.’’ ??? Well, I know what it means. I’m scheduled for surgery on my right eye, this afternoon. Vision in that eye began to get a slight blur, about ten days ago. By Monday I was getting alarmed, by the rapid onset, and called the eye doc. I was in his office the next morning @ 9:45am. So, the Balsa Gun project is momentarily on hold, pending the outcome.

Total bummer! … Hope all goes well.

Eye sight is serious business. Take care! And don’t rush. Keep us posted.

Godspeed Mr. Thrailkill. Glad you didn’t muck around with it like most of us. Praying for the best of all outcomes.

Whoa, Bill, so sorry to hear that.
Best wishes from Florida. Take it easy, and may you have a fast recovery.

Very very sorry to hear. Please keep us posted on your outcome.
All the best

Nice to see the pic of the longboard, crazy to think a classic wood board like that was being used for a sign!! Looking forward to pics of the gun. Wishing you the best with your surgery.

Best of luck Bill! Take care of that eye the boards will still be there when you recover

Best wishes Bill. Really looking forward to seeing pictures of that gun when you get back to it.