Other Hollow Wood Methods

To all ye HWS fanatics,

In keeping with the co-operative spirit of Swaylock’s, I just thought I’d drop a line and introduce another construction method that has been working really well for me. I’m just finishing up my third fish (photo below) and am very happy with it. I’ll actually go so far as to say it’s not that difficult for someone with modest woodworking skills and tools.

I’ve also included a shot of the unfinished fins just for kicks (they are supposed to resemble a flounder’s fins).

Anyone interested in learning more or sharing thoughts should reply to this post. I’ll try to answer any questions and share my own ideas (don’t have too much extra time but will do my best to respond promptly). There is also some trial&error process photos posted on the Grain Surfboards News Blog. http://www.grainsurfboards.com/news

I just checked out your website and the boards look great and it looks like you are all having a great time building and surfing them. Thanks for sharing! I’m sure many of the guys here would like to hear about your methods if you could post more.

Hey man

That fish is insane. How does she ride??

What are the dimensions. How long did it take to make that beauty?


What a stoker, Richie!

I read the whole thing… right down to the final line.

“To experience all of this, you will need to make a commitment.”

Hey Cheater_5 -

Thanks. The dims for fish in that photo above are 6’ x 22” x 2 5/8” (4 3/4” Nose Rocker, 1 1/4” Tail Rocker). Honestly, I’m not sure how it rides yet because it’s still on the glassing rack. I’ve got a hunch it’s going to be sweet though. My primary ride is the one I built previously. It’s the 6’4" you can see being built on the GSB News Blog, and I absolutely love it. I may be a little biased since it is my baby, but it still rides like a dream. So slick and so fast down the line.

Here is another photo of the current project (called the Flounder because it’s so wide and flat) to show the outline better (this pic was taken before I shaped the rails and finish sanded it). Should be good in small waves too - We’ll see.

I’ll keep you posted once I get it on some decent swell.

So far it’s taken me about five days of full time (but off and on) work add another for the fins and glassing and we’re looking at about a solid week not including glue/glass setting.

Yea i love the wood that you have used in it. It makes it look soo nice.

Would also really like to see any other pictures of it being surfed. I have read that site that you posted right down ti the very last word. Really nice design by the way.

What do the board weight…???..

Hey Paul, To answer your weight question - just under 10 pounds. Not sure if that seems heavy but I actually like a little weight. Call me nostalgic but the idea here is to keep that great wooden ride feel (and you just can’t get that with a superlight). I probably wouldn’t choose this board for aerials (yeah right, as if I could do them anyway) but for fluidity it can’t be beat.

That said, it’s worth noting we’ve decided to over-build these boards until we are sure about the perfect weight to strength ratio. it’s also worth noting that these boards get the majority of their strength from the wood (not the glass). The epoxy is really just a sealer. On my first fish I only coated it with 3 coats of epoxy (no glass cloth at all) and it’s been holding up great. The other day I snapped a leash on a monster wave and the board spent several minutes thrashing on the rocks (we’re in Maine here). I saw (and heard) it crashing around like a shipwreck. i was stoked to find just minor surface scratches and a little crack on the rail. An easy fix.

On this Flounder fish i am going to experiment with one layer of 4 oz e-glass lapping to double the rails. Not sure how much weight that will end up adding, We’ll see. But I’m not bothered by the weight anyway. When this puppy gets up to speed it feels like a feather.

hey Ritchie, mate I am VERY interested in your holow project as I am in the middle of building my first, the fish looks sweet and those fins… WHOOA!!!

well thanks for the pics, keep em coming, I’m off to explore your website!

beautiful . . . thanks for sharing!!! So inspiring!! I’m looking into getting into wood board building, but waiting to pay off the “mafia” first. You can’t surf if you’ve got two broken legs

Hey Ritchie, board looks great. When are you gonna get some glass on that puppy?

The fins are S…I…C…K!

Beautiful work. How thick are your planks? I am building an HWS, although I don’t think any of the parts I have made so far will make it into my first board. More likely I am just learning to make parts at this point… I am experimenting with some “bendable plywood” that is really heavy. Its pretty though. I think I’ll adopt your planked frame style. Way prettier.

Planks are 1/4". Do you mean using that bending plywood for the rails? I’ve used it with some success. Just have to remember that it’s measured in mm’s. I ordered 1/4" (it says 3/8’ on the invoice) but it’s actually more like 5/16". Who knows. Also give it a good flexing back and forth before you use it - makes it much more flexible. Plus your rocker’s got to be cut into it - otherwise it torques and tends to want to come un-glued.

FYI, there are more process pics posted at http://www.grainsurfboards.com/news

Hey Rich.

First off, I want to say that you and your partner are making some beautiful boards there man. Kudos for the good work, and for the planting of more cedars.

I have a few questions for you as well, if you don’t mind answering. I am a newbie, but have been teaching myself how to shape (with help from Swaylocks) EPS/epoxy boards and I have talked wooden construction over with a friend of mine who’s shop I have borrowed for some of the work. We discussed some solid/chambered balsa, but balsa is real expensive so he was telling me about the methods used in making cedar strip canoes. Then another friend sent me the link to your site a week or two ago.

Now I’ve noticed from your website that you use what looks to be 4 or 5" planks 1/4" thick. How are you getting your boards down to that thick? I’ve thought about ways to re-saw using a bandsaw, or maybe even taking some 2" lumber to a guy I know who has one of those portable sawmills (timbermiser) to re-saw.

What about shape wise? Are you using the same rockers and foils/thickness that you would use on a foam board?

How about a vent plug? Is it necessary? I’ve read on Sways guys using one or not, but so far I’ve found most wood posts to be on solid chambered boards.

Anyway, that’s all the questions I’ve got right now. I’m planning on making one over the winter; as well as a bunch of EPS/epoxies. I have worked on and off with wood and wood finishing since I was about 13 and think that the ‘organic’ look that wood has complements the graceful lines of surfboards so much that I have to make one. Then I can see how they ride. Once the frigid winter is over. :slight_smile:

Thanks for any info, and again, props on the nice work.



Hey Johan, Thanks for the message. Glad you like are boards. We are pretty fond of them too. Just to quickly answer your questions; our planks start as 1x4 (actually 3 1/2 x about 3/4 after it has been planed). To get two 1/4" thick planks we re-saw them on a table saw using a thin kerfing blade. The side that’s been sawn then becomes the inside surface of the planks (it’s rougher but makes a better gluing surface becuase of it). It’s pretty easy with a strong saw. We tried resawing with a bandsaw (in order to waste less material) but it was just two difficult. Bandsaw blades tend to drift and snince we still could’t get three planks anyway out of one board anyway, it just wasn’t worth it.

Shapewise it’s all the same. All done by eye and hand feel, takes a while but it’s worth the extra effort. 80% of shaping is done with a belt sander, the rest by hand sanding.

Vent Plugs: We’ve decided it’s better to use one instead of risking having the planks seperate from the frames and keel (we’d consider that a catastrophic failure that is jsut not worth risking long term). They may not be needed in the short term - but the constant flexing just from atmospheric changes - not to mention going from hot sun to cold (very cold) water would eventually overstree the joints.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to consider us a source ask questions of and to bounce ideas off of.

In fact, next time, ask your questions via the regular discussion boards. That way the info will be available to all with no extra effort. I may even post this exchange there just to do that.

Cheers man and keep it up!

anytime, really.


Thanks for the info. I am using the wiggle ply for the decks. The blank is awaiting rails but I think its going to be scrapped. My glue up went shitty. I am going to build decks like y’all do. I’ll post in this thread as it gets going.


Thanks for all the info Rich.

In fact, next time, ask your questions via the regular discussion boards. That way the info will be available to all with no extra effort. I may even post this exchange there just to do that.>>

Will do.

Share the stoke!



I won’t need the info right away, but figure I’ll ask the question while the thread is still warm.

What would I use as a vent plug, and where would I get one?

Here is an even dumber question:

Obviously the plug should be IN when you are out surfing, (DOH!) but when do you pull it out? When you’re on break and the board is sitting on the beach in the sun? Strapped to the car?



Every time you’re not surfing :slight_smile:

This is the selection of vents from www.fiberglasssupply.com


Nice boards, web site and blog. You have been working hard. I especially like the idea of not using glass on your first fish. I recently stripped the glass off a fish and buried the wood in epoxy. Works well on canoes, kayaks and boats so figured it would work on a surfboard. Not sure about the actual weight loss but the board is much lighter and responds quicker. Not sure if I want to try it on rocks, but your experience is comforting.

Take care.