Paulownia Compsand Project


So, I've been focused on surfing Coils over the past 2 years of so.  Not much reportable board building activity other than building some nice looking vac bag dogs for my buddies.  However, I'm afraid I've gotten the fever again.  I don't feel the need for a personal board as I've got a coil widerboard and springfish that work great for me.  But... all the white diamond froth happening over on the 'erBB has me in an uproar to do something like that for a buddy of mine. 

Dims will be 5'8'' x 19.5'' x 2 1/4.  Rocker is probalby going to come from a Segway/Greg Loehr design rocker bed (the 6'4'' fish blank rocker).  I'm thinking I'll push the board to the fore of the bed to increase nose rocker, reduce tail rocker and move the apex more between the feet.

I would be stoked to hear from 'the knowledgeable' on grovel rocker on this thread.   What does the drive section look like on a board to be used in under chest high beachbreak?  Where should the rocker apex be located?  Does a 3 stage make sense or would a low continuous curve be more desireable? 

In considering the questions above, I will point out that the board will be small wave performance oriented and ridden by a professional caliber surfer.  Performance focus will be aerial. 

I've also ordered some paulownia planks for this project, full length at 1/8'' thick.  Sam is sending me some 2020 in the mail. 

Core will be cheapo sheet EPS glued together on the rocker bed.  I know I'll catch a ration of grief over that... but it has worked good for me in the past and my failure tests have been pretty impressive. 

What are peoples opinions on paulownia v. balsa in a sandwich build?  I was thinking paulownia rails too.  I also considered running balsa on the bottom and just using the paulownia on the deck and rails. 

What says Swalocks about this nonsense?

I've been trying to keep my hands out of the glue!  Oh well.   I went down to PR a few weeks ago.  I rode Middles at a few feet overhead and glassy on my 5'9'' Coil fish... it was a life affirming experience to say the least.  The swell was pretty NE so the Aguadilla stuff was shoulder to head and really mellow... fun trip though.  I won six bucks playing blackjack at the casino!

All last year my old lady and I were building a house so that kept me pretty occupied.  Now I'm back to my old ways. 

1/8'' is the thinnest I could get from the supplier, so thank for the tip on bringing it down. 


As far as the board goes... rider is a lead foot with monkey feet.  Really hard on boards, esp. tail section.  Thanks for all the thoughts everybody... except Mike D who has only come over hear to tease me.


Sounds good so far, but there might be an issue with flex, and possibly weight.  You wrote; “Performance focus will be aerial.”   The rider probably wants a light construction, which is do-able, but more times than not, compsands are stiffer than desired.  Pumping for lift-off speed is flex dependant IMHO.


Ya just can't keep your hands out of the glue now, can you? :)



i fully agree with Sick-dog

you could go to bert burger his site and read up on the booster board:

bert does a diagonal lay up to maintain more movement in the back half of the board, more loading and springing

paulownia is stiff, and is likely not easy to lay up diagonally…

so you have to keep the volume and thickness down a lot in the tail, possibly add stiffness there to keep the pop in the tail

maybe kevlar underneath? i dont know all these exotic fibres myself

 ido know really well now that thinner tail give you more feeling, i am currently rebuilding  my 3rd oldy into a newy, with a thin tail…


What up H, Long time no hear. Hope all is well.

Post pics of your project.

fwiw, 1/8" is too thick, wont contour around, plane it down thinner

I would like to try sometime, a couple of recessed wood veneer ovals under the riders feet, with the grain perpendicular to the length.  For a guy, who too quickly, stomps the board to death.


For those with experience with paulownia being stiffer than comparable thickness balsa, how much stiffer are we talking? How about in comparison to corecell? 

Will the paulownia be too stiff for perimeter rail layup (I usually do 3/8'' to 1/2'')?



Ah! My resin just got here.  Stoked.  Time to start sniffing glue boys!


Who thinks it would be cool if I used cotton bedsheets as the fabric under the bottom? 


My hemp fabric balsa comp was super flexy (and heavy as lead).


Here’s one observation about paulownia vs balsa- when my “red snapper” 5 fin snapped the glass remained well adhered to the paulownia “stringer/springer” whereas it peeled cleanly off the balsa. So I think Paulownia has much better peel strength characteristics. It looks nicer too. But I do think you will have to mill the wood down further. I did that bonzer with 1/8" skins over 1 lb eps and it was really stiff and kind of heavy. I even tried to sand it down before doing the outer lam but I stopped early because I did not want to risk sanding through to the foam.


This is great input.  I had forgotten about your bonzer.  That board was really pretty. 

I'm using the 2020... do you think that might soften it up?



much of the stifness is in the wood skins, even wood veneer stiffens so with that much wood u wont get much flex at all unless the board is super thin. generally speaking soft wood flex is very proportional to its density/weight 

OK, I'll quit the annoying and try to help, even though it might be more fun to heckle. Of course, we've got a whole thread for heckling now, so I can go over there if I want to....

Go as thin as you can, overall and especially in the tail, and/or diagonal the deck wood. If the rider is front footed, use the low entry/high tail rocker scheme. Lotsa curve through the drive section, If the rider has a stronger back foot, a more normal shortboard rocker with slightly straighter tail will go good. The high tail one will go backwards better on reverses. Apex on center or just ahead either way.



Speedneedle does a few in paulownia, check:

You can see he uses layers of paulownia and HD foam in the rails and the bottom skin sits inside the rails.


You are dropping some gold on the boys.  Thanks mucho!

The discussion thus far has me tending towards saving the paulownia for something else and using balsa.


Here is an update for the boys:


and a further update: 


Hohar TV!

If anyone can show me how to imbed these vids that would be great.  Also, does anyone know how to get rid of the side bars on iphone vids?



Hey Hunter

I’ve had the same shear problems gorilla glueing layers of eps! Try to avoid it now.

I made a Paulownia compsand with 2mm skins, 3oz inner cloth and blue dow rails, with top and bottom skins overlapping dow. Kept it thin as well - 2" at thickest point, and about 1 3/8" 12" up from the tail.

Oscillates at about 3.3 beats per second using Benjamin Thomas’ flex test method.

Flex doesn’t feel quite as good as balsa, but not much in it.

Lasting really well thougn.


Hunter, thx for that.  Distructive testing is some of the most valuable information we can get.  (But for the recird, not so valuable as to warrant crushing my Coil.  ha.)


all the best

Greg and Karl

Yeah, let's leave our poor coils alone!  Mine take enough abuse as it is (not that you'd know it).


The deterioration of the original board was really interesting!  It swelled and delamed inside while I was sanding the hotcoat in the front yard!  I was so bummed as you might imagine.  But, in the spirit of experimentation, I gave it to Carl (rider) and said:

"look, this thing might not last a single session, but let's call it good and see what happens." 

He thereupon proceeded to rip the crap out of it for a little over a year before the stress cracks appeared along the balsa joints.  This includes stomping some big airs.  He's a chunky guy too at 190lb or so. 

It went to HI last year during the Pipe Masters and rode solid Log Cabins, some good sized Lanis, small backdoor and, of course, rocky point.  He said he could really feel it bending in the bottom turns at logs!

Oddly, it died when he fell hard on the deck in chest high east coast beach break. 

I am pumped to get the contrast between materials on the new one from rider's perpsective. 

The other iteration of this board used a 1.9 lb marko eps core with 1/16 balsa.  It is still going strong and just got back from Nosara.

I'll keep it coming and try to get some ride footage as well.