…that s what we lost, sadly.

I m not trying to initiate another machine/handshaping debate; more like an observation about what s really going on (wrong¿?).

Finally in these past days I just found that the machine is the real winner by far, sadly, again. In this last decade the money is the rule over everything, so the businessmen frothing their hands.

Even almost all the wood boards are made by the machine!..nothing is sacred anymore!; man, money is not every thing!

Almost all the long time shapers now are finishers or only make “lobby”.

But the perspective man, that s what s changed, the customer perspective totally changed; I m not talking about some new to surfing customer, but the hardcore surfers, man; everywhere.

No way that we can “teach” or point something to the new generations anymore in the near future.

We live in times of changes and we are let many things go, only money talks.

Sorry for the rant, but I needed to say something about it and I just do not have the feel to work today, hope it tomorrow.


—EDIT: a better word is: “Perception”; this is what has changed.

…Evolved, may be you should think about what PeteC is saying.


So the businessmen perspective smartly changed the perception of the customers; and the customers seem that they do not protest or at least do not show enough interest.

Couple of months ago Bushman was here “shaping” and the boards were finished by the crew; the fact is the boards were done by the machine and the crew; the same crew that makes other brands that these customer do not want to buy…

So the shaper appeared on the right photos on the right places…doing “lobby” nothing more than that. Its a win win situation.

It s all about the stickers.

Shapers and customers changed their perspectives and perception of the value.

I know of several big names in Hawaii who don’t touch the boards with their names except for the team riders and special orders from guys they know and have been shaping for for many years. I’ve been to the factories and seen the ghosts doing all the work. I know of others who have their boards made overseas and do nothing. They get the same profit for doing nothing, how can you beat that. I look at it as a reward for reaching certain status or reputation. It doesn’t happen over night, and it doesn’t happen if you don’t have the credentials to start with.

I just heard a couple of guys on Sunday ragging on a big time name here in Hawaii about how poorly the board was glassed. But those guys will still go and get another “name” brand board.

We live on a relatively small island with lots of choices for surfboard shapers. Those who know what they want and can tell what a quality product is right away will keep the hard working one off builder in business.

These are my two shaping machines.

My only files are metal ones used for filing. Over two hundred outline templates. Rocker templates.Three Hitachi’s, two Skils, one Rockwell. When I worked for a large surfboard company, 4-5 handshapes per day, 5 days a week. This is were I cut my teeth. Hand-shaping comes easily. I probably do not spend that much more time than others do groove-smoothing their boards.

I’m not getting any younger.

However, I hand-shaped over 100 more boards last year than the previous year.

My customers tell me they appreciate a Hand-shaped surfboard.

Some of the younger surfers say they have more soul. This is good. There is hope.

That keeps me stoked to get up every day and mow some foam.

I do not hate CNC shaped surfboards. To each his own. I just don’t see the need.

Shaping and finishing are not the same.

I haven’t given up.

C’mon guys, dust off that planer.

Throw down a template.

Trace it.

Cut it.

Shape it.

All is not lost.

Barry Snyder



Hand shaping will never die. It will live on in garages and backyard sheds wherever the land meets the water. From there, comes perspective.

reverb-------  You're full of $#!t.  Somebody needs to say it and I just did.  Lowel

A lot of the well known shapers here in Hawaii start with a machined blank. Less time spent hacking foam makes sense if you need to make a lot of boards. It’s like blanks are now much more “close tolerance” than before. I also believe that a lot of these guys can take a blank and hack out a board if they had too, but they don’t have to. The hollow wood board craze is fueled by the ability of modern laser CNC machines cutting out ribs, rockers, and assorted ofher components. Otherwise it’s a heck of a lot of work to make a hollow wood board from scratch that looks like a modern surfboard with the nicely profiled deck.

…hey Mcding, why do you say that?


Sharkcountry, but check about the perception of the customers; it s changed, due to that they can do whatever they want and the customer still think that its a custom order specially made for him by the shaper

Just the facts. Man.  Comprende??  Rambo??

Like the current issue of drone operators as compared to actual combat pilots.  Both accomplish the same thing but the training and skill sets are far different.

I personally teeter on both and with reason…

I started handshaping … Handshaped several hundred boards. 

Last year was my busiest year so far and towards the end of the year I started using the machine.

Now I have several shapes on there.  

Im still easily 70/30 hand vs Machine but there is a justfication. The day i decided to use the machine was the day i shaped the exact same board 4 times. Exact same dims,

It just makes sense and cents.

The issue with the machine is that they are not consistant. Same blank same cut 3 times, none matched each other.

Seen this off three different machines.

You have to put your perspective as …“Am I business? or am I a hobby?” If you are a business you need to do whats best for your business and customer. As a hobby you just need to do whats best to make the next few boards.


Hell I shape em…glass em…sand em…do all the color…set the fins and even polish em if you whine real loud.There are lots of us floating around.

…I do not know Cleanlines; have you noticed a change in the perspective and perception (about shapers, surfboards and the labor itself) of your customers? or do not?

You check a magazine, a internet article, a web page, what most surfers talking in the beach, what the brands are pushing, what most of the big names does; PU boards, PS boards, Wooden boards…custom boards and all seem the other way.


Amen brother.

Barry Snyder

Independent handshapers cannot price themselves far above machine shapes for differentiation (as they should), or they’ll be out of business.  The simple marketing fact is the majority of consumers only care about how a board rides, that’s why most are clear and pretty much the same shape (for shortboards);  It doesn’t matter to them if it was machined or handshaped.  Part of the big disconnect is that those consumers don’t have a clue about construction other than the brand hype they’re fed.  And as all of us know, you can’t  appreciate what it takes to build a board unless you actually do it.  They are fewer and fewer really experienced handshapers left, and not a lot of younger people who would rather pick up a planer than sit in front of a screen.  The main market drives itself by pricing and advertising, we can’t really influence it and it will just take its course.  Handshaping and custom building is driven by passion and emotions, the polar opposite of making money.  If you can break even, you’re doing well.   If you have the time and energy to get revenue from other sources, do it.   Being a “full-time professional” anymore is becoming an economic impossibility. For those that are actually doing well, you have my respect and envy.

Its a widespread issue, not just in the surfboard world.  We are getting further and further from understanding craftsmanship in our modern society.  Very few of the items we use on a daily basis are hand made by people in our community. 

Hand crafting objects, i.e. the industrial arts - woodshop, metalshop, etc., are not taught or emphasized in most schools.  Kids spend their time connected to electronic devices, and don’t build models, kites, toy cars, etc, like previous generations.  “Handcrafted” is becoming an archaic term, the craftsman is going the way of the dinosaur. 

This is not to argue against progress, but just an observation.  And yes, I do think the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater.  There is a lot of creative passion and fulfillment in the hand crafting process that just doesn’t transfer over to computer-numeric creations that are mass-produced.

There are hundreds of small builders on the East Coast.Most do all of the work as glass shops are few and far between. Not sure how many shaping machines are around. I do know of a few in Central Florida.Seems like every little town has a local shaper. Some do it full time and others (like myself) do it as a sideline.

    I would like to know how many shaping machines sre on the East Coast. It’s an interesting subject.

consumers are at fault here…they are driving this phenomenon… false/opinionated info is also forced onto them by media, most notably magazines. If the majority of people cared about ther boards being hand shaped then they would be. Supply has to keep up with demand and withmore people in the water and ultra light glass jobs number of boards demanded/yr. increases. I’m not sure if board makers could keep up with this demand without a machine? so if anyone has insight into this let me know. there are people out there that care about handshapes and will be coming to you instead of the other guy…its what separates your products… these consumers are your target market

I just build my own and then I know it is handshaped! so do alot of others on here


Surfboard riders think surfing is fun.

They choose boards just like they do a

mountain bike, snowboard or set of golf clubs.

They made their choice based on what seems the

most popular advertised choice, or what catches their eye

and could care less who or what makes their board

as it is just sporting equipment

Many surfers dedicate themselves to wave riding,

understand how important their board choice is,

and will always remain mere wave riders,

riding anything that meets their requirements,

machined or otherwise.

These are the largest group of surfers

and has the largest group of surfboard manufacturers

competing for their business.

Surfers surf for life,

even when not riding waves.

The custom board made just for them

encompasses far more then mere wave riding.

It is the totem of their tribe,

the connection to their heritage,

the bridge to their future.

They are only interested in having their boards

made by the guild masters and those working

to become guild masters.

And each time one flex their tools and start mowing foam,

the background noise from marketing hype

and lineups congested with pick-a-clones

is blown away by the sound of a new

custom shape coming to life.

There will always be a guild master,

and a surfer customer for the guild master.

And the rest just doesn’t matter

its just background noise.


I would bet there are somewhere between 15 and 20 on the East Coast.There’s 5 in Florida, maybe more now. 3 in North Carolina. A few in Jersey.