Reeling in that fish

Well it’s taken almost 12 months to get there but a couple of weeks ago I finally did my first self-shaped board.

The gear all organized the night before.Bennett 6’9’’ fish blank.

A mate gave me the use of his ding repair / shaping room,another mate lent me his planer fitted with a shaping barrel.

Set up the gear ,blank on stands,stood there a minute relishing the sense of challenge and anticipation-made the first cut.The butterflies were gone.This was it.

Such an enjoyable experience,absorbing to the point of being mesmerising-

Bottom skinned ,planshape cut.The ‘bands’ you see are the result of using a ‘90 degree Fred’ to square up the edges.

Maybe I’m the only person in the world who didn’t know about that idea ,but I thought I’d mention it for the benefit of other newbies.I’m glad it was suggested to me.

Everything was going great ,at one with the foam,…

then I tilted it to check the foil and it slid off the stands.

Never mind…

I tried the heat gun trick but ended up glueing a piece of foam on with white Gorilla Glue and reshaping it.

For all my rhetoric about going carefully (you can always take a bit more off but you can’t put any back etc. etc.),I got carried away in the moment and went too deep with the concave.

Not too deep,just more than planned.Still stoked.Single to double with tail vee.

Turned the rails

And packed up because shop was closing.Plus I was very mindful of Entity’s advice about not trying to shape out every bump and scratch lest I whittle it away to nothing.Ya gotta know when to walk away.

Over the next week in the cold light of day I worked on the swallow and buttcrack , and fine tuned (could’ve done a lot more though)


Pretty satisfied so far.

Glassed her today.I bumped into an old friend , former pro glasser the other day.He offered to come around and give me a few pointers.Boy ,I’m glad I accepted - I would’ve been in the cart otherwise.It’s harder than it looks! For me ,anyway.

I’ve just tacked the fins on- 7 1/2 ‘’ keels , 7 1/2 ‘’ from the tips, 1 1/4’’ from the rail , 1/4 ‘’ toe,around 4 deg. cant - sound about right ?

I’ll glass them on and hopefully hotcoat tomorrow.

Stoked on my project.Thanks Swaylocks!

Beautiful shape NF.

Was this inspired by the board photo you posted a few weeks back?

I love the little extra curve in the template bringing the tips closer together.

I recently shaped a blank with a very similar outline and proceeded to stuff up

the glassing beyond belief.

When you get it in the water, please give a ride report.

What were your final measurements?


Dims are 6’8’’ on the bottom x 22 1/4’‘, 17’’ T, 15’’ N x 2 3/4.It was meant to be 2 7/8 but I lost some foam gouging out that big concave.In hind sight I maybe could’ve widened the nose out a little more.The wide point’s just over 2’’ fwd .

Nose rocker’s about 4’', tail just a hair under 1 7/8.

Yes ,I appropriated the template from that orange Pavel, and bloated it out in all directions( that board was 6’2’’ I think).Then I got concerned it might be a bit too directional,with all that straight rail on a 6’8’', after seeing those neat Michael Cundith boards.

I wanted the fish experience with the parallel rails for speed and glide , but my shaping and glassing isn’t up to wings and bumps,so I just pulled the tail block in a bit.Um , am I making sense ?

    So , do those fin numbers sound okay for a 6'8 ? Rooster, Mike D.,Surfteach, Herb,......? 

If she goes okay I’m goin to play around with quad fins , L fins, superchargers, maybe a trailer ,so it’s no biggie .

I’ll put up a couple more pics when she’s done.

Man, real foam looks good.

I think I’ll try it.

Looking good, NF


I’m a garage hack. The others you mentioned in the same sentence as me are way more experienced.

Your numbers sound good to me. I would not have toed them in as far, but your fish is a BIG one. Try it and see how it goes. You can always cut them off, move them, try other fins, put in boxes and try a fin system, etc. I like the Pavel quads. I like the look of some of the probox quads, too, although I have not tried them. Mike

Here she is , all done.

Hotcoat and sanding went well.Except for the big ding on the deck!

I was hiding my wife’s Christmas present in the gge. roof space- the board was on the stands directly below ,where I’d been admiring my work and psyching myself for the big sander attack that night.‘’…should move that board…she’ll be right…aaaaagh!‘’

I…could…not …believe my own stupidity.All those years of work and life experience to teach me Murphy’s Law and I still do things like that ! Still, I didn’t scream or rant or cry - couldn’t even go to the wife for sympathy.My daughter remarked on my self control after such a kick in the guts,but, you know , it’s only a surfboard , after all.

I had better luck with the sanding.

I bought a variable spd. sander polisher.Backing pads are very expensive and very hard to find around here(Shapers Aust. are the best source by far, but I’d run out of time by the time I thought to contact them) , so I made my own ,as per the ideas shared in the Archives.I used the hard pad that came with the sander and made another soft one with the polishing disc.

Sheet velcro costs the earth , if you can even get it , but the 50 mm strip works great.

The board’s quite heavy - I 've gone with a wet sanded gloss coat to cover all the spots where I exposed the weave, and the glass is 5 oz bottom and double 5 oz deck to withstand the abuse from my knobbly knees and cloven hooves.

As for the ride- I’m stoked.

I’ve surfed it twice now in soft little summer waves, knee to stomach high light onshore beach break , and it flies, given the conditions.A little bit of getting used to such a responsive board after riding mals and mini mals for quite a while - but get on a wave with a bit of wall and a power band to tap into, a couple of pumps and the acceleration’s just instant.

Paddles great and catches waves at least as well as my 8 'er.A couple of people remarked on how much fun I seemed to be having.

Can’t wait to try it in slightly better surf.

Just a big broken down old bear,who’s brutal to boards and polite to waves, sharing the stoke.

Thanks Swaylocks and happy New Year to all!

Sorry I missed this when you were shaping but I like the result. When you go that long on a fish

it’s a good idea, IMO, to pull in the nose and tail outline a bit.

That’s actually more of a ‘‘rocket’’ fish template, if you want to be early 70’s correct.

An excellent first effort!

If you have a smile on your face when you get out of the water, you’re getting the fish thing.


you should be grinning ear to ear with results like that your first go.

It reminds me of a Griffin outline with a deeper buttcrack.

Looks VERY nice.

Hey Nuke:

Great looking fish! I want to see ya

do the next one speed dialer style! Let

me know if you need the fin specs. I like

the balance you got from the nose/tail.

Also the rails look really balanced. great

job! don’t wait too long to do another one.


Lovely thread, and a lovely board. I ride my home made fish more than my 2 other “bought” boards, it’s just soo much fun, and it is perfect for 95% of the waves we get here in NSW, i surf it from knee high to 5ft or so. I will do another when it dies for sure. ALthough, i used light longboard foam, and 6oz bottom x double 6oz deck, so it could be a while!

Great work mate.

Thanks guys, I appreciate all the compliments.

I didn’t do that good a job , really. The foil’s a bit wonky , the rails seem to have come out a bit boxier and ‘harder’ than I intended, after glassing , and the finish in general’s a little bit shabby.

Still, like the man said,''as long as it floats you '' and ''as long as you're having fun''.

With all the aids a beginner has these days- tutorial videos, design programmes like akushaper,and of course this mighty forum for ideas and instruction, we’ve got quite a head start.And I had help with the glassing, where first timers are most likely to come unstuck, apparently.So I can’t take much credit , really.

We’re off on safari in the morning, and it’s going to be a ’ mal free ’ trip! I’ll have the fish for under shoulder high , and my bonzer for above.

I’ll give a more comprehensive ride report when I get back- assuming I get some surf.Some people might be interested to hear the impressions of someone who’s never ridden a keel fish before.(Except a short surf on a borrowed rocket fish, in junk waves, in 1978.)


Excellent first effort. Have fun.

"A couple of people remarked on how much fun I seemed to be having. "

… and therein lies the whole reason for surfing !

good on ya nukes !!