Reusing snapped foamies

Hey guys, I recently snapped a foam board and wanted to give a go at shaping (and eventually glassing… given that it comes out decent) my own board. Note I do not want to fix the foam board, I want to strip it down to the inner foam and use this to make a new board.

I am hesitant to order EPS for obvious environmental and consumerist reasons. Time is not an issue for me so I don’t care if I shape it and it ends up looking like shit. 

Attached are some pictures of what I have done so far and here are my questions:

Upon stripping the top layers of foam I unfortunately also pulled off some chunks of the inner EPS. Is there a way to fix this without adding too much weight (perhaps sanding and lightly patching with powdered eps and glue)?

The stringers on this board are terrible and I am wondering what to do about it. I thought about sticking some dowel rods in to hopefully introduce a bit more strength.

What can I do about the fins? They are these plastic “screw-in” fins. Could they perhaps just be glassed in place?

Thanks in advance for any replies! :slight_smile:


I would not put any time or money into what you suggest doing.  Buy another softie and pick a better brand.

You cannot glass those fins at all. Resin will not stick to them.

I don’t understand why people react like this. I posted this on reddit and while some people gave helpful answers, so many told me half aggressively to toss it. Why are people so passionately concerned about what I spend my time/money on? I am genuinely asking this because so many in the surf community seem v agro and I must be missing something.

If it is only EPS in the center what is the issue with reusing the foam? Isn’t the surf community more inclined towards sustainability? This also cuts away from the cost. Excluding proper fins this is costing me a grand total of $62. 

Please excuse if this sounds a bit crude… but there are genuinely some things I am seemingly not understanding.

Ohhhkay- a few things you’re missing-

Those fins are made of soft plastic, next thing to rubber. They flex, a lot. This is real good for beginners, who are likely to have something like this and get in the way of their own fins, bang said fins into a myriad of other things like doors, cars and the groud or the beach. But if you were to try to glass them, well, the entire fin would have to be encased in pretty stiff glass in order that the fin wouldn’t flex and bust loose of said glass. They use that screw-through-the-deck arrangement for a very good reason, it’s pretty much the only way to hold the things on there. 

Ah, but we’re not done yet. To glass the fins on, or if you got some standard glass surfboard fins, you need to glass them to something. And the bottom of that board isn’t it, indeed it’s a polyethylene sheet material that is glued, not glassed, to the underlying foam. Polyethylene is slippery stuff, you use it where you want things to slide. Resin will not stick to it. A flexible glue, like contact cement, will stick it to the foam but that’'s about it. Again, those screw through the deck fins are used for good reason- it’s about the only way to get fins on the system.

Awright, now, the deck. That’s a polyethylene, if I remember right, foam. When Tom Morey was first building boogie boards, which this is a lineal descendant of, he stumbled across a cheap foam that they used in making packages, like they use to ship you a laptop computer. It cuts lovely with a hot wire setup and takes contact cement nicely.The foam is extruded in billets, call it a box shape, That has a skin on it, which is taken off with a pass of the hot wire cutter. Shazamm, says Morey, that’s just the stuff to glue to the outside of said boogie board. Later on, a company close to me called Packaging Industries built a helluva lot of boogie boards both for their own brands and for others, private labelled as it were. And they used it for later soft-tops like yours.It doesn’t take resin worth a damn either, glassing something to it is like trying to glass to tapioca pudding. 

So, we get to the foam. Yeah, it’s styrene foam. But it’s molded expanded styrene foam and not very good at that, what I’d call ‘cooler grade’. It is not the very different extruded styrene stuff you want and can shape, which is made in billets like the packaging foam I described above. They put some sort of wood in the mold with when they built your board that looks like it came from a motorcycle crate to initially stiffen it, but it has all the structure of a straw in the whipped cream on top of an Irish Coffee.

You can’t really reshape this stuff. You can’t  really glue it back together with any strength at all, there’e just not enough structure to do that, and you can’t wrap it with glass to hold it together either, because the glass won’t stick to it at all. 

But wait, there’s more. See, you have to use epoxy on this sort of foam. Polyester resin is fine on polyurethane surfboard foam, but that resin includes styrene monomer which dissolves polystyrene foam, turns it into something like Marshmallow Fluff, a gooey, sticky semi-liquid substance that really doesn’t work very well as a surfcraft… So you have to use epoxy, and epoxy isn’t cheap. I don’t know where you are getting that $62 figure, the epoxy resin alone will be around double that. Then there is glass cloth, fins, stuff to glass with, sanding gear, sandpaper, polish. Oh, and as you strip off the skins from this thing, well, a lot of that rather bad styrofoam will come away with it, and that tapioca pudding example comes back, lots of ugly granules and so on, chunks out of the molded thing, and by the way, the shape isn’t that great and this stuff doesn’t reshape…

the list goes on. Sammy is right, as usual. No matter how much time and money you put into this, it’s not gonna be worth it. 

hope that’s of use


There was nothing “passionate” or “aggro” about my comment. I stated facts. Simply being realistic about what you have and what you plan to do. You are indeed mssing something. Doc gave you the long version.

YeahI wouldn’t waste my time or money.  Buy yourself a real surfboard or quit surfing.  ‘Sustainability’??  How about sustaining the industry in this country instead of that CCP shit.


You CAN reshape anything.

The foam, is super soft, Dan Mann from firewire has some clips of him using busted foamies to make boards buuuut, he vac bags the final product in carbon.

Fins, you can’t really use the ones that came with it.

Glassing, will HAVE to be epoxy, will likely NOT last. So not very ECO.

Stringers, best to be removed and foam replace the void.

Glue, foaming PU is your friend and your enemy. Best glue but makes a harder section thats a different density to the rest of the foam. Then a little stringer plane is your friend. 

Shaping, block of wood with 40 grit glued to it and then get some flexable foam and glue 80 grit to it and maybe one at 120. Lots of foam beads will come out but just go with the flow.

Good luck. Have a look at my Instagram, @reclaim_surf. Go deep, back into the weeds from years past, hand planes from packing foam, boards from pieces of building eps and other waste products.

You just have to wade through the other posts, my dog and veggie gardens and stuff. Right back to like 2015.


Thanks for putting the time to write such a detailed reply! This is exactly the kind of answer I was looking for! I apologize if I was being lazy but it seemed this was not common knowledge to be read on the internet.

Strange that you say the epoxy is so expensive. I actually paid only around $30 for 1kg of Sicomin EVO epoxy + the fast hardener and $30 for all the necessary fiberglass cloth. Perhaps it is just wildly cheaper in South Africa since everyone here is broke. 

Thanks again :). I suppose I will have to order some EPS today then. 

Thanks for the reply :). It’s a very good point I overlooked that if the board doesn’t last it won’t be very ECO. No idea how I would remove the stringers while keeping the “integrity” of the board. Did any of the boards you mention have good rigidity at all?

A side question I have… Is it fine to order high-density EPS (30kg/m^3) from a local polystyrene company or is it imperative to get a surf blank? Is there some difference in the materials?

This was not a board I bought my friend. It was kind of abandoned so I just took it in. Didn’t take many sessions before it snapped…

I say do it. Make it a build thread of sorts and document it well. Several experienced and talented builders have already given you some very sane and logical advice, but ultimately it is your time and money so spend it however you like. I started building wooden surfboards because to me it’s cheaper, I don’t mind spending months building, and the end result is aesthetically pleasing to me. Is it the smartest way to build your first surfboard? Probably not. Did people tell me it wouldn’t work? Heck yes. Did I do it? Yeah.

As for the board, I vote you make the miniest of mini simmons out of the nose half. Also good on you for trying to keep a foamie out of a landfill.

de nada, that’s what we’re here for. 

You might want to up your resin order- not sure what (looking it up) the density of epoxy is- aha, okay, about 1.2, so you’re looking at what, 1/1.2 or roughly 0.8 liters of the stuff per kilo, and if you’re not experienced I would go for at least two liters, possibly three. Best to waste a bit rather than starve your lamination or run out before you finish it… As I have learned, to my chagrin.

Also, fast hardener may be what the pros use, but longer pot life/working time is your friend, especially as you’re hitting summer there. Ambient heat will make it go off more than fast enough for you.  If you can find (I’m not familiar with Siacomin’s resins) a non-blushing UV resistant hardener/resin combination, that’s what you want. Otherwise, plan on giving it a spray coat of paint as your final finish… 

Oh, before I forget, for roughing EPS foam from a billet, nothing beats a hot wire cutter. It’s usually in the form of a C shaped wooden frame with (unsurprisingly) electrically heated Nichrome high resistance wire as the cutter, though there are plenty of variations. You’ll want to get nichrome wire of an appropriate gauge, a transformer and a rheostat to fine tune your current. Or what’s called a Variac, best of all. Straight wall current won’t work, it’ll overheat and melt your thin cutting wire right quickly. Oh, and as I found out, nichrome wire softens and grows longer as it’s heated and that’s fun, you want your heated wire to stay reasonably taut ( so you tension it so it cuts a straight line) but not too taut ( your wire gets thinned out as it stretches, so it gets much more current per thickness,  heats up much hotter really fast and then melts)… 

You’ll figure it out, as my father used to say after unloading a particularly ‘interesting’ project on me.

Do a search for, say, homebuilt hot wire cutter and you’ll find material sources, drawings, pictures, tables of temperatures vs wire gauge/lengths plus building and use tips, the homebuilt aircraft guys use them a lot. 

hope that’s of use


Yeah, I say go for it as well. Get some cedar or other light wood and glue in another stringer (might have to slice the board in half). You can fill in the gaps with a slurry of resin/cabosil/q cel/flour or you can use Bondo (<----- I’m sure many are cringing right now, but it works, and it’s cheap enough for an experiment). I would agree on making a smallish shaped board, at least for the first go around. I have recycled foamies into handplanes under a vacuum setup. It worked well; but again, for an experiment you could skip the vac bag. I too would like to see pics. 

The pic below makes the handplane look wonkier than it actually is. At any rate, you can see what those large foam beads will look like under glass. Banana for scale.



Not necessarily cringing because I have a great many uses for bondo, but be careful. Most body fillers, like bondo, are actually polyester resins premixed with a filler. Which goes back into what Doc said about the styrene monomer in polyester resin. Body filler might be fine, but I think it is far more likely to melt and ruin the underlying foam.

Thanks again :). I suppose I will have to order some EPS today then. 

It occurs  to me, somewhat late, that if you’re gonna start from scratch, no good reason to do EPS if a standard urethane blank and polyester resin are available at a reasonable price. The technology is somewhat simpler and heaven alone knows its really well documented here on Sways. 

Sorry that didn’t occur to me earlier.If you really want to work with EPS/epoxy, nothing wrong with that at all, just figured that now you have more options.


Interesting. I didn’t think about melting the underlying foam with bondo. I have used bondo on multiple (older) boards without any signs of melting, but haven’t tried it yet on newer foams. Good to know, and something to think about. 

I make boards from glued up pieces of recycled EPS foam, and it’s a lot more work than using a real blank. If you’ve made boards before, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out. If you aren’t sure of what to do, you shouldn’t try. You need to build a “blank” first, then shape it and glass it. The most expensive part of the build is the glassing and fins. If you end up with a crappy shaped blank, you end up with a crappy finished board.

The image of the EPS foam makes me think it is low density, and the beads will shed as you sand it. Not a problem because you can fill small voids with light weight spackle, but you’ll have to buy the spackle, meaning extra costs. Working with a lot of glue lines will make shaping a little harder too. Lots of things to think about.

I’ve made quite a few boards from glued up rocker slices, and I’ve done a bunch using large sections of foam (2 pieces up to 6 pieces) and I’ve glued small pieces together to make a blank. I’ve done over a handful with the cooler foam in the link below. I have a buch of pieces waiting to become a board right now and a bunch of coolers waiting to be cut up.