Some boards from the past few years. Lessons, and a few questions

Hey everyone. I’ve been a longtime lurker on Swaylocks but don’t post too often. However, this forum and the people who contribute regularly have been so incredibly helpful in my efforts to learn the art from of surfboard building. I thought I’d just share a few of the boards the good people here helped me build, along with some lessons I’ve learned from the many, many mistakes I’ve made along the way!

This is my current favorite surfboard. It works in just about all the waves and conditions I surf in around my home in Cabo San Lucas. I shaped it in Jan ‘22 and despite some stress cracks on the nose from a session at a heavy sand bottom beachbreak it is still in great shape.

It is a 6’8” x 20&3/4” x 2&3/4 Bonzer. Not an exact copy, but my attempt at an imitation of a Russ Short model. I shaped and glasses it myself in the garage, along with laying up and foiling the side and center fins. I made some mistakes on this one, particularly on the glass job, but overall I was really happy with how it came out and especially with how it surfs. It has tons of speed and drive, but a surprisingly loose feel underfoot when you want to make a hard turn and put it in rail. It is the kind of board that instills confidence in your surfing.

As with all the shapes I’ve made so far, glassing was my biggest challenge with this board. I still feel rushed to complete before the resin goes off, and with that hurry comes mistakes. You can’t really tell from the photos, but the colored lamination turned out pretty blotchy and uneven. The resin also pooled badly around the edges of the deck lap, despite my efforts to blend the edge in beforehand. I struggled to wet the rails sufficiently as well, so I had to come back through with more resin and finish them off. You can see streak marks from all the squeegeeing on the rails as a result. All of this is completely superficial of course, but it grates against my perfectionist nature. It feels like it is going to take a very long time to be able to make a production quality glass job without all these little mistakes.

However, one of the lessons I’ve learned along the way is that small errors may be noticeable and aggravating, but as long as you pay attention to getting the really vital stuff right (outline, rocker, rail shape, fin placement etc.) you can still build a pretty dang awesome surfboard that will be fun to surf.

That being said, if anyone has a tip or two about getting a nice even color in your colored lamination, or the proper way to make sure you wet out your laps well, I’m all ears!

Here’s a couple more photos of this board and some random parts of the build.

Surfing at Zippers in Cabo



Tacking on the side runners.

Deck lam drying.

Bottom contours. Flat entry. Shallow concave through wp blending into the deeper double Venturi through the fins which is set up to match moderate V through the back 3rd of the board. I shaped the concaves using a piece of screen wrapped around a pool noodle. Effective although rather rudimentary and time consuming. I’d love to know if anyone has experience using a power tool for this. I seem to remember seeing a post talking about Ace using a rolling pin type device, and possibly a sander?

This board is my most recent shape and my 2nd favorite. I finished it right after the Bonzer in February of ‘22. I move a lot and don’t always have a good space to shape which can be challenging, but I’ve been enjoying these two boards for the past couple years and have had ample time to surf, analyze, and plan for upcoming projects.

This one is a 6’ x 22” x 2&3/4 twin fin. About a month ago I turned it into a twinzer just for fun and have been enjoying the slightly different feel it has. Oddly, it feels very similar to the Bonzer albeit looser, but has the same stable, predictable, fast and drivey attitude that I am in love with. Both boards have the wp about 3” forward of center and both feature a similar lowish rocker, rail shape, and bottom contour setup. I am also in love with the Bonzer bottom contour and use some form of it on every board I shape.

The main thing I was not stoked about with this board was the foil. I had an extra blank that was shipped to me along with an order as a flaw, and I liked the rocker numbers so I didn’t want to change them, but I had a heck of a time foiling the nose and tail to an adequate thickness without altering the rocker. The blank was just too thick to start out with, or I just don’t have enough trucks up my sleeve to make it work. It still surfs great, but I feel like the foil looks funky. A bit too stubby for the length and more volume than even my 6’3” frame needs.

If I were to make this one again I’d choose a blank that was closer to the specs I want. I’d also dome the deck instead of making it flat. I feel I didn’t really need the added volume and would rather be able to sink the rail deeper on hard turns.

I’m planning a similar board. A little narrower, nose and tail pulled in a bit more. A tad more tail rocker and a finer rail with a domed deck. Basically taking what I have and (hopefully) tuning it for a bit higher performance surfing.

When I don’t have the space or time to do full builds I enjoy making fins and planning my next board. Along with the twin fin, my next boards planned are a 6’6” 5 fin Bonzer step up for days when there is a bit more punch and curl in the wave, and a 6’10”-7-2” 3 fin Russ Short or similar for the big summer days that are not too far off now. These fins will go on those boards.

Anyways thanks again to all the great people here on the forum who have taught me so much already. I really appreciate this resource and the community, discussions etc. I hope someone brand new can benefit a little from the small amount I can share now, and of course if anyone has a question, feedback, criticism or whatever I’m happy to hear it!

Cheers and happy surfing!!


Good lookin’ boards!

My best advice for wetting out the lap is to use the “Jack Reeves” (?) technique where you wet out the deck/underside of the board and then fold the lap up onto the deck/underside and add the extra resin by hand to the lap - working in the saturation of the laps then folding those back over to hang freely (technique sensitive) and use your squeegee/spreader to get a nice tight lamination followed by reworking the deck carefully to ensure there’s no resin pooling there. This technique requires really good time management and if you use epoxy I would recommend using the longest curing version you can for your locale (ambient temp) until you get the hang of the time management. Look for YouTube for great examples of this glassing technique and you can even watch the master himself! I really like your boards - good stuff!

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Those boards look great as do your fins! What’s your process with getting the colour and the clear in your fins?
I’m thinking about a Bonzer at the moment, what do they go like in mushy waves?

Thanks man! For the runners I use about 24 sheets of 6 oz and lay them up 3 at a time on a piece of glass covered in parchment paper. You have to squeegee or roller them carefully to make sure there are no air bubbles. There’s a few threads here on swaylocks I used to learn the process. For these fins I think I used 6 sheets of clear, then the rest was heavily pigmented red resin. So 18 layers got the red resin and 6 were laid up with clear. Then when you foil them just foil the colored side so the clear ends up on the edge of the fin. When doing multiple colors it helps to use a clear coat of resin in between colors and give it some time to kick before proceeding so the colors don’t bleed into one another.

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Oh and bonzers work great in all waves but you have to follow the design principles just like with a quad, thruster or any other fin/bottom setup. A long/narrow tailed board like this Russ Short is really going to be best in a wave with some push and room to turn etc. just to have the most fun and get the most out of it. But if you look at the original bonzers or their contemporary small wave boards like the Pods or Bumblebee they are short and very wide with low rocker. You can’t see it well in the photos but the twin fin is designed exactly this way and has a subtle Bonzer bottom. It is super fun in small mushy surf up to about head high and then starts to slide out on hard bottom turns etc. Lots of folks say bonzers need good waves to work, but I’m assuming their experience is probably limited to riding one type of Bonzer a few times. Models like the Russ Short or the performance Shelter etc. definitely light up in bigger surf. But my take is that has more to do with the outline and rocker than the Bonzer configuration. An appropriate outline and rocker with a well made Bonzer bottom and fin setup will work awesome in whatever surf you design it for!

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Thanks man and I appreciate the advice! I think one of my issues is I jumped right into the deep end with poly lamination and don’t use epoxy so I have a very limited time to work. Hard to learn that way without mistakes, but each one gets a little better!

Hi There.

I really enjoyed your post, as i can relate to it in many ways. Alot of learning from many mistakes.
Though, i have grown to appreciate visual defects as its all done buy hand and in a backyard in the bush.

My 2 most recent boards have been Bonzers, one being a 7’3 midlength which goes really well. the 2nd one i just finished up is 6’8 much more refined with more angle on the side bites. I work at a recycled timber mill which allows me to make all my fins from Douglas Fir. The bonzer seems to be my favourite fin set up.

your boards look really nice.

One thing i am trying to stick by when make my boards is to take your time & don’t rush it. can be difficult!

The Grateful Dead logo was just from a dieing band Tee i wanted to live on. plus, a being a deadhead!

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