Some History

A couple weeks ago, I posted a picture of one of Duke’s boards in the Bishop Museum. I took the kids there today and managed to get a couple more pictures of the board, along with the nameplate dating the board. The museum overall is amazing with the amount of history on Hawaii.

Also for any woodworking fans, the craftsmanship that went into the staircases, handrails, etc… is remarkable.

Great share, Tom Blake, Humm love the shapeand so did Duke did hey sign sez so!

Pulled in tail as opposed to the pre hot curl planks rails cool for the time. Can you guess on the finish ? Looks alot like Tung oil varnish.

And cool finish carpentry and wood!

Thanks again, “Poppa”


Most likely a marine spar varnish.      Historically, weren’t the early Hawaiian surfboards coated/sealed with Kukui Nut oil?   Anyone know for sure?

I had an old redwood plank once. Walter Hoffman said it was probably Burrhead or Gard Chapin. I asked him what they used to finish them back in those days. He said. “whatever kind of spar varnish that was on sale.” 

I’ve also heard that the ancient Hawaiians used kukui nut oil. Makes sense.

About the Bishop Museum. Yes I saw this board a couple of years ago. Sign said “Do Not Touch”. But of course I had to grab the rails.

What’s really dissapointing about the Bishop Museum is: This is the only surfboard on display. 

There are more old boards on display in Duke’s Canoe Club or in some of the hotel lobbies than at the museum.

I’ve heard that there are boards in the back some where, although the ladies at the museum will tell you that have no surfboards. Huh? Really?

I’ve also been told that the boards on display at most of the Waikiki returants and hotel lobbies are on loan from the museum.

Would love to know for sure what the deal is. 




Bishop Museum has a large collection of ancient surfboards.    I was blown away by the 16 to 18 foot long  narrow Olo, with knife thin edges.    Rails, in modern terminology.      Housed, now, in the basement, and shown ONLY by special appointment.    The last time I saw those boards on display was in the late 70’s.


The Museum just finished rebuilding the interior. It took quite a while, but’s it done. I have not gone through since it reopened but they may have brought boards out again. When I was younger they had a display with quite a few of the boards. You can probably see them if you make an apointment with the museum, but I don’t know if they charge for that stuff. Being Hawaiian and a graduate of Kamehameha Schools, we sometimes get to see things the general public doesn’t have access to. Depends on what group you are going with.

Check this page out, it’s the boards that they have in their collection. Click on an image and it will go to another page with the details.

Thanks All!
Just want to let you know, if you ever get an invite, shoot me a pm, and I will spring for lunch, beer, epoxy, whatever:)
Using your link I was able to look up some more info,
It is made of redwood, about 75 pounds, and 9.8ft 23.22in x 2.75in
I love my potato chip boards with parabolic stringers, and fins made of space age polymers, but it is pretty cool to see where surfing originated.

The current main exhibit for kids at the Bishop Museum is in Japanese about a time traveling cat. I am curious what it would take to get them to do an exhibit on the history, present and future of waveriding including all craft. It would make for a pretty fun exhibit for kids, including myself. There is such a rich history here that would be neat to learn more about for transplants like myself.