Sshhhhhhh - Can I shape at home quietly?

Searched the forum for a thread dedicated to pure hand shaping, but came up dry. 

I have a good little spot in my garage to shape boards, but the only time I have is when my 16 month old is sleeping. The garage isn’t directly connected to her room, but it’s definitely close enough to be woken by an electric planer. 

So, how feasible is it to skin and shape a blank with a block plane? I’m not mass producing boards, so speed isn’t an issue. I’m happy spending an hour or 2 in there for a month if I have to, but will the board suffer from the simple tools?

SOundproof it. When you leave shaped boards in process they can warp or twist especially in a garage setting thats suscepptable to fluctiations in temperature.The faster from breaking the skin to glassing the better. Plus dumb stuff always happens when you leave a board out to long. Inevetably something falls on it, you knock it off the racks Etc


Does it matter if 99% of the boards will be EPS? Does that stuff react the same as PU when it goes to warping?

If you use a PVC stringer, not so much. Wood stringers are the culprit. If your are doing eps you can do more hotwiring as well.You can knock some serious foam off with some 36 grrit paper on POLY on EPS it chuncks and rips it. Anything is possible.


If you use a PVC stringer, not so much. Wood stringers are the culprit. If your are doing eps you can do more hotwiring as well.You can knock some serious foam off with some 36 grrit paper on POLY on EPS it chuncks and rips it. Anything is possible.


Or you could always rent a room somehwere for a day. Always an option as well.

Ah…this one should be on a parenting forum:)  When my kids were young my wife would turn the light on and vacuum around the crib.  We would play the stereo loudly, play guitar, use the washer, speak in a normal voice.  My kids would sleep through it.  My sister would whisper and tiptoe around the house.  Here kids would wake up if a car drove down the street.   I say turn the stereo on in the house and go in the shed to shape…They may just sleep through it hahaha…If not, your partner/babysitter can deal with it.  If this backfires on you…I will deny any advice given:)

Good luck.

Close tolerance EPS. Nothing you need a planer for.

You can dial in the rocker/foil with a couple of simple sanding blocks. I found a couple of very true 2X4X24" boards and used spray adhesive to glue on 50 grit to one and 80 grit to the other one.You can get fancy and use nice hardwood boards with cabinet knobs attached also. Many ways to skin this cat.

You will need a small block plane and mini spokeshave to take down the stringer.

A piece of foam rubber with 80 to 100 grit sandpaper or sanding screen to clean everything up.

A fred tool for the bottom edge of your rail

A surform tool for dialing in rail bans, the nose/tail etc.  On EPS I like the micro plane rasps. (you can buy them at a kitchen store!)

Takes time but you can cut the rail bands with either the surform or the sanding blocks (you may want to make a smaller one 8-12" for this)

You can shape the rails with sanding screen

Or you can go to and buy Brian’s “Pro Tool Pack”  I have the homemade ones and the Greenlight set. I now use the greenlight tools both on EPS and PU. The rail runner tool is awesome.

Hope this helps…most of my boards are PU but I do play with EPS from time to time and when I do…I don’t use a planer.


Thanks for all the info.  We actually had her trained to sleep through loud noises, since my wife and I both come from very loud families. But lately she’s been growing out of it. I’m sure the electric planer would be ok, but if I’m the one to wake the kid, I’m in big trouble. 

I do have access to a great shop, but that takes planning. I wanna be able to work in the garage for a couple hours at night when I feel like it.  

The only board I’ve shaped is EPS, and I didn’t use an electric planer. Just sanding block, surform, sanding screen and foam pad and small block planes for the stringer. So I know it’s doable, but my blank was milled down from Marko. So I didn’t have any big long cuts to make. 

I guess I could stick with that plan of attack, it just limits the possibility of grabbing seconds from Foam EZ and skinning them myself. 

give your kid some ear plugs before nap time. it is the most economical solution…they’re 99cents or something like that.

Ah if you are that close we have people that shape in our rooms up until like 10pm.

hi blake !


....can the kid sleep over at the grandparents or in-laws a couple of days and nights a fortnight / month , so you can spend , oh , say 12 hours or so in the garage each time [one board a month finished , this way the end of the year , you may have yourself something grand , like a 12 board quiver . Extra bonuses = , a rested child , stoked grandparents , a hassle-free partner [well, in a "perfect" world?!] ... and .... YOU will be STOKED !!

either that or ....

  give the kid a battery powered toy planer [in a high , hard to get at place , perhaps] to fall asleep to the sound of every night , so it can't WAIT to make its own board when it wakes up . And , if that doesn't work ...maybe it's time for 'Plan B' , eh ? ....


.....[subliminally] play the john carper  shaping and glassing dvds to it , while it's sleeping ...


cheers !



I've done about 5 boards without powertools since all mine got flooded in Hurricane Irene.  I hotwire my blanks, then use the G-rasp from Greenlight to shape most of the board.  finish with sanding blocks and screens.  that Rasp is wide and flat and takes down the foam pretty quickly.  It takes a bit longer than power tools, but it's nice not having dust fly into your beer while you shape! 

do soundproof.  DON"T use earplugs.... Choking hazard!  No surfboard in the world is worth risking a childs life.

Just try wait, you will slowly gain your free time back as baby gets older.  Enjoy it now.  Shaping waits on the other side.

excellent point…wasn’t thinking. good thing i’m not a father… maybe earmuffs with baby einstein cd’s?

Im in the same predicament...cept i dont have an outside shed/garage. Noise and especially dust are huge porohibiting factors for me. So my soln. was to hotwire as much as i could.


maybe when ya missus takes the grom away, or maybe leave her with the grandparents for a few hours and get stuck into the planing work…I used to work in a tin shed in the backyard and the neighbours would complain ( til I bought one a carton of beer ), but was forced to get some machine cut so I could get ordere done…some people hate the thought but sometimes ya just gotta do what ya gotta do…least I could get the boards done and no noise either…and a few coins in my pocket…

Your blank shop might be able to take the skin off for you with a machine ? 

You definitely can with PU. Someone said 36 grit would chew up the EPS though, so it looks like that would limit your options. A 12" long, 2"  block with some 20 grit floor sanding paper glued to it will work, it takes about 10 passes to clear the skin, but you can use the block planer for that. Realistically, you’re not going to get the precision you would with a planer. But if you’re just making boards for fun, for yourself, and only care that they work, it will be fine. I shaped my first without a planer, I used that 20 grit block to skin it, get thickness, rocker, and rail bands, Everything else I used a surform. Nobody would confuse it with a master shapers’ creation, but it works really well.



Isn’t EPS a lot easier to cut through that PU? I wonder if instead of using a 20-30  grit you could just use a 60 and have it cut just as easily.


Edit: My god that picture is huge. Sorry, I don’t know how to make it smaller.