Hello all, I have been surfing for about te years now and i have always wanted to shape my own board. My cousin and I weere thinking of ordering our boardkits from (the 6’3 3"thick 20"wide fish). I work well with my hands and have gotten good at fixing dings. I want to have the satisfaction of having built my board so when all the guys out in the lineup are asking where i got my new board i can tell them i made it. Any advise for my cousin and i would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in Advance!! SOULSLIDER

Slider, That’s a kinda general question but here’s some links to get you going. Tools list: Keith Melville’s Board Building Hints:

I got the board building bug after about 10 years too… A couple of things I’ve learned after building my first couple boards: Let a professional glass your first board or two unless you are really really good with squeegees and resin. Also be very specific on how you want your rails done, ie if you tucked your edge up to a certain point, make sure you say so. Definitely make yourself a template. Even cardboard works. Get yourself a Japanese block planer(they are made of wood instead of metal and they are curved on the planing surface) for the stringer if you are shaping short boards with flipped noses…you’ll thank yourself later. I’ve tried shaping with both plain hand planers and electric planers…hand planers take time, but less likely to goof, while electric planers can save time, but I think its easier to overshape the blank(at least on the first attempt). In the end…I really like sheerforms. Sometimes the blank you get has that thick flaky skin on it…you’ll see what I mean…that hard coat shell that isn’t always uniform. Best thing I ever figured out was to skin it off by using a small (1/2 size of a 8mm video tape or so) hand planer just to get it prepped before actually using the planer. Have a vaccuum or dustpan and broom handy…its easy to track the foam dust everywhere. Have fun and good luck!

so if i cant afford an electric planner i will be able to use a regular hand planer? I have all the time in the world and i am not looking to mass produce or anyhing what kind of planner should i get? I want the rocker on this thing to be pretty flat I dont really like the that madern shortboads seam to plow alot of water with “flip noses”. I want this thing to be flat wide and really easy to catch waves on. Since i am a longboarder going from a 9 footer to a 6’3" i want the thing to paddle like a rocket. I am thinking Alot of foam little rocker and 50/50 rails that fade into a nice edge about 3/4 o the way back. Should i shape in the tapered tail thing that alot of fishes have? What do those things do? THey look really hard to glass. THanks for your patience with the rookie! Keep the stoke alive Aloha, SS

Smattering of advice: Essential Surfing by Orbelian gives a good review of materials and designs including specs on a ton of (older) sample boards. Of course the Carper videos, shaping and glassing 101 provide some great, spoonfed advice. I also use a block plane to remove the “skin” with great results. If you don’t mind the effort, a surform or shearform (by stanley) comes in a number of sizes and shapes and is the perfect tool for shaping. I’m not sure a board kit is necessary. I’ve had incredibly pleasant interactions with the folks at Fiberglass Supply Inc ( They’ll have everything you need with nice, detailed product descriptions for resins and cloth. Their prices are reasonable too. Good luck!

yea if you are planning on glassing your own board, the guys at fiberglass supply in Long Beach are real good guys. I have ALWAYS had good experiences with them. About shaping. If you are plaiing on using a hand Planer… Just take your time. You can eat a spot down in a tenth of a second if you open it up to wide or are planing and all of a sudden your cord gets stuck and you dig in. Just some thoughts. also take your time on the rails. Run your hand along them as your shaping them to feel the differences. The more you do this the beter you will get at finding the uneven ness in them. But hey even if they are not quite even you can have a different board goin frontside then backside. I had a board like this when i started. It actually helped for the better. I could actually just dig in and go on my backside cause it had a lil sharper rail. Every lil thing will play a part. Just figure out what you want and take it slow for your first time… It might be a ll frutrating at first. But once your done it will be ALL WORTH IT… Good luck

I think the most important thing to remember is to have fun and realize that for better or worse this is a piece of functional art that YOU created. There is something magical about the first time you wax up a board that you created, drop it in the water and see it float, get on it and paddle out and then catch that first wave! If you just live to enjoy what you’ve done, it will add to the whole reason you started surfing in the first place. Also keep in mind that after a couple of sessions the wax gets dirty and the cosmetic ‘flaws’ that seemed so obvious when you built it will become less noticeable and more people will mistake it for an off the rack board, but for me, a board I built always gives me a happy feeling every time I use it that I don’t get from one bought off the rack. Also shape it to the best of your ability and as close to how you want it but try to keep the fancy cosmetic effects for another try. I bit off to much on my second attempt and it was frustrating. A great source is Fiberglass Supply in Bingen, Washington (The George). They have a good website catalogue at or call them at (509) 493-3464 and ask for Mathew. Mathew is really nice and helpful and builds some really nice simple boards ( I walked in and said I knew nothing and he was great! They also ship anywhere. Good luck and most important take your time and have fun! Fozzy

Check the blank catalogs carefully - picking the right blank with the rocker will make things much easier. A simple set of maybe 3 or 4 cross section rail templates (cardboard is fine) are good for determining rail symmetry. Make or buy a contour gauge. Check your rail symmetry at various positions along the length of the board. It won’t ride much different but if a friend grabs your board and checks, you will avoid the embarrassment of having him point out that one rail is thicker than the other. Try and visualize “sight lines” down the deck when looking at the board lengthwise from the tail end… a set of home made calipers (cheap and easy to make from scrap plywood) will help confirm thickness symmetry if you take measurements say 4" from the stringer every couple of feet. A deck bulge on one side or the other is something else your friend is sure to point out. Good luck!

About the planers…you dont have to use an electric, I was just pointing out the pros/cons. I personally like Sheerforms which kind of look like cheese graters in the shape of a planer. You can pick those up in a normal hardware store. I like them because the blade angle cannot be tampered with so you won’t gouge your blank. The japanese block planer still comes in handy for stringer planing on both curved and flat surfaces. If I had to pick between small hand sized planer and japanese planer because of money, I’d still go with the japanese planer because it also is tough to accidentally gouge your blank if you set the blade correctly. Paddle like a rocket? from 9’ to 6’3"??? good luck! you will definitely need alotta foam if thats your goal. Most fish that I’ve seen are fairly flat rockers, but the modern fishes still have “some” nose rocker to them. As far as the tail goes…I thought that was why they are called fish. But I could be wrong. By tapered tail do you mean the shape of the planing surface or the actual tail, like squash, pin tail, swallowtail? Though some fish heve 'em, I’d avoid messing with concaves or vees on the bottom of the board if that is what you mean. If you mean the shape of the tail, you can use a small wooden dowel with “drywall sanding screen” wrapped around it. I can’t remember what it is really called, just that it looks like insect screening that you put on windows but coated with grit. As far as rails go…I think the best help there would be to check out the Shaping 101 video. John Carper does a great job explaining it all.

thank you for all your great advise!! As for paddleing like a rocket i was speaking in relative terms to other 6’3"'s not comparing it to the 9’er. Thanks again. I will be sure to drop by during te summer when i actually start this prodgect! latah brahs!!