SUP on the cheap

Hi everyone.

Let me just start out by saying I was turned on to this forum because it’s my goal to build an SUP board eventually (soon hopefully), I’ve been lurking for awhile and have already learned a great deal. I feel privileged to be a part of a forum with so many veteran builders to learn from.

I learned about SUP watching a TV show about Laird Hamilton (yeah, I know) and was intrigued by the large board he was paddling around on while standing. I had never seen this before, and I knew instantly it was for me. I live on the gulf coast of Florida and the conditions here are perfect for SUPing. But I had to find one first…

I went to my local surf shop, Lenny’s in St.Pete Beach and asked about this new stand-up-paddle-thing. “What’s it called?” I asked Lenny. “Stand up paddle board.” He replied…Sounds appropriate! Anyway, he goes on to tell me that he’ll be getting his first SUP in a few weeks. “Awesome!” I shrieked. He then went on to tell me prices started at $1500 for the board and another $300 for a good paddle. OUCH. Well that puts a damper on things. Since I am not able to afford it, but I am itching to get out there and do it, I’ve got to be creative…That’s when a light bulb went off in my head.

I had an old 11’ windsurfing board at home that my brother and I got for free. The sail was junk so we trashed it, hoping to find a decent used one down the road…But the board was in good condition, why not use it for an SUP? I immediately went home and got to work on the board, removing the old foot straps and mast holder, or whatever you call it.


The board is a Fanatic Viper “Furnace” 340. It’s 11’ 4" long, 26 1/2" wide at it’s widest spot, and 5" thick at it’s thickest spot. It tapers off on each end, with a rocker in the front only. Also included is a 26" keel.


Then I had to craft a paddle. My first one was made with a cheap plastic raft paddle and some PVC. It lasted two sessions before I decided to make a new one out of an aluminum/plastic paddle and a fiberglass rake handle. I learned about the rake handle here :).


The first one (right) cost under $10 to make. The second was $20. I already had the rake :slight_smile:

On the first trial run I went to a shallow inland area, which ended up being too shallow for the keel. I did very well heading out with the wind, but I could not turn back into it. I ended up paddling back on my stomach. I stayed closer to land and stayed parallel to the shore and did great. The next run I went to an inter coastal waterway and launched off a pier in calm water. I was able to use the keel and it seemed to help the stability a bit. A large boat passed by creating a large wake, and I was able to turn into it and ride it out. As I turned back, the opposite wake had bounced off the sea wall and was headed straight for me, and by the time I realized it I was promptly knocked off the board and almost lost my flip flops and sunglasses. The third run (with new paddle) which was yesterday, I launched right off the beach, but the conditions were choppy and I really had a hard time staying on the board. I still had a great time and I’m sore as I’m typing this.

So far I’m very happy with the results. I’m having fun and spent very little cash, but I do want to build an appropriate SUP eventually when I have the money. Until then, is there any way I can improve the windsurf board? I’m thinking of sanding down the deck and applying some of that roll-on grip stuff or “Hula Dek”. And forgive me if this is a dumb question, but how does fin adjustment effect the boards’ performance? And is the keel helping or hurting?


Tons of great info at the above link…



Using an old wind surfer is a great way to start. Eventually when you get better, you may want to get into a board like Blane (CarveNalu) has to offer. His boards are getting very popular in Hawaii and his boards are the bench mark for high performance SUP boards.

I have talked to some shapers that are offering entry level SUP boards similar to Surftech’s Laird SUP. Thier market includes SUP boards for lakes, rivers and other flat water bodies. One shaper is even putting a box on the deck so paddlers can add a universal mast step for sailing. So in essence, they are producing a hybrid SUP - Sailboard. The sport is constantly changing.

Also I made paddles for about $15 in wood and with scrap materials. I have it posted somewhere in the forum.

BTW, loose the keel!



flip flops

That’s your problem, right there…

Yep, that’me on my “new” toy: an old MISTRAL SURFER (1980?) sailboard. Of course, for free.

Very stable and very good paddler. The only pronblem is its huge central daggerboard and its minimal (10cm) rear retractable fin.

This combination makes it impossible to ride in (small) waves. I’ve tried to ride it only on its rear mini-fin, but it doesn’t stop to turn around (360ºs)

Haha, yeah. Lesson learned. The flip flops gave me better grip on the board at first, but ended up just being a pain in the ass.

And BTW, this thing is heavy as hell. I can’t wait to get an Epoxy board :slight_smile:

I can’t find anyone in Florida that sells SUP blanks, the closest place is Segway and the shipping alone would seriously cut into any savings over a Laird or similar board. Hopefully, some of the foam guys over here will catch on to SUP soon. I can’t see building my own SUP if I’m not going to save much money.

I like your paddle and am a big fan of making cheap toys.

Look up the $14 blank, or Home Depot board thread.

My 2"EPS sheets Home Depot SUP blank cost $18.

If you want more work and a better board look up Bert Burgers Vacuum forming and sandwich construction thread.

It all can be done on the cheap.

Have you considered buying one of Lenny’s longboards?

Depending on your weight, these would be a good place to start for a SUP.

Seriously, I have a 12’ Munoz Softtop that has only been used 5 times including once in a lake.

I can stand up and paddle the board in the flat water, but I seem to be pushing too much water. I don’t think it is good for somebody in my weight range -

At 220#, it doesn’t seem to have enough floatation/stability for me.

I have surfed it without the paddle in clean waves in the 3-4 foot range and had a blast.

The board turns surprisingly well, and catches waves extremely early.

To give you an idea:

I surfed waves that I wouldn’t have been able to get into with my 10 footer and then got into some nice steep sections with momentum carving (well, turning) up and down the face, where I would have otherwise been taking off. I also dropped in on a beach break, got sectioned and was able to crank the thing around and go the other direction, pulled a turn off the wash when I got sectioned again, and then rode back the other direction on the reform.

Oh, I am in O-town, if you are interested.

ake out the center board and tape up the hole top and bottom

change the keel and rudder for a surfboard skeg.

put tape over the other holes in the deck too

tape over the low go.

paddle the flats when you can get

into a 11’12’ fiberglass transition

windsurfer vintage 1983

you will be in heaven

buy a blank with a stringer

or make one from yer Home depot-lowes foam

seal it before ya glass it

put in a vent.

asian popouts will be abundant soon

driving the price down to worthlessness

Unc is right lam a woodie for your paddle stick

you will have it for ever and

you will liberate your creative mind.

bench marks are carved in benches

some benches you sit on

some you work on.


What is the best way of getting thru the seams of Gorilla Glue? Will a hot wire cut this stuff well? I just recently came across a Variac and haven’t tried it yet. I have found it can be a challenge to sand even with 36 grit.

I have already started building a SUP out of Home Depot EPS and to get a 11’6" x 29" x 5" blank it requires three layers thick and alternating 4’ sections at each end of the layers. So I have a few seams of glue that are somewhat difficult to work with.

I have also started making one out of scraps where I use the hot wire to cut the rocker profile out of the two inch thickness and will wind up with 15 glue stringers for a 8’ x 32" x 5", I will probably put in two wood stringers as well.

I know this is the El cheapo way and these wouldn’t be a problem with a quality blank. It is just not in my budget and it seems like a great way for me to learn about shaping. Any input is greatly appreciated, thanks.

Leica, check your private messages. I’m in Tampa and can help you get started.

You can hot wire the GG seams, use tape on the template to prevent burning it and go slow.

Sumo glue is softer,foams less,white-clear, and sets up faster.

I have found foam up to4’x8’ by 8" thick

at construction supply stores(White Cap).

You can bend some rocker in when you glass.Look up (Surfer Steve

how to make your first surf board) on the net.

Sanding is a pain with GG.I used a micro blade surform and dragon skin to shape it.

If you put on bamboo skins like me it doesn’t have to be perfect and you solve the weight issues.

The best beginner shapes are small fishes-smaller problems.My labor is cheap and you can get a

nice board for 1/10th the cost of a pop-out SUP.

Heck just go for it and have fun,