surfboard #1 (thank you swaylocks)

here’s my first board. at the end i’d be interested to hear feedback, critisizms, advice, and opinions on how you think it’ll go given the shape. i haven’t used it yet!

i designed the board for my wife. she’s a beginner (can stand up and ride), but she is progressing fast. summer waves here in canada are usually mushy beach break with the occasional bit of power.

i used an australian surfblanks, red. it was very hard and gritty. you really have to give it a good squeeze to dent it. retained it’s hardness quite deep. i think it was 9’4" originally. 4 3/4" nose rocker and 3 1/2" tail. i maintained the original rocker thru to the end. glassing: double 6oz top and single 6 oz bottom. resin research epoxy fast hardener with additive f.

my original design was 9’x 19"x 22 1/2"x 15"x 3". 5 1/2" rounded square tail. i was going for 50/50 rails, moving to a harder down rail in the tail section. let’s see how it ends up!

i made the board stands first. i didn’t like this style, because they would shift independantly. i’ll build a one piece stand next. made calipers, bought surforms. hoping wife doesn’t notice the sudden increasing amounts of tools and materials. (“oh yeah honey, i’ve already got everything i need.”)

i decided to give it a go with only handtools, because i’ve never used a power planer before. used a $4 flooring transition to make my outline (and check rocker). i thought i’d go cheap and just draw the outline both sides with the batten using nails at specific points… i made marks every 6" and made sure both sides were equidistance from the stringer at each point. used my japanese pull saw and some wd-40 to cut it out, then a surform to clean it up. mistake #1. next time i’ll use a planer to clean my outline, because there are slight wavers in it where the surform just followed the dips.

then i got to skimming and flattening out the bottom. wow this blank is harder than clarks! 6 hours later i was done that step.

the next day i rented a planer.

beginners: don’t be scared of these things! they are easy to use, and very precise. surforms are slow, inaccurate, and slow. i just used less than a 1/16th depth to start and took it slow. now the deck and rails.

i was unsure whether to do the foil first or my rails. i didn’t have measurments to go by for nose and tail thickness. i decided to shape the bulk of the foil while i did my rail bands, just eyeballing along the way. started on the bottom and did one band for the belly. then the deck. i made lots of navigational marks to follow. counting my passes each side…

whoops! slight miscalculation. i shouldn’t have bisected that first band. now my rails will be too thin if i go 50/50. and not wanting to lose much width, i just stopped and made it about 60/40. egg shapped. whatever. i’m actually happy with them. the board is 3 inches thick and my wife is only 130 lbs. maybe thin rails will be good for her? she’ll be able to dig them in easier, right guys? moving along.

i blended it all in, thinned out the nose and tail quite a bit, and added a 1/4" concave under the nose, with about 2 1/2" between the concave and the rails/ nose. i thought that might allow some better maneuverability when up on the nose (thinking about my self here).

next mistake: i tried to ad 1/4" of v at this point. i started with the hard block and 40 grit paper. i didn’t get too far before i realized i was screwing with my rail lines. oh well. i stopped, and blended it in so now i have slight belly in the tail.

thar she is so far. no more photos eh? next post.

another look at the finished shape

also due to my use of the surform, i had lots of tears and rough patches, especially in the concave. i didn’t want to sand them out because i’d lose alot of foam. i also thought i’d lose my subtle bottom countours by over sanding. sanding seems simple, but like in woodwork, is probably the most important part. i decided to live with the scratches. screens are dangerous. use them to round out the rails and before you know it your board is real narrow. i chose to finish the rails with 150 grit alum. oxide paper. now for the glass.

glass the bottom. set a space heater to maintain 80 degrees. took a members advice and used less epoxy than i originally planned. mixed up 18 oz resin with the recommended add.f. by the time i spread it out on the bottom, i didn’t think i’d have enough to wet the rails. mixed up another 6 oz, and used a brush to wet my laps (free laps). still not enough, so mix up another 3 oz. sweating now…

stick my laps, cut through a couple sections where it buckled near the nose. at this point it isn’t easy to move it without foaming, and there appears to be little excess, so i just leave it. it went off without a hitch. no smoking resin. it didn’t even seem to heat up. pretty easy.

i used a surform and 40 grit later to flush out the laps. now the deck.

cut a deck patch about 1/2 away from the rails. i used three notches in the nose for the deck lam, to see if i could get less buckling. for the top i want no stress, so i mix plenty of resin. 21 oz first which went right down the middle, then another 21 oz to finish the deck and wet the rails. i got some air bubbles. next post!

so air bubbles aside, not bad. it went easier this time, because i knew what to expect. i found if i really flattened the cloth and smoothed it around the countours of the board before i poured my resin it glassed much more smooth. the weave seemed to accept the curves better. i cut all the hanging strings before i stuck the laps, and used a spreader instead of a brush to do them because i could get them nice and tight.

during a subsequent hotcoat i drilled out each bubble and injected resin in. i drilled one hole to inject the resin and another smaller one to let air out. it didn’t work, although i feel that the areas are stronger for it.

perhaps i used too much resin, but who knows?

now for the finbox.

before i sand coat it, i installed the fin box 5 1/2" from the tail. i couldn’t justify spending $30 to rent a router for 10 minutes work. i used an awl to make small holes around the perimiter, and a utility knife to cut out the glass. i was impressed that the resin penetrated the glass and sank into the foam by about 1/4". i then depth set my knife blade to the fin box and cut into the foam. my tail is 1 3/16" at the tail end of the box. i drilled out the stringer every half inch and used a sharp chisel to remove the remaining foam and stringer. 40 grit paper and a mill file to make the hole big enough to accept the box. three layers or cloth make a very tight fit. it sits just below the surface of the board, so my next resin coats can flush it up. this whole process took about an hour.

i mixed up 6 oz resin, poured some into the hole, placed the cloth layers over the hole and gently stuffed them in. i poured more resin on the cloth and stuff my box in.

i used way too much resin. i probably needed 3 oz or less. good thing i taped off a wide area. i taped the box opening too. also there was quite a bit of hydraulic pressure created. it freaked me out how much pressure i had to use to get the box in all the way. resin started overflowing and it slowly sank in. i was pushing from both sides so i didn’t punch through the deck!

i stuck the fin part way in to make sure it was straight. i made sure before starting that the board was level, then i just eyeballed the angle. i checked on it every 10 minutes to make sure nothing moved. when that kicked i removed the tape and trimmed the glass. later i surformed and sanded the area flush. ready for sand coat. i also drilled the big hole for the leash rope, later to be filled in and drilled through smaller through the fin box

i taped below the apex of the rail. mixed 15 oz resin with 10 ml add f. poured it on, brushed it sideways, brushed it lengthways and walked away. actually i stared at it for about an hour, but i didn’t touch it.

ok so i touched it, but it just looked so pretty…

i did the other side, with the tape set so the layers of resin overlap. i hand sanded it. i started with 80 grit to remove the ridges of resin where i taped and any major high spots. i soon move to 100 grit. i tried to use the highest grit i could effectively use, so i don’t sand too much.

i had removed all the high spots, but i still had slight dips in places. plus i could start to discern weave through the resin.

it was then that i had a divine epiphany. i light glowed around my board and i heard a voice:

“careful pal, you’re going too far! put on another coat of resin!”

so i sanded it smooth as i could with 100 grit, washed it with soapy water, rinsed it, dryed it. wiped it down with a small amount of laquer thinner. (i had no denatured alcohol, and this stuff is similar). mixed 9 oz resin per side. the top i used no tape to see if i could avoid ridges. i just babied it for a long time, catching drips and smoothing it out underneath. i went back to tape for the bottom.

i think i used too much pressure with my final brush strokes. i wanted to make sure it was going on thin. but when it kicked the top and bottom was left with slight ripples from the nose to the tail, which i had to sand flush. at least the “gloss” coat filled in the dips.

i started sanding this time with 150 grit aluminum oxide paper and a hard block to remove the ridges and ripples. not too much time on it before i move to wet sanding, 220, 360, and 400. starting to see a bit of weave in the nose and tail, so i finish up. hand sanding the final coat took all day.

with epoxy resin, it seems the old terms used for poly don’t work the same way. all there is is a lam coat, and a sand coat. if you can’t polish your sand coat because it’s getting too thin, you use another sand coat. it’s the same stuff. i stopped at 400 wet sand, because i couldn’t be bothered to polish it.

i used 120 oz of resin in total. i probably wasted 10 oz through the whole thing in drips, leftovers in the bucket, etc. i’d be interested to hear opinions on resin use. at least i have enough of my 1.5 gallon kit for another board. maybe a short one…

most of my design measurements stayed. i lost some width in the nose and tail, but less than what is written on the board. it’s more like 18 3/4" nose and 14 3/4" tail. rocker stayed natural. my actual nose and tail taper to about a 1/2 inch.

the board has 1/8" of belly in the tail, moving up to 1/2" belly at the middle (wide point at center), blending into 1/4" concave under the nose.

board #1 of many. nyla’s my wife.

so here it is. the board is wet in the picture, so it looks splotchy. in real life it looks, well, like a surfboard.

which kind of amazes me.

i’m happy with it. it took 11 days, with half of that time reading books and swaylocks getting ready for the next step.

i’m pleased with the concave.

here’s the foil/ rail profile. i don’t really know what to expect from the design. i tried to keep it simple, so i can buils successive boards with alterations.

next i want to make an old school single fin, maybe a stubbie, a thruster, a real nose rider…

but first i’ll make a proper shaping room. floresent side lighting would have been great, plus proper dust control and easier clean up. i’m sure we’ll find foam dust when we move next.

looking forward to riding it. i’ll report back.

thank you swaylocks!


That’s great man, that’s one of the best first boards I’ve ever seen.

congratulations on your first board Nicolas. thanks for taking us on

your journey. i am very impressed that your first board came out

that clean. it gives me hope for my first…

keep up the good work!

Good work !!!

I knew you could do it !!!

thanks for the photo documentation !

… your wife is stoked on the board ? [ hopefully !]


ok so i touched it, but it just looked so pretty…

Thats classic!!! Its so glossy and wet looking, it has to be hard by now! Ill just check… CRAP!!! A fingerprint!

The board looks awesome…

Man-o-man that came out great! Based on the profile photo, the board is screaming “I need a 9 inch Frye in the finbox” Save your pennies and try one.

Looks great! Thanks for sharing, excellent write up & pics

Awesome work!

Have you given it a go yet?


Great job with the board. You would not of thought that this your first shape as well as your first glass job. Looks great!

Hey Nicholas,

I’m very impressed with your first job and with your care on recording and sharing your procedures. Have you planned some art on the board? Anyway, congratulations and welcome aboard, mate!

thanks ben. nyla is stoked on the board. but funny thing:

i made the board for her because her recently shaped 8’0" was giving her trouble. it has 3 1/2" nose rocker and only 1 1/4" tail rocker. plus a concave from nose to tail. the result was pearl city, unless your pop up is quite fast. so i designed this one.

after i had shaped the foam we went surfing for a week. all of a sudden she can ride her board like a dream!

if i knew that was going to happen i would have made the board with myself in mind. that said we are both stoked on it and can’t wait to get it wired.

cheers, nicholas

a 9" skip frye.

i gave it a 9" california classic, what ever that means. it was the least expensive. what will the frye do for it?

thanks lee!


this weekend! can’t wait.

praying for a solid south…