Tail block wood

Do most of you gents use what ever you find laying around for your tail blocks or do you go to a woodcraft store to buy exotic woods?

Also, What woods are safe? Reason I ask is I drove Austin nuts with one of my boards that had a block with Bubinga and Bolivian rose wood. Those two woods weaped oil so bad they had to be cut off.

The only exotic I’ve had luck with so far is Purple Heart wood which is pictured here. The other block pictured is from scraps I put together.

Safe = Walnut, Mahagany, Purple Heart, Poppler, Basswood, ???


Ray B.

Don’t forget the classics - redwood, cedar and balsa…

One approach that can work with oily woods - it’s used when gluing teak - is to wipe the wood with a drying agent like acetone or lacquer thinner (know of boatbuilders that use vinegar on teak) that will dry out the surface oil enough for a glue up of the block to the foam. Then after the final shaping/fairing and right before glassing, wipe again and then seal right away a coat of resin. This might help prevent the oil coming out later and screwing with the lam - if that’s where the problem is.

Best do a test first if in doubt…


Good advice, Mahalo.

Safe = Walnut, Mahagany, Purple Heart, Poppler, Basswood, Redwood, Cedar, Balsa, ???

I’ve had good luck with balsa and cedar, easy to work and there is soooo much color variety available with cedar. I’ve also used Koa with good results, but it’s a lot harder to work.

Your location mentions Alaska…How’s about “Alaskan” Cedar - now there’s a wonderful wood to work with…

Would love to do/see a whole board with it…


Good advice, Mahalo.

Safe = Walnut, Mahagany, Purple Heart, Poppler, Basswood, Redwood, Cedar, Balsa, ???

Hey SurfDad,

You can add Bamboo to the safe list…

Take it easy,



Safe = Walnut, Mahagany, Purple Heart, Poppler, Basswood, Redwood, Cedar, Balsa, Bamboo, ???

Mahalo Brian!

oaks are fine, birch no problem, & kiri no problem, either.

Safe = Walnut, Mahagany, Purple Heart, Poppler, Basswood, Redwood, Cedar, Balsa, Bamboo, oak, birch, Kiri, ??

Kiri? gonna have to look that one up. Is it perty?

Mahalo Keith

I personally don’t like to mix soft woods with hard woods. Pine with Redwood, or cedar. Or Walnut with Oak, or Maple etc. You can still get cool wood color variations, but don’t have to worry about sanding dificulties, glue up saturation, or resin adhesion problems. To tell the difference in woods just do the fingernail test, if it indents with a finger nail, it’s soft. if it bends your nail, it’s hard.

Bubinga huh? You really did make it hard on Austin. I have a friend that makes custom drums from bubinga, stuck is beautiful but hard as crap.

How about the different maples?

Hey KimDude,

Yea the Bubinga was like trying to sand a rock.

Haven’t tried a maple yet. With everyone’s help though the list of safe oil weap free woods is growing. This is great info as I love doing tail blocks.

Howzit SurfDad, I have found that basting the wood before laminating it will seal in the oils. I have done many this way and it works for me just fine.Aloha,Kokua

You guys are so far out of my league.

Redwood lathe from the garden department and stir sticks from the paint department. Different stores use different wood for the stir sticks and they are free.

I have a large box of scraps that was kindly brought to me by a client. Mixed lot of African and South American hardwoods, some of which are lovely, none of which unfortunately were identified. Just a big box of nice scraps from a friend of a friend of his.

Some of the hardwoods are extremely oily, which gave me some grief on fins and tailblocks a while back. I now do an acetone wipe, followed by a fairly hot baste, and that seems to have taken care of my issues.

I have yet to have a problem when glassing fins or tailblocks (or entire boards in balsa, samba, or poplar, for that matter) with epoxy.

You may add tauari (left) and wenge (middle). Tauari is a brazilian wood, wenge is african. Both hard woods. Wenge has dark streaks running along, almost black really. Unfortunately it’s a bit expensive… I’m glad I have a full stock of it since a friend asked me to make a wenge stairway in his new home: lots of left over pieces from the stairs…


Wow, that wenge is REALLY cool looking. Looks like it would like working with iron though. It would look really cool alongside something like white oak, they have a similar grain structure but very contrasting colors.

i don’t know but if your going thru the trouble of cutting off a perfectly good nose and tail of foam then I would guess the idea would be to make it both beautiful and smash proof. What ever I put on the nose or tail I want to be able to crush through what ever it runs into with out a scratch or bounce off the concrete shower floor when it skips and you drop it down while washing off…

also nothing worse than having to worry about having to run and patch a ding on the nose and tail wood to prevent wtaer seepage and discoloration.

with that said something light and both puncture and waterproof might be the call…

redwood/cedar/bamboo and spruce some to thought as typical native watercraft lumber

but also obeche, basswood, hickory, poplar, elm, cypress and paulownia are some other local options…

if your going pretty koa, mahogany, zircote, bocote, kingwood and ipe will inspire and protect…

right now personally we’re fooling around with different combinations of mango, koa, wiliwili, paulownia, milo, monkeypod, false kamani, lychee, ulu and of course the three amigos redwood, cedar, and balsa. I think Ohai alii and norfolk or birdseye pine would make nice blocks as well that dangerous century tequila plant if we can ever find any decent stuff…


…“Alaskan” Cedar - now there’s a wonderful wood to work with…

Would love to do/see a whole board with it…

Alaskan Yellow Cedar, Old growth Sitka Spruce, Western Red Cedar…

All from Nootka Island , Vancouver Island, Canada

More on the milling and building of this board at: http://www.hollowsurfboards.com/Board%2012.htm

Kiri I believe is Palownia