Tanner Prairie - 19 year old Shaper

Sometimes we make claims:

We judge people by how long they have been doing something.

There’s this kid named Tanner Praire That surfs Blackies and Shapes really well.

Like Art you either have it or you don’t.

He is already making boards for Alex Knost. His parents are supportive and it looks like he will actually have a future.

Orders are no problem for this kid as they keep comming. It’s good to see someone with talent like Tanner.

yeah hes got talent!! great boards, i ride them all the time, there super fun and great prices too!!!

i kept pecking at the websight but never got a peanut. back to my spelling lesuns

Photo from phone:

Great stuff, but Tanner, please use a dust mask!!!

Sorry, it's the protective dad in me.

Your'e right he should use a mask!

Tanner Praire just finished his 100th Board!

I was stoked he made a fin from a fin panel I made up last summer (Red, White, Blue).

Just having fun making boards is that so wrong?


Multi stringers tell the tale, can’t see them up close, but they look clean, it seems he has the desire to do good work, it’s about time that some of the younger shapers are stepping up to be in place when the old guard move on.

I had one of SoCals highest rated glass shops drag one of the new school shapers out to the parking lot to see how offset stringers were really done, as all his smoke and mirrors didn’t cut it

The kid just turned 20 and has his Skil 100 wired. He really is a natural. I love working with him and watching him turn into into a fine craftman.

Tanners lines are real clean and he has a good sense of Design.

It's GREAT to see someone like Tanner making boards. I encourage surf stoked kids all the time to start shaping while they're young. I offer to let them use my shaping room and tools.  I didn't start until I was 44.

I used to think you either had it or you didn't.  Not anymore.  Well, maybe to make them as well as Jim Philips or even Tanner.  But, I learned that if you can make measurements, learn to use tools, and follow a procedure, anyone can make a pretty damn good board.  Check out the board archives in Sways for evidence.

I do acknowledge talent, however.  In the shaping room and in the water.  Well in every walk of life.  Mike

Good Luck to Tanner, Im glad he gets the chance ! When I was 19 I wanted to be a shaper too. Instead I found myself packing an M-16 in a country I didn't know shit about !!!  By the time I turned 20 I was already 45 !!!   Am I bitter !! Yes!!! The dreams died somewhere along the way !!!!  Tanner needs to work on a Logo though! And maybe the colors.

Tanner needs to work on a Logo though! And maybe the colors.

I agree on the logos. They have been made with a ink jet printer. He has changed them many times. The next step is to have them professionally silk screened once he locks it down.

The Photos are taken with a Black Berry (washed out photos). I need to keep my better camera at the shop 8.5 Pixals. The Colored foam inserts along the stringer are  bit dull. Some Novo Paint could have made it more brite. Overall he is doing good work. With a few adjustements and he's on his way.

I think his work is better that guys that have made more boards. For his first year not bad!



i dont think numbers always tell the tale at all, lots of young guys are proving it…numbers are good and as mine get up there i see an improvement every few months in design, technique and overall tact when it comes to approaching a blank; but when the love and interest is there, thats all you need!

I definitely cannot agree on that one and it is not held solely to surfboard construction, love of a craft over time does not make everyone good at it.

I have a customer/pal who has been shaping for the love of it for about 5-6 years now, he just does NOT improve, his shaping fails in every aspect, I ask his if he picks up every board he sees and does he stow away that info to use later. It is like he cannot pull it from his brain and put it to foam, but I have seen carpenters, mechanics who do the job, but but cannot move up to the next levels and seem to be oblivious to the situation.

It is like the people for who a roll of tape is alien, they could not lay down a clean line if a gun was to their head, the sander to them might as well be a chain saw.

I am so thankful that things like this come so much easier to me and I really do love what I do, mastering a skill or art form holds so much enjoyment that I daily look for the next challenge to test those skills.

I could work as a cabinet or furniture craftsman, I really like doing that type of work, but it does not have the grip on me that building surfboards does.

guess i didnt word my response quite well enough, it was to say basically what you did, natural skill is necessary and it doesnt take 5000 boards to make someone good, they can be proficient at 10 if you’ve got the gift for it as well as the enthusiasm and curiosity.

My first 'shape' job was a board that had flown off a car and was given to me. It became an 8'3" from what had been a 10'2" Greg Noll. My brother made a laminated wood skeg for it in his junior high wood shop. After fixng about 40 dings and sticking the skeg on the best we could, we then painted everything but the fin with "candy apple green" enamel.

That was in 1959.

I was 8.

Although I was asked when they did "The Shapers Tree" who my primary shaping influences were, to which I listed John Bradbury and Mike Hynson. The truth is, yes they were influences, but otherwise  I am completely self taught. I know that it is very popular for guys to list different big name shapers that they apprentice under, but myself, Al, and a number of other guys I know that are great shapers never really did that.

Personally I felt that 'outside influence to that level' would infringe upon my creativity. That's just the purist in me as an artist, over the practicality of a craftsperson or business man.

It could be argued that my decision to do so never got me anywhere.

As far as Tanner, I don't know if he is a student under someone's wing or if he just has an abundance of innate talent. I know Surferguy has a lot of talent and great ideas, but I agree with JTG that some guys can make a fundamentally correct board up to a point and, sometimes, that is it.

The guys that can make magic.....and I have to qualify that by saying" "the guys that can make magic for someone on a custom basis, are good listeners and translators of what the customer wants. To make magic for an endless string of surfers desiring different designs is completely different from someone designing a model for the masses and then throwing it out there: two entirely different approaches. And, of course, many guys do both.

Good shapers (and even more so, great designers) have an ability to understand plane geometry, hydro and aero dynamics and overall physics as applied to surfboard performance. Especially important is understanding and having an intimate relationship with compounding curves and how they relate to water and the rider." Then take that knowledge and learn how to interface it with tooling and materials from start to finish. I'd say that's fairly complex, especially given the choices in materials and construction these days. A design can be compromised or even be considered a failure by choice of construction materials in this day and age. That really wasn't a factor in 1964.

No doubt Tanner has some innate talent that empowers him to express himself in an acceptable, and even successful way. There's probably nothing more pleasant than attempting something challenging and enjoying some success with it.

My only advice is to stay forever thirsty like a sponge and to always keep soaking up ideas in to keep your designs fresh from stagnation.

New blood keeps things fresh and prevents us of homogenizing everything to the point of sterility. Only those shapers that have already peaked find themselves threatened by the new guard!

I love building boards and sharing with others who love to do a job well. Tanner has been long boarding since he was eight years old and just smooth as silk on a wave. After riding classic longboards by many good shapers (DANO) he started shaping on his own. He is a self starter. I get a lot of energy from young  shapers who are stoked on the craft. It inspires me to continue to improve my own abilities as well. Watching him make a new template for a model and breaking out his planer and plowing a perfectly foil nose rider from scratch gives me hope in the future of board building. 

Right on..................maybe he should KEEP his logo and color ideas so as to stand out from the pack?

........back to sanding........

It’s a plus when a shaper can surf. Tanner at home in Newport:


nice board:      hey did anyone else besides me pick up on this?? that red white and blue boards outline looks like a  CON UGLY ???  sweeeeeet !!  this kid is good....

“It’s a plus when a shaper can surf.”

There’s this guy I know that loves to shape and is a 3x US surf champ and a 3x East Coast surf champ…gotta love why he knows why it makes sense to put an additional 1/8" more tail rocker in a board.  Walk the walk and talk the talk.  I can’t do it but I’m sure glad he can… in spades.