Thanks Jim!

OK, there is no way to do this without it seeming like a plug for the video, but I just wanted to say thanks to Jim Phillips for giving out so much knowledge in his Master Shapers DVD. I’ve been watching it a lot in preparation of shaping my #11, a noserider.

Last spring I picked up a couple of reject blanks to practice with. I’ve been holding on to one of them I shaped to get more practice out of it. This weekend I decided to try Jim’s method of rail bands with the planer since I’ll be doing 50/50 rails on the upcoming project, just like in the video. I have to say that it works like a charm! (big surprise, he knows what he’s doing).

I took the shaped blank, turned it on it’s side and planed down the previous rail (used to be an e-wing).

Within 5-10 minutes, mostly with the cheapo non-modified Chicago electric planer that doesn’t adjust on the fly, a few passes with my 2x4 40 grit block and some screen and I had this:

a pretty clean and servicable rail for my first time with the method and not being very experienced with a planer. I was so excited I immediately turned it over and did the same with the other rail, this time taking a picture of the bands.


Again within about ten minutes, a really good rail considering I was not being extremely careful on the throwaway blank. By feel it seemed as good as any I’ve done before. I was stoked! I can’t wait to try the method on the new project. I highly recommend the dvd if you are starting out, even if you are more shortboard oriented. The principles are the same and the tools intro is fantastic. In fact I cut up the blank afterwards to get big pieces of foam to make some concave and deck contour sanding blocks.

PS - Jim if you read this, I cornered you at the Arco station a little over a year ago and asked you to look over my #4. Even though it must have looked awful to your trained eye you were very complimentary and encouraging.

Nice job, Ted. Good pic too. Post the completed board pic. Should be good.

Great job. That’s also a good idea doing a ‘‘practice’’ shape.

I hope a lot of people see this. I get tired of people saying that planers are only for going fast. They’re not.

The planer is the most accurate tool you have and the more you do with it the better your boards will be.

Guys like Jim (and me) don’t say this to hear themselves talk. It’s the truth we’ve learned from decades

of experience.


ya i can not do rail bands with a planer. maybe i should check that video. i only use the planer to skin the blank then do everything with a surform. takes forever. but i have time iam in no rush.i dont understand how people get it up around the nose? by the way your rails look sweet.

yep sonny, Jim pretty much shows you everything you need to know. But on the rail bands, he doesn’t take the planer all the way up to the tip of the nose as it is already pretty thin up there from the foiling steps. Anyway, hard for me to explain, better to watch and see. As far as getting comfortable with the planer I did my first two boards without even owning one. After that I only used it to skin the blanks, then to assist in foiling, then finally on my last 3 or 4 boards I used it on the rail bands, but still needed lots of manual cleanup. With this method the manual cleanup will be much less.

In all fairness I have to say that I also have JC’s Shaping 101 DVD and used it extensively to get started. It shows a shortboard being done, and the program is aimed at a different market. JC’s is aimed at getting just about anyone to be able to get started in shaping boards. Jim’s seems to be more for the craftsman who has some experience working with his hands and tools and is eager to soak up the fine details. Both DVD’s will teach you a lot. Now if I had money to burn I’d get the Greg Loehr Epoxy 101 series.

you can watch four minutes of gregs epoxy vids. on the distributers web site. looks good. i would like to get that one as well. i like how cuts the blanks in half . what a briliant idea!

sonny, I found that clip, looks pretty good. I cut mine in half too but cross section. I wanted some big foam sections to shape curved sanding blocks. I already made one for concaves and another for the deck.

I was pretty amazed how symetrical it came out since I was doing it for the first time and not worrying about being too careful. Still have the remains of the bonzer concaves I had previously shaped on the bottom.


ya i can not do rail bands with a planer.

You CAN do rail bands with the planer, you just haven’t done it YET. Best thing that ever happened to me as

a shaper was having Jim browbeat me into getting off the surform. I haven’t touched a blank with one in over

20 years and I’ve managed pretty well.

Disclaimer: What impresses me is good surfboards. I don’t care if you shape them with a fingernail file and a

cheesegrater, results are what counts. It’s just that I don’t see any truly impressive shapes coming from guys

using crutch tools. Some really good shapers still use the surform a little, but they’re not cutting all their rail

bands that way, guaranteed.


Shaped my first board with a disc sander and a surform, and it was a mess. Second board was with a big Stanley (non-electric) plane. Took an inch of foam off in one-thirty secondths of an inch shavings at a time. It literally took me all night, in the driveway under the floodlight. But it was clean!

After that I upgraded to a Sears Craftsman electric planer- I replaced the heavy-duty spring with a lighter one and could then adjust the depth while cutting.

Then, around '79 or so, I got a Skil 100, cut the base down, removed the ratchet and drilled out the depth adjuster for more range. I’ve used that thing almost daily since then.

I pretty much do constant-depth cuts and don’t alter the depth of the cut much while cutting, though. That can get confusing. But its nice to be able to able to change the depth on the fly.

Skinning, outline clean-up, rocker and thickness flow, bottom contour, rail bands and deck flow all can be done with the Skil, without ever having to stop and change tools.

p.s. very nice bands! Its a thing of beauty when rail bands all go together of their own accord. They’re like planks on a boat.

Thanks for the compliments Allan, been seeing some of your designs through here and via Moonlight - love those flex tail fish. I think at the price I paid for my Harbor Freight planer I’ll take a stab at modifying it.

I watch Jims video before I do a shape(seen it a million times) just to slow my mind down and relax “to do the best job possible”. Such an amazing craftsmen. I watched the J.C. video before Jims, and have more respect for Jims stlye. I carry both master shaping and glassing on the road with me and watch them and surf movies instead of the crap on TV. You can always pick up a new tip or perpective watching them. Great board you have there by the way.


Interested in taking a look myself…have heard glowing reviews…

Is it series 1 or series 2 that you refer to…?

had to go downstairs and look - Series 1, featuring Jim Phillips

Both! But considering that most of the time I only do longboards, I spend more time watching #1. Jim does a classic noserider in that one. Go check it out…