Tipping Point..

I was curious to find out… What was your tipping point? That moment when you decided to stop dreaming… To finally **translate **those ideas into the reality of building your very own board?

Was it because of the ever-increasing board inflation, opportunity to explore your creativity, better understand your surfing, make some cash…?

Personally, I was really excited to explore the rigorous nuances of the process. To fully appreciate the passion and dedication needed to perfect this craft.  I grew up sanding cars at my fathers shop and figured why not take that experience and use it for personal joy. There’s no feeling quite like sitting on that board in the ocean and realizing that piece of foam below you was once an idea in your head…

Ps… What keeps me coming back is constantly being inspired and challenged by Swaylocks, thanks guys…

Looking forward to your thoughts…


I was 12 and wanted my own custom board.  I cleaned yards all summer to raise the money to build my first board.  I bought a beater board for $10, stripped it and made a 8-9 “mini-gun” in the late summer of 1967.  It was ugly, it was heavy but it was all mine!


For me is was a visit to a local board factory in about 1982 when I was a 13 year old kid.  The factory was that of East Coast Surfing Hall Of Fame member Dan Heritage.  I was mesmerized by the process and was determined to someday make my own boards.  Fast forward to 1989 when I had some money of my own I tracked down Clark Foam and a source for Silmar resin and I gave it my first go.   Been at it off and on ever since.

I got into this because I wanted to express my creativity.  In the mid 90’s I wanted an old school fish and I couldn’t find one that I liked so I thought that I’d give it a go.  Much like Mako I searched out Clark Foam and ordered a couple of blanks.  Since then I have shaped a few foamies, taught students what little I had learned and made a hollow wood which is where I am at now and will continue to experiment with in the future.

I started doing it for the glory, fame, and chicks!  Mike

which did you get , off those  three , Mike ?!  :slight_smile:






My first was in 1985 because I was chipper the stripper [boards that is]

But, most of all for the MONEY!!!

haha - good thread.  I got back into surfing about 5 years ago, after some time away, and bought a new fish on ebay.  When I went to pick it up, they gave me my new board, two fins, a leash, and a board bag, for $300.  I asked the girl how they could do that, and she told me the boards were made in - you know, that place.  I was kinda disillusioned, since I still thought of surfboards as being made by surfers.  I just decided at that point to make my own.  I saw some pictures on the internet of hollow wood surfboards, and they looked cool, so I set out to build one.  Had no clue, just made it up as I went, asked a lot of questions about vents and fins and glassing on the tree-to-sea forum, and had a lot of fun, and not a little grief, building and glassing my first ever surfboard.  That board was kinda heavy, about 16 lbs., but fun to ride.  Been building and riding my own boards ever since, and I go back and forth between foam and wood boards.

I believe around '72 my neighbor’s father gave me his son’s broken/buckled board that was lying around

As i remember his son wasn’t to happy about it

but i cut off the rear cut in some big swallows 12"-14" wide I think and made a almost rockerless fish out of it with a big experimental single keel fin (later converted to a twin) with cut out finlet rakes like I saw from in a magazine by Jeff Ho (feather fin?). It was my first and only board as we couldn’t afford stuff like fiberglass, resin and foam blanks back then. We did everything with a hand saw, a sureform, my dad’s carftsman drill with a 5" sanding pad and a hard rubber sanding block.


Never made another board again until 2003-2004 when I took a composite vacuum bag board building class from Charlie (CMP/BB30) and made a balsa skinned twin nose Gemini for my brother as a christmas present. 


After that and being exposed to Swaylocks, Greg, Holly(mike), Bert, Shwuz, Mike Sabs,Turtle, Mr.J, Silly, Kokua, Cleanlines, and a ton of other’s here back then during Swaylock’s hey day I got hooked into making these composite EPS wood skinned sufboards from home depot purchased materials. Never really built them to sell although many were donated for charity events and given away to friends and neighborhood kids for christmas. To me its just something to take my mind off my real job which helps me put the whole silliness of this surfing/shaping adventure into perspective. Pretty crazy that I chose to go directly into the most difficult way you could make a surfboard as a start. I am totally amazed at the significant difference in shaping a close tolerance PU blank and simply glassing it with UV resin versus all the vacuum bag , epoxy challenges doing it the hard way.

I guess you could say its a good balance of sanity between work and play, although working with wood is my real calling.

Nothing like the feel and smell of woodworking.

also something about learning to write well with a fountain pen on thick paper seems to ground me away from all the electrically powered mechanical contraptions that encompass my life.

after I broke three plastic stringer epoxies in a row and my shaper told me he was moving to Arizona.

I had 3 sons who surf and the ding repairs and board purchases were consuming mass quantities of money.  Plus, I couldn’t buy the kinds of boards we wanted to surf off the rack and couldn’t seem to get mt point across to the shapers I was buying customs from.  So building our own became a means of wielding control over what we were doing.    

I wanted a longboard but didn’t want to pay $300 for a yellowed, beat up, used board.  Now it’s turned into a totally different obsession.   Surfing something you made…no better feeling.

I finally moved out of home  to a place with a nice little single car garage which I comandeered into a shaping bay.

I guess i have plenty of cash and could keep ordering boards from my local shaper, but I guess I need to have a project on the GO and this fitted the bill nicely.

I find the shaping very relaxing, the lam work not so much, sanding almost cathartic…

I guess I’ve always been a FIY guy, same as my  dad and both Grandfathers…

I surfed Steamer Lane before leashes.

One of the things I really like about surfing is trying lots of different boards. On my income level, that is only going to happen if I make my own.
It is also pretty centering, after finishing up with the planer, to go up and down the blank with a shaping pad. I like nice curves, and putting them in a board is tits.
The tipping point was selling two boards on craigslist, I could either buy one new board and not buy another for six months or shaping tools to make boards at less than half the cost. Can’t wait for the day when I can afford to buy a lot more boards from local guys.

After about 500 hours on Sways…couldn’t take it anymore and had to dive in. Water’s warm and no looking back…

I’m almost afraid to ask…


I think he means Fix it Yourself…, or typo as the D and the F are next to each other on the keyboard.

One thing I had not anticipated when I first got into this was the extent to which it would affect the way I experience surfing.  Even if I’m having a crappy day out in the water, if I can look over at one of my friends or one of my kids and see them rip a turn then I get to share a little piece of that feeling.  You don’t really get that opportunity when it’s other peoples’ boards.  

watching/helping my dad make a few custom boards for me - decided it was time i do it on my own.