Trouble with Stringer???

I’m having severe difficulty keeping the interface between the stringer and the foam, flat, smooth, and even. This is on a round nose longboard. I am always left with a little beak of stringer sticking out higher than the foam. It’s not more than ~ .040 of an inch, but its driving me nuts.

My next board is going to be a triple stringer, and I’m already freakin out about 3x as many stringer ends. Please advise all you great swaylocks shapers!!!

Thanks for the replies

Jeff E.

3" long, app. 1" wide mini hand plane, not powered.

A 4" sureform blade, without the holder, bent in your hand also.


Common problem. AS with most tasks in life there are different ways to “attack” a problem (opportunity). At one end of the spectrum you can scrape, sand, grind your way toward an acceptable solution. At the other end is the only proven professional way to get it done efficiently, which is to invest in a good quality block plane (Stanley makes a good one, Record made a better one, and Lie Nielsen makes a Rolls Royce) and use it to plane your stringers. Planes available through most any outlets selling quality woodworking tools ( .

The best visual demo I know of is in Jim Phillips “Master Shapers” video, in which this task is demonstrated perfectly. Planes don’t come from the factory ready to go, so you’ll need to check the archives here or read up elsewhere on “tuning” your plane to get the blade razor sharp. I posted a piece on sharpening blades about a year ago, but I understand it may have gotten lost in Sway vaporland.

Let us know if you need help with the sharpening and perhaps we can dig up the old post or re-post it. Hope that helps. Enjoy the ride!


Small razor-blade planer or a spokeshave:

Go with what RichardMC says.

You first need a quality tool…

I’m no expert but the more I use the hand planes the better I’m getting at it.

I’m shaping board #4 right now and the little planes are fun to use…


Here’s a trick if you don’t own the perfect block-plane or if your blade is dull: pick up some glass pieces from that broken window of yours. Select one with a convex shape. Wear gloves. Pull the glass piece across the stringer towards you just like you would do with a scraper. The more convex shape the glass is, the less foam will be hit in the process.

(This is an old trick learnt years ago from my woodworking teacher, used to fine-finish wood surfaces. I’m sure Doc and some others knew it, didn’t they?)

Hey Balsa,

The glass is the same principal as using a commoon “cabinet scraper” - a traditional tool for smoothing wood instead of sandpaper. They are made of hardened steel, available in various shapes, and only cost a few dollars. Sharpening is a little tricky, as you must form a tiny burr or hook on the long edges. These are used primarily for final finishing instead of any real amount of stock removal.

I’ve had good results with the small Japanese radius hand plane that’s available through Clark Foam, Mitch’s, and woodworking tool suppliers. The bottom is curved so you can plane inside a concave curve, such as the stringer, on the deck, at the nose.

Also, a simple wood file will work. Keep the motion perpendicular to the stringer. Careful to keep your hands from wandering too much when they are over the foam. (Possible gouges, especially with long fingernails)


A cabinet scraper also turns out to be the perfect tool for fixing less-than-perfect epoxy sanding…

You know, when you stay just a bit too long in one place & your epoxy hotcoat gets a little re-melted, soft, and milky? …a good, sharp scraper takes that soft surface crap right off & leaves a smooth, hard place instead.

long threads on this in the archives

Aloha Doug,

This thread is turning into a response for various planes. I’m wondering if you or anyone else has used “palm planes”. The attached photo is a modern version of the old original Stanley #100 and #100 1/2 palm planes. Your post reminded me to suggest the radiused palm plane (photo A). It is unique in that the 3 1/2" long polished sole is arched end to end and also across the width (blade is radiused at 7/8"). I like the heft and weight (made of cast bronze) and have learned to depend on them for specific needs. The original post in this thread was for info regarding stringers on a longboard, but this plane might be worthy for the deck stringers on shorties with lots of nose rocker. The big drawback is the price at about $85, but it’s a quality lifetime tool.


Hey Balsa,

The glass is the same principal as using a commoon “cabinet scraper” - a traditional tool for smoothing wood instead of sandpaper. Here’s what I said: “…just like you would do with a scraper…” They are made of hardened steel, available in various shapes, and only cost a few dollars. Here’s what I said: “…if you don’t own the perfect block-plane…” Sharpening is a little tricky, as you must form a tiny burr or hook on the long edges. Here’s what I said: “…or your blade is dull…” Richard, everything you say is true, of course. And I know what a cabinet scraper is for. But not everyone owns them, not everyone would be able to sharpen them correctly, and not everyone owns an 85$ bronze palm plane… Or even a razor blade small modeling plane or spokeshave. The glass trick is just a cheap and easy way out for those who may not own “specialized” tools. That’s what I meant. And it definitely works, without tearing foam if the shape is right.

i dont know about you all, but I just spend an extra 10 - 15 minutes and use a razor blade. I just sit down, turn on the radio and sliver away till I get it right.

make sure the blade is perpendicular to the stringer again for the razor blade

Here is the trick that I use for this problem. I shape quite a few triple stringers and this is the best solution for them that I have found.

I use a small square Microplaner blade. These are small stainless steel blades [they also have a replacement blade for a surform] that cut incredibly cleanly. But the thing that is the most amazing about them is that they will even cut really well against the grain or across the grain. So on the triple stringers where the stringer runs out I use these against the grain and can true them up so that they are perfectly flush.

I use this little blade on every board I shape to dress out the nose and tail and they really make a difference.

I also use the replacement surform blade extensively. Ever since I discovered these about 5 years ago I have not touched a normal surform blade as these are vastly more superior. I use them to put in concaves because of the fact that they cut the stringers so cleanly with no tearing of the foam. I highly recommend them to anyone. I think these days that Clark foam actually sells the surform blades, also Fiberglass Hawaii sells them. for years I bought them from the Japan Woodworker catalog out of Alameda.

These blades are made by Grace Manufacturing.

I posted a photo of the surform blade and the square blade hope they help.


Richard, Those Lie-Nielsen planes are little works of art. I’ve admired them for many years, but never purchase one yet. I think the curved palm plane would probably work great on curve stringers, especially with the radius on the blade. Or maybe I’ll buy one and just put it in a display case. Doug

Thanks everbody for the input.

I will see what I can do!!!

See Ya

Jeff E.

Lip what i do is grind the blade down to a curve with the longest point beingin the middle of the blade that way when you set the blade the only part that cuts is the middle of the blade on the stringer and doesnt chip the foam. This is with the small stanley block plane.

Aloha Balsa,

The glass sounds like a great idea in a pinch. I’ll give it a try and thanks for sharing.