Universal Template

So i think i have been on this forum long enough now to ask for the secret sauce.

I spent most of the day creating three templates on mdf, jigging, sanding, planning, sanding,etc.

I have noticed on videos and pictures some of you more experienced shapers have what looks like a double sided, “S” shaped, universal template. So, give it up! Can i have one piece of mdf and mark out whatever board template i want? if so, how do I make and use it?

You might be referring to a spin template. The nose to about midway is on one side and the tail is on the other. Compact and can be scaled up or down a little. For LB’s you pretty much have use them to save space on your rack.

Sorry if I have missed your question.

MDF??? why dont you use something cheaper and easier to work with. I like to use 1/8" or 3/16" masonite for skimboard templates. It is about $7 for 8’ x 4’ at home depot. Is there a benefit to using MDF that I dont know about?

Those reverse templates (tail on one side and nose on the other) are not universal ones. They are just room savers. The “universal” template has yet to be created… If by chance you invent it, don’t forget to apply for a patent…

I got 5 parabolic curves, designed on computer and scaled to the degree of curve that i chose by sight. Then spanned them over a 8’ length. One is magic, I can get guns, fishes, every thing except Hips. Reversed into a concave curve and it makes a good rocker guide. this along with some arc curves and I can Ratio up and down the same board. Very useful for hand shaper.

If you put a pen on the end of a tape measure and nail down @ 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, foot marks (all at different times) you can create some very useful curves for the middle outline of your boards. Then get a smooth nose (parabolic) outline off a good short board and your away. Set a chosen wide point (of new board) 0 to 3" behind half way, what ever you like, then add your ark curves. You can use your copied nose outline on just about any size short board to blend in the ark curves in the middle. Also reverse your nose and use it for the tail. Use all these curves to scale the same board in different sizes without having to look by eye every single board. Its all ratio.

If your wide point is 2.5 behind half way, try running the nose templet off the tail when marking your outline out by 2 x your wide point = 5". This will give you your the tail width of a very balanced board.


Yorky, I know of at least one fellow french shaper who uses those ark curves, too. His name is Didier Damestoy (Toy Surfboards) and his shapes are excellent. But I also know many others who use shaped-by-eye templates and produce boards that are as good. I just wanted to point out that the idea of an universal template might be something like the quest of the Holy Graal: a very attractive idea but nobody’s found it yet, so…

In my humble opinion, no “magic” template is gonna produce a knee-board AND a gun. Or one is gonna work much better than the other…

cool, just wanted to throw that out there. not saying this method is the best way. it only helps when hand shaping 4 plus boards a day and your mind wants to shut down on you.


Hey Yorky,

Yours sound similar to one I had at one stage. A giant “French Curve”, like those plastic school thingys from before computers, only Bigger!

It was good for stitching together a curve where my templates would’nt give what I wanted.

Not a replacement for a good stack of trusted templates, but a compliment to, and great for making original templates…


You should be able generate parabolic curves by drawing a cord tight between two nails. If you trace a pencil against the cord using consistent perpendicular pressure your curve should be parabolic.

I use #'s @ every 6 inches. Then I use a fiberglass batten from a sail @ 28" long to find the curve I want. I only build a few boards a year for myself, and they have all been different enough to not bother with making templates. If I were to do production, I’d probably make templates of some type.