wavey rails

what’s a good method of getting straight rails? after i cut out my shape (with the hand saw) from the blank my rails are a little wavey. do i just sand them with a block until all the bumps are gone? Thanks

Use a planer for that part,comes out much cleaner and will level it all out. There is tons in the archives on cutting and trueing up a blank…

i’ll try that, i checked the archives for trueing rails but found nothing to satisfy my answer, thats why i asked, but i’ll refine my search, thanks!

wavy outline after handsawing? Everybody has that. I use a sureform to even it out then a 60 grit block using full length strokes.


Try looking up " trueing a blank" or something like that,Jim Phillips has made many a comment about using the planer for this. It makes a big difference,set the dial for a minimal cut, you will hear it hitting the high spots and missing the low ones. When you hear a cut go from nose to tail …your done…the planer is a very accurate tool…peace and waves…

Sean W.

cut just outside the line then true up on the line using hand plain or sanding block. when cutting out the blank keep your saw as vertical as possible too.

I’ve been spending extra time getting template pattern accurate, then trace on top and bottom of blank. They don’t line up exactly due to rocker differences but will give you a decent reference for squaring up your outline cut. I use a semi flexible longblock with coarse sanding belt to get it right to the line after cutting with hand saw. Get the outline cut squared using whatever method you choose and everything from there on will be much easier.

Another way is to make full templates and cut shape with a router & pattern bit. Clamp it to the blank and get a perfectly semitrical smooth cut. The pattern bit collet leaves about 1/8" so you can true up to the line with a few passes of the planer. Put the blank in the saddle rail up, set the planner on a next to nothing cut, and make a few passes the entire length right to the line, and your done. From cut out to true up once set up takes about 10 min.


worked pretty well, there are still some that the planer didn’t get that i can feel when i run my hand down the rail, but those i’m trying to get with a small sanding block where i feel the bump

Use your eyes!

That’s the best way, for sure. If you can feel the dips, flatspots, and high spots, it’s waay horrible!

The eye is the true test…and good practice for pinstripes too.

If the planer isn’t getting some spots, your outline has issues. You may have a LOW spot on the outline. Let the planer even it out for you. Adjust the planer to zero or the lowest setting you can use that will just barely cut at that part of the outline. You will go inside of your pencil line, but thats ok. This is a common problem for people who are learning and\or don’t use templates or unproven templates or template combinations that aren’t compatible. The planer doesn’t lie, it is your best friend.

good luck with your board.

See, what have I been telling you grunts, chins up, eyes forward. You can try anything you want, but in the end, you WILL be using your planer for outlines! If during the attempt, the pencil line wants to remain, the outline has a flatter spot in it and if the line gets cut into, the outline protrudes beyond the true curve. Sanding blocks, surforms, blockplanes, all will clean up right to the line, but it is no indication the curve is clean. Lay the blank flat, use the PLANER or you get recycled through basic training

So you’re saying to follow the planer even if it’s cutting inside your template line?

I hope I’m not being too argumentative by asking…

What is the point of designing an outline with specific width dimensions in the first place if you’re going to let the planer do the designing after the fact?

If I request a board 19 1/2" wide and it ends up being 18 3/4", am I supposed to just accept the shaper telling me, “That’s the way the planer intended it.” ???

Some of us don’t even use planers and are plenty stoked with the results.


you’re missing the point… A good template will solve most problems. A bad template or using multiple templates on one board that are not compatible is where the problems begin. When you’re flowing templates together you need a certain amount of length where the lines perfectly overlap, (except when doing bumps at the tail) otherwise you’ll end up with sudden changes in the outline. THIS is where people get into trouble. THIS is where the planer will let you know something" afoul as sometimes an untrained eye will not pick up the problem during templating.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

I’ve been known, in spite of some really crappy shapes, to be a little O.C. when it comes to sticking with the plans. Even when I worked on a landscaping crew, I was once (still am to some)known as “Micro-Boy” - apparently from my insistence that we follow a specific diagram to the “T” when building a block wall.

The foreman ridiculed me, the owner of the firm ridiculed me. “It’s just a diagram for crying out loud”, she said.

When the client insisted that we actually tear down a big section of the wall and reposition it something ridiculous (like 4") or not get paid, I kept my big mouth shut.

Microboy out.


That was a great analogy with the walls! It’s like if you are building a house and the foundation is wavey, the complete house will be wavey also!! Just like Rails.

I believe, with all comments considered, the bottom line is that when we trace a template onto a blank we have to remember the template has been previously hand traced from another board or template, then cut out probably by hand, then quickly sanded, etc. Point is that the template itself is probably very inacurate when measured in technical terms. Therefore, the line drawn on the blank is going to be inaccurate. Soooo, it stands to reason that when running the planer (set very shallow) from tail to nose, the finished result is going to be a tad or at least a “CH” off or on the pencil line here or there. But as Jim preaches, the planer is the way to go!

I’d think if it was running that far off line, maybe the surform would be better for a piece of crap, but even the best of templates have inherent flaws that the planer will bring out. It is the intention to bring the job & art of surfboard shaping into the light, rather than push it further into the void

so basically I have been wasting my time using a manual hand plane to true up the outline? I have used the e-planer to true up outlines but gets kind of tricky near the nose. I’ll stick to my hand plane for now. I can only aspire to be a genius

First of all, time should be spent making the masonite/pressboard half template really ture and perfect. A shaper’s eye will help.

Then when you transfer to the blank bottom, you gotta spend equal time getting the outline true, whether you use a planer, a block sander, or rub it with your butt. SPEND THE TIME, to true up the outline.