What other materials have you used for skins?

More specifically, what materials besides balsa, corecell and divinycell have people tried?

I’d be very interested in hearing of other timbers people may have used.

And, of course, what you discovered by using it.


... I'd be very interested in hearing of other timbers people may have used...

The HWS (hollow wood surfboard) guys have used a wide array of woods. I think people over look there work as also being a composit skinned board but I think it is the same, just a different core. Their core is framework and air instead of EPS. The HWS are nearly all glass/wood/glass or carbon/wood/glass skinned.


I agree that the HWS guys work has been underappreciated. I have a great deal of respect for their work.

Probably should have been more specific that I mean compsand :slight_smile:


  1. Silompan 1mm woven Bamboo veneer

  2. Walnut thin Veneer

  3. Birch thin Veneer

  4. Mokore thin Veneer

  5. Sapele thin Venner

  6. Mahogany thin Veneer

  7. Sycamore thin Veneer

  8. Maple thin Veneer

  9. Maple thick Veneer(1/16")

  10. Anigre thin Veneer

  11. Koa thin Veneer

  12. Zebrawood thin Veneer

  13. Purpleheart thin Veneer

  14. Cherry thin Veneer

Everything with the exception of the koa and the bamboo were acquired from Joewoodworker in long (96"+) veneer lots.

used with no glass under, 2oz under, 4oz E,Warp and S under and over, 6oz E under and over, and 6 oz Volan over.

All done with FH 2-1 aluzine epoxy, RR epoxy with Additive F and UV and regular finishing resin as a gloss…

Done on 1lb, 2lb and clark foam no stringered, single stringered, triple stringered and 1/2 redwood stringered.

Also done over balsa lam and over a double 6oz glassed longboard being “re-vitalized”

Thin veneers suck unless you get it perfect cause they are harder to sand and patch

Hardwood veneers don’t like to bend unless you use softeneer or heat.

Cross grain bamboo it hard to work with

Epoxy hardened bamboo veneer even harder.

Epoxied bamboo is way tougher and stronger than balsa good for high stress areas.

You can’t beat balsa as a working material.

easier than foam much more forgiving ang patchable.

you can beat the hardwoods for looks…

Balsa rails suck they add alot more additional work in the build out unless you can get the sheets premade into 4’x8’x1/8"or 1/4" sheets to cut you rail bands from.

Pre preg glass

pre-fab skins

and foaming epoxy or some similar type of binder

makes life 10 times easier.

spend alot of time doing a good job of prepping everything ahead of time and you’ll find slapping togethor a wood composite sandwiched epoxied EPS board is no different than shaping a regular board other than the vacuum process… No matter what you still got have the eye and hands to shape something without bumps…

has anyone ever tried Cedar?

I’m thinking of getting some clear grained stuff (6"x6"x96")and getting it bandsawed and then planed.

I think it could be good, as you can get full 8’ plus lengths fairly easily, and here around the westcoast it’s reasonably priced.

Would regular dried lumber be best, or kiln dried go better?

I think I’d like to get it in 2mm and work from there.

Any comments and or been-ther-done-that-don’t-try-it stuff that any of you have experienced?

I know I can be bent really well, as the natives in out area have been making full , square boxes out of bent wood for hundreds of years.

Holy cow! Man, you have been busy! How much weight difference have you noticed between balsa and the other lightish woods (and bamboo)?

Yeah, Cedar would be interesting. Softer and lighter than the timber oneula has tried. Get regular, kiln dried and let it equalise a few days (assuming veneers) before entombing it in resin. Modern kiln drying is far better than home-drying.

I am also wondering about Spruce and Western Red Cedar (the aussie one). Both are very light and easy to work, tho still heavier than balsa.




Well i’ve heard it sounds better over time (in guitars) so it might feel better over time too (in surfboards) ??

The Grain guys are using Cedar, with spectacular results:


And I suspect Roy has used it as well since he’s used such a wide variety of woods.

Western Red Cedar, yes, plus Redwood, Monterey Pine, Fijiian Kauri, Pacific Red Cedar, Paulownia, Balsa, and right now I’m really into Poplar, but I will use any timber that’s lying around.

I assume that if a wood works for a hollow board it wil work for polystyrene/epoxy/veneer or whatever, basically anything goes ?


What do you think of the Paulownia wood? I’m trying to order some in the US to try out, would appreciate any feedback you have.

Hello TurboJets,

I really like Paulownia, I haven’t got any figures on its density but it is lighter than our plantation grown redwood (which is lighter than Western red Cedar) and much harder than balsa. It has alternating hard and soft grain in the growth rings which can make it a little bit tricky to get fair when shaping it but that’s about the only drawback. Tom Wegener uses a lot of Paulownia, I would use more except that I keep finding interesting free wood. Paulownia has interesting pink/cream/grey colours when epoxy coated, rather like Balsa. It is hard enough to handle being epoxy finished with no glass, unlike Balsa.

I agree with Roy. Paulownia is great wood. Not quite as light as balsa but harder. I dont know why we don’t hear about it more from the Aussie crew. A friend of mine in Queensland says it is very cheap there. In fact the best price I’ve found for it here in NZ is from a place that imports it from Oz. Cheaper than the homegrown stuff. I’ve done several skins with it and will do more. Right now I’m into veneer though since I’ve been given a stack of 30 year old quality veneer. I’m vacuuming the bottom on right now with some genuine Honduran Mahogony. Can you even get that stuff anymore?

Cedar has a lot of natural oilyness…

Delaminations, despite all the common preparation precautions still are challenge…

Redwood seems “dryer”…

I just can’t get it easily up here in the land of cedar…


I’ve wanted to try some Paulownia, but its nearly impossible to find in the states.

I, like Oneula, have used thin veneer (1/32 baltic birch & mahogany) and the woven bamboo mat.

Unlike Oneula, I find slapping on the balsa rails infinitely easier than shaping the foam & bending the veneer around it. I did that once & don’t need to try it again :slight_smile: I suspect he & CMP have a lot of those heat/softener tricks up their sleeves, but I got so many cracks, splits, bumps, void spaces underneath…and spent all my free time for a week sanding, cutting, patching, gluing, 5 minute-epoxying, resanding, and groaning that I don’t want to revisit that. The board also doesn’t surf as well as my others - I think the compound curve of the sandwich skin over the rails adds stiffness I don’t want.

Although, I must also say: Hawaii is where I see the largest proportion of good surfers riding popouts like serftechs. So I suspect that, once you’re used to it all, the siffness might be a desirable trait for island waves. (I’ve only sufed polys in the islands.) And maybe Oneula & CMP, in making stiffer boards than me, are showing a deep understanding of their markets.

The bamboo was fun, but also quite stiff. I think the best place for that would be your basic step-up or semi-gun board where you want some stiffness & strength, but you’re building less than an 8’ length.

I also agree that balsa is the most user-friendly, best surfing, and most beautiful of all I have used…


Ya, I’ve noticed the oils when working with it before, but it doesn’t seem to be that bad. And I’ve done strip planked canoes out of it, and as of yet, haven’t had any problems from the properties of the cedar itself. (I did get a bit of rot in between the glass layers in the nose and bottom where I’ve run it into random rocks and logs in the whitewater and never really sealed up proper, but even there, it is still bonded really well to the glass.) So I’m not too afraid of that problem. I do believe that the wood would be fairly springy, (more so than balsa) which is why I wnat to try it. I also like the ease with which it can be bent into fairly sharp, complex curves. As far as the oils issue goes, maybe a light brushing of the wood with a propane torch after it has been planed and before laying up into the skins. Just enough to evaporate/burn off the oils near the surface. (yes, it’d be done outside and with a hose nearby). Does/has this worked for anyone out here?

Goat, Cow, Turkey and of course Fore.

A pretty good rule of thumb that :slight_smile: Glad to hear WRC worked out for you… As a result I am giving serious consideration to using it on 001.

But we’ll see :smiley:


hehehe! What aboout cat? ;D

Shouldn’t have expected more from YOU, resinhead :slight_smile:

Same sick sense of humor as me.