Why Do You Shape Surfboards?


Some of us open up the garage door in the early morning hours and smell the fresh sea air as we line up our stands and place blanks on the rack. Others of us may walk the long maze of surfboards and clothes only to find ourselves in room in the back of a warehouse painted blue and filled with dust. Some may drive hours to the nearest storage unit and open it up only to find that we have just opened up the gates of our own heaven. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, are Surfboard Shapers.

In the year that I have begun shaping surfboards as a beginner, I have learned a lot of valuable lessons. Cut once, measure twice. Never have a “practice board”, put everything you have into making it the best possible surf craft, take your time. Some of these sayings have come from shapers who have been doing this longer than I have been alive. I trust these gentleman and ladies because they know what is right.

But the questions I often ask myself is why I do it? What keeps us going back to that shaping rack and putting foam blank after foam blank on it and creating something so wonderful out of something so boring?  I do it because it’s an escape. I started shaping, after being shot in the line of duty. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I knew I loved surfing and everything about it. I knew that I was “okay” at building things with my hands. But what I did not know was that when I turned the radio on and strapped on that dust mask, I was in my own world. I never once thought about bills, the kids bath time, what was going on at work, I just escaped into my clutter filled garage and attempted to construct something out of nothing, without having a clue in the world on how to do it. I just trusted my hands, heart and soul and hopefully the rest would follow into my creation.

I’m not a great craftsman, or a great surfer, but I know that when I step foot in my garage and walk up to the shaping stand, I know for that instant, I’m a surfboard shaper and that’s all that matters.

Shaping surfboards changes people; it allows people to appreciate what we take for granted in life. Shaping surfboards brings families closer together in that a father can teach his son how to read a rule, and what grit sand paper he needs to use. Shaping surfboards was and is my rehabilitation. Shaping surfboards is my escape from reality. I look at a blank and envision the top surfers in the world riding my creations, it’s about hand work, not computer generated boards because you own a “shaping business” it’s about the craft of seeing what your heart, soul and hands can create. I’m just learning and have a long way to go, but shaping surfboards is who I am.

The next time you’re in your sanctuary, ask yourself; why do I shape surfboards? 


I love surfing and surfboards.

Because women are evil.

 The intimacy I get with my own surfboards, and internet porn, keep me sane.

Also I don’t like the idea of a disposable surfboard.  No custom order was  ever glassed  heavy enough for me, so I decided to learn  how to do it myself.

When A friend showed me a board he made out of wood, well, I knew I could keep a wood board alive as long as I live. Doubt they ever be in a landfill, until humanity itself is in the landfill.


I’d enjoy mowing some foam again though.  Making a close tolerance blank out of wood can be frustrating.


because its cheap

I don’t shape as good as I used to. it’s hard to keep the licks when you only do a few per year. One good thing is that once you get over age 60 nobody is gonna say anything because you are a cranky old geezer. I overcome my shortcomings by keeping a stern look and having good excuses…Like  when I leave the stringer high I say “The foam shrank…shit ain’t what it used to be” or…if you have scratches in the blank “Can’t buy good screen anymore!”. And you can always go the “I made it asymetrical for free. No extra charge”.

I just like making things, and understanding how things work. I just need to make stuff. It’s nice to know exactly how something was made, so it can be repaired and modified easily. 

Also that’s pretty funny cleanlines.

i like that cleanlines - haha

shaping is just an extension of surfing. what is nice about shaping is that you can do it anytime. so when you are waiting on the swell, wind, tide, season, etc, you can keep ‘surfing’ even when there are no waves! having a new design to try and master also gives stoke to keeps us going out in less than stellar conditions. as kook alluded to in his post, it can provide a state of meditation (similar to surfing) and a huge sense of accomplishment when you catch that first great ride or when you see that huge grin on your buddies face paddling back out after getting a nice one.

i really enjoy having it as a creative outlet! 

I have been trying to quit for almost 50 years. People keep asking me for boards.

Why do I shape surfboards?


Because it feels right.

I enjoy making things by hand.  Never perfect, but fun and satisfying always.  Motivation has been a problem lately.

I guess there are a lot of answers to that question, and the first post covered a lot of them.  I got started making boards late in life.  But from the first board, I knew.  I knew I could do this, that this was in me, was who I am.  That probably sounds corny, or self-delusional or whatever, but I just knew.

It always surprises me when people say "you got it bad", because I'm like, I have what bad, being me, doing what it is that defines me? 

I'm not a great shaper or a great surfer either, but I would make surfboards out of papier mache if that was all I had available, its just in me to make these things.  I make them out of wood, out of sticks and tissue, out of foam and glass, I'm just driven to keep making them probably until I'm in a cold dark place in the ground, or at least until tomorrow anyway.

I have way more surfboards in my head than my hands could ever keep up with, so until I can come close, I'll just keep at it.

vary well said kook420

for me shaping is an escape, a way to let my creative juices flow, i dont mind how much time it may take me, and i just really like working with my hands

i think i would go crazy if i had a desk job, and alot fatter

when i first started shaping it was cause i was cheap and didnt want to pay for a new board

now days i dont have a problem spending good money on a board cause i know exactly what goes into it, but i still love making my own boards, i especially love glassing boards and playing around with color work in the resin


I know exactly what I need and how to get it.

It’s how I get my art buzz on.

I get stoked when my boards help people have more fun and surf better.

It keeps gas in the truck.


I ended up shaping surfboards for a living because I screwed up at everything else.

I like the connection between board and rider.  There’s something about being a little more fully invested in my boards that  - for me  - adds to the surfing experience.  My boards may suck as far as surfboards go but my surfing sucks as far as surfers go so i’ve got that going for me.  

What’s cooler than paddling out and ripping on a board you made yourself?  No matter what your ugly duckling looks like.

because i can.



for all the fame and the big bucks.  ha!

I shape and glass, do it all. 

I started shaping because I wanted to make changes to a board the shaper didn’t want to do. I started making boards that most “pro” shapers wouldn’t waste time doing. I figure I can buy the boards they make.

Now it’s all about costs.

I also use unusual materials that are cheap and I save tons of money.

At first, because I was a cheap bastard: At the time, “real” surfboards cost 6 times what it took me to build a HWS. The next few boards were because the joy and pride of making and surfing my creations. How many surfers can say that? I know none.