Why I said it takes 8 years

rick you are so right!!! unless somebody is trying to production shape everything from paddleboards to thrusters to canoes- ALL OPTIONS ARE OPEN for the inspired and dedicated one at a time builder commercial production: follow the steps. repetition. perfecting the motions. earning a wage based on minutes per blank. high volume. polishing the polish. thats what machines are for. make your own at home: now youre talking potential pure soul. raw innovative design. inspired one-offs. prime example: george greenough. in his entire life hes never shaped 50 boards a week. he only made one velo and that single kneeboard started a worldwide revolution. His fins and sailboard equipment, too. lesson: you dont need to shape 500 bazillion to get it right. 1968: funny to watch hotshot 2000+ boards a year production shapers crawling all over each other trying to follow greenoughs lead. theyd been in the shaping room more than the tube. similar things have happened before. guaranteed theyll happen again. question: who gives a flying F if your shaper also makes airmats and ukeleles? moral: quality begets quality. its better to ride 1,000 waves a year and make only a few good boards. the opposite is lame. just business as usual.

Rick, I am the only one that gets the point. Did it take Kelly slater eight years of med school surfing to be a great surfer, NO!!! OF F****** course he got better with time, but he was a natural. Sorry, but I will toot my own horm… I had just shaped my 4th or 5th board and glassed it myself. Took it to Surf Club surfshop in PB on Garnet. Experienced owner, looked at it and said, “You’re there!” He thought I have hundreds of shapes underneath my belt. At that time I acted as if I had a few hundred under my belt because I thought I wouldn’t get respect if I said it was my 5th. Well, I am a natural with tools and a craftsman of all sorts. I think that attitude of “…it takes eight years…blah blah blah…” is hog-wash. That is like that martial arts mentality that some people had when they thought they had to train years in seclusion, mystical crap…a few months of Braziliam Ju Jitsu training… Eight years…could you imagine it taking eight years to learn finally start getting good. All those who think it takes eight years, please return all the money you stole from those guys who thought you knew what you were doing!!! If there are any beginner shapers out there that want a private shaping lesson in S. Cali area, let me know. You don’t need a video. Hands on training at my facility. Eight years…gee wiz!

Charlie has a valid point: some people are naturals. Some are not. I am not and rely on the knowledge sharing from the Jim Phillips of the board building world. Lets make sure this forum is hospitable towards them. I hope Jim is getting great surf and welcome him back. I’d also like to hear more from Rob Brown, Gene Cooper, (more)Y, and Paul Gross and others with ideas to share. Please keep the wisdom flowing. Rob Olliges

For all of you who don’t feel that experience is important please explain to me 5 different Vee contours and how to cut each one. Then explain to me four different concave vectors for short high performance boards and how to cut those. Then explain to me the difference between a 1, 2, and 3 band rail system and how each produces a different rail shape and how to cut each. Then explain how to shape a reverse Vee, a displacement hull, a deep Vee twin, a blended Vee single, a triple concave, a single concave and a double concave for different fin configurations. Then explain to me how to cut at least three different channel configurations, what tools are most effective for each and why. Then explain to me longboard concaves, the difference between each and the way to cut each one. Then explain to me how the hundreds of templates in my shaping room are just a waste of space. And likewise the hundreds of rocker templates. I could go on but I hope I’ve made a point. Experience counts. Above is just a scratch in the surface of what shaping really is and with all due respect if you haven’t been there you don’t get it.

Jim is a grear guy…Herb is another cool shaper…but let’s lot go backwards to those days when shapers kept everything a secret and young kids thought you had to be an old surfer guru to shape a board. Though I have been critical of even Clark, they(also the businessmen who figured out the close tolerance equals less time) made it possible for the kid’s to make their own boards without having to cheese grade tons off foam of a board. Jim, I wish you the best of luck in Hawaii. Enjoy…hauli…shaka!!!

And nor does the average surfer, only the pros know the difference. Stay Solid

Shape 5 boards, call yourself a shaper. Shape 100 boards, pound your chest, pissed off more people didn’t order boards in college. Work on yet another label. Shape 300 boards, have your own surf shop. Shape 400 boards, someone walks into your shop with a board to trade and you realize you don’t have a friggin’ clue. Shape 800 boards and it dawns on you that the person who said you needed to shape a 1000 before being a shaper may have been right after all. In fact, his estimate may have been rather conservative. Shape 900. Surf shop gone. Shape 950. 950? Start losing count because of finishing hundreds of computer pre-shapes for somebody else and shaping shop boards with different numbers. Shape 999. That sure took a long time. Shape 1000. The end of the beginning. 2000-4000 hours of shaping labor, a minimum of 200,000 dollars invested, and no one even knows, much less cares. Hee hee. 18 years, the 1000th board somewhere back in the rearview mirror, a kiss on the wrist from an intimate encounter with a Skill 100, and happy to have a place to practice shaping surfboards. Even happier to be living close to the beach and surfing whenever I can. Jim Phillips is right.

Right on bro, a person may be able to shape a few boards but it always takes time to become a craftman. Thats my point. Stay Solid.

Basically you are either a craftsman or you are not.I don’t care if a guy has shaped ten million boards or not…I just like to see good work.I was in a big Florida glass shop doing some resin color stuff and most of the shapes looked like crap.Pro shapers with years of experience just blasting em out using a grinder.I am not saying that some of these guys can’t do good work but lets face it,the pay is low and they have to produce big numbers to support families.Also there is the human factor…once you find you can get away with something you will do it…especially when shaping becomes nothing more than a “job”. R.B.

Amen. Someone can look at a shape and think you are a shaping God - even someone with solid experience. But it’s when YOU start seeing the things that need improvement that YOU know where you’ve been and have a better idea of where you need to head to. Phillips - and Loehr - and others here are talking about gaining personal experience, not praise, acceptance, or adulation. There is NO substitute for personal experience. This does not in anyway negate natural talent and abilities. And there is no formula to personal experience, since all people are different and bring different talents and aptitudes to the work. some may ‘get it’ earlier than 8 years, others never do. But when you have the history, you can speak from personal example. If you don’t, you are only speculating. A ‘Shaper’ is someone who shapes surfboards, that will mean something different to someone with 2000 shapes, than to me with 3 boards under my belt. I read everything I can find from the more experienced shapers here and it’s like a great classroom for me. This is a voluntary classroom. If the real professor does not say what you want to hear. No need to listen. Pau

I just want to make it real simple… if you “shape” boards that people have fun riding, and they return for more… you’re a SHAPER, true mabe not at the same level of the Pat Rawson’s/Maurice Cole’s, GEORGE GREENOUGH et. al. but indeed you are a shaper!

A shaper mows foam. A ‘guru’ mows foam more successfully than a shaper. Gurus’ are generally egotistical shapers with lots of experience. A true boardmaker should be able to understand what he or she is making, from the outline to the rocker, from the rail shape transition to the bottom shape configuration, from the complexities of the fin foil and profile to the positioning of those fins relative to the board design and its expected conditions of use. A true boardmaker should also be able to glass and sand that board so that all of the initial design work is reproduced flawlessly with excellent stregth to weight ratio. A true boardmaker should be as stoked as you when you progress on that board. A true boardmaker should be able to make your next board better. If you are looking for a good board go to a true boardmaker, no matter how many boards he or she has made. A true boardmaker is hard to find.

If it takes eight years for you to start getting good at shaping. then I am glad you are shaping and not becoming a doctor! If it takes eight years of shaping, don’t bother to buy a how to shape video, you can learn by the school of hard knows in eight years. Now if a video can teach you how to become a good shaper after 50 boards, then it is worth buying. Shaping can be simple by using a profile machine, get some practice on rail-bands and wah-la. The guru comes in the design!!! A person can make any jig or project that Norn Abrahms designs, but not to many people can make a good design. Trust me, I just had three sixteen year old kids at my house for shaping lessons. They watched me shape a board. I let them go at it, then I help, but showing them how to correct mistakes, BAM!!! I am not kidding, they turned very sharp looking boards----------but they know diddly about design. One more thing, even if a grom doesn’t turn out the greatest board, I still encourage them to keep shaping. Why steer a kid away by saying it takes eight years to start getting good. Kelly Slater was a GOOD surfer in a few years. And of course he got better as years went on. But it doesn’t have to take 8 frikken years to start getting good. On more thing. Rembrandt painted many beautiful paintings through his life, but he turned out very ugly ones towards the end…so shape while you are yougn cause towards the end the ego gets bigger as the boards get worse!!!

Steven, Funny, it’s quite different for me. The older I get more perspective I get and thus the smaller my ego gets. I find I learn very important things from 5 years olds sometimes. Ego just gets in the way of progress as far as I’m concerned. Those little ones are learning 10 times as fast as we adults so they must have something going for them. I watched one of these gromes learn how to skim in one summer so well it would blow you mind. To get a craft really together.8 years isn’t very long. I think Haut’s shaped damn near 30,000 boards and one of the first things he said when he came on board was that he still has lots to learn.I’ve been a plumber for 28 years and there’s always a new rinkle out there to pick up on. Form and function go hand in hand and attitude is where it all begins. So much for wisdom, I off for some mindless meditation :wink: Gone Surfin’, Rich

We all make boards to ride waves the best we or our customers can. I’ve been shaping for a little over ten years, and surfing for 25+. I’m no Kelly Slater, in fact I’m nowhere near it and never will be, does that make me no longer a “surfer”? c’mon guys it really is a functional piece of art that we all produce. Of course those with the most experience should have more knowledge and usually will put out a better product. We all know that this is not always the case. Just as there are a growing number of shapers that may have only put out a small number of boards, but these “novice” shapers are putting out some really nice boards too. Just as there are many “specialized” shapers, often the best longboard shapers are not the best for shortboards, and vise versa. This Swaylocks forum is a great way for the novice shapers of all experience levels bounce ideas around, innovation and progress are inevitable.