Welcome to makeasurfboardblog.com, home of Shore Points Surfboards. I am a garage board-builder who makes surfboards for myself and a few friends. I figure a blog format would be a smart way to record the progression of my shaping experience. There are many lessons learned and mistakes made with each new board, and I find it helpful to record these trials and tribulations as they occur. While numerous board-making “self-help” sites and videos exist on the internet, very little information is well organized and focused on the needs and abilities of novice surfboard makers. I have tried to format this blog to make it easy for early-stage surfboard makers to find tips and answers on all stages of the board-building process. I hope you find it helpful and feel free to contact me with any questions.
The first board made in my new shaping room was a 6′ 2.5″ RMRP (Reverse Mullet Round Pin) I made for myself. This build was the first time I tried routing the outline with a 1/2″ collet router and a long foam-cutting router bit.
You need to have full length templates to route your outline, and you also need to clamp the template firmly to the foam blank. At first, I was tempted to go and spend some money on long-reach clamps, to keep them out of the way of the router base and blade. But then I realized it really isn’t necessary. I just used regular clamps, some foam scraps to provide a buffer between the blank and the clamp. All I had to do was move the clamps once or twice to completely route the outline.
Takes about a minute to route each side, and the line is absolutely perfect and square. One pass with a hard sanding block and the outlining process is done. I am convinced this method of cutting the outline is faster and (more importantly) more accurate than hand-sawing or jig-sawing and truing up the outline. The only downside is the cost of the router and bit.
Not that anyone is paying attention, but the long hiatus from blog entries was due primarily to the fact that my shaping room (garage) was recently torn down and underwent a complete renovation. Of course, the renovation included a ground-up board-making facility. So Shore Points is back in business. There are many stories to tell about the design/build of the new facility, so I’ll break it up into bite-sized pieces.
For this entry, I’ll focus on the HVAC, which includes heat, AC, ventilation, and dust control. This is a very important component to the board-building process, particularly in a four-season climate like NJ, and even more particularly to a home-builder who has limited space and resources. I have to shape, glass, artify, and sand all in the same room. This places quite a few unique demands on the “respiratory system” of the room.
First off was making sure I had heat in the room. This is critical to glassing in the wintertime. You really need 50 degrees plus (preferably 70 degrees plus) to glass and cure Epoxy correctly. I’m going to stick with Epoxy because its better, stronger, and doesn’t stink. I have a gallon of UV cure Polyester resin for ding repair and it frickin’ stinks up the place. I have to keep it outside. In any case, the best solution for me was to put in a supply duct from my central air system to provide both heat and AC into the shaping room. So the shaping room is kept at the same temp as the inside of the house. If I want to boost it to 70-80 plus in the room for quicker cures, I have a space heater that I can use to crank up the temp in the shaping room.
Air return is a different story. You can’t re-circulate air (dust and crap filled) back into the central air system, so instead, I had an industrial exhaust fan put on the wall opposite of the supply register. The exhaust is ducted through the ceiling outside with a louvered vent to prevent cold back-draft. I purposely had the exhaust installed at the opposite end of the room so I could create a flow across the room long-ways. This should prevent any stagnation in the air. The exhaust fan is flipped on and off with a wall switch, which is nice.
Last but not least, I wanted to filter the dust out of the air as much as possible before it is exhausted outside. I wanted to avoid spewing dust outside, and I also wanted to avoid the accumulation of foam and sanding dust all over the room. To do this, I installed a Jet dust-filtration system on the ceiling, just in front of the exhaust fan. The idea is that the fan will pull air across the room, and that air will go through the filter on the way, before it is exhausted outside. The Jet system is controlled by a romote control. Very slick.
Now I imagine the Jet will do a good job with most of the airborne particles, but to get the stuff that sticks to the walls and floor, I put in a simple Lowes wall-mounted shop vac. It’s mounted under the shaping light shelves to stay out of the way. I also got an extra long hose to insure I can reach all corners of the room (8’x12′).
You can’t make a good board without a good template. You will see very quickly that each step of surfboard making depends on a well-executed step before it. If you take a shortcut or get sloppy in any step, it usually leads to a compromised result. With this in mind, a good outline template is paramount to making a good board. There are many ways to make good templates, but my favorite is to do the design work on a free board design computer program called boardcad.
Once the outline on the blank is trued-up and square, the next step is to use a power-planer to reduce the blank to the proper thickness in all areas of the board. Ideally, the basic rocker curve is already defined on your blank, so you can take even-thickness passes of foam off the blank to reduce its thickness.
My latest work is an EPS version of my tried-and-true “Reverse Mullet Round Pin” good-wave design. This one is a 6’4″ x 20 1/4″ x 2 1/2″ for my friend Doug. He was coming off a 6’6″ that he felt was too heavy and sluggish for his liking, so this one is an attempt to make a lighter, more nimble step-up for him.
With the laminations on the Silver Bullet done, it was on to the hot coat stage.
I use 4″ chip brushes for this step, and I’ve found the cheapest source for them is Harbor Freight, by the dozen. Works out to be about a buck or so per brush. When hot coating, I always start with the top of the board. I do this because I need to build up a hard edge on the tail area of the bottom during the hot-coat stage, and this needs to be done last (more on why later).
Once the opaque lams were cured and the laps sanded, it is on to the clear lamination over the logo step.
But before glassing the clear layer began, I needed to mark the fin placement and route the holes for the FCS Fusion boxes. Normally, this step happens in the raw foam, but with an opaque lamination, if you want the boxes to show through, you need to route the holes after the opaque lamination is cured.
I got a bunch of opaque pigments recently, so I am on a bit of an opaque-pigment glassing streak.
My latest creation is a 5’10” x 21.25 x 2.5 low-rockered groveller (hopefully).
Pretty much the same build as #13 in terms of materials: Marko 1.9 Pescado Blank; Opaque Pigment Kwick Kick Resin; UV Clear Resin-X Seal Coat; FCS Fusion fins. These opaque pigments are cool looking, BUT twice as much laminating work and much more difficult to get a clean, final result.
Tried lots of new stuff on my latest creation, a 6’0″ “Blue Diamond” shaped for myself for everyday NJ waves.
Here’s a list:
1. First time using a Marko EPS blank.
2. First time using FCS Fusion fin plugs
3. First time using “under the glass” leash plug
4. First opaque pigment lamination
5. First time using Resin X UV-Clear airbrush top-coat.
That’s alot of firsts, but all in all, this one went pretty well.