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Board building A to Z

Greenlight's Complete Guide to Building a Surfboard

Introduction

We understand that making surfboards can be very intimidating for the first-timer. Truth is, with a little bit of patience, some good tools, and some proven technique tips, it isn't that hard to turn out a good board on your first try. Our goal at Greenlight has always been to break down the intimidation factor and make board building attainable to those of us who aren't "master craftspeople." (Yet)

Greenlight's Board-Building A to Z gathers the most effective, proven techniques from veteran boardbuilders and organizes them in an easy-to-follow, easy-to-search format. While there is a substantial amount of information here, we have broken the boardbuilding process down to 8 basic components, 3 of which are optional:

Chapters

  1. DESIGN
  2. MAKING TEMPLATES
  3. SHAPING RACKS AND GLASSING STANDS
  4. CHOOSING YOUR BLANK
  5. TRACING THE OUTLINE AND FOIL
  6. CONCAVES & VEE
  7. SHAPING THE RAILS
  8. FINAL SANDING
  9. ARTWORK
  10. GLASSING SURFBOARDS
  11. FREE LAP VS. CUT LAP
  12. MIXING RESIN
  13. BOTTOM LAMINATING
  14. LAMINATING THE DECK
  15. HOTCOATING
  16. FIN BOX AND LEASH PLUG INSTALL
  17. SANDING YOUR GLASS JOB
  18. POST GLASS ARTWORK (OPTIONAL)
  19. GLOSS COAT / POLISH (OPTIONAL)

All of the information is presented in the order that it typically occurs when building a surfboard. If you are about to embark on building your first board, we strongly recommend that you read the entire guide start to finish, then re-read each section just prior to performing that step. You may want to copy sections of this guide into a word processing program and print them out. They make great bathroom reading, and you can keep it close by in your shaping space for quick reference on the fly. Also consider getting Greenlight's instructional videos which were created with the first time shaper in mind and demonstrate the board building process in a fool-proof manner.

Part 1: Preparation

Making surfboards requires a modest but fairly specialized set of tools. Some of these tools are easy to find at home centers or your local hardware store, but some are trickier to find and only available at specialty board-building suppliers like Greenlight.

It is possible to build a surfboard from start to finish without power tools. If you are only going to build one board (yeah right…), than perhaps it is not worth investing in a full set of power tools. But if you think you are going to build more than one board, we strongly recommend you invest in and learn to use power tools (planer/jig saw/variable speed sander/trim router/power drill) in the board-building process.

There is no one "perfect" list of tools, just like there is no one "perfect" way to build a surfboard. That being said, the following is a list of tools that you need to maximize your chances of getting a good end result.

These shaping tools can be used for both EPS and Polyurethane foam:

Shaping Tools

Glassing Tools

  • Resin Spreader (epoxy) or Rubber Squeegee (polyester)
  • Clear plastic 1-quart mixing buckets with volume markings
  • Mixing sticks (to mix resin and hardener)
  • Clear plastic 8oz mixing cups with volume markings (for fin installs)
  • Clear plastic 1oz mixing cup with volume markings (for leash plug)
  • Sharp, big scissors for cutting fiberglass
  • Ink Jet Logo Paper (optional, for printing logos from your computer)
  • High-Temp 3/4" and 1&1/2"Masking Tape (for cut laps, hot coats, and covering fin boxes)
  • 4" chip brushes (for hotcoating)
  • Masking Paper (optional, if you are doing cutlaps)
  • Razor blade or Exacto Knife (optional, if you are doing cutlaps)

Fin/Leash Plug Install Tools

  • Trim Router
  • Power Drill
  • Forstner or Holesaw Bit
  • Resin Thickening Additive (Cab-O-sil)
  • White and/or black resin pigment (optional but looks slick)
  • Fin Install Kit (Each fin system manufacturer offers its own specialized install kit)

Sanding Tools

Gloss/Polish Tools

Greenlight's prices are competitive with hardware stores/home centers, plus we also have many of the specialized tools (sanding pads, spoke shave, Versasquare, etc.) that you WON'T find at local hardware stores or home centers.

Bottom line, you can find most of this stuff if you hunt around the internet or drive around to hardware stores all day. This is what we did before starting Greenlight. It is much easier and cheaper just to get everything you need from one place. You save on shipping, gas, hassle and time, and you are assured that all of this stuff is tested and proven for surfboard building.

NEXT CHAPER : DESIGN