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How to Make a Chambered Wooden Surfboard

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So I have been making surfboards as a hobby for several years with over 10 boards shaped. They were all foam, either XPS or EPS foam, (Check out my other Instructables). I was up for a challenge and I wanted to try my hand at making a wooden surfboard. There are two main types of wooden surfboards: hollow wooden surfboard and chambered wooden surfboard. Another option was to fake it and cover a foam core with wooden veneer.

After some contemplation and research I decided to make a wooden chambered surfboard. My reasoning is I wanted to make it completely from scratch and with no computer aided design. A hollow wooden board is more complicated to make as you need to design it on a computer first, cut out a frame and then skin it with wood. A wooden chambered surfboard can be completely made with no reliance on computers.

This build took place over the course of several months and I think the final result is outstanding for lumber purchased at Home Depot (more on this later).

So lets dive into this, even if you don't want to build a wooden surfboard, this process is very interesting so enjoy! Grab a coffee and some cookies as this is going to take a while.

Also I am entering this Instructable in the wood contest so if you like this, please vote for me.

Note: I will be including videos for some of the steps and eventually all of the steps but it will take me several more months of editing before I get around to finishing all the videos but pictures and a complete write up is included. This was a lengthy endeavour to document.

Step 1: Surfboard Design and Template

Picture of Surfboard Design and Template

So what type of surfboard to make, I have a quiver of surfboards but what I was lacking is a nice small wave board. I went with a "groveler" type surfboard, a board suited to smaller waves but still can be used in larger conditions. I looked at a number of boards and then designed my own. I asked "Blending Curves" to make me a custom template based on my criteria. They will make you a custom surfboard template but also their website has tons of ready to print surfboard outlines. In the past I have designed surfboards based on pictures, existing surfboards I ride and like or just free handed one directly on the surfboard blank.

The dimensions was going to be 6' X 22 1/2 wide and 3" thick at the center. The board will be nice and thick to provide a nice amount of float but the rails will be thinned out so they can dig in to let the board hold when the conditions are bigger. Some considerations I had to take into account is I surf in cold water so I have to factor in a heavy wetsuit as well. When designing a surfboard board it's a bunch of compromises. When you change one part of the board it can positively or negatively or neutrally affect the surfboard performance. Finding the balance of what you want is dependent on the individual. My design will be different from another surfer, so keep those points in mind when designing your surfboard.

Surfboard design could be discussed ad naseum but key to remember is to keep the lines of the surfboard smooth and even. If the board looks odd or has weird lines then it probably has something off with it. An example is I once shaped a board that had really thick nose, tail and rails, what ended up happening for that surfboard is the board was very "corky". It makes it hard to catch a waves since you can't "fall" into the wave. You end up floating on top of the wave but never riding down into the wave, it sounds odd to describe but trust me, it was terrible at catching waves, I thought it would be a wave catching machine because I shaped it nice and thick. So lesson learned: it's ok to experiment but doing extreme things can not have the intended results.

Ham-made20 days ago
Hey AndrewW1977!
Incredible build! Thanks for taking the time to thoroughly explain a project that for me was an intimidating endeavor! Loads of work, but possible, and the result is beautiful!
Cheers!
Mr. Ham
This is fantastic, thank you for taking the time to post such an in depth instructable on it. I plan on going back through it and reading the pieces more thoroughly to see if it's a project I want to dive into this summer. I have always wanted to make a kite surfer and this might be a great way to get into doing it (I have an old paragliding kite that I could use to make my kite already). I love how you used SPF to build it since it is such a readily available wood for pretty much anyone here in the US. Have you ever tried using hand planes, spokeshaves, and drawknives to help shape and finalize a board? A lot of the furniture I build I do the final shaping with hand tools and I didn't know if you could apply the same techniques to a surfboard. Thanks for the excellent post!
AndrewW1977 (author)  ctstarkdesigns25 days ago
Hey, I have shaped with hand planes and spokeshaves, they do work well, just takes a lot longer depending on the amount of material you need to remove. My personal favorite tool is the spokeshave since it can shape concave and convex curves. Never had any experience with drawknives but I know they are good for removing a lot of material at once on round things. I think if you know how to make furniture, a board would be no problem for you.
Thanks for the reply and for the encouragement to build one. As long as you are working with the grain, drawknives are a pleasure to use, and with a razor-sharp blade you can get into some pretty gnarly wood and still come out with a decent slice. I think I will try my hand at this during the summer. If I do I will be sure to post it.
Well sir, this is a great Instructable, thanks for taking the time to explain every step in great detail. I don't surf, can hardly cut a board straight but now I want to make a wooden surf board too. Once again, thank you. Keep up the good job!
AndrewW1977 (author)  Marcos Thunder21 days ago
:)
AAHLSCHWEDE21 days ago
what a beautiful project!! Well done! The board is so beautiful I'd be afraid to surf it.
AndrewW1977 (author)  AAHLSCHWEDE21 days ago
I know that first inevitable ding is going to hurt LOL.
KS200422 days ago
totally cool
KiteArmy25 days ago
You are a monster! Great job ;)
AndrewW1977 (author)  KiteArmy23 days ago
Thanks!
jgbennet124 days ago
Great instructable. I wish they all had such in depth information.
I trick I learned from my shop teacher a 100 years ago making wooden bowls would work on the board blank glue-up. When we glued the bowl blank to the plug, we put a piece of paper in the joint, so that when we removed the finished bowl, the paper parted, and it came off the plug without a lot of effort. When you glue up the two halves of the blank, putting paper in the joint should have the same effect. It will be strong enough to hold during shaping, but should part without all the effort you had to use.
Just a though.. again, great instructable.
AndrewW1977 (author)  jgbennet123 days ago
That is an awesome tip! Will definitely use that next time. Thanks!
chefspenser24 days ago
Totally RAD!
How does it ride Kahuna?
AndrewW1977 (author)  chefspenser23 days ago
Haven't gotten it out yet but will soon hopefully once the weather turns!
Congratulations on your fantastic project.
What's the final weight of the board?
I've been doing hollow, layered objects on the CNC router, this would be a perfect fit for that technique.
hi all,
good question! @AndrewW1977, what is final weight?
AndrewW1977 (author)  VladimirG2823 days ago
About double of a regular board of the same size just shy of 20lbs. Pretty sure I could get it even lower if I chambered it a bit thinner.
Amazing work !
We can feel the passion in your work ...
You got my vote sir !
AndrewW1977 (author)  Simon_Cloutier23 days ago
Thanks!
What do you mean exactly by "Chambered" - it's solid wood, no internal hollow or chamber.
Read Step 8
instig8r24 days ago
It is too bad you couldn't use Paulonia. I have one in my yard that grew pretty fast. (I know they are invasive, but my wife likes the color of its blossoms.) When I have to trim a branch that is getting too close to a wire or something I am astounded at how light and strong it is. You can order Paulonia wood online from a lot of places. It is expensive, of course, but I can imagine it would be a perfect balance of oak-like strength and balsa-like lightness. It is amazingly fast-growing and Paulonia farms can harvest the same tree multiple times at about 5-year intervals. I wanted mine to grow straight, so I followed online advice and cut it flush with the ground in March of its second year (after it established some good roots). By September (6 months later) it was over 20 feet tall. No lie.