Why make your own boards? Because it is so rewarding. I would have to say it is the doubler for the surfing experience. To carry on about this would be wasted words, but what I can say is that everyone I know who has made their own boards has treasured that time.
When I was in high school, many of my friends made their own boards. It was pretty easy then in California. I would go to ET and get helped out by Bert or Therisa and get the blank, resin… Then people realized how toxic it is and it went out of fashion. Or maybe people became too sensitive. I don’t know, but I suspect that I will be concerned when my son starts glassing his boards (which is kind of inevitable), partly because I am now allergic to polyester resin.
The surfing manufacturing establishment usually looks down at the “backyarder”; why, I’m not sure, because it’s where so much of surfing has come from. ‘Morning of the Earth’ isn’t about surfboard factories. I was once a big part of the Surfboard Industry Association in California. I asked my good friend and sponsor, Donald Takayama, to join. He said, “No Tom. It will become a witch hunt for the backyarders and they are the soul of surfing.” This startled me at the time. But wow, how insightful he was. Donald deserves all the accolades he has received and more.
Over the years I have seen so many great shapes come out of the backyard
Over the years I have seen so many great shapes come out of the backyard. Most have been forgotten, if they were noticed by the public at all. There have been many distinct styles of surfing that have been based around the boards. The biggest example now is the resurgence of the Hull. Greg Little stuck with his awesome boards and eventually they got the respect they deserved. So there is hope for all you out there making great boards but not getting a lot of recognition.
Of course, I have my example of a style of surfing and board that never made it out of my own backyard – the Wegener Crusader. Thanks to youtube I have documented the board for everyone to see and to be tortured by my lousy film work. This board is about tight turning radius and tubes.
I am so happy that I have been a part of the wood surfboard revival and getting surfboard manufacturing back in the garage with less toxic materials. After years of contemplation, I have to agree with Donald and say that there is a big place for making boards in the garage. And I’ve got to give a shout out to Paul Jensen who is the godfather of the movement. Yaaaa Paul. What up! Cha!!!!
The alaia is best starting point for making your own board for sure
The alaia is best starting point for making your own board for sure. Just get a chunk of paulownia and start hacking away. It is best if there are kids around and a few beers. Then, if you like the feeling of riding your own boards, you’ll discover an ever-expanding universe of boards that you can make in your own garage, backyard, kitchen… wherever.
Here Matt and I are shaping in the very basic conditions of Salvador Artaza’s garage. Check the natural lighting! We are making a tuna as well as alaias. The tuna is yet another example of a board that is way outside of the mainstream and probably won’t ever be popular.
There’s plenty on the world wide web to keep me interested – please check out the Jack McCoy/alaia footage on Surfline. And there is a bit on the excellent korduroy.tv about my brother Jon’s shaping show at Patagonia in Cardiff-on-Sea, CA.