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Monday, August 18, 2008

How to make a Skimboard

How to make a skimboard 101: A beginners guide

Here you'll find all the instructions and tips to help you make your very own skimboard. These are kind of "down and dirty" instructions that will help you build a board quickly and with materials that will be easily available at stores like Walmart or Home Depot. If you've been making skimboards for a while or you want to use professional grade materials, then there probably isn't much information here that you don't already know. You'll want to check out the advanced How to Build a Skimboard Video.  But if you are making your first board and want to use materials that you'll be able to pick up at your local stores so you can just get out there and get skimming, then read on. I have pictures to help you as you go. I would suggest that you read through all the instructions first before you get started. 

Wood First you need to find a piece of wood. I would suggest half inch plywood. Half inch works well, with or without fiberglass. I've used three-eighths, but if I don't use fiberglass on it, it seems to crack after a while if I ollie a lot and hit rails. Anything bigger than half inch starts to get real heavy real fast, but will probably still work.
A half inch 4x8 foot sheet of plywood can be purchased for around $20. You only need a fourth of this (2x4 foot) so if you have a few friends, go in together on one. If it's just you, and you don't want to make 4 boards, most lumber yards will cut and sell you what you need. If you go to Lowes or Home Depot, they have 2x4 foot pieces already cut.

PatternOnce you've got your wood, place your pattern down and trace around it onto the wood. As far as a pattern goes, this is kind of a personal thing. First I would vist some of the different skimboarding manufacturer sites and get some Ideas about skimboard shapes. To make a pattern, you need a large piece of paper. If you don't have a piece of paper large enough, tape a few newspapers together. To ensure symmetry in your board, fold the paper in half, then draw half the pattern on the paper. Cut it out and unfold it so that you have a complete skimboard pattern. Now your ready to trace it on the wood. When you trace your pattern out, you want to make sure that the grain in the wood is going the long way on your board. If when you buy your wood, you buy just enough for one board and the lumber place cuts it, make sure it is cut so that the piece you get has the grains going the long way. If you are making a board(s) out of one large piece of wood, still make sure the grains are going long-ways.

Cutting out your skimboard
To cut out your skimboard you will need an electric jig saw. If you don't have one ask around the neighborhood. They are fairly common. f you still can't find one, you might consider investing in one, they are not too expensive and come in handy for all sorts of things. I've seen them at Walmart for as low as $15.00 (on sale).
Once you have your saw, cut out your board following the outline that you traced on the piece of wood.

Top, Rocker and SandingOnce you get your board cut out you'll need to decide which side should be the top. The board will naturally curve a bit in one direction. Lay you board on something flat. Try both sides to see which way the board curves. You want the nose to curve up. If it curves down then it will dive into the water. This curve is called rocker and you also need to decide how much rocker you want. I personally don't like a lot of rocker because I mostly skim flatland and it tends to slow the board down some, so I rarely try to put more rocker in my boards. I just go with the little bit of natural bend in the board. But it's a personal thing and if you want more rocker, you can soak the board in water, then put a board or something under the nose and weights on the top to bend the nose up. You'll probably need to leave it like this for a few days to a week.
Now that you've decided which side is the top you'll want to sand your board. You'll have to sand more or less depending on what grade of plywood you purchased, and how smooth you want your board.

Your board should now be ready to paint. There are two main kinds of paint, oil base paint and water base (latex) paint. If you’re not going to fiberglass your board you want to use a polyurathane enamel. It will make your board smooth and fast and give it a good waterproof coat. You can usually pick up a 32 oz can for between $6-$8 and it should be enough to do a few boards. Put on 3 or 4 coats. Once you have your board covered with the polyurathane paint you can now put any design you want on it. If you’re going to fiberglass your board, then you can use latex paint if you want. The advantage of latex paint is that it is much easier to clean up. You can just use water. With the oil base enamel you have to use paint thinner or solvent to clean up. The disadvantage of latex paint is that it won’t wear as well on your skimboard. That is why if you’re not going to fiberglass, you definitely want to go with the oil because it will wear much better. If you going to fiberglass, it doesn’t matter, because the paint will be under the resin.

To Fiberglass or not to fiberglass, that is the questionNow you need to decide whether to fiberglass your board or not. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of fiberglass as compared with other options.
Waterproofing your board is an important consideration. Keeping water out of your board is one of the biggest factors in how long your board will last. Fiberglass is waterproof so anywhere you put this on your board it will keep the water out. Another option is a good polyurathane paint. But paint will wear off much quicker.
Fiberglass will help strengthen your board. I ride pretty aggressively and have cracked a few boards without fiberglass. Mostly because of ollieing and riding rails. I've never cracked one with fiberglass. On the other hand, if this is your first board and you haven't skimmed much a board without fiberglass would be just fine.
Another thing that fiberglass helps with is dings and scratches. Remember that you’re riding on sand, which is just like sanding the bottom of your board with sandpaper. But fiberglass is much tougher than paint. With just the paint, the wood is exposed if it gets scratched, and this leads to water getting into your board.
Your option without fiberglass is to just pay attention to your board. If you see a scratch or paint is coming off, paint over it so that water doesn't get in the wood. After each time you skim, look over your board and see if there is any place water could get in and then paint over it for the next time. I've had plenty of boards without fiberglass last quite a while by doing just that.
One of the disadvantages of fiberglass is that it can be really hard to work with. Mixing the resin just right can be kind of tricky. Then you only have a limited amount of time to work with it.
Another problem is that most of the resins that you get at your local stores are not finishing resins so they remain tacky after they harden which makes them a real pain to try to sand.
If you have not used fiberglass and resins before, I would suggest you first make a board without the fiberglass so you can get out there skimming, then try your hand at a fiberglass board later. If you are going to fiberglass your board here's what you'll need.

· Fiberglass cloth. I've been able to get 2x4 foot pieces at Walmart for about $5.
· Fiberglass resin. A 32 oz. can is about $10.00 at Walmart, about the same at Home Depot.
· Something disposable to mix the resin in. · Something disposable to mix the resin with.
· A spreader or disposable brush.
· Razor blade, knife or scissors.

I usually only put fiberglass cloth on the bottom of my boards as that is the side that takes the most abuse. Lay the fiberglass cloth over the board so that it completely covers it. You can trim it up a bit now with scissors if you want or you can wait until later, it doesn't matter. Get your spreader or brush ready, because remember you will only have a limited amount of time to work with the resin. Read the instruction on the resin can carefully and completely. Also read the warnings and safety precautions. I would suggest the use of at least safety glasses and maybe some sort of disposable gloves. The catalyst is usually the most dangerous and you don't want to get any squirted in your eye. Measure out the amount of resin you want. Usually to saturate the cloth completely on the first coat I use between 8 to 10 oz. To measure out my resin I find a disposable container/cup and fill it with 10 oz of water. Then I make a mark at the water level. Then empty it and dry it out. Now I have a mark so I can measure out exactly the right amount of resin. Get a stick or something to mix the resin with, then add the catalyst. Follow the instruction on the resin can as to how much catalyst to add. (Many times it will tell you so many drops per oz.) Then mix. It is important to make sure the catalyst and resin is mixed well. I stir for at least a minute, maybe more. Once you're through mixing, pour it all out over the board. You don't want to keep the resin in the container because it will harden up quicker. The more you spread it out, the longer you'll have to work with it. Start spreading it all over the board making sure the cloth is saturated with resin everywhere. Try to work fast because once it starts to harden there is no more working with it. I've ended up with big clumps of resin on my boards that has set up before I had time to get it all spread out and there's nothing you can do but sand, cut and chip it off and start over. Hopefully, once you get your first coat on, you will no longer be able to feel the texture of the cloth and you have a smooth surface. If not, you can add additional coats of resin. It seems that the thicker (4 oz and up as opposed to thin 1 or 2 oz coats) you put on the additional coats, the smoother it is and the easier it is to sand if needed. The thin coats seem to be more tacky. Sanding is not easy, because the fiberglass gums up the sandpaper. Use a razor blade or knife to cut the excess cloth around the edges of your board and then sand this smooth. Now you can put a coat of resin on the top. You’ll need a bit less resin for the top because you are not having to saturate the cloth. Probably around 6 oz would do. Make sure that you get the rails (sides) of the board.

Once the resin has hardened , get a little surf wax to put on the top and skim, skim, skim.


Anonymous said...

hey dude, thanx 4 all the advices. i had never tried skimboarding and then i made my board because thei dontsell it where i live and tried and i loved it!!!

Daniel said...

Thanks for the steps. I am wanting to use a woodburner on the top of my board to create a pattern. Would this effect the board at all?

Lumberyard said...

Nice instructional. thanks for posting that. I am planning on making a skimboard for my son and this post is what I will use.

Anonymous said...

Nice tutorial.

I just made two boards for my kids. I used 2 pieces of 3/8" Baltic birch ply, which I soaked and weighted to bend; then clamped and glued together (gorilla glue.) You get a better bend this way.

We then cut them out, painted the top, stained the bottoms and I resined all the surfaces. They are small enough kids I didn't use glass/cloth. But the next time I think I would go one piece of 3/8" ply and the glass for the bottom.

CJS said...

thanks for this.

Rachat de credit said...

Thanks a lot it was a very good guide, now to make a skimboard is definitely simple and easy by using your guidance. Thanks

Anonymous said...


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