Have you ever been curious about how surfboards are made? How is it possible to get that perfect curve or rail? Surfboard shaping is a complex and nuanced process that requires a combination of technology, artistry, and knowledge. Get to know how a surfboard is designed and shaped with this helpful guide!
A few things that will be discussed in this post:
- Materials used in making a surfboard
- Selecting the right blank
- Moulding the board
- Shaper’s vision
- How the design and shape of a surfboard affects its performance
Introduction To Surfboards: Materials Used
Before understanding how a surfboard is designed, you should first know the materials that go into making one. Surfboards are typically made out of foam, fibreglass, resin, and a few other materials.
Foam is the main component of a surfboard and comes in many different shapes and densities. Surfboard manufacturers will often use different types of foam to create their boards. For example, some boards might have more dense foam in the nose area to help with paddling and getting up on waves.
After the foam is cut and moulded, fibreglass is applied to the board. Fibreglass helps to make the surfboard stronger and more durable. It’s also responsible for giving a surfboard its distinctive look.
The resin binds the fibreglass and foam together and gives the surfboard its final shape. You’ll notice that some surfboards have a glossy finish, while others are duller in appearance. A glossier resin will create a wetter look to the board and help with better traction when on waves!
Selecting The Right Blank
The blank is just another term for raw surfboard foam that hasn’t been shaped into its final form. Choosing the right blank plays a crucial role because it affects the surfboard’s performance.
There are many different factors to consider when selecting a blank, such as:
- Wave type
- Skill level
- Board size
- Shape and design of the board
The type of wave you’ll be surfing on is one of the most important factors in choosing a blank. For example, if you’re surfing big waves, you’ll need a board that can handle the power and size of those waves.
Your skill level matters, too – you don’t want to get a super-stiff board if you’re just starting out. It’ll be harder for you to maneuver and control the surfboard, which can lead to injuries!
You should also consider what type of board fits your needs best. For example, longboards are typically used by more experienced surfers since they require less balance and are better for cruising on larger waves.
The shape and design of the board are also both important. Some surfboards are designed to do tricks, while others are meant for speed and distance. You need to choose a board that complements your surfing style.
Shaper’s Vision: Why It Matters
The shaper is the person who designs and then shapes a surfboard. This job isn’t as easy as it looks, since many different elements go into creating a successful board. Shapers must take into account everything from their vision to the blank they’re using and mould them together perfectly for you to get the best performance.
A shaper’s vision is vital because it helps determine the surfboard’s final look. Shapers will often take inspiration from other surfboards, boards that are made by their friends, or even classic designs. They’ll also experiment with different shapes and materials to see what works best.
Moulding The Board
Once you’ve selected the right blank, it’s time to mould the board. If you thought choosing a blank was complicated, wait until you see how long it takes to shape one!
Moulding is a highly labour-intensive process that requires years of training and expertise. It all starts by attaching the blank to a large vacuum machine. After that, it’s time for shaping!
Most surfboards are made out of fibreglass, so it’s essential to heat the board prior to shaping. The shaper will use a heat gun and begin heating one edge of the surfboard.
The temperature must be just right, or else there will be bubbles in the resin. This step helps expand and soften up the foam so it can be easily shaped. Heating the board also causes the resin to become more liquid, making it easier to spread evenly over the fibreglass.
You’ll often see shapers use a metal comb-like tool to help shape and smooth out the resin. The shaper will then start shaping the board using various tools and techniques. It’s a long and tedious process, but the end result is always a beautiful surfboard that was handcrafted with love and care!
The Finishing Touches: Adding The Design
Once the board’s shape is finished, it’s time for sanding. A large belt sander will be used to even out any bumps or irregularities from the previous steps.
After the board is sanded, it’s time for the finishing touches. This is where the personal touches and design of the surfboard are added.
The shaper will often use a wood-burning tool to add designs and patterns to the board. Some shapers also like to use stickers, decals, or paint to personalise their boards.
Finally, a sealant is applied to help protect the board from the elements. This usually takes the longest amount of time because the sealant must be applied very carefully and precisely. The entire process can take up to two weeks!
How The Design And Shape Of A Surfboard Affects Its Performance
There are many different factors that go into shaping a surfboard, all of which affect how it performs in the water. The design of the board is just one piece of this puzzle.
The shape and angle of a surfboard are crucial because they determine how well you will be able to maneuver it, control its speed, and stay balanced on top of it! A shorter nose means less surface area in the front so your ride won’t slow down as quickly when paddling.
If you’re more of a novice surfer, then it’s best to look for shorter boards. They’ll be easier to maneuver through the water and are less likely to cause any problems if you make mistakes.
On the other hand, riders who are more skilled should seek out longer boards that will allow them to go faster with less effort expended. The shape of the board is also important. A rounder bottom will help you stay balanced and provide more stability.
Conversely, a more pointed or V-shaped bottom gives you more speed and less stability. It’s all about finding the right balance for your surfing style!
In conclusion, the process of shaping and designing a surfboard can be long and tedious, with numerous steps involved. It starts with choosing the blank, using heat to shape it into the desired design, then glassing and sanding. Then the design is finalised with the artwork. It’s a challenging process, but the end result is definitely worth it!
At Beachin Surf, we offer a wide variety of surfing essentials. We have surfboards, wetsuits, board bags, clothing, footwear, accessories and surf hardware including eco-friendly alternatives. We are more than happy to help you with your surfing journey.
For all your surfing essentials, please visit us at 262 Maine Road, Toukley, NSW. You can also call ahead to make sure we are there to assist you properly.
Please call us today on (02) 4396 5159 or feel free to send us an inquiry.