Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nordic wooden board builder

”The Smell of Popsicle Sticks” is a short film about one man’s passion for building wooden surfboards and riding them in the frigid waters of Sweden.
The video is a portrait of Peter Jarl and his fondness for wood and surfing, which he combines by building beautiful wooden surfboards in his small garage.
The film focuses on his love for the craft, his authentic woodworking and the creation of his first 100% pure wood surfboard, free of fibreglass and epoxy. With a humble and enthusiastic attitude, Peter is not afraid of literally working against the grain, far away from the mainstream surf locations and industry standards. His goal is to build well-crafted wooden surfboards that last longer and are more sustainable than their factory produced counterparts.
In the video Peter shares his thoughts about surfing in Sweden and takes his board out for a test ride in the cold winter waves of southern Sweden.
“The Smell of Popsicle Sticks” is the first episode of a series of surf videos that tell intimate stories about people who pursue surfing in a different way and with non-standard wave riding tools.
The short documentary videos are filmed and produced with special attention to the interplay of sound and image, and seek to capture the beauty and poetry of these unique surfing practices existing on the fringe of the larger surfing community.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Four day wooden board building class.


Wooden surfboards make for a wonderful ride and by making your own you'll have produced a work of art uniquely yours. These classes are run in Southern Queensland by master-craftsman, surfboard builder/designer, and fine furniture maker Stuart Bywater.

How the most recent four-day class went down:

Day 1
Looking inside a Bywater hollow wooden board you’d think there is nothing to it and in many ways this is very close to the truth, Western Red Cedar ribs at every 150 mm and 2 rails each made from three 6 mm thick paulownia strips and a Paulownia Nose and tail block

In the first day all students have assembled the internal frame whether it is a 5'10" fish, 8' pig shape Mal or 10' nose rider, all 9 students are in the workshop to help each other and learn as much as possible. The stoke is high and no one has even been for a surf, gluing techniques, timber species, how to use a hand plane, and the end goal that prize of riding something you made yourself.
After lunch that day we glue the external skins into panels, that is 18 panels for 9 boards, what a great day.

Day 2
On the next day it is all about hand planning rails and practically working inside out, preparing the rails with a hand plane following the contours of the ribs and preparing the frame to glue the external skin over the top.

There isn't much time to rest as we go hard from 8am-4pm working together and getting to know new friends, hearing of surf spots we haven't been to and being told about the one last week. At the end of day 2 the rails are shaped and skins are glued together and now sanded.

Day 3
First thing Saturday and it looks like some of the guys got together and tied one on, they had hit new milestones in their life, they were making their own board and they thought it worth celebrating, so a quick Coffee and we were all into it.
I call everyone together, ok it’s a big day today we are going to glue the skins onto the boards and we will get all glued today, the excitement rises

As we start to cut the skins to shape with the jigsaw, apply glue to the inner frame and the skins and the first board goes in the vacuum bag , excitement overcomes everyone as they can now see it all happening , with 9 students Michael, David and myself the boards start to move very fast and by the end of day 3 all 9 boards are glued and ready to shape tomorrow .

Day 4
The blank is ready to shape.
Cleaning the tape and glue from the board is quick and it is all shaping from here, the rails are cleaned up and start taking shape.
The fin boxes are marked out and routed into the bases, 50/50, 60/40, boxy, round nose everyone has their own reason and theory on why they like certain details as we all surf differently.

By lunch the sandpaper comes out and the boards are being fine-tuned and some lovely boards are created, if only my first board was this refined.

At the end of four days we had made nine boards and each of us had made nine new surf buddys.

If you are interested in making a hollow wooden surfboard our next classes are in February 2016

4 Day Wooden Surfboard Class
February 11 to 14
Each day from 8am-4pm

Full assembly and gluing of frame, gluing the top and bottom skins, vacuum bagging your board, shaping your rails, fin placement, and sanding (ready to glass).

Our last class was filled to capacity so if you are interested please let us know and I will send you an information pack.
   - Cheers, Stuart B

This is reposted from Pacific Longboarder Magazine.
A Wooden Board building class would be a great Christams gift for a friend or family member. Stuart is a very talented wood craftsman and a main supplier of Paulownia to those of us building wooden boards, alaia and handplanes.      or

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A happy 10 years for Grain

"Ten years ago, Mike was diligently dabbling in the dark basement of his rental on a cliff above the beach... and months later - with the help of some friends - wooden surfboards began to emerge. Grain Surfboards itself took shape soon after, and as Mike and Brad refined their techniques and figured out how to make surfboards into kits, they were lucky enough to attract the great group of people that have become Grain Surfboards today.  During that time, we've been consistently amazed at the superb commitment of our staff, all the friends we make year after year, the sheer awesomeness of the people to whom we've become connected, and the thousand-plus surfboards Grain's helped others to build.  For us, sharing this experience with all of you has been the best part (tasty waves aside).  Thank you all for a great decade."
"Those who know our roots aren't surprised that our construction is inspired by boat-building techniques - even the parts of our boards have distinctly nautical names: keels, frames, planking, lands, chines... But few know that one of the earliest boards that came from Mike's basement was so nautical-natured that it had tarry black deck seams and bronze fastenings.  That board carried some serious tonnage - and though heavy, it was still inspiring." 

"Today, having developed ideal methods to craft super-strong but lightweight wooden boards, we're ready to roll back the years to produce a modern version of that original boat-board.  So over the next few months, we'll produce four premium boards loaded with seafaring stuff similar to the original.  If this is the sort of thing that fills your canvas, give us a call to get in an advance order.  Stay tuned over the coming weeks for more news and images of the Grain Ten-Year Anniversary Board Series."

60 Brixham Rd. York Maine 03909

Happy birthday guys you have helped bring wooden boards back to main sream surf curlture for lots of people. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Jordan - Slides hollow Alia

Alaia's are hard enogh to ride at the best of times and that sinking feeling is an ever present reality with such a little amount of float from such a thin piece of wood. Jordan has set about fixing this by chambering out the inside of a slightly thicker version to get you going with some float.
 Lots of time on the router to take out the unwanted wood and trap some air in there, as well as gets the weight down.
It makes a great piece of art
A 3mm veneer seals it all up
A couple of coats of marine epoxy to seal it all and toughen up the surface.If you have good joints you could save weight and use lanolin.
Even better if you have made this for a mate.

These shots are taken from jordan_slides

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Vince Balsa Surfboards Bali

"Jean Marie Vincent Tierny, riding a « sculptural » and imposing board entirely made of balsa wood. After the session, while drinking a coffee, I was able to learn more about the hectic life of this extraordinary character and I had the opportunity to try his « cult object », a very successful trial. Indeed, the board, despite its appearance, is not heavier than a classic surfboard of foam and fiber, and competes without complexes with the best longboards that I had the opportunity to ride.

While surfing in a remote corner of the island of Java (Indonesia) the chance was given to me to meet, on the water,
Having already plans to climb of Ijen volcano on the following days, we logically added a visit to his shape workshop, Vince Surf Boards, located in the city of Banyuwangi, at the foot of this mountain.
 On this planet, there are less than a dozen official manufacturers of wooden boards, most of which are far from producing as many as Vince Surf Boards. Few people can claim this level of inventiveness and finishes. This visit was therefore a real privilege.
 I therefore suggest the interview with Vincent, who, among other skills, is an engineer specialized in marine construction and former lifeguard. 
– Blaise: who are you, where are you from?
– Vincent: My name is Vincent Tierny, I’m 55 and coming from the North of France.

– BR: Since when do you live in Indonesia and why did you settle down in Banyuwangi / Java?
– VT: I came for the first time in Indonesia in 1978 as part of a student exchange, staying one year in a family, and then, concerning my settlement in Banyuwangi, it was because it reminded me my good old days in Bali ! (laughs).

– BR: What led you to making surfboards and when did you start ?
– VT: About twenty years ago I left the Thompson company and began to manufacture boats in Indonesia. Following the Asian crisis I unfortunately got bankrupt and switched to eco-tourism in a natural reserve in this country. I finally had to decide whether to stay there for a lifetime or leave to look for a new challenge. I eventually decided to go to Bali where I began to surf as there were no more fishes to catch in spearfishing (laughs), having sworn that I’d never make boats for customers anymore. But I thought I could build wooden surfboards, this I could allow it to myself (laughs), and I started in my garage. The Rip Curl brand saw them and expressed the wish to buy some for their shops. This is how I started in this market about ten years ago.

– BR: Do you only build surfboards?
– VT: Yes, essentially, as well as Stand Up Paddles (SUP). Currently I am busy building my own catamaran boat to organize future boat trips for surfers.

– BR: What types of wood are you using and where do you source it?
– VT: I mainly use balsa that we grow ourselves in the area, on the slopes of the Bromo volcano. A tree is usable after 4 or 5 years. It’s very fast and convenient.

– BR: How many people do you employ?
– VT: It fluctuates between 8 and 20 people depending on orders. Several of our employees work under toll manufacturing contracts.

– BR: Do you consider that you are playing a social role in the area with your business ?
– VT: This is not my first goal, I stopped playing Don Quixote a long time ago (laughs) but I’m happy to offer my staff a better quality of life than the Indonesian standard, which also greatly motivates them.

– BR: How many surfboards do you produce per year?
– VT: We’re at about 150 but should be able to produce more because demand is high; it is also the reason for our move in Banyuwangi. We aim to stabilize around 300 pieces a year.

– BR: Are you only working on model series or do you also make « customs » upon request ?
– VT: First we offer them the models in our range, but we can respond to specific requests by manufacturing customized products.

– BR: In what way can you say that your boards are more ecological than others? Are they 100% « natural »?
– VT: Not 100%, the « fundamentalists » will say that there is still glue and resin, but we believe to have solved the problem at 98%. So please leave us a little time for the remaining 2% (laughs). They are environmentally friendly because the material is biodegradable. We do not use plastic or foam and, above all, they are sustainable. It is not a disposable product, they are supposed to be transmitted to children and grandchildren. I even happened to repair balsa boards that where older than 50 years !

– BR: Where do you export your products?
– VT: Almost everywhere, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, Europe in general. We are currently working particularly on the development of Australian and Japanese markets.

– BR: Tell me a little about the Japanese market, which is usually very specific when it comes to skiing and snowboarding.
– VT: The Japanese are tough but love beautiful things and know how to recognize them. They are very sensitive to products made of wood and to details and finishes.

– BR: What’s your favorite model in your range?
– VT: Personally I surf a replica of a shape from Donald Takayama. A longboard 11.2 ! (laughs)
– BR: Thank you Vincent, for having answered my questions during this very informative visit.

Having had subsequently the opportunity to go several times at Vincent’s, I have also learned that despite the modesty shown in the above interview, his company is one of the few in the area working on the introduction of a true social plan for its employees.
Concerning the wood, Vincent is able to control the production of balsa from A to Z and works in self-sufficiency: he brings small balsa plants in pots to the farmers in the region of the Bromo volcano for free and guarantees to buy them 4 or 5 years later when they reach the size needed to be transformed into surfboards.
Furthermore, the company also produces its own wax (anti slip to apply on top of surfboards) from a very ingenious and innovative system and also provides customers with « blanks », the equivalent of a raw foam block for surfboards of conventional construction, which can

allow them to shape by themselves their own balsa board. Vince Surf Boards is to my knowledge the only wooden manufacturer worldwide to offer this extraordinary possibility in various sizes (mini simon-fish-short board-mini malibu-longboard-etc).
It was a real pleasure to meet Vincent and his staff. What a good feeling to find such a purist craftsman of sliding!!!!"  and

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Recovering and recycling your old boards.

Seamus Miller just sent me the final update on his board building project to share with you. "It's balsa over EPS and was originally a FireWire Tomo Nano that I snapped. It's 5'10 by 19 1/2ish by 2 3/8 ish. I was inspired by a video you posted, from John Parnell back around April/May. "
"The board was originally snapped almost dead centre so I glued it back together with purbond, stripped off the glass, then vac bagged the balsa on. I got the balsa from Mark Riley. I set blocks of balsa into the blank for the fin boxes and leg rope plug. The cedar in the nose and tail is recovered from some mouldings that I pulled off a doorway in our house during some small scale renovations mid way through the board. I glassed it myself, which was a whole other learning experience and probably got a little carried away with the rail tape. There are 6mm cedar strips inlaid into the bottom along the edge of the rail, but the tape mostly covers them."
"It looks like there's swell this weekend so hopefully, I'll get to surf it and see how it goes.

This has truly been an essential outlet for me this year, with my wife diagnosed with cancer back in March and just now coming to the end of chemotherapy. I can honestly say that working on the board has helped me get through the treatment weeks more than I realised at the time. "
"Recovering a board from something that I snapped has made me pretty happy and assuming this one goes alright, I've got a few other recoverables in the shed. I'm very keen to try paulownia over the blank next and am working out how to put channels into it at the moment."

Monday, October 12, 2015

All you need to get the job done

 These are all you need to to get those rail bands on. No need to over think it and over engineer it.
A good steam iron, water spray bottle , damp cloth, good quality Polyurethane glue and good quality masking tape.
 This is 5mm thick Paulownia that is very dry, so I needed to moisten it up, stream it and it bends so much easier. You will be amazed at how much pressure you can pull with good quality masking tape.
Cheap, light weight and no restictions with angles and clamps.

Keep it simple , keep it cost effective and don't do you head in trying to over complicate things.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Grain Surfboards ReEvolution report

Donald Brink was part of this years gathering and this is his report on the weekends events ...

"The re-evolution festival in York Maine is a fixture on the local's surf calendar. I was invited to attend this years 5'th annual event and began my trip arriving in Boston. It's a fascinating city steeped with history and architecture from which the founding fathers of this country paved ways forward, from which we have thrived and can bring value to their legacy walking the granite paved side walks still there today. Quick visit to the Boston public library, a look at some point breaks up North along the way and some introductions to the crew setting things up at the Grain surfboard's headquarters.
The farm is beautiful and would house the hundreds of stoked folk the following day and night for the revolutionary date. Perhaps the name Re-evolution suits the concept well. We rode waves at the beach sharing craft of every kind. The waves were not large but there were opportunities for all to slide the long walls on belly or foot.
Back at the Farm Andy Davis shared his collection in the barn, it was an ideal setting as a gallery and with local food and craft beers being catered the gathering got real.
Live workshops for the kids, chit chat with friends from afar and a scheduled lecture series in the main workshop area on various topics concerning surf, boards and sustainable design.
It was an honor to be invited to share my thoughts and concepts on the asymmetric value of design and why it matters. With standing room only we began a conversation. Thanks to all those who engaged in the dialog and beyond boards and rocker the value of surfing and the fascination of its parts as an asset to our path is something we can explore any day and be better from its thought.
Jon Wegener conducted a workshop leading up to the event at the Grain farm. The students enjoyed their finished boards with us at the beach and I really enjoyed getting to share some thoughts and stories with Jon. He is a master craftsman and watching him work and riding his designs were great things on so many levels.
Thanks to the wonderful community of Maine the family of Grain and the welcome invitation you gave with open arms to see me return. I look forward to more North Eastern adventures.
Enjoy your Water"

Donald Brink

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Got to love what this lady does

Jess Lambert from Byron Bay coulkd dress up your board. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ever thought of building a wooden board - just do it

Just have a go it is a great learning experience.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Grain Surfboards host - Surf Re-Evolution


At the Grain Surfboards workshop on a farm in coastal Maine, a day-long outdoor event called "Surf Re-Evolution" will be open to the public and held once again on what should be another beautiful fall day, September 26th.  This event, growing in attendance every year, is popular with surfers and non-surfers alike, is kid-friendly and well known for the insane variety of activities that are included in the price of admission.

The Grain crew is joined by friends, shapers, sustainable product developers, environmentalists, artists and more, who come together from all over the country to celebrate the creativity, processes, and material advancements that are bubbling to the surface of the surf industry these days.  The goal?  a super-fun day filled with food, music and creativity, all while learning together about applying current technologies to some of the past's greatest ideas: Re-Evolution.

The day kicks off with a beach demo on Long Sands Beach from 8am -11am where attendees can try out boards of all shapes and sizes. The gates open on the farm at 1pm for the rest of the fun.
Among the activities planned are a series of presentations from special guests invited to share their knowledge about their re-evolutionary efforts.  Question the experts on topics like these:
: The impossible dream of biodegradable and organic epoxies - happening today
: How to employ (and give back to) rural villages in Chile while making skateboards from beach trash
: How ancient Hawaiian finless surfboards have been reborn for today's surfer;
...and other initiatives helping to change the formerly dirty business of making surfboards into a model of sustainability for the world.
Wander around amongst visiting shapers and visit the DIY art stations, block printing table, wood-stove-fired surf-wax making exhibit, collage works, tarp surfing, and a showing in the hay-barn-turned-art-gallery of the works of renowned painter and surf-artist Andy Davis.

Enjoy two live musical acts, Atlantic Clarion's 10 piece steel drum band from Blue Hill Maine and music from local favorite, Tiger Belly. The event wraps up with two surf films projected on the side of the barn and a big bonfire to warm up by as day turns to night.

This year in addition to some delicious food provided by local restaurants like Flatbread and White Heron we’ll have great draft beer from Dogfish Head and Smuttynose.

Mike LaVecchia, co-owner of Grain Surfboards calls this event "my favorite part of building surfboards".  Everyone's invited, tickets are available at the gate and discounted online. Ticket-holders for the Wall-to-Woods charity paddle event are admitted free.
Surf Re-Evolution
Saturday September 26th 2015
Long Sands Beach: 8am - 11am
Grain Surfboards, 60 Brixham Rd, York Maine: 1pm - 9pm

More Information:
Surf Re-Evolution Information:

Wall-to-Woods 18-mile Ocean Paddle Charity Event:

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Great little body board from Anthony

Anthony and I had been in touch about him building this board and it being unglassed and this is his story.
"I spoke with you some time ago about using lanolin and FMP 200 glue. I was finally able to purchase the products. I applied the use to off cuts of balsa and paulownia in making a foam core body board.
The glue worked a treat.
I applied three coats of lanolin to balsa and paulownia offcuts (approx 30cm long) to observed the colour variations. Nil issues. I noticed both samples turned a honey colour. Used a bit of elbow grease and wiped the samples which made them smooth again and reflect a satin finish.

I then went to the beach to wet the samples. Both went waxy after a little while. That was great.

I then completed my body board (attached some photo's to the email). I made my own leash pug using aluminum off and stainless steel pin.I applied three coats of lanolin to the deck allowing it to dry between coats. i used an epoxy resin to the rocker and rails as I was trying out a new resin.

Today I did a one test hour run in the surf (approx 1-1.5metre waves). The board performed better than I anticipated. You may notice two strips of red cedar along the rails. Something different and no issues in making turns.

However I noticed the deck went pale (appeared to lose that honey colour) and did not get as  waxy as the samples. I am assuming more than three coats are needed when covering a larger surface. I have recoated the deck by pouring on the lanolin and spreading with a foam brush rather than using a bristle brush."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A great story and a bit of history shared

"In early 2006, I was 19-years-old, and shaping my first surfboard. I drew up plans for a 6’5 solid-Balsa single fin with five redwood stringers. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I knew I wanted to take my time. My grandparent’s life-long compadre, and dear family friend, Pete Tresselt recently had his early-60′s Balsa Hobie restored, so I figured it would be worth a quick trip to Laguna to visit Pete and see his Balsa board. I hoped to glean some inspiration and tips in the process, however Pete went above and beyond. After I spoke to him, he called his friend Terry Martin and asked if he could bring me by. I was ecstatic… Terry was possibly the most incredible surfboard craftsman in history…and certainly one of my favorites (and Griffin’s also). Coincidentally, Terry was working on a pair of Balsa longboards the day I went down. I spent a couple hours talking to Terry as he worked. Terry was more than gracious enough to talk me through the basics of shaping Balsa, and how different it was from shaping foam. My time with Terry was memorable, helpful and inspiring… my only regret is that I didn’t bring a camera.
Flash forward to 2014: Cameron, Chad and I made a trip to the Tresselt’s house in Laguna to do a proper interview with Pete, and hear some of his priceless surf stories. Pete lived in Makaha in the 1950′s and shared a Quonset hut with some very familiar names in surf history. He later bought his first lobster fishing boat from Renny Yater. He still has that 1963 Hobie Balsa D-Fin hanging in his living room. This interview includes some of our favorite stories and moments from our day with Pete Tresselt, a true Surfer + Craftsman"

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Silver Paddle Boards

Clayton Sansbury is the talented guy behind Silver Paddleboards based in Vancouver    

He just built this hollow wooden Paddleboard/Artist Collaboration as birthday present. The 11’x30” board is built out of a resawn  Western Red Cedar 2" x12" board with yellow Cedar accents. The coolest part is it artwork was done by the recipients 4 & 7 year-old daughters.

For more info or to order a board :

Sliver Paddleboards creates the most environmentally friendly SUP's on the planet. Custom built for each customer, our handmade hollow wood paddle boards set the standard for exceptional beauty, and timeless style.
All boards are proudly made in Vancouver, from locally sourced trees.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Grain Surfboards , hard core board builders and hard core surfers

The boys at Grain have some up coming board building classes so if you want a trip to the country to join them you need to book soon.

" Labor Day is here and we're looking ahead to autumn after a fast, busy summer. Fall in New England is like gold: in a way, it’s the locals' own summer.  It's a time when the beaches become ours again, the waves more consistent, the air cool, the water warm and the sun, golden. As the days shorten, it’s a bittersweet time of year, but one of our favorites. 

Still looking to join us in Maine to build your own?  There's still two autumn classes with a few spots left, October 22nd - 25th and November 12th - 15th. Seats often get gobbled up overnight, so if you're interested, don’t dawdle. Call the west coast home? Still a couple of shaping stands open for our November 12th - 15th class at Firehouse 33 in San Francisco."

Contact us at or 207-457-5313
60 Brixham Road, York, ME 03909

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Another Paulownia contact for supply in Europe

I have just found this new company that has a range of products that could be used for building wooden surfboards.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Luis Gasper from Portugal finishes his first paulownia over EPS board.

 "I started with an XPS blank, 2m x600mm x10mm"
 He made his own hot wire cutter
 "Previously, using 6 mm plywood, I’ve made two templates with the rocker (deck and bottom ) curves. Using some screws I attached the two plywood templates to each side of the XPS blank, and hotwired the same, creating the deck and bottom curves."
 "After that I’ve marked the outline and using a regular saw, I've cut the outline, following the line."

 "Using a sand paper (80 grit) I've shaped the surfboard."
"With a homemade jig, I marked a parallel outline, from 2 cm of the rails, and cutted this portion out from the blank creating the space needed for the solid rails." 
" The blank was ready to receive the wood."
 "I've ordered the paulownia wood from a company in Spain. And bought the polyurethane glue here in Portugal."
"Using your method as you do, I start gluing the parabolic stringer, with 5mm pawlonia stripes."
 "For the deck and bottom, I glued 5 mm paulownia with a little help of my homemade vacuum pump (created from an old refrigerator engine).

But the final result was perfect "

A happy man with his best friend 
Top and bottom skins now on and ready for the rails to go on.
 "For the rails, with another homemade “gadget”, my steam pump I bent the paulownia stripes for the rails, and glued all along the outline, at the end, I ‘ve used four x 5mm paaulownia stripes each side, and for the tail too."
 "I bought fcs fin boxes and a leash plug. Using epoxy resin, I glued all of them to the surfboard.

To give the right angle to the fins, another homemade gadget and the fin angle was perfect."

 "To seal the wood, after a long research, my option was to use a Portuguese marine varnish water based, appropriated for extreme water conditions."

 "And the final result is this amazing surfboard."

 It has been great to inspire Luis to experiment and try building a wooden board this way. The result speaks for itself.