5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Shape at Least One Board

Matt Rode

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Updated 27d ago

Quick—what do Tyler Warren, Ryan Burch, Dane Reynolds, and Alex Knost have in common? In addition to the fact that they all surf very well—very differently, of course, but there’s no denying their talent—they also all shape boards for themselves on a regular basis.

Some of these boards are terrible, some are endearingly eccentric, and some are downright works of art. But regardless of how the boards come out, these guys are having fun riding boards that they built with their own hands—and there’s something wonderful about that. Half a century ago, tons of people made their own boards, including many of the world’s best surfers.

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But in today’s age of CAD-cut blanks and Chinese popouts, most of us have completely lost touch with the surfboard design and construction process. The mystique behind our boards is gone, replaced by the convenience of stock boards and performance of space-age technology.

This is not a good thing. The relationship between a board and its builder is part of what made our culture what it is today, and is something that we need to work harder than ever to preserve, especially as production boards go the way of the snowboard. So next time you have a few spare hours on your hands, pick up a blank and start sawing away. Here are five reasons why you’ll be glad you did.

It's fun

Virtually every stage of the surfboard building process is enjoyable, from dreaming up your design and templating it on to the blank to figuring out how to work a planer and screening in your rails. If you are excited about surfboards, then making your own will be one of the most memorable experiences in your surfing career. And the best part is that you get to ride it when you are done.

Related content: What to Expect When Shaping Your First Surfboard

It’s not as expensive as you think

MSW editor Jason Lock gets put through the process at Open Surfa little while back.

MSW editor Jason Lock gets put through the process at Open Surfa little while back.

© 2019 - Peppy Media

How much does a new board cost these days? $500? $1000 if you are buying a longboard? You can shape and glass three boards for the cost of one commercial board. Sure, they might not be perfect, but you’ll never feel like the $200 you put into them was a waste. Hell, you probably spend that much on a night out.

It teaches you to appreciate boards more

Otter Surfboards can take you through a fine, wooden surfboard course.

Otter Surfboards can take you through a fine, wooden surfboard course.

© 2019 - Mat Arney.

When was the last time you really sat down and thought about how much work goes into a surfboard? How many hours have you spent contemplating bottom rocker, fin placement, nose rocker, or volume? We all know these things exist, and like to talk about them because it makes us sound like we are surfboard authorities, but until you shape a board yourself, you will never truly understand the various factors that go into making a good sled—or truly appreciate the master craftsmanship that the top shapers have developed over the years.

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It won’t affect your surfing that much

Shape a groveller first, if you like.

The most common excuse I hear for not shaping a board is that it will just be a waste of time and money, because it won’t go well. I call bullshit on that. If you are a good surfer, you can ride anything—just look at what Dane Reynolds does on the intentional mutants he calls surfboards. And if you aren’t a shit-hot surfer—and let’s be honest, most of us aren’t—then you probably won’t notice the difference anyway. Also, there’s no reason to try to shape a high-performance board. Shape something with more margin for error, something that is a bit less sensitive, like a longboard or a fish. Then go out and see what it’s capable of. You may be pleasantly surprised.

It will make you a better surfer in the long-run

At the end of the day, the more different boards you ride, the better you will surf—and that applies to homemade boards as well. Rather than getting stuck in the mindset of surfing the same hi-fi shredstick your entire life—a board that makes you think you are shredding, even if you aren’t—it is much more beneficial to test a wide variety of boards. Long, short, fat, skinny, single, twin, thruster, quad—every different board will help you discover new things about surfing. So go build yourself a board and fall in love with the sport all over again.

Cover shot: The finished result from the image above. Jason's self-shaped 5'8" fish hand-crafted at Open Surf recently. Pic by Peppy Media