I hope you guys run with this idea, as there are so many more possibilities with this method!
Step 1: Step 1: What Kind of Board Do I Want?
I decided to go with a wide 9.75" width to give me plenty of room to write on, and compensate for the short length for my ride.
Once you have a rough idea for what size and shape you want your board to be, you can begin purchasing your materials.
Step 2: Materials: What Do I Need to Get This Done?
Drill (with drill bits for drilling holes and driving screws)
Jigsaw (I also used a skill saw for the cleaner cut)
T - square (any DIYer knows how much time this saves. Invest in one if you haven't already!)
Soldering Iron (Very important! And also not pictured because I forgot.)
Plexi-glass scorer (You don't NEED this but it'll make your life SO much easier)
MATERIALS: ( I purchased all of these at Home Depot)
Wood - I used a 1/2 in thick piece of oak plywood. Because I wanted the board to be as sturdy as possible and was too lazy/broke to laminate a bunch of individual veneers together. I also didn't need a lip on the board so this was perfectly fine)
Chalkboard paint - This stuff is supposed to make any surface a chalkboard. I had it lying around the house. It works pretty well though I begin to wonder if regular black paint would get the job done just the same....
Hardware - I've included a picture of what exactly I purchased. You don't need over 50 screws, but its cheaper to get the box and you'll probably reuse them in another project. VERY IMPORTANT: Purchase LOCK Nuts. These nuts are similar to the nuts that keep your trucks attached to your skateboard in that they have a rubber rind inside them that prevents unwanted loosening/tightening.
Plaskolite - THIS IS THE KEY INGREDIENT! This is actually material used for suspended ceilings covering light panels, similar to what you'd see in an office building. It is smooth on one side and pointed on the other. This is your griptape replacement. YOU NEED TO PURCHASE THE PREMIUM GRADE. Standard Plaskolite is extremely brittle! It won't stand the cutting you'll be doing to it and will shatter instead of bending a little first. While this stuff won't be undergoing TOO much stress, you also don't want it cracking underneath you.
Overall, if you have the tools at home, this thing shouldn't cost you more than 50 bucks. :)
Step 3: Cutting and Marking: the Cleaner You Are Here the Cleaner Your Board Will Be.
I marked out a rectangular portion from the wood that would serve as the deck of my board. I used a paint can to get clean curves on my corners. If you leave perfect 90 degree angles they'll get chipped and broken and look really ugly. Embrace the fact that your board will get beat up and round those edges away.
I used a skill saw to get the straight cut but failed to change out the old blade so I got a very messy cut. Don't make the same mistake I did!
After I had my rectangle, I used the jigsaw to cut away the curves on the corners.
Step 4: Sanding: Don't Get Lazy!
A lot of people get lazy here but this is the one step that separates a decent looking project from a really developed, finished looking one.
Step 5: Painting: Turning the Deck Into a Chalkboard.
Make several even, thick coats. The can says to prime the surface first which is probably a good idea. I wound up skipping this step because I felt like the veneer on the plywood was ready enough. However, if your wood is not finished with a veneer like mine was, you should definitely do this!
Step 6: Marking and Drilling: Creating Places for the Screws Holding the Trucks and Plaskolite
If you have access to a drill press use that to make perfectly perpendicular holes in the wood, otherwise do your best like I did with the hand drill. Test the hole size with a scrap piece of wood. You neither want the hole to be too big or too small for the trucks. For the holes attaching the Plaskolite I went with a size slightly larger so I could just drop the screw in without much hassle.
Marking the location of the trucks was easy: Use an old pair of trucks you have lying around and make a line where the center line is. align this with the center line of the board and position it appropriately away from the edges. Drop a pencil or sharpie through the holes on the truck to mark the board where it should be drilled.
Roughly position the screws for the Plaskolite on your board before making clean lines and lining them up correctly.
*****REMEMBER: your wheels will pivot as your turn and you don't want your screws in a place where they can cause wheel bite or get in the way! For this reason my screws are placed away from the wheels
Step 7: Tracing, Cutting, Sanding the Plaskolite Into Shape: God Help You.
What you need to do now is trace the board's shape onto the Plaskolite for cutting.
IMPORTANT: You want the cut piece to be SMALLER than the size of the board, not the same size. If the Plaskolite sheet hits something while you are skating around it will probably be destroyed. For this reason we create a 1/4" buffer or so around the edge, offset from the outline of the board.
Make your marks on the flat side of the material.
Once you have the marks, you can begin scoring the sheet with the tool we talked about earlier. Continue to cut until you feel the material is brittle enough to break, and then slowly and carefully crack it along the groove.
After you've cut the piece out, use a sander with a very rough grit (I used 60) to abrade the corner down. Do this for all 4 corners, remembering that the final piece should be smaller than the size of the board.
Step 8: Melting Holes in the Plaskolite: Use a Soldering Iron
When melting, you'll have gunk that's left over and will get in the way when you want to lay the sheet down on the board. Knock this extra stuff off with a blunt object and you'll be in the clear :)
WEAR PROPER EYE AND MOUTH PROTECTION: Fumes will be released and make sure you're in a well ventilated area.
Step 9: Fastening the Hardware: Trucks First Then Grip.
Step 10: Chalk It Up!
When you're done be careful to to blow away loose bits of chalk - you don't want those to mark up the place when the grip gets place on top. When you're done re-apply the Plaskolite and away you go!
Good luck guys. Let me know if anybody tries this and comes up with anything. If nothing else, at least its a novel and new way to grip your boards! Enjoy! :)