Introduction: How to Make a Homemade Longboard With Vinyl Print
This is a complete guide on how to make a longboard. I will provide a list of tools and materials needed along with tips on how to have the best turnout for your deck. Note: this is a timely and costly project. I will also give alternative materials for cheaper choices in building. Buy wood at local wood mills, other stores will not have the wood needed. Keep plies 1/2 inch and under, thinner the ply the more flex the board can have. Different woods that can be used are Maple and Bamboo, finding these in the correct sizes is rare and they are much more costly than Baltic Birch. This is how I made mine, all tools are not needed and some materials can used be unlike mine.
- 1/8 inch Baltic Birch plywood in a 5' by 5' sheet. (Other woods or thicker plies can be used) $$
- Glue- Recommended Titebond II or III $
- Griptape $
- Wood stain (optional) $
- Vinyl print for design (optional) $$$
Also: Hardware, Trucks, Wheels, Bearings, and Spacers are needed if you want to ride your project otherwise project makes a great wall mount! (These are what make the project expensive, do not buys these if you have a budget.)
- Scrap wood for press
- C-clamps (Do not use bar clamps, they do not apply enough pressure to the board to have it be pressed.)
- Jigsaw, Circular saw and Table saw
- Belt sander, Palm sander, Dremel, Sandpaper (Grits 80-600) and Steel wool are all needed.
- Power drill and Drill press
- 13/32 drill bit and 3/8 countersink
- Truck Template (Provided)
- Foam Brushes
- Extra home supplies
- Google Sketch Up (Free)
- Template print-from Office Depot
- Vinyl service
Some photos are not mine, I am using them as examples when I missed to take one. CashedOutBoards is where I got some ideas from, so please go check them out for a video guide. If something you feel is left out or missing, please leave a comment and I will fix this when I can.
The board I designed mine after is the Landyachtz Time Machine, changing some aspects of the board and having a reimagined design.
Step 1: Plan Your Board
Using a free software, Google Sketchup can create the template of the shape and concave of your board. This step is open to you, videos are online on how to get around in the software but it is fairly simple. After creating the template you can bring a thumb drive to a office store to have the image print out. Make sure that the image is to the size you want it.
This step will be further explained in pressing, but the concept is how you want your board to bend and in what directions, it can be symmetrical, flat, or have a unique design to yourself. Using pieces of wood and pressure will give the board the most out of your work.
Step 2: Cut Out Ply
Cut your 5' by 5' ply into a length that will leave margin for cutting and sanding. Ex) My board is 36" by 10", I cut out 38" by 11" sheets. Cut out as much you can get from your ply using a circular saw or table saw, extra can be scraped. Keep in mind: Baltic Birch is flexible one way, while another it is fairly stiff. Using 4 plies gives a good board for cruising and carving, while 5 plies will be stiff and have a better concave. More than 5 plies is not recommended.
Step 3: Gluing and Pressing
Now that you have your plies cut, gluing can start. Spread glue evenly throughout the first ply and spread out to layer entire surface. A roller or piece of cardboard can be used for this step. Cover each ply with glue and stack them onto one another while lining up with the sides. Each ply should have glue on each side before applying to another ply. Do not cover the top and bottom plies with glue.
To create a press, find a piece of wood that is longer and wider than your sheets, finding scrap pieces of wood that can be cut down to desired lengths. These pieces of wood will act as a male end to the press as the plies are pressed on these pieces of wood, it gives your board concave.
It is up to you on how your pieces of wood are laid out for the concave. Most commonly, there are typically a piece of wood on each side, length and width wise. Making sure the press is symmetrical with how the wood is laid out onto the board. The scrap wood can be secured to the base by nailing the pieces in. Also, find strong pieces of wood to rest on top of the plies, this is where the top of the C-clamps are placed when pressing.
After the press has been completed. Immediately after Gluing lay the plies onto the press and begin to apply pressure with C-clamps. Try to keep the pressure even throughout the board by using the same size/style clamp on each end. Use a friend for this step, helps keep the pressure exact. The plies will begin to bend to the layout that you have created in the press. If you hear cracking: Stop and loosen up the clamp to avoid ruining the plies. Check to see where the cracking came from (On my press, cracking was heard, but after checking everything it was discovered that the press had snapped in two. Lesson learned, use strong woods for press.)
Let 24-72 hours pass (More time reduces chance of delamination.) Begin to loosen clamps and see how the pressing turned out.
Step 4: Cutting, Sanding, Routing and Drilling.
Cutting out the shape: After obtaining the template sheet from earlier, there are two ways to have your shape be placed onto the plies to begin cutting.
- Trace: Cut out the shape to as close to the outline as possible, then tape the outline on the board and trace the general shape. It is better to have it initially bigger than to cut too much off.
- Tape Placement: Using clear tape, wrap the sheet onto the plies, aligning the top of the sheet 1 inch away from the edge of the board on each side along with a margin on the sides.
Once the shape is somehow on your plies, clamp down the plies to a secure bench or table and begin to cut the shape out. Following the line, it is recommended to stay a half inch away for sanding later.
Take out scuffs: Use wood putty to fill in any holes or imperfections if they occur after cutting.
Sanding the board:
Once the shape is cut out, sand the extra space away with a belt sander. A Dremel can be used for the curves in the board along with a palm sander for the surfaces. For the edge of the board, I used a trick by CashedOutBoards to have an even edge by cutting a PVC pipe in half and placing 600 grit sand paper in the center. For the wheel wells, I used a pencil case to wrap sandpaper around for the even sanding on edges. Then, using a palm sander at 120 grit for the surfaces followed by a 400 hand sanded and finally a 600 for a ready-to-stain smooth.
Routing the edges:
Using a router, I gave the edge a clean look and a smooth transition. I only routed the bottom of the board, however, you can rout each side.
Drilling for trucks:
Drilling holes for the trucks takes patience, you must line up the truck template symmetrically down the middle of the board along with having the trucks an equal distance from each edge. Use a pair of trucks that will go on this board or using the template in the photo, mark each hole and use a 13/32 drill bit, this bit should fit the hardware, but test this out first on scrap wood. After this use a 3/8 countersink bit to have the hardware sit flushwith the board.Do not use the template in the photo, it is only for a reference. To find one search "Longboard truck template" and print off, beware, measure the distance of the paper to check if the lengths are true 2" and 2.25".
Step 5: Staining
Staining the board:
After the board has been sanded down to a 600 grit you can begin staining. Use foam brushes for an easy disposal and little cleanup. Use a pre-stain for a better product. Begin staining the board following the grain, I do 3 coats on the top and 4 on the bottom along with 5 to 6 on the edges. Afterwards, spar urethane is used to help protect the wood from sunlight and water. Use steel wool to scuff coats in between. Finishing staining, move onto griptape and designing.
Step 6: Griptape, Decal, Preserve and Mounting.
Using either sheets or a roll, apply the griptape on the top of the board and score the extra griptape with a screwdriver to make cutting off excess easier. This stuff is sticky, make your first time the only time.
There are multiple ways to design the bottom of your longboard. Some ways are cheaper than other but sacrifice the detail and color.
- Sharpie and acrylic paint $
- Acrylic transfer $$
- Spray paint $
- Airbrush paint $$$
- Vinyl print $$$$
I used a vinyl print, the most expensive but gives a bright color. My image was hand drawn, scanned in and relayered in Illustrator. Then given to a vinyl service and print out. For the application, the same steps as the griptape, laying the print on the board and taping down for a secure fit and excess cut off with razor. As far as the internet, there are not a ton of videos on how to do this, I will give a link to the one I used. Also, if you would like cheaper route, acrylic transfers work great too.
To protect the vinyl or any design that has been placed on the board, use a dual seal spray paint, resistant to water and protects from sunlight, does not yellow unlike polyurethanes and spar urethane and can bond to the vinyl easily.
This is the final step for making a complete longboard! Using the trucks, wheels, hardware,etc. that you have purchased or from an old longboard you can now mount up your longboard and go have some fun!
Any questions leave a comment.