Introduction: How to Make a Longboard
Longboarding was invented as an alternative to surfing for when the waves were low and the rider needed training. Many people today use longboards as a form of transportation as well as for doing tricks and downhill dropping. They are smaller than a bike and take much less energy to push and maneuver than a skateboard. This Instructable is a guide on how to make a longboard out of several sheets of plywood. The process itself is fairly easy and only requires the use of several power tools. Longboarding itself is super easy and only takes a day or two to be comfortable. I have started making them for profit as a self-employing "summer job."
This Instructable shows the first time I made a longboard, but as I progress in my skill level, I am beginning to make better boards using more challenging techniques. I started using only 2 plies of 1/4" to make it very flexible and have now started to use 4 plies of 1/8" wood and putting them in a custom press to get double kick tails and a camber in the middle.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Jigsaw and/or Bandsaw
Orbital Sander/ Belt Sander
Tablesaw (unless the store you get your plywood from will cut it for you)
Clear gloss or satin spray paint
Quick-Grip Clamps or other table clamps
Something heavy with a small footprint (a big motor)
1/4" or 3/8" Baltic Birch plywood
Trucks, wheels, bearings, etc.
Step 2: First Cuts and Gluing
Start by cutting the piece of plywood into strips wide enough to make your board. You want to have about 1/2" overhang on each edge of the template. Use your table saw to cut the board into strips for layering. If you don't have a table saw, some lumber stores will cut the wood to size for a small price. They should all be approximately the same width. Our board will be 3/4" thick, so 3 layers of 1/4" plywood or 2 layers of 3/8" plywood will be needed. You can make your board thinner for more flex, but it might break more easily. The board at 3/4" thick will be extremely sturdy.
The piece of 1/4" plywood I got was 30"x60", so we cut 3 10" wide sheets at 60" long. Lay your first plank between two scrap 2x4s at the ends and apply a generous amount of glue and spread it out with your glue brush. Make sure you get up against all of the edges as close as you can. Any gaps will hurt the structure of the board. Spillover on the edges is fine because we will be cutting within the edges.
Once your first plank is completely coated, lay another one on top and square up the edges. It's not extremely crucial to make the edges perfect, but get them as close as you can. Apply glue the same way as on the first plank. The third plank needs to go on top to make a 3 layer sandwich. DON'T PUT GLUE ON THE TOP OF THIS PIECE. Square up the planks and set the heavy object in the middle. Attach the spring clamps around the edges of the board. Clamp the ends too so that they stay together. Wait overnight for the glue to dry. Once the glue is dry, unclamp the board and flip it over and take some bounces on it. If it doesn't snap in half then you're good to go!
Step 3: Cutting the Deck and Sanding
You need to make a template that determines the shape of your board. I downloaded mine from here: http://www.silverfishlongboarding.com/Board_Templates/
I use #11 and change it up depending on how people want it.
Just print out the pages in a grid pattern and tape them together. Once your template is all taped up, bring it to your deck blank and trace it on with a pencil or a grease pencil. Don't use marker or pen as this will stain the wood a color that you don't want it.
Once your template is drawn how you want it on the wood, take it to your bandsaw or your jigsaw and cut it out. If you do use the bandsaw, make sure to set the guard up higher than the board because of the arc. The first board I made, I used the bandsaw for the long edges and the jigsaw for the tips, but I realized that the jigsaw makes cleaner cuts and is just as fast (if not faster) than the bandsaw. Clamp the glued boards to your work table and go to town on it. Just make sure you stay on or outside of the line to get the desired shape.
Once your deck is cut out, sand the edges round. Use the orbital sander for this. Just rock it back and forth while running it up the edge. It should be round in about 2-4 passes. Sand the face after this.
Step 4: Painting
Now is the most creative part. All I can say is, no matter what you do, don't use paint remover because you painted the wrong side of the board. Just use non-transparent grip tape and get it over with. I painted the wrong side of the board, and, like an idiot, decided to use paint remover. This removed the outer layer of paint and dyed the top of the board orangish-blue. It also seeped around to the bottom, leading me to be creative with the bottom paint job to cover up the crap around the edges. Bottom line, DON'T RUSH.
Step 5: Drilling for Hardware
Draw a line down the center of your board and center the trucks on the line for a perfect alignment. Even if the alignment is not 100% straight, it will still be fine to ride. Mark your holes and drill them. Countersink from the top and lay the grip tape down. Poke around with a razor and find the holes. Slice around the outside of the holes for the hardware. Once all of the holes are cut out, take the handle of your knife or a dowel and bend the grip tape down over the edges. Once you have a nice crease, cut along the crease as well as you can and try not to take chunks of trip tape off. The grip tape edges add to the sharp look of the board. Do some touch up work when you're done with the first contour. Your board is now ready to ride!!
Step 6: Riding
You can now ride your board! Feel free to cruise on down to a friend's house or hit up the record store. Longboards are great because you can take them around wherever without having to lock them up like a bike. Plus, it's way easier to cary a longboard up your dorm steps than it is a bike. Have fun! Wear protective gear when you are first learning. Hope you enjoy your new homemade longboard!!