Introduction: Longboard

Hello everyone ! After watching the movie "The secret life of Walter Mitty" I got really hyped on longboarding, so after a bit research and the conclusion that these boards are very expensive to buy, I simply decided to build my own. Following I have some pictures and explanations of the process, it's basically a mashup of different instructables that already exist:



This instructible was initially planned as pure  photo-Instructible, but I decided then to add also text so it's easier for you to understand what I did. I ask you, however, to click on each picture and read the notes that I put into it, I think it's also usefull for further understanding.

I also have a music tip for you, I used to listen to this song on repeat when I built my board and I think that it adds quite a bit to the fun, so here it comes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NI2IzZxVaFU

Enjoy !

Step 1: Planning

First thing I did was researching and planning. I didn't really know about longboarding before I watched the movie. So I asked our good friend Google and found quite some info. They basically consist of a deck, griptape, trucks, wheels and bearings. Now, as I built this board from scratch I could let my creativity flow ! On a flight to a business meeting I started checking out some shapes and then I began to draw and write some designs in my notebook. When I was back, I opened Gimp on my computer and tried to realize what I had drawn so far in a digital picture (the picture of davy jones' head is from deviantart, the rest of the pictures is from Google). As you can see, I did not use any of the designs I made that day. A few days later, when I was thinking what I'd like most, an idea struck my mind: pictures related to surfing ! That was exactly what I wanted, so I ran Gimp again and came up with my final design. Then I needed to get my thoughts together about the shape. There is a huge variety of shapes, and I could choose freely or draw my own. I decided to search for a shape that I liked instead of drawing one. Eventually I found the shape of a well-known brand (I don't know if I'm allowed to say which one because I took it over one to one more or less) that seemed cool to me, so I sent the digital picture to the local print office so they would print it out in the dimensions I needed. You could just as well print and scale it by yourself, but for me this was the most convenient solution.

Step 2: Gluing and Sawing

After I got my printout for the template, it was time to gather the materials: The wood I got  from a local wood supplier, it's 6mm thick finnish spruce plywood and I glued two pieces of it together on top to get a thickness of 1.2cm. The trucks, bearings, wheels and the griptape I ordered from an online seller whom I consulted, since I have no experience with longboards at all. The board has following dimensions: 100cm x 21.5cm.

So, when I had the wood and everything ready, I traced the papertemplate onto the wood. Then I mixed the epoxy with the hardener and glued the board together. To get a bit of pressure onto the board, I tightened a screw in both ends of the wood and then added all clamps that I would find ! As I wanted it to have a bit of camber, I laid two weights of 1Kg each in the middle so it would bend. A day later, when the epoxy had dried, I cut out the shape along the template with a jig saw.

Please be carefull when working with epoxy ! Don't let it get on your hands or in your eyes ! When it gets on your skin, immediately wash it off with warm water and soap ! I used silicone gloves when working with it.

Step 3: Laminating

After I sanded all the edges and the deck itself, it was time to laminate it with biaxal fiberglass ! Again, I mixed the epoxy with the hardener and spread the mixture on the deck with an expired credit card. Then I laid the fiberglass on top of it and poured the remaining epoxy over it. Be careful that you use enough epoxy so you don't get air bubbles between the different layers, it makes your board unstable (please correct me if I'm wrong). This procedure I did on both sides. When everything is dry, you can easily sand the overlaying fiberglass off by using a file along the edges.

Step 4: Deck Art

Now for the deck art: I did some research, but didn't find so much information about how the pro's get their pictures onto the board. I read about drawings and rice paper, but this were no options for me. So here is what I did: I received my poster from the printer office and traced the template on the backside of it. Then I cut it out with scissors and laid it on the deck - it looked awesome. Again, I mixed the epoxy and spread a thin layer on the board. Then I laid the poster on it and spread another thin layer on top of the poster. After it all cured, I did it again and again, until the picture was well coated. It worked out fine for me, but I don't know if this will influence my board negatively... I'll see !

Step 5: Drilling the Holes

This step is all about finding your inner middle and of course the middle of your board ! Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures for this step, but it's very easy - basically, you just make some holes. So take a deep breath, exhale slowly and repeat, while you get your tape and put it in the middle as good as you can (if you already have the exact middle, you can move on the actual drilling). It doesn't have to be exact. I then used a sliding calliper and went down the board, marking the middle every 10cm or so on the tape and in the end connecting all the marks cross the board. This way, I think I got the middle point fairly exact.

With that long line across your board, you can now define the distance between the tip of the board to the base of the trucks. For my board, I decided it to be 2.5 cm. This decision was not based on any calculation, it just seemed to be the best place to me ! Again, I used the calliper to find out the width of the base, divided by two to get the middle and laid them onto my middle line. Then I used a pencil and pushed through the holes in the base. Afterwards, I made holes with an awl and a hammer, so the drill wouldn't slip away.

Let's make some bigger holes ! Take your drill and go all the way through your board, eight times in total ! Et voilà, you now have an almost complete ride. The only things missing are griptape, and the trucks/wheels that you have to mount onto it.

Step 6: Applying the Griptape

Applying the Griptape I found quite easy actually ! It comes with a self-adhesive backside, so you just take the cover layer away and tape it onto the board. After that, I cut the overlapping griptape away with an utility knife - the leftovers I sanded away with a file. With an awl I went through the holes. After that, I used a countersink to drill the griptape around the holes away.

Step 7: Final Result

After the griptape was on the board, I could finally mount the hardware on it and take a test drive !

And it worked ! The board didn't break, it rolls around very fast and the steering seems to work great ! I am very happy with the outcome and think that I can use it very well on my daily way to work.
What I will do different for the next longboard I'm building (see the new design):
I will propably put the pictures in between the wood and the fiberglass. I haven't worked with fiber this big yet, so I didn't know it would become completely transparent. With this board, I have a bit of an uneven surface because the epoxy was fluid when I applied it and therefore moved to the center due to the bent form of the board.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to write me or down below in the comment section. Stay tuned for the next project from me, I'm going to build a small stitch&glue sailboat !



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    I found when working with epoxy in the building of boats, vinegar helps to clean it off. I know it sounds weird, but epoxy resin is an alkaline substance, a base, and vinegar is an acid, add them together and it cancels out. Then you can just wash off the vinegar conventionally as you mentioned above.

    I'm also hoping to build a longboard myself, this is quite a comprehensive guide so far, thanks for putting it up! :)

    Is it hard to ride with that harsh curve? I don't think I could. I am used to stiff almost flat boards.

    Hi I don't understand how you placed your design in the longboard. Is it just a poster sticked with some adhesive??

    1 reply

    Yes, it is ! I used epoxy to glue it onto the board, but in the aftermath it might be better to lay it underneath the fiberglass for even better protection.

    Jup, correct ! I wasn't sure if I was allowed to mention the name here.

    Also when you're doing your next one you should make sure the grain is running vertical not horizontal

    What was the total cost for this board?

    1 reply

    I think all in all it cost around 240 euros (only an estimate). However, I still have a lot of wood leftover which I could use to make more boards. The trucks, the bearings and the wheels are the most expensive part, but I guess you have to take into consideration that I live in a country with very high prices... I checked before and found that you would get the parts for way less than what I paid in the US for example.

    Thanks ! Yeah on the second board I built I bent it less and it's much better to drive around ! Do you think I should make a note on the instructible ?

    After me and a friend of mine watched the secret life of Walter Mitty we both wanted longboards! I guess it's the same for many people! Anyways nice instructable!

    1 reply

    It's a great movie, isn't it ? Thanks a lot !

    Adding more layers of glass well help make it stronger and prevent cracks and snapping. poor the logo/picture under the last layer of glass so it is protected and secure, but make sure the layer you are attaching the image to is smooth and clean. Also, use only as much resin as necessary to coat the whole layup and remove the excess and that should help prevent the resin sag or dripping. Use a rubber roller to get all air bubbles out of the resin and glass layup. Any bubbles will weaken the job and make the job look sloppy. Great work on this project!

    1 reply

    Thanks for the tips !

    Did you drill the holes correctly? They look a bit off.. Otherwise, Great work!

    1 reply

    I tried to work as exact as possible, and the board rolls stable, so I'm not unhappy with the job, but of course it can be that they're not perfect :)
    Thank you !