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I wanted a paddle board. If you have been to a beach this summer you have seen someone on one. But even the very bottom end Stand Up Paddle board (hereafter SUP) starts at $350- and that is for a what is essentially a really big plastic milk jug. Plus, that hollow plastic weighs a crazy amount. Even the kids-size SUPs weigh more than my beach babes could possibly carry, strong as they are. Clearly, that is something we can make for ourselves. Come see.
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Step 1: Balance

Picture of Balance
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I have no illusions of actually using a SUP myself. The imitable Holly Mann (follow her at if you don't already) could paddle one with her feet while standing on her hands, but I can't. My center of gravity is located just under my Adams apple because of my ponderous head (like a cake pop) and I will not be able to stay balanced on it. But a child would have a great time on one.
I used:
-One sheet rigid foam insulation 2" thick. ($25) but really it was free from Swap, who gave me a bunch of sheets he didn't need. I added some extra scrap to make it unnecessarily a bit longer. Boys are funny that way...

-Two tubes of construction adhesive $6 (the large ones. You'll be cutting them open so don't worry about a caulking gun)

-A fine notch plastic trowel $1.50

-A wood rasp. Garage sale price. Who on Earth know$?

-Orbital sander

-An optional 1/4" sheet of plywood (left over from a $8 sheet) for decking.

-Lots of heavy things for glue pressure. Sandbags work fine.

Total cost for DDC was low. You can buy everything you need for less than $50. But you will agree that price is only a small part of the cost for makers. The real cost- the only truly limited commodity- is time.
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sandwiching a thin layer of thick plastic might help any fears of breaking. if it did then it would still be in one piece. strips of plywood might work too. for the bottom I might try the roll up sled material since I will be fishing rivers with mine.

emorcos1 month ago

Is there any disadvantage to starting out with a 4'' piece of foam?

donedirtcheap (author)  emorcos1 month ago
Do you have one?! That it's awesome. No disadvantage at all. Go nuts! Take a picture too, please.
erinw8 months ago
Love your posts! made my daughter a paddle board put gel resin pink paint on it and painted cherry blossoms on the top with white gel resin looks amazing and it's all thanks to you :)

Sounds like fun. Has anyone tried any different types of paint? Trying to round up some options for the board that I'm working on.

saosport erinw3 months ago

Do you have any photos you could share?

donedirtcheap (author)  erinw8 months ago
Thank you. Some people shop sales, some people clip coupons, some people just take what they want. You and I, we make what we want. Thanks for the comment/follow.
evgen_ru10 months ago
Is your board slippery?
Аpply the paint and sprinkle sand immediately.
And your board is not slippery :-)

Great idea. Do you think the grains of sand embedded in the paint would hurt the bottom of one's bare feet? Looking at making this in next couple weeks.

Lei_Kei evgen_ru8 months ago
That is a great idea! When I make one I'll keep that in mind for sure!
ferball4 months ago

Buoyancy is calculated conservatively at 50lbs a square foot (if i remember correctly) so an 8' x 2' x 6" would be good for 400lbs. 8x2x.5 = 8 x 50lbs = 400. A 12 footer would be could for 600lbs. Helpful info for this awesome project.

saosport ferball3 months ago

Thanks that will help me I want one for me and my weim. So I'll try a 9x2x7" just to be safe.

WampaSlayer4 months ago

This looks great! I have wanted one of these ever since I tried my friend's. Can't wait to build it this summer!

papadezil725 months ago

How does the foam hold up in the water, does it soak any? Do you think that salt or brakish water would eat away at the foam?

donedirtcheap (author)  papadezil725 months ago
The foam doesn't absorb any water at all. I can't swear to it but I don't think salt water would have any effect. The soft foam will take much more damage from dings and nicks of playful use than from salt. Please post photos if you make one and good luck!
dkrall8 months ago
Awesome. I have a pile of this pink foam in my garage. I am so making one for next season.
myrrhmaid9 months ago
Favorited. Voted. WANT!
MadiHall10 months ago
Sorry, One more question, when looking for the foam we have noticed that it only comes 8 feet in length. We wanted to make a 12 foot one, is there foam in this size that you know of? We have looked on the hope depot and home hardwear website. Thanks
donedirtcheap (author)  MadiHall10 months ago
There aren't any 12 ft sheets that I know of but the foam can be layered and staggered to make whichever length you like. I would like to see one made of thinner foam that has been laminated into the curved rocker shape instead of being carved that way, like the one I made.
MadiHall10 months ago
Hello i would love to make one of these, great Idea! But we are curious to know how the rigid Styrofoam does not break easily with pressure. My dad is familiar with the foam and said it is easily broken. Thanks!
donedirtcheap (author)  MadiHall10 months ago
I added the plywood thinking that it would prevent it from breaking but I see now that there is really no chance of that. See, if you set it up on a couple of sawhorses and jumped on it it would break for sure, as would a $400 dollar paddle board. But when it is in the water it is evenly supported by its uniform buoyancy and it hardly flexes at all. The next one I make will not have a plywood deck at all because the foam is easier to stand on and I am sure it would be more than strong enough for my weight. We had four kids and two adults on it (hilarious) when we were trying to submerge it and it stood up to that fine.
Good luck. Post a photo if you end up building one!
Sounds good! Thanks a lot! :)
Bard10 months ago
Is it possible to put a coat of resin on it that doesn't eat the foam?
donedirtcheap (author)  Bard10 months ago
I really don't know. Hardening the surface would be good because the paddle will ding up the sides over time. I can't claim that it is as good as a $400 model but for the money...
I hope you make one. If you find a way to harden it let me know please.
camping crazy10 months ago
This is such a great idea I am going to make one!!!! But done use truck bed liner it eats foam!!!
jbh12310 months ago
Funny, I've used pink foam for skateboard molds and other types of foam for sandwich construction, but I never once thought of making my own SUP board. And I'm one cheap SOB when it comes to stuff like this! :-) So, thanks for your Instructable. You did a great job.

I imagine your board must've gotten a few dings here & there. But if I read it right, it held up OK even with no outer protection (e.g., fiberglass) on the pink foam?
zoomroom10 months ago
1. beautiful, thank you for sharing.
2. I'm planning on making one. I'll share pix.
3. So you also get to pond skate up there in beautiful Duluth. I'm hoping to be a neighbor soon.
donedirtcheap (author)  zoomroom10 months ago
1. You're welcome and thank you
2. I can't wait to see what you make.
3. Just let me know when you get here. On Lake Superior you can skate 10 miles some years. We were out on the deep ice fishing and curling when that photo was taken.
acuchetto10 months ago
Looks very cool! I tried paddle boarding this summer and my rented board had a keel (I think that's what you call the bottom "fin" at the tail end of the board). I bet this would help a lot with balancing--especially with an adult-sized board.
donedirtcheap (author)  acuchetto10 months ago
I didn't add one because I am lazy-ish. I just wanted to get it on the water. But it would be much better with a fin. (Don't tell my kids)
AmyCat5910 months ago
Hope you and your kids have a lot of summer fun with this... GREAT idea!
donedirtcheap (author)  AmyCat5910 months ago
Thank you, my friend!
Chicken Spit10 months ago
I may try this,but I'll seal the foam with spray on truck bed liner to make it tougher and longer lasting.
donedirtcheap (author)  Chicken Spit10 months ago
What is the medium that the truck liner uses? I thought that might be a nice texture but I worried that the volatiles in it might melt the foam which is anything but tough. I hope it works. Let me know.
rippa70010 months ago
congratulations! Love it. Good job and well described.
donedirtcheap (author)  rippa70010 months ago
Thank you. We have really been enjoying ourselves.
igusdude10 months ago
Love it!!! Yup, the paddle board in our local warehouse store was about $400!!! ouch!! And it certainly was not light either. Love your instructable. I have to try this out too. I am about 200lbs, so any idea if I need extra length or width? I will likely take it out to the Marina and perhaps the open water. I wll need to add a couple of strips to the bottom to give it a little more structure. I can calculate the required displacement and total weight of me and the board, but my guess is I need an extra 20lbs of boyancy to be safe?
donedirtcheap (author)  igusdude10 months ago
I really don't think you need to add buoyancy. We have never visibly bent ours, let alone broken it and that's with a bunch of kids and adults using it as a diving platform. If you made one 32"X4"X12' you would have the stability you needed, more than enough strength and still be spending less than $100. Please show me if you decide to make one.
PitStoP10 months ago
I was thinking last night on how I can make one using fiberglass and seen this today while checking my instructable email. I think this will work out just fine. Now if I make one I will need to make a nice paddle and I have a few ideas on that. The only question I have is how's the glue holding up? =) Thanks for the instructable!
donedirtcheap (author)  PitStoP10 months ago
The adhesive is doing very well. One mistake that I made was making trowel grooves parallel to the sides. If I had made the grooves perpendicular to the edges then I wouldn't have a few strands of glue coming out of the seams. But the bond is more than strong enough and impervious to water. I thought the caulk I used would degrade the foam but it has not at all.
$400-$500 seemed like a lot to invest in something I didn't know we would use. But $20 and 3 hours labor has been well rewarded with lots of fun.
I would love to see your paddle idea. We lost ours last weekend near some island.
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