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Plywood kiteboard

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Unsatisfied with commercial kitesurfing boards, I decided to make my own. I found the commercial boards to have too much rocker, too many fins, stupid graphics, and, worst of all, too high a price tag. With $50 worth of marine grade plywood you can build a board that will drop the jaws of all the board-shorts-on-the-outside-of-their-wetsuit types as you scream upwind.
 
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Step 1: Design your board

I learned to kitesurf on a rectangular board, 16 x 60 inches. Nearly anything of this same approximate surface area will work. My current favorite board (which has lasted more than two years now) is a perfect oval 62 x 16 inches. The holes for the footstraps are set 1 inch forward of the centerline. My feet naturally sit about 22 inches apart, so I set the 7.5 inch wide footstraps 22 inches apart. I also put in a hole for a leash.

In this files section are two CAD files (DXF and Corel Draw) of my favorite board.

I printed my design out on a large format printer. You can also just draw your design my hand on a large sheet of paper.

Step 2: Cut board

Transfer your shape to marine plywood. I think 3/8 inch thick Baltic Birch is the best choice. Unfortunately, I've only been able to find it in 5 x 5 ft sections, so you can't make a board that's insanely long.



Rough cut the shape with a table saw or jig saw, and then smooth the edges with a belt sander. Round any sharp edges so the board doesn't cut you, but also so it's not prone to knicks and dents that will allow water through the epoxy.



Make sure you align the grain of the wood on the face of the plywood along the direction of the board.



Drill holes and install 1/4-20 tee-nuts for mounting footstraps and a leash attachment point.

Step 3: Board Size

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Step 4: Install T-nuts

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Step 5: Print Graphic

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Step 6: Lay Up Fiberglass

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LaurensB25 days ago

Hello,

I can't download that PFD file. Can someone help me with that? When I click the button, he will goes to another page, and when I click another time at the button, is won't work. Can't someone help me? Thanks,

Laurens

GDADZGSONS11 months ago
O.K. thanks. I have a couple of questions.
1. Would a wakeboard or kiteboard be naturally buoyant?
2. Do you think that an all carbon fiber board would work?
3. Is carbon fiber naturally buoyant?
GDADZGSONS11 months ago
Does this board have any rocker? Also do you think that half inch plywood would work?
ewilhelm (author)  GDADZGSONS11 months ago
No, it's flat. However, when you load it up in the water, it does tend to bend into some rocker.

1/2 inch will work, but will feel much stiffer.
podrob2 years ago
Hello,

When I read your post, I felt like signing up just to answer this :

"With $50 worth of marine grade plywood you can build a board that will drop the jaws of all the board-shorts-on-the-outside-of-their-wetsuit types as you scream upwind."

I am part of what you call "board-shorts-on-the-outside-of-their-wetsuit types", and even if I agree with most of the things you say about the prices and making your own board being a clever way to save money, I find it sad to read such proofs of intolerance mixed in with your ideas.

I wear a board short on the outside of my wetsuit because :

- It protects my wetsuit when I sit in the sand, on the beaches or everywhere else I sit with or without the kite. Board short is 30$, wetsuit is 250$.
- I feel naked when I wear a wetsuit. Call it the swimsuit syndroma if your wish, but wearing a boardshort help me feel dressed.
- The boardshort is one more layer to stop the wind. Some parts of your body like it.
- It's adding style. I's a matter of taste of course. But freestyle is the biggest and most popular stream in kitesurfing at the moment, and freestylers likes to look good for pictures and videos.

So to make it short. It would be nice to be careful to what you say when you start being intolerant with other people sharing the same activity than you. I'm not sure you'd love reading about the "helmet-board-leash-integral-wetsuit-and-shoes-and-gloves-and-silly-looking-race-position-just-to-zip-up-and-down-the-water-all-day-long type" if you read through about kite on random site on the internet.

Sorry for my bad english.
ewilhelm (author)  podrob2 years ago
Do you wear knee pads on top of your wetsuit? I've worn through the knees of a few wetsuits from kneeling the sand setting up gear.

Protect the wetsuit when you sit in the sand? What are you doing sitting in the sand? Hit the water!

Have you made any of your own kiting gear? I'd love to see how you've made your stuff.
Cjbrodhead2 years ago
Hey Eric! Love the site! Could def spend all day on it. I also build kiteboards and have been doing it for a couple years now. I even just wrote an ebook on how to do it. You can check it out here if your interested Kiteboardyoubuild.com
I do things a bit different than you do but definitely enjoyed reading your method.

How much do your boards weigh? We figured out a way to make ours weigh 8 lbs with straps and fins. Pretty psyched haha

Thanks again for the info and the site.

Cheers
Rossiroller5 years ago
So is the epoxy structural at all, or just for sealing the wood?
ewilhelm (author)  Rossiroller5 years ago
Just for sealing the wood, especially since you can build a plywood board without any fiberglass.
couldn't you just use polyester resin instead of epoxy? if its just to seal it...
epoxy is also for structural purposes, it strengthens the board. Best to put 3-4 thin coats on.
xaborus2 years ago
Wow im so glad you made this instructable! There is nothing to do in my town, and as a teenager im bored out of my mind. Thankfully there is a local lake, and my dad has always been a DIY guy so he already has power kites! Anyway, could you use Adidas Sandals as foot straps? Sorry if this sounds stupid as im a total newbie, but Adidas Sandals look perfect to use as straps.
I think you need something stronger. If they are the plastic/rubber kind of adidas sandals then they would rip fairly quickly and ungluing them form the board is not going to be fun. You need something out of thick nylon. Maybe a piece of seatbelt from a junkyard wrapped in some more comfortable material, and while you are at the junk yard grab an old style door handle to use as a kite handle (if you want a kite handle, its really not necessary).
alexh9343 years ago
I hate to be a nazi about this, but an oval is a three dimensional shape akin to an egg. An "ellipse" is the shape you were thinking of.
Vermin alexh9342 years ago
Nope. An oval is two dimensional too. I just looked up some definitions to make sure.
theguy8 years ago
what do you do when your too high like that???
ghrrom theguy6 years ago
I'd expect he'd let go and fall into the water.....
qualia ghrrom3 years ago
yes. just let go of the bar and just unstrap your harness and watch your kite fly away.. bet you're pro.
Reading down the page about some of the ply boards breaking. What's the breakage rate? It would not be unrealistic to find an older board at a swap for around $100. That would give a newbie a good template. If you want to cover a range of wind conditions you need a range of boards and kites. $200 seems to be the going rate for lessons.
Hawk93 years ago
Where can you get foot straps
dd1orc3 years ago
Where did you get the plywood ?
lurch8884 years ago
 Hi do you need to put fins under the board.
lothoth4 years ago
Hi Eric, thanks for this Instructable. I'm starting kitesurfing and I was not sure making my own board, but now i'm going to try it. I live in Uruguay and I can't get the 3/8" plywood, only the 1/2". Also a local suplyer told me that for a board like that I'm going to need more than 1kilo of epoxy, I hope he is wrong.

Thanks

poeth4 years ago
This is really great! I'm just back from my holidays in southern France where I saw a lot of kite surfers. Now I was thinking about starting it, too. But - gosh - prices are high for all the stuff. Do you think it's ok for a kite surfing rookie to start with a home made plywood board and kite? What do you suggest to start with when it comes to the kite? I thought of sewing the 4.5m Trainer Kite first...
ewilhelm (author)  poeth4 years ago
I learned on all homemade equipment. It was a blast!
poeth ewilhelm4 years ago
Thanks! That's great news... Is there something like a "rookie shape" for starting? And again: which size should I sew first for a kite? The trainig kite or is there something like an allrounder size? Best regards --poeth
woodyhardon6 years ago
go to a cabinet shop and buy a section of dupont Corian countertop. For the 'bindings' just place a strong pair of nylon strap type sandals and SHOE GOO(yes...shoe goo)them in place. weigh them in place while drying. Corian is nearly indestructable, smoother..needs no epoxy. No holes needed(unless for aleash). I lost a home made nylon with steel weights shoe gooed to the belt, for TWO YEARS in a local lake. I found it this summer and the weights were/are STILL tight on the belt!!! Shoe goo kicks duct tapes a** for bing the best 'must have'. These materials will cost a bit more...but is much less wrok intensive and a stronger result.
Did you put any rocker or concave in the Corian board. If so what method did you use.
ewilhelm (author)  woodyhardon6 years ago
How heavy would a Corian board be?
dmac235 years ago
I am making a plywood board. I have heard that one of the weaknesses is water getting into the board under the epoxy and delaminating the plywood. so I am trying to figure out a way to put the t-nuts and fins in so that water does not seep into the board at that point. I want to be able to take the fins off again later if the board breaks - so I don't want to epoxy the bolt heads in. does anyone have any suggestions or thoughts?
snotty dmac234 years ago
For attaching your straps and fins you may want to try something like surfboard fin plugs: http://neilsonsurfboards.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/new-fcs-fusion-fin-plugs/

I suspect these would be less likely to delaminate and leak as opposed to metal t-nuts. They may not be strong enough to hold foot straps but try it and see.

Also they may give your cool projects that pro look.
fcs_fusion.jpgPV-plug.gif
One problem with inserts is that they are usually (maybe always) too deep for the 3/8" thick birch plywood.
ewilhelm (author)  dmac235 years ago
Once you install the t-nuts, goop epoxy all over them, let it cure, and then clean out the threads with a tap.
dmac23 ewilhelm5 years ago
thanks for getting back to me! dumb question, but what is a tap? (this is my first time working with fibre glass so...). as for the fins, I thought that I would drill the holes a little bigger than the fin bolts, fill in the holes with epoxy, let it cure, and then drill the holes again a little smaller to the proper size of the fin bolts - this way the holes would be lined with epoxy. is that a decent method for the fin holes?
ewilhelm (author)  dmac235 years ago
A tap is a tool used to cut threads. As I've suggested, you would actually be using it to clean epoxy out of the threads of a T-nut. Your idea for the fin holes is exactly what I would do.
dmac23 ewilhelm5 years ago
thanks so much for your help i really appreciate it! this is indeed a very useful forum.
sinkpen4 years ago
Thanks Ewilhelm for sharing. I am absolutely inspired!!! :)
barnes4 years ago
I have to say, the Zero Prestige docs have inspired me quite a bit. I built my plywood board awhile back, simple, floaty plank of wood. Took it out with a friend of mine, who was riding a $700 Flydoor. We rode for a bit, then swapped boards. Needless to say, I walked away rather proud of my board. Then...it was lost in North Philadelphia...long story short, it was left out leaning aganist a fence, and has never been seen again. Hopefully someone found a good use for it. I was given a Litewave board, but I miss the plywood. I'm in the works of starting a kiteboarding team at Drexel University, and I will no doubt be making plywood boards as the club boards. So, thank you for this...this will always be my favorite instructable, considering I loved it before instructables even existed. ...also, anyone looking to get into kiteboarding, do it. Its the most incredible sport that will take you to some amazing places. Take a lesson, and make friends who will help you out!
ewilhelm (author)  barnes4 years ago
It's awesome that you're starting a team. Where around Philadelphia do you go?
barnes ewilhelm4 years ago
I usually make the trek to New Jersey and Delaware beaches, but considering Drexel's sailing team sails from a yacht club on the Delaware, I'm going to see if I can ride there, and steal a ride from them.

Theres also Lake Nockmixon and Lake Wallenpaupak not far. Wallenpaupak is the location of the ice boating speed record too, its a great snow kiting spot.

On top of that, there is an old air field that was converted into a community park in the suburbs. A quarter mile stretch of paved runway, littered with cement blockades to keep cars away. Makes for a fun weaving between them on a longboard and a tiny kite. Looks like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rybarnes/1373122316/in/set-72157601995718033/

Not the best water locations around Philly, so we will end up being a mostly land and snow kiting team, considering our school year runs through the winter.
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