Step 1: Shaping the Template
Step 2: Building the Mold
To keep the popsicle sticks from sticking to the mold I covered the gluing surface with some glossy "marbled" vinyl I got at the dollar store.
I traced the template shape onto the vinyl and added a center line.
The curved tail section of the mold was built up of more pieces of foam core.
The illustraion shows a "cutaway" look of the mold. (Not the steps of construction.)
Step 3: Gluing the First Layer
I cut the round ends of the sticks off with a band saw.
I worked outward from the center of the mold gluing a row at a time. It was slow going, I figure I spent about 6-8 hours per layer.
Step 4: Steam Bending for the Tail 1
For the first layer I left the tail until last. I dry fitted pieces and numbered them. I boiled water in a sauce pan and put a colander between the pan and it's lid, this would allow the steam to fill a chamber and transfer heat to the popsicle sticks so they could be bent.
They didn't need much time about 45 seconds to a minute in the steam was long enough to bend them. I had a few sticks break and had to replace them. After gluing the bent sticks in place I used a bag of sand on top of an extra piece of vinyl to help keep them in place while they dried.
For subsequent layers I would bend the tail pieces as I glued each individual line which worked much better.
Step 5: Steam Bending for the Second Layer
I built a jig that I could put a bunch of sticks into and steam at the same time. I placed the jig upside down above a large saucepan and covered some of the gaps with a rag. When steaming wood you want the steam to move around the wood. A steam chamber with a few holes in it is a good thing. The sticks only needed to be exposed to the steam for 45 seconds to a minute. Once they had cooled I popped them out and added another bunch.
I covered the first layer with wax paper so that the next layer wouldn't stick to it. I marked the center line with a push pin and started gluing my second layer.
Step 6: Steam Bending for the Tail 2
After each layer I sanded the high spots down and sawed of the excess at the tail.
Step 7: Gluing the Layers and Vacuum Pressing
I used a palm sander to even out each layer. I peeled off the wax paper and sanded the undersides of each layer.
I reinforced the mold with some side pieces. Next was a dry fit, using a push pin as my center line I marked each layer with pencil so I knew where to place them when gluing and to see if they would fit in my vacuum bag.
I bought some vacuum bags meant for shrinking clothing for storage. Each package has small bags for shirts and large bags for dresses. The large bag was just too small for my mold so I had to cut off a 2 inch piece before I did the final glue up.
I applied a liberal amount of glue and used a brush to evenly smear the glue across the top of each layer top and also to the bottom of the next layer and stacked them in place on the mold.
I sealed the bag and vacuumed out the air you can see some extra glue seeping up through a crack in the top layer near the valve. Once again I used my trusty sand bag to apply extra pressure to the tail.
Step 8: Cutting Out the Shape
I used a jig saw to cut out the shape and used a belt sander to smooth the edges. Next was the palm sander to smooth and remove extra glue from the top and bottom. I used a damp cloth to clean off any fine saw dust that was left on the board.
Step 9: Preparing for Hardware
I bought trucks, wheels, bearings, grip tape, nuts, and bolts at a local skate shop. I decided a cool blue which reminded me of popsicles was a good colour choice for the wheels.
Step 10: Finishing
Overall there are much easier and faster ways to build a longboard deck, but I wanted to try using popsicle sticks just to see if it was possible.