Introduction: Victorian Style Longboard Dancer "Victoria"
(However I didn't captured every step when i made this board and it's been quite a while a go I made it, I will try to describe the steps as completely as possible)
A few years ago I really wanted a longboard dancer. If you are not familiar with what that is; it is a longboard but usually quite a bit longer than the average already oversized (skate)longboards. Mostly around 1m20 but there are boards up to 2m. "But why...", you may ask, " skating such an unhandy big board?" because you can do so much awesome freakin' cool stuff with such a board! You can think of it as a kind of big rolling dancefloor (hence the name longboard dancer,..duh..). It is usually not the kind of boards that are used for kickflips, grinds, poolriding or other fancy, but boring, stuff...(Just kidding, I love those skate styles too, like almost everything skateboard involved). However there are exceptions off course and those kind of tricks are done but might be harder to do. The length of the board is used more for the practice of the moves you'll see surfers doing on their longboards: Crosssteps, hangtens, pirouettes, handstands and such. But this is al a lot of words, it might be better to show some video's. Because I'm not a very good longboard dancer, but I just love doing it, I will show some youtube video's of others, so you get a better idea of the possibilities . The first is of the Dutch longboard event "So you think you can longboarddance" in which you can see different riders:
The second is of American legend Adam Colton, pretty weird and a bit long but awesome:
And ok, last video is of me doing only a handstand on the Victoria board (it isn't much and from quiet a while ago but I haven't much footage of me and this board. Maybe later):
Enough about the theory, let's start building!
p.s. Because of entering the Epilog laser contest I would like to say that off course I would love to have a lasercutter to cut out my tracing molds, my griptape and do the pyrographic stuff with the lasercutter. Besides that I would even cut out a complete longboard with another experimental idea I have for a view years now which demands a lasercutter!
Step 1: Inspiration and Designing
As you might figure yourself, this board was inspired by the style of the Victorian age, which is also the inspiration of most steampunk stuff (which I happen to like also). So I first took a good look at an old victorian chair I own.
Apart from that I wanted it to resemble some sort of a musical instrument, it being a dancer. What else than my antique double bass off course! I love her (yes, her..) and it is big too and made of wood and got nice lines, so technically I only had to put some trucks under it but that would made it to hard to play some jazzy bass-lines. A long with those inspirations I search for other reference pictures online.
I collected all the pics and started to draw in Coreldraw, but any drawing program can serve this purpose off course, even the olde paper and pencil . When I was satisfied with the lines, I did what I always do when I make a longboard, I printed the outline on paper in real size and glued the pieces of a4 size paper together and cut it out. Usually some kind of poster-maker software can come in handy, for instance in Picasa it is possible but in Coreldraw there is a genuine function for that so you can make really big prints with a standard printer. Because this is a symmetrical design design only one quarter of the board is enough.
The paper design you can glue on a piece of hardboard or thick cardboard and than cut out to use it as a mold to trace.
Because I will make the kick and nose tails in a special way I had to print out the side view too. More on that later.
The board will be vertical laminated. That means you glue long strips of wood lengthwise together so you will get a big enough platform to saw your board out. If done well this gives a strong but springy board with a nice classic appearing. Most boards are horizontal laminated out of plywood or veneer like your average skateboard. Nothing wrong with that but for this design I think this technique fits better.
Step 2: The Specs the Materials and Preparations
So what do you need? My board measures 140cm long by 21cm wide and 1,5cm thick. Which maybe would have been better a bit wider (22cm to 25cm) but I didn't had enough strips of wood. After all I actually like the width now, It rotates quicker around its length axe with flips.
- strips of hardwood.
Thick enough (and a bit more) for your design. Mine where about 2 cm later planed back to 1,5 cm. They have to be long enough for the length of the board and you will need enough of strips that when laid together side by side it's wide enough for the widest point of the board.
I used strips of oak I got from my mother-in-law which lay for years on the attic (It was very dry wood, which is good) but she wanted to get rit of them when she moved out of her house. I had no problem with that.... It's important that the grain is strait as possible in the length and that the "lines" better not "run out" of the side of the strips. Off course you can saw strips out of planks (old flooring is a good source).
- Wood glue and/or Epoxy
You can use D3 (watertight) PVA wood-glue (However some say it isn't strong enough I have had also good results with Polyurethane glue (Gorilla glue?) ).
For this board I used epoxy, the kind for laminating (I usually use the standard stuff from a Dutch company: Mr Boat but you can off course use a different brand). Always read the brand specific instructions included, especially considering the pot-life (the time the stuff will be workable after mixing the two components).
You can find quite good information online. On Instructables for instance, but you can find good information on longboard specific sites like Silverfishlongboarding (on the Forum). I sometimes find good information and tricks on sites about surfboards, boat making, mold/prop/model making and many other source where the same materials are being used.
- Fiberglass (optional)
I started using the board without fiberglass but added it not much later because I found the board having to much "flex". This depends on the design of the board (longer and smaller gives more flexibility), your weight and what you prefer. More fiberglass can always be added later if you prefer.
It's important to use heavy enough weaving. Anything under 400 grams won't do a lot in a single layer for adding stiffness. It will do something for protection but if you want your board having more stiffness you will need 400g woven glass fiber at least. You can use uni-directional (fibers only in one direction) following the length of the board but bi-directional (-45/45 degrees, Biax) or better tri-directional or triax (0/45/-45 degrees) will do best for stiffness and against twisting. It will have the most effect if you apply it on the under-side because that's where the bending forces are the biggest I've used 650g 80/80 degrees with a 10 cm 0 degrees stringer in the middle (I happened to have that around)
- A lot...no.... A LOT of glueing clamps
Big enough for the width of the board
- A jigsaw
To saw out the outline of the board
- Sander and sandpaper
Make it smooth!
Optional (used for this board)
- A router
I did quite a lot with it: the decorations and the outline curves and I planed the board with it.
- Woodcarving set
I carved some decorations with it
- A handplaner`
To do some fine tuning in form
- Soldering Iron
I made the pyrographics with it
- Hot Gun
For the sunburst effect
Step 3: Laminating/gluing
First you have to make sure that your strips have flat sides and are as strait as possible. If not use a hand-planer or better; a planing machine. If you saw them out of a plank make sure you saw them on both sides.
Take your time with figuring out in which order you lay the strips out, taking in the direction of the woodgrain, the length of the strips and the appearance of them.
When you are pleased with that lay them down on your workbench with the sides which will be glued faced up.
I have a big 18mm multiplex sheet with two wooden blocks at the ends glued/screwed, so it is raised from the workbench.
On one side I glued a strip of wood to which the first strip of oak can be put against.
When I use glue ore epoxy everything I don't want to be sticked together is covered which a sheet of vinyl tablecloth. This isn't very expensive and can also be used to cover the last layer of a epoxy before it is set. When you remove the sheet after the epoxy hardened it leaves a very nice and shiny skin.
Make sure you have enough clamps (and more) laying around in grabbing distance.
Mix the epoxy according the formula from the supplier. Make sure only use plastic cups, stirring sticks and brushes which you can dispose afterwards. Wet epoxy can be removed with vinegar but it isn't worth the effort. When I mix my epoxy in paper cups I usually poor the stuff out on a paper plate: Epoxy will cure faster in a small cup than spread out on a plate and the the heath development from the chemical reaction can be quite heavy so plastic cups can meld!
After mixing your epoxy brush the stuff thick enough, but not to much, on the sides of the strips. Keep an eye on the time because of the pot life. Then when all strips are glued put them together on the multiplex board and clamp them together firmly along whole the length. I screwed some screws on the sides the clamp them even more and even used some wedges between them.
Then wait, for at least 24 hours, better is to wait at least three days (But that can be quite hard if you are impatient..) before removing the clamps. You now have a "blank".
Step 4: Planing
I didn't have entrance to a planner at the time because I made the board during my summer holiday. In the school I work I normally would have used the machine in the wood-shop. But hey, nothing gives a better feeling than doing some good (half machine) hand work. So I made a jig from some aluminum and plastic angles. Combined with two aluminum rails over which the jig slides it worked out pretty nice and I ended up with a nice plane and smooth board.
You have to take a look at the pictures to figure out what I have done. It isn't too hard.
This planing is important because the stips still differ in hight. It is now a good plane to glue the blocks for the kicks and do the carving.
Step 5: Glueing the Kicks and Sawing
After the glue had set I draw the outline on the board with the molds I made. Because I wanted an elevated kick-tail and nose-tail I glued two blocks at either end. I had calculated those in in the length of the board and were sawn off after the strips had been glued together.
After glueing those I let the PU-glue set again and then saw out the form with a jig saw. Keeping a few mm away from the lines on the outside so I had some spare wood for routing later.
Step 6: Sculpting, Carving and Routing
After the ouline was sawn out I started to draw the silhouette from the side on the nose and tail. I then made cuts until reaching the line and chopped of the pieces with a chisel. Then I did some rasping,sanding and planing and started with the carvings of the curls on the nose and tail. A big job was carving out a subtile curve on the whole length of the board, the concave. This is to lock your feet in a bit and giving some leverage when turning the board. I carved little chips out of the platform, intended for use as grip. Later I added normal grip-tape because it wasn't sufficient after the epoxy and fiberglass on the deck.
Than I used my router again to carve out the edges with some beveling to add a real 19th century look to the board and smooth finish and soft touch for my hands.
I finished with carving out the picture of the dancing girl, my logo and a line all around the board. I used a woodcarving set for the wood-cuts.
After the carving I sanded the board and filled the carvings with gold paint.
Step 7: Pyrographics
I must say I don't really remember if I did this step before or after the woodcarving of the logo but actually that doesn't really matter.
I like to do pyrography on my boards and usually only use it for my DHZ logo but this time I used a heat-gun to burn the edges and thus getting a kind of sunburst effect which you find on different guitars and other instruments.
The sunburst effect I had done before with spray paint on the very first board I build, a pintail. The idea of using the heat-gun burning came when I looked around in my workshop and saw a little wooden object my younger brother made me when he was still in middle school (about 15 or 20 years ago..). He used a heat-gun to burn out the softer wood between the harder grain of a pinewood block and than brushed away the burned wood with a steel brush.
With the board I didn't used the steel brush but I liked the effect of it.
Step 8: Glassing, Epoxy and Other Finishes and the End-result(s)
Ok, than I only painted the board with a few layers of glossy lacquer. I usually use the water-based acrylic stuff because I can speed up the proces by drying the layers with my heat-gun. If you do that carefully you won't burn the paint/lacquer and it will be dry in about ten minutes so you can apply the next layer. Off course after that it is important to give it some longer rest to really harden out. I have done this for years now and I don't really experienced it being weaker than the normal way to do this. Now I only fixed the trucks and wheels and had a few weeks of fun rides..but I experienced the board was to flex and decided to add fiberglass to it.
I first had to sand off all the lacquer again and than added the fiberglass with epoxy. I won't go in to details here because I think there are better resources about that but it was worth the work. Besides the lesser exposure of my woodcuts (I even had to drill some holes in the carvings to fill the space with epoxy) it added some significant strength and a better springiness. Than I had to add grip-tape. I designed a pattern in a matching style and cut it out and sticked the pieces on the deck. I am now a very happy dancer!
More of my board work you can find here on this facebook page.