About: Surf and stuff






Are you a backyard surfboard shaper?
You will need a SHAPING RACK to help make your surfboard design dreams come true.
This Instructable is on how to make a good surfboard shaping rack cheaply and quickly.
I'm talking around $25 and 2 hours of time!
The best part is that it goes together pretty quickly. About 2 hours once you get your plywood home.
My favorite feature of this shaping rack is THE TOOL SHELF! I can put my planer, sander, sure form, square, hand plane, etc.. on the shelf. Super handy! I designed that in because I don't always have a place to put my tools and I always seem to misplace them even as I'm working. I have only seen one other shaping rack with a tool shelf. Seems like an obvious place have a shelf.

I have made and used the old school shaping racks built with 5 gallon buckets filled with concrete and this plywood design shaping rack is BY FAR the SUPERIOR rack to shape surfboards on. This rack is really awesome, especially if you have to occasionally move your rack around to the outdoors or inside the garage. It's certainly lighter than a bucket of concrete! If you opt for adding legs (see pictures of painted rack) it can even be used on uneven surfaces, like in the yard, on gravel, on sand, bricks, etc...

One 4’x8’ sheet of plywood 5/8" or thicker (about $18)
1 box of 1 3/4" Drywall screws (about $6)
Pool noodle, pipe insulation, upholstery foam, or carpet scraps

Tape Measure
Circular Saw (aka Skil Saw)
Cordless drill/driver (or plug in type)

Optional but helpful
Framing square
Table saw
Jig saw
Hand saw

Exterior Paint

Drill bit for pre-drilling screw holes


Choose a nice straight (not bowed or warped) 5/8" (19/32") or 3/4" (23/32") thick sheet of plywood.
Have an employee in the Lumber department at your local big box (Lowes or Home Depot) lumberyard cut your plywood. This will save you a ton of time and make it easier for you to transport your plywood home.


1st cut - rip (lengthwise cut) plywood to 20"

2nd cut - rip (lengthwise cut) the remaining 28" piece to 20". Now you will have two 20”x8’ long pieces and an 8”x8’ scrap piece.
3rd cut - cross cut two 39" pieces from the first 20”x8’ piece. This will give you two 20"x39" side pieces and a scrap 20”x18” piece.
4th cut - cross cut one 36" piece from the remaining 20”x8’ piece. This will provide the 20”x36” center board that joins the two side pieces.
*Note: You can opt to change the length of the CENTER BOARD and the height of the side boards to suit your shaping needs. I mostly shape short boards, so the 36” length works out fine for me. If you are shaping long boards or even stand up paddle boards, you can cut the CENTER BOARD a longer length. I'm 5'7 so the height of 39" suits me.
Once you get home gather up all your tools and lay out the 3 pieces of plywood that will become the shaping rack.

1. Locate the two boards that are 20”x39”. These will become your SIDE BOARDS. You will need to cut out the “notch” in these SIDE BOARDS. This is where the surfboard will lay on its rails.

2. First, mark the center of the 20” side of the plywood. The center should be 10” in from the corner. Now mark 10” down. This will be the depth of the notch.

3. Mark a 4” horizontal line at the bottom of the 10” depth mark and center it. This will be the bottom of the notch in the rack. This is where the rail of your surfboard will rest when you have it on its edge.

4. Back to the top of the board. Now mark 5” from each corner. Now, using a straight edge, draw a line from one of the 5” marks to the nearest end of the 4” line at the bottom of the notch. Then do the same for the other 5” mark to the other end of the 4” line. You should have drawn a trapezoid with a 10” wide top and a 4” wide bottom. You will cut out this trapezoid to form the “notch” of the shaping rack.

5. Using a circular saw cut out the trapezoid shape that you marked out. When you get close to the inside corner, you can stop and use a jigsaw or a hand saw to finish your cut. You can also “plunge” cut the 4” section using the circular saw. CAUTION: I don’t recommend doing a “plunge” cut if you are not experienced with a circular saw!

6. With coarse sandpaper, round off the top inside corners of the notches and the outside corner of the side boards. This will help prevent any damage to your foam surfboard blank.

Repeat those same instructions on the other side board.
You should now have the 2 side boards notched out and ready to attach to the center board.

The center board is the board that will hold your two side boards upright. The center board also makes a super handy shelf to hold your planer, sander, tape measure, pencils, etc… This is an AWESOME feature that I think makes this shaping rack superior to the other designs out there, especially the 5 gallon bucket racks. I used that type in the '80s and they pretty much suck compared to my design. Try putting your planer in a 5 gallon bucket stand filled with concrete and you’ll see what I mean.

1. On one edge of one of the SIDE BOARDS, make a mark 20” up from the bottom of the board. On the opposite edge, make another mark 20” up from the bottom. Now mark a line across from one 20” mark to the other. This is will be the height of your center board and this is where the center board will be fastened.

2. Now do the same on the other SIDE BOARD.

3. Take the CENTER BOARD and line it up with the line that was drawn 20” up on the SIDE BOARD. Using 1-5/8" drywall screws, screw the boards together. It is much easier to screw the boards together when they are on their sides. You may find it easier to line the boards up if you pre-drill the screw holes. It also helps to have someone hold the boards steady as you screw in the first couple screws. Then screw the other SIDE BOARD to the CENTER BOARD. Now carefully stand the shaping rack up.

Gussets are what give strength to your stand. Installed correctly they will make your stand super strong and level and square. If they are installed incorrectly, your stand might be “off”. If you have a framing square it will come in handy for this step.

The gussets can be made with almost anything. I used the leftover wood from the plywood to make four gussets for my rack.

Anyways, install a gusset at each lower corner of each CENTER BOARD joint. Use a framing square to make sure that the joint between the SIDE BOARD and the CENTER BOARD is SQUARE. This is important! Screw the gusset into the edge of the CENTER BOARD and SIDE BOARD.

*Update - I ended up cutting my square gussets into triangles so they did not look so dumb.

After all four gussets are installed your SHAPING RACK will be very strong and square. I stood on my shaping rack and I am 170 lbs! It held me up no problem and no wobbles. (Do this at your own risk)

The last step is to install padding. The padding is there to protect your foam surfboard blank from being damaged. It will also help “hold” your surfboard in place and keep it from sliding as you work on it.
Padding can be almost anything soft. I’ve seen carpet used, upholstery foam, and foam pipe insulation used. Old carpet padding, the foam padding under the carpet, is also a good option. I ended up using a pool noodle and it worked just fine. Use whatever you prefer or whatever you have handy. Most padding can be fastened with a regular old staple gun. You can even use duct tape to hold your padding down.

1. Wrap the padding around the edge of the notched portion of the SIDE BOARDS and fasten with a staple gun, duct tape, or whatever works for you.

• You can install hooks on the SIDE BOARDS to hold and organize your tools.
• You can fashion some leveling feet to your SHAPING RACK if you are going to be shaping on uneven ground.
• You can paint your SHAPING RACKS or put your surfboard logo on it. Definitely paint it with exterior house paint if you are going to leave it outside in the weather.
• You can place a piece of scrap carpet on the CENTER BOARD to prevent any blade damage to your cutting tools, i.e. planer.
• You could fashion an adjustable CENTER BOARD that can expand for shaping longer boards.
• You can place a piece of plywood on top of the SHAPING RACK if you need to make a quick workbench or party table!
• Adjust the SHAPING RACK plans for the height and length that suits your needs.


I hope you enjoy your quick and cheap SHAPING RACK!

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