Introduction: Build Your Own Surfboard!

A dear friend of mine has a 1971 VW Westfalia Camper Bus he restored and wanted to mount a surfboard on the roof. Ultimately he wanted to cut the board and use it as a panel mount, so we looked for a cheap surfboard with little success. The cheapest one we found was well over 100 bucks, and a) to never use it as a surfboard and b) cut it up at a later date; cost was not justified.

So, I made him one!

The goal was simple; find cheap materials and make a cost effective surfboard. It more than likely will never be used as an actual surfboard, but it very well can be. Well, more like a flotation device I suppose. After all, wood does float right?!

You will need the following:

-Five 2x4 planks (I would recommend more, but that is what I used)
-Wooden wedges
-Circular Saw
-Jig Saw
-Butcher Paper
-Duct Tape
-60, 120, 200, 400, 1000, and 1200 grit sand paper
-Wood Stain (I used gel stain)
-Outdoor Clear Wood/Deck Sealer
-Wood glue
-Wood filler
-Planer (Electric strongly recommended)
-Work Gloves
-Face Mask
-Eye Protection
-Work Bench or saw horse

I already had most of the items listed. I used the cheapest 2x4 I could find and I bought the small quart sized cans for the stains. The wood glue was the large gallon, and the wood filler was the larger of the three cans available at Home Depot. Total expense was between $40.00 -$50.00.

I used a lot of advice from this guy, Abe Toke
He has a neat video series I suggest watching before you start! The main difference is he (and most sources I found on the internet) use foam boards.

As a side note, I am going to include a couple of steps I learned from my mistakes throughout this instructable.

Step 1: Got Wood?

Apply glue to the 2 inch side liberally. Glue the 2x4's together and clamp tightly. Use the wooden wedges to give the board a slightly concave shape.
The way I did it, the center board had no wedge. The boards to the right and left of the center board each used one wedge. The outer right and left boards each used two wedges. I did this to both the top and bottom of the board. Sorry, I did not take pictures of the bottom side showing the wedges.

The reason behind that is a typical surfboard has a vertical and horizontal curve. Most DIY wooden boards are, well, flat boards. I wanted to make a surfboard, not a wooden plank! Haha. Although I understand flat boards are ideal for mushy/small surf.

Once the glue is set, use wood filler to fill any gaps!! This was my first mistake. I did this later, and it would have been easier and more aesthetically appealing to do it now than later on.

Use a planer to even and curve the board once the glue filler dries. The goal in this step is to simply make the surface continuous. The wedges will make the boards have (for lack of better words) steps. Smooth them out.

Step 2: Stencil and Cut

Cut the butcher paper to the length and width of the desired size of your surfboard. Use the circular saw to cut off any excess wood. In my case, the glued boards where over 8 feet long, and I only needed about 7 feet.

Measure and draw a line from the top to the bottom on the center of the board onto the stencil. This will make drawing a freehand stencil easier.

Draw the shape you want for your board on either the right or left half of the butcher paper. I used a longer fishtail board with a pointier nose. Once you're satisfied with the shape, cut out the half you drew. Carefully fold over the center line you drew earlier, and trace the shape you just cut out.

Cut out the other half and trace the entire board onto your plank.
Or you can just flip the stencil you just made and trace half at a time.

Using a jig saw, carefully (and slowly) cut out the shape you just drew. If it comes out rough, no biggie. The planer and sander will help with that.

Step 3: Shaping

This is where the electric planer will be a heck of a lot easier than a hand planer!

Plane the board, giving shape to the rocker. The rocker is the bottom arch of the board. Follow the concave shape. The electric planer usually has a knob that allows you to control planing depth. Be careful with it since it can go pretty deep.

Also, my planer came with a guide that can be attached to the planer. This made shaping the board much easier!
Plane both sides of the board, just remember concavity is opposite for each side. Top side is concave up, bottom side is concave down. As you're planing, keep in mind you want round edges (rails). You will get a really thin rails if you are not paying attention!

You will get a ton of wood shavings every where. I used the broom throughout the planing and sanding process to remove shavings from the board in the areas I was to work on.

I ran the hand planer on the rails to round them out. I was worried of eating up too much of the wood with the electric planer.

The reason I choose 5 (or an odd number) planks is to keep the center board flat. This made it easier to give it the arch I wanted.
I ran my hands throughout the board to try to find spots I missed or any asymmetries I did not notice. I had my brother and some friends come out to inspect the board; having several pairs of eyes helped me a lot!

I noticed the nose on the board was not symmetrical. I used the planer to shave off and reshape.

I used a lot of advice from this guy, Abe Toke. He has a video series I watched. There was also another You-tube video I used mid process, and for the life of me I cannot find it. Once I find it I will add it. So credit to anonymous!

Step 4: Sanding

As I mentioned in the beginning, I did a couple mistakes I would change given the opportunity. One of which is using the wood filler in this step, as opposed to step 1. So that's what I did.

Once that was dry, I went forth and sanded. I used a 60 grit first, then progressed to finer and finer grits as I was satisfied with the shape and smoothness of the board.
I spent a lot of time on the edges; I cupped my hand and ran the sand paper the length of the board until I was satisfied with the shape of the rails.

A final note, I found some asymmetries, so I used the planer again, and sanded the area one more time.

Step 5: Stencil and Stain

I used duct tape to stencil in the design I wanted. I used some CD's to draw and stencil the circles, and a ruler to make sure the triangle was an equilateral triangle. For those of you who do not know, that is the logo to Coheed and Cambria, Shaun's favorite band.

I drew 3 dragon flies on the board with a sharpie, each dragonfly represents one of his kiddos :)
To stencil the dragonflies with duct tape was a bit too difficult for me. The design I used for the dragonflies I saw somewhere. Don't remember where nor when, so another anonymous credit!

The reason I used Gel stain is because it would yield sharp edges. Oil base stain would seep and soak into the wood; including the area you just covered.

WARNING: Whip gel off shortly after applying!!! That was another mistake, I left it to sit for a few minutes. When I removed, it looked like dukie. The sun baked it on and I had to sand to remove and try again.

The top side I made simple stripes. I learned my lesson!!

Once dry, remove the stencils and check results.

Note: I did try to cover the messed up gel stain with the sealant in hopes of it not looking horrible. It did not. So I had to sand the entire board.

Step 6: Sealing to the End

I used Home Depot outdoor wood/deck Clear sealer and a stressed paint brush to add coats. I say stressed because I washed and scrubbed the heck out of the brush, in hopes of minimizing the random brush hair that would come lose and stick to the board.

Seal the top side of the board. Once dry, flip around and seal the bottom side. I noticed I would get little drips on the bottom of the rail. I removed the big drops with a soft wash cloth. Once dry I sanded the drips out with fine sand paper. Repeat as necessary.

I did a total of about 10 coats. I sanded with 400 grit sand paper in between early coats, then 1000+ in between the last coats.

Note: I did not add a fin (yet). We wanted to wait so we can measure how high the board would sit on his bus. We needed to make sure the bus, board and fin cleared his garage door.
Once I add the fin I will update!

Holiday Gifts Challenge

Finalist in the
Holiday Gifts Challenge

Furniture Challenge

Participated in the
Furniture Challenge

ShopBot Challenge

Participated in the
ShopBot Challenge