Introduction: DIY Body Surfing Hand Plane

About: Travel, Photography, DIY & All Around Craziness!!

Made out of a blank of Indian acacia (almost Koa :) ) wood. 1 inch thick.

I like to travel when i get the opportunity to get away and of late, I've been obsessed with the beach (I’m from a beach town) and since i love to surf, I did a little research and found these nifty hand planes that you can pack away into a backpack and use it in even 2 foot waves and get some awesome tube action.

I looked them up online and the decent ones cost upwards of 80 dollars. Thats about 4000 rupees (if you can find the dang things in India), but since most of them are made of wood. i got myself some great seasoned Acacia and set about making one.

This is my first attempt at making something like this where things like the rocker and rails are so important to get a good planing surface. im happy to say that im really stoked with the result and look forward to trying it out soon. I’m also super happy about the wood burning which is a first time for me too. I learned online that you can do it with a soldering iron and it came out great.

Way way better than plonking a load of cash down for one and considering that the only thing it really cost me was time (4 hours). Meh! it was well worth it!

Check out my blog at CrazyFindian@Tumblr for more DIY, Travel and craziness!

Step 1: Ingredients for This Cook Up:)

  1. A solid piece of wood, about 1" thick and about 18" long by 12" wide. Acacia, Mesquite and Teak (expensive) are good outdoor woods for this.
  2. A sharp hand plane / power planer (you need this if your wood isn't milled and for your shaping)
  3. A handsaw to cut out the shape (i was lazy and used a jigsaw)
  4. A Pencil
  5. A Drill with a spade bit / forstner bit and a 1/4 inch twist bit
  6. Loads of sandpaper and sanding block (60 grit to 320 grit - you can go higher, but this was good enough for me)
  7. Sander / Angle grinder with sanding discs
  8. Polyurethane wood finish / Mineral oil
  9. The board shape template

The image above is at my local saw mill where i chose my lumber and had it cut into a 1 inch thick blank of Acacia on the industrial band saw. I was as giddy as a school girl with all that saw dust and the machinery..

Sigh!!.. boys and their toys :)

I chose Acacia(Thumma in Hindi) because of its beautiful grain - which is much better than the over rated Teak IMO, its weather resistance and the fact that its the same family as the traditional Koa wood used in Hawaii for the first surfboards. Trying to keep it authentic :)

I could have used plywood, but most of the plywood that is easily available here has gaps and i wanted to avoid the drama of it splitting on me - marine ply was too expensive for what i wanted and wasnt sold in small enough pieces

Step 2: Process: the Cutting and Shaping

The shape: Look at some shapes online or design your own and draw it out on a piece of cardboard or card paper. I chose a wide bodied shape for this because Im new to this and my research showed that the wider and slightly longer body helps with buoyancy. I transferred the design onto the sanded blank and cut it out with the jigsaw.

I then used a block plane to shape the rails and taper the rocker in front. this is what gives you lift in the water and prevents nose dives which can be painful. My plane was too blunt for the rocker part however and i ended up using an angle grinder with a 60 grit pad to shape the taper in the front.

BE CAREFUL with the grinder as it is very aggressive and you may end up taking off more than was required.

Once you have the blank all planed and shapely, you get down to the fun part, Lots of sanding with 80 grit, 200 grit and finally 320 grit sandpaper. I don't have a sander, so this was all by hand. if you've got one, go to town with it :)

Step 3:

The first pic is of my initial wood burn which was free handed. Didn't turn out too well.:(

I had initially planned to use a nylon strap from an old bag as the handle for the plane, but decided to go old school with a built in grip. So back to the workbench.

I drilled some ‘pre-saw’ holes with my forstner bit after measuring out the space for my hand and marking it.

I then used a sanding block and a strip of sandpaper - 80 grit, to round over the edges.

I also drilled a 1/4 inch hole on the bottom left for a lanyard.

I also redid the wood burn a little neater. i first drew out the design, then transferred it to the board using carbon paper and sused the soldering iron again to burn it in. looks pretty cool if i say so myself ;)

Finally, i chucked on 3 coats of a polyurethane wood finish and presto, a wooden hand plane.

Took about 4 hours in total and it came out pretty nice :) Cheers :)