Introduction: From Skateboard to Handplane

About: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with!

Anyone who had been body surfing knows how frustrating it can be to actually catch a wave. The human body unfortunately isn't that streamlined which means that for most of us, the art of catching a wave is a little hit and miss.

When body surfing, you use your hand out in front of you as a plane to help lift your body out of the water which in turn allows you to move better with the wave. A hand plane makes body surfing much simpler by increasing the surface area of your hand which in turn lifts you even higher out of the water and helps you ride the wave longer and better.

I decided to make my hand plane out of an old skateboard deck as the size and shape make for a perfect hand plane. I've seen some other hand planes on the net made from skateboards but all cut off the front and back of the board and use the middle, flat section. I think this is a little bonkers as the front (or back) of the skateboard are already curved, perfect for riding waves with.

If you are looking for a little inspiration, check out my Pintrest page Handplanes

Step 1: Watch the Video

When we went to test out the handplane the weather wasn't great. My youngest though wasn't going to let a little thing like cold weather stop him (unlike his dad!). although we didn't give it a real test, the short video we made shows that it does work. As it's now Autumn in Australia, looks like I'll have to wait until next Summer to have a play!

Step 2: Get a Deck

First thing to is to find yourself an old skate deck. I got mine from the tip for free.


1. Remove the trunks from the board

2. Rip off the grip tape. This is usually stuck on pretty well so will need some muscle to pull it off. It will also leave a bunch of very sticky glue on the board which I will show you how to get off later.

Step 3: Cut the Board


1. Find the middle of the board and cut it in half

Next you need to decide on the shape of your board. There are a heap of designs on the net that you can find and get inspiration from. Just type in "body surfing hand planes" into google and you'll see what I mean. I have also included a few images of my favorites as well as my Pintrest board which can be found below:

Pintrest Hand Planes

2. Trim the board into the design that you have decided on. I used a jigsaw and it did the job well.

Step 4: Start Sanding

Now it's time to start to sand down the plane board. I used a wood file to smooth down the edges of the board and start to define the shape.


1. Put the board into a vice and slowly start to plane down the sides. You could use a hand sander, electric or do what I did and use a wood file.

2. Once the sections that you have cut are smooth, start to round off the edges.

Step 5: Removing the Glue and More Sanding


1. To remove the glue I used some petrol. Just pour it onto the board and start to scrape off. Use a rag soaked in petrol to help remove the rest of the glue

2. Next it's time to sand down the board and remove the paint. I used an electric sander for this and it comes over pretty easily.

Step 6: Shaping Your Board

So once you have all of the paint off, the next step to to refine the shape of the board


1. Continue to sand and remove any scratches from the board.

2. Use the sander to refine the edges and round off.

3. Lastly, use a fine grit paper to give your board a smooth finish.

Step 7: Filling the Holes


1. Use some filler to fill in the truck holes in the board

2. Leave to fully dry and then sand back

Step 8: Decorating

After a little indecision (see next step) I decided to paint a stripe onto the board.

Also, at this stage I actually decided to change the shape of my board. I got my jig saw out and cut off the corner on each sides to round off better


1. Mask off the section that you want to paint with some masking tape.

2. Carefully paint the section and give it a few coats.

3. Leave to dry for 12 hours

4. Remove the masking tape carefully so you don't pull-off any of the paint.

Step 9: Adding Some Artwork

In the end I didn't go with this step and sanded back the board. The biggest problem was some pooling of the clear coat and also the images when added, left a light mark where the paper was glued.


1. You don't have to do this step but I decided to add a couple images to the board to make it original. Print off your images on a laser printer

2. Next, cut out the images, add some Mod Podge to the image side and stick to the board. Leave dry for 24 hours

3. With a wet sponge, damp the paper and start to rub off with your finger. The image will be left behind on the wood like a transfer.

4. Wet again and continue to rub until all of the paper has been removed.

Step 10: Clear Coat


1. To protect the wood you will need to add a few coats of clear polyurethane. Wipe onto the wood with a rag and leave to dry

2. Once it's dry, sand back lightly with a fine grit sandpaper.

3. Give the board another 3 or 4 coats to ensure it's fully protected.

Step 11: Adding a Strap

lastly, you will need to add some type of strap to the board for your hand. Initially I was going to use some old wetsuit material but decided to go with some rubber strapping which was a little stronger.


1. Measure out how much strap you will need. This will depend on how big your board is and also the size of your hand. You want the strap to be tight on your hand so the board doesn't slip.

2. Cut the strap. Add a washer to the screw and push through the strap. I folded the ends so the strap would sit off the board a little, plus it gives the screws more to bite into.

3. Screw into place

4. Test and make sure that the strap isn't too loose and that your hand fits comfortably

Step 12: Go and Surf

Time to find a surf beach and try out your board. I definitely want to make a few more of these and try out some different designs. All I need now is to get my hands on another old skateboard deck! Might even try a longer one next time...

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