Introduction: How I Designed and Built My 5 Foot Foot Longboard

About: I am currently a Senior at the University of Louisville's Speed School of engineering shooting for my masters. As a kid I always felt like I needed to be making something with my hands I just didn't know how. …

This longboard has been the jewel of my creations for the past year and although the process to construct one has been detailed, I wanted to show my thought process behind making this memorable board. This board has never left my side since I created it resulting in people only recognizing me with my board in tote, hearing the occasional camera click, and being called Sasquatch. Unmistakably though my favorite result from this build is to watch people, kids and adults alike, take one look and smile at the zaniness that is my Foot. It has also provided a great icebreaker when someone sees it and wants to know more or when an older gentleman begins to reminisce about stealing his sisters roller blade wheels to nail onto a 2X4. Its all part of the enjoyment of designing and making you're own board.

Finally, I would like to thank TeacherofTheWays for the detailed instructable on how to get started.
and the city of Louisville, Kentucky for making it worth my while.

Step 1: The Design

The design began to come to fruition once I recognized that a board did not have to be symmetrical. Since I was building this for myself, I knew what it as going to be used for and the asymmetrical design was not going to get in the way. I mainly built this for transportation, I wanted something faster than walking but more transportable than a bike (you will see how transportation became the theme of this board).

Since I knew nothing about long boards at the beginning of this, I did a whole bunch of research and consolidated what I thought  I needed in my little black book (a.k.a. what do on the weekends). I referenced guides on here as well as the forums of SilverFish Longboarding ( until I felt comfortable enough to buy my materials.

The main thing I was looking for was critical dimensions, what would be too long/short and too wide/thin (my main concern) to be considered safe under a force load. Think of your design but removing all the unnecessary parts so you are just left with a rectangle that receives the majority of the force. I saw that 7" was as narrow as I would venture to go and a large wheel base would offer more road stability; so I had my dimensions but  I still needed my design.

Now I can't tell you what apple had fallen to give me this idea but  my driving concept was to have something recognizable via the silhouette and it resulted in the foot. Being from Kentucky...well yall know how we can be about our shoes, if the weather is nice and the grass is soft, why wear 'em! I'm also left handed and lead with my left foot when riding (regular stance) so that's why the left foot was chosen in particular.

You can see my other designs I had during the process and I'll post more of my pages of ideas I had afterwards. 

Step 2: The Build

I was still living in on-campus housing at the time and when I wanted to build this bad boy I could have commuted to my parents house to work on it or (to the dismay of my neighbors and RA) build it in my apartment style dorm. I mean why not, my tools were all there and I had a balcony for the sawdust). 

I went with 3 layers of Baltic Birch plywood glued with Titebond III and a fiberglass bottom to reinforce it (a great investment).
When you set up the press, whatever concavity you set is what it will be, I thought it might relax a bit when It was done so I went a little more concave than I would have preferred but it was all good in the end. Also, buy more glue than you think you might need because with Titebond III, the glue gets absorbed into the wood and you don't want to run out. Make sure you put down a tarp or something similar to catch the secreted glue so it doesn't get on the tile because it can be a pain to clean up.

Since your board will be a concave rectangle when coming out of the press, it might be difficult for you to freehand a design on so I recommend taping together pieces of paper, getting an outline of your rectangle, then sketching the design to cut out into a stencil guide.

After you get your outline, time to get to work. Score your outline with a utility knife, this will prevent the wood from splintering across the board when you cut it with a jigsaw. Depending on your design, you might have to go through multiple tools or maybe just one to get it cut out correctly. I used a jigsaw for the majority of it but had to switch to a Dremel with a cutting bit to get into the toes.

Even if you plan on covering your board with grip tape and paint, you'll still want to sand it to some degree. I stained the top of mine so I went down to a finer grain but you want to round the corners and deburr the wood. Make sure to blow air or take a damp rag to it to clean off the fine dust in preparation for the next step of applying grip tape and fiberglass.

Once again, there a multitude of guides on both these subjects so I won't delve too far into them but I will give some tips. To the observant, I indeed did not put grip tape on my board. I like the look of the wood and I wasn't too satisfied with the look of clear grip tape so I left it bare. The majority of the time i'm barefoot when riding the board and the skin provides enough resistance so I don't slip off. When I bomb hills I where my vans that stick well enough so I yet to have a strong reason to hide the wood. However, if you go this route, realize the potential danger in doing so and under no circumstances, get the top wet because you will easily slip off.
TeacherOfTheWays has good instructions for applying fiberglass but I will make one small is a chemical reaction so if say you put the board with the fiberglass outside on a balcony on a chilly November night, it will not set up.

After the fiberglass cures, do it with it what you will. Once again, I wanted the theme of this board to be transportation so for the deck, I took a Louisville map and Modpodged it on then took a clear coat spray to the whole thing to seal it in. and make it water resistant. Aside from looking great, I can use the map to find new hills to check out from talking to people.

Step 3: Closing Lines

There you have it guys (or at least I hope you got an idea) how I designed and built my longboard. Now its your turn to go out and make something unique, something to make people smile.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop them below and I'll try to help out if i can or point you in the right direction.

I'm still trying to get used to posting Instructables so it's not just a block of text. This one was a bit different since I had limited photos but hopefully they will improve.

These photos show how my board is doing now, year plus later and still attracting crowds and getting me where I feel like going.

If you are from Louisville and snapped a picture of my Foot, post a link to the picture and I'll add it to this stream (with photo cred of course). I know there are a lot of photos out there so I want to see how many I can collect.