Introduction: How to Build a Surfboard From Scratch
In this Instructables, you will learn how to make your own surfboard from scratch, A-Z. This was my first time making a surfboard so I will tell you the problems I ran into and how you can avoid those problems. I will be making my board out of a polyurethane surfboard blank I got from https://www.foamez.com/. I would not recommend getting one shipped to you because just the shipping would cost around $100. If you are willing to spend the money on shipping, that's fine! If you don't have a local shop that has surfboard blanks and don't want to pay the shipping, you can Make A Home Depot Surfboard. Before we get into it, I want to introduce to you some important terms.
Surfboard Blank: A raw block of foam that you first receive from the surf shop. This is what you shape your board out of!
Step 1: Tools/Materials Needed
Here is a full list of tools and materials you'll need to make your surfboard! If you get these things, you won't have to go to the hardware store again once!
1. Surfboard Blank - $75 (Price Varies)
2. Hand Saw or Electric Saw - $15 (I already had it)
3. Surform - $15
4. Dust Mask (Optional, for sanding) - $5
5. Various grits of sandpaper (40, 60, 80, 120, 220, 320, 420) - $10 (Around)
6. Palm Sander (Optional but very helpful) - $15
7. Hand Planer - $20
8. Respirator (for glassing, spray painting) - $30 (I already had)
10. Paint - $50 (Optional)
11. Stencils (Optional for designs) - $20
12. Logo/Rice Paper (Optional) - $5
13. Fiberglass (4oz and/or 6oz) - $30
14. Laminating Resin (1 gallon) -$45
15. MEKP Hardener (2oz) - $5
16. Surfacing Agent (2oz) - $5
17. Squeegee (Plastic Spreader) - $3
18. 2 or 3 brushes - $15
19. Glasson fins - $15
20. Fin rope - $5
21. Leash Cup - $2
22. Hole saw bit (size depends on how big your leash cup is) - $10
23. Electric Drill - $50 (I already had)
24. Finishing Resin (Optional, for gloss coat) - $25
25. Surf Leash - $15
Total: $455 (If you don't have anything)
Total for me: $390 (I had some things already)
Step 2: Drawing the Outline
This is what makes your board unique. You should take all the time you need to make the perfect outline for you. I recommend shaping it based on your local break's conditions, but you can do whatever you want. If you don't want to take the time to draw your own outline and print your own template, you can go to https://www.blendingcurves.com/ and print one of theirs. I would do some research before you decide on a design. Here is a helpful link to educate you on what some of the designs do and how they will affect performance: https://greenlightsurfsupply.com/pages/surfboard-design-guide. This is an important step, so you should definitely take the time to make it perfect!
Step 3: Cutting Out Your Outline
You can cut out your outline using a hand saw or using an electric saw. I happened to have an electric saw lying around so I used that, but a handsaw is also perfectly fine. I've attached a short clip of me sawing the board for reference.
Step 4: Surforming Your Outline
Sorry, the video is a little long. You don't have to watch it all, but you get the gist of it. Just use up and down motions for more rapid (but unsmooth) shaving. You can do this at first when it's still quite rough. Once you get closer to the line, you'll want to do smoother, longer side to side strokes. Then, once you are practically on the line, you should stop surforming and grab your 40 and 80 grit sandpaper to get a nice, clean outline.
Step 5: Sanding Your Outline
This is when you should get your outline to look very clean and smooth. You should slightly surpass the line, so you can't see it anymore, but just barely. I would start with a 40 grit and then move up to the 80 grit to make it really nice and smooth. This could take a while, but you want to make it really nice.
Step 6: Rail Design, Marking and Shaping
This video should give you a very rough idea of what to do. I explain some of the things I was confused with and how to get past them. Here is a link to a surfboard rail design guide that will explain everything in detail: Surfboard Rail Design Guide. Here is also another video that shows the process of shaping the rails: Shaping Surfboard Rails. You may have to research further than this to get what you want. I recommend you take the time to do sufficient research on the shape of your rails. I also attached a chart that tells you what to multiply the length of your deck/rail/tuck marks by based on the thickness of your board. Hope all this helps you!
Step 7: Cleaning Board for Glassing
In this step, you will clean your board so that it is very clean and looks nice and ready for glassing. Take your hand planer (David Plane) and carefully remove enough stringer so that it is even with the board. You might have to also do this for the nose and tail part of the stringer. After this, take a 40(ish) grit sandpaper and clean it up and make it level. Next, take an 80(ish) grit sandpaper and really make it smooth. You can even go up to a 120 or even higher, but that's optional. Do this for both sides until your board looks very smooth. If you need to, you can also smooth out some rail edges if you didn't make the rails completely smooth. After this step, your board should look ready for glassing.
Step 8: Painting Your Board (optional)
*WARNING: I SCREWED THIS STEP UP BADLY! DO NOT DO A WHITE PRIMER COAT LIKE I DID, ONLY DO A TOTAL OF ONE COAT. IF YOU PAINT TOO THICK, THE FIBERGLASS WILL LOSE IT'S BOND TO THE FOAM AND IT WILL NOT STICK. I MADE THIS MISTAKE SO MY BOARD WAS FULL OF AIR BUBBLES AND I HAD TO DELAMINATE IT AND COMPLETELY RESHAPE AND RESAND IT. DON'T MAKE THIS MISTAKE! I WOULD ALSO STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU USE LIQUITEX BASICS BECAUSE IT IS WATER-BASED AND LOOKS GOOD ON FOAM. THIS IS ADVICE THAT COMES FROM A PROFESSIONAL SHAPER, SO TAKE IT VERY SERIOUSLY!* This is an optional step, but it is nice because it makes your board unique. This step can also make the glassing job a little bit more complicated because you have to focus on not screwing up your design. I would still recommend it because it is a design that nobody else has. For me, it cost about $70 but I bought the wrong thing a couple of times and made some screw-ups, so it should only cost you only about $30-$40. I took my black spray paint (which I don't necessarily recommend using spray paint because it is very toxic) and my checker design stencil and sprayed my checker pattern. After this, I painted in my black and blue on the top and bottom and painted the rails. It is easier to use tape instead of using a stencil and paint it instead of spray-painting. I can't help you too much with this step because all the designs are different, so good luck and have fun!
Step 9: Glassing Your Surfboard
You've finally finished the shaping phase and are onto the glassing phase, congratulations! I want to warn you that this is extremely hard (WAY harder than it looks). I strongly recommend you take the board into a shop to get it glassed. After trying to glass it myself and making multiple errors, I decided to try to take it into a shop, specifically Aquatech Glassing/Anderson Surfboards to see if they could fix it. It turned out I had painted it too thick and that the fiberglass was not sticking for that reason. First of all, don't make my mistake of painting it too thick because even professional shops won't be able to fix it. Second of all, don't let yourself get convinced that it is easy and that you can do it as well as a shop. I am extremely happy with the glassing job that Anderson did for me. He was very nice, knew exactly what I wanted, and was very accommodating to my board's specific needs. If you are planning on taking it in to get it glassed, he should be your first choice. Check him out at http://www.aquatechsurf.com/. If you do decide to glass it yourself, it will not look that clean for your first time, but if you are extremely insistent on doing it, here are some of my tips that will hopefully make it easier for you. First of all, it is an extremely toxic process and if you want to attempt it you need to have a respirator. I tried glassing the board, and I will tell you what went wrong and how you can try to avoid that. Make sure you make small cuts perpendicular to the board on the fiberglass on the rail so that the fiberglass won't wrinkle when you glass the rail. Do this for the nose and the tail, this will help you a lot. Also, when you glass the rails, make sure to saturate all of the fiberglass on the rail first and then lay it down. Make sure to use long, smooth strokes in one direction when you are laminating, and try to go as quickly as possible so the resin doesn't dry up. Make sure you don't rush into glassing it and you do plenty of research because you will have to spend way more time trying to fix it if you try to rush it.
Step 10: SURFING IT!
This is the most satisfying part; the first wave you catch feels amazing, and it only gets better. Enjoy your new, awesome and totally unique surfboard!