Introduction: How to Setup a Skateboard

So you have decided to set up your own skateboard! Congrats!!! Although you could always get your friendly skate shop employees to set up your board this is a great opportunity to completely understand all the components of your skateboard. The average complete skateboard setup will cost anywhere from 100-200 dollars depending on the quality of the components purchased.

This instructable has been written to assist high school students interested in skateboarding to build their very first skateboard. The core disciplinary standard that I will be addressing is Design in Technology and Engineering Education. This is the best core standard to understand while creating a skateboard, as it is a very iterative process. It is a process with little to no wrong answers when it comes to design, although the functionality aspects will be mentioned in detail later in this instructable. The design aspect of technology and engineering education can be seen in the applying grip tape step, as well as when picking out the parts for your board as there are many parts for loads of purposes in addition to personal preferences on your ideal skateboard design. The practice that is essential in this process is system thinking, as the end product will need all the elements of the board to function together to ensure that the board will operate properly. This process also heavily relies on creativity and making and doing. More specifically this practice can be seen most evidently in the applying griptape step, as this is where cutouts, drawings on griptape, and even custom decals for the top ply of the board can be applied. The only limit is your own creativity. Lastly, the context that follows along with this process would be transportation and logistics as this device will allow for increased mobility from place to place.


By the end of this tutorial, a high school student should be able to effectively put together a fully functioning skateboard.

  • Students will be able to express themselves creatively throughout the process.
  • Students will be able to distinguish between the primary components of a skateboard.
  • Students will be able to implement the idea of system thinking throughout the process.

Step 1: Choosing the Correct Parts

Equipment Needed:

  1. Screwdriver(Phillips head)
  2. Socket Set(1/2", 9/16", and 3/8")
  3. Razor Blade
  4. File
  5. OPTIONAL but Recommended: Skate tool which will contain the sockets and screwdriver)

Skateboarding is all about creativity so there are no wrong answers when it comes to any designs or colors. What you must ensure is that you have

  • 4 wheels ~20$-40$
  • 1 pack of bearings (8 bearings) ~10$-100$
  • Pair of trucks(2) ~40$-70$
  • The skate deck ~35$-65$
  • Hardware(nuts and bolts) ~ 3.50$
  • 1 sheet of grip tape. ~7$

TOTAL: ~150$-200$ depending on the quality of components selected (if this is not in your budget I recommend looking at complete setups which range from 90$-110$)

Step 2: Applying the Griptape

This tends to be the trickiest part of the job. There are two sides to your grip tape, the sandpaper side and the sticky side, which will have a parchment paper backing when purchased. To begin remove the parchment paper(Image 2) backing holding the sticky side towards the board. Using your fingers as guides make sure that the grip tape is placed directly over the board with no surface uncovered. Without moving positions start by sticking the grip to the center of the board and push outwards toward the nose and the tail(Image 4). This is also a step where your creativity is welcome if you want to cut a wild design in your griptape or draw your favorite character do so before applying the griptape.


You can get air bubbles if you do not clean the top off of the board. This can be fixed by placing a small hole in the grip with your Exacto knife to squeeze the air out. Also if your grip tape has any design on the top of it, make sure that it is facing the correct way before placing the grip tape down because it is very difficult to rip back up. Lastly, make sure that the grip tape is coving every single square inch of your board before sticking it to the board completely because once it is down it will stick completely.

Step 3: "Scoring" and Cutting the Griptape

Once you have the grip tape stuck to the board you have the option to "score" the grip tape(Images 1-5) by using a screwdriver and making one quick pass along the grip tape with a 45-degree angle. This step not only helps to see where you need to cut but, also makes the grip easier to cut. Next, it is time to grab your Exacto blade. Placing the blade at a 45-degree angle to the side of the board begin to cut all of the excess griptape off of the board(Image 6).


This is arguably the hardest step when setting up a skateboard so do not be discouraged in the process. The first thing that can go wrong is not pealing up the sides of the grip before starting to cut(This is sure to cause a wavy cut). The next thing that can happen is cutting yourself when cutting off the excess grip. To prevent this make sure that your hand is very secure to the board and to take it slow on your first time. Lastly, if your grip tape is not perfectly straight around the edges there is always time to fix it up by taking the excess grip tape that you cut off, folding it on itself, and sanding the edges until it is smooth.

Step 4: Optional **Recommended*** Sanding Around the Board

While this step is not necessary, it is highly recommended as it allows your grip to be filed down and prevents it from coming up if your land with the board upsidedown.

Step 5: Understanding the Components of the Truck!!!

This will be your guide for interchanging any components of your trucks! The terminology used in the photos will be essential to understand in the following steps.

Step 6: Trucks on Board

First gather your nuts and bolts(hardware), a screwdriver, 3/8" socket or skate tool, and your now completed skateboard deck. The first step to this process is to create holes for the hardware to fit through your deck, you can do this by placing the hardware on the exposed hole side of your board and hit the hardware through the predrilled holes in your deck(Images 1-3). This should create a perfect hole that will fit your hardware when you flip the deck around. The next step is to place all eight of your screws through the board and connect your trucks to the board by securing each screw with its specified nut(Images 4-8).


The big thing that can go wrong here is placing your trucks on backward while you are securing them to the skate deck. This is something that happens very commonly during your first few set-ups and can be frustrating. The big take away here is to constantly check to make sure that the kingpin nuts are facing the middle of the board before screwing the hardware down.

Step 7: Wheels and Bearings

You should have your 4 skateboard wheels, 8 bearings, and at least one of your skateboard trucks on your semi-completed board. To start, remove the nut from one side of your skateboard axle. Next place one bearing on the axle, followed by one side of the wheel. Then push down all the way to sink the bearing into the wheel, repeat this step for both sides of the wheels, and then for all four wheels. In this tutorial, I used a bearing press but the same results can be achieved by using your skateboard trucks.


The only major problem that can occur when placing the bearings inside of the wheel is not putting enough pressure to sink the bearings into the wheel all the way. To fix this you can either use more force or ask a local skate shop to use a "bearing press" which will make this process must easier.

Step 8: Putting the Wheels on Trucks

This is arguably the easiest part of the set-up. First, take your recently completed skate wheels and remove all of the lock nuts on the trucks. Next place one wheel on each side of the axles and replace the lock nuts and tighten down with either a skate tool or 1/2" socket, making sure to spin the wheel after tightening completely to ensure that they still roll.


The big thing that can go wrong at this step is tightening the 1/2" lock nut too tight which will cause the wheel to not be able to roll. To fix this just loosen the screw.

Step 9: Assessing Imperfection

There is always room for improvement for your next set-up. For example, you can always try to make fewer air bubbles in the grip, maybe next time you could have cut the grip tape a little straighter or even make the holes for your hardware look cleaner. This is something that takes a lot of practice so don't give up!!!

P.S. We want to see how your setups turn out! Feel free to leave a photo of your completed design in the description below! Thanks for following along!