Introduction: Made It at TechShop RDU- How to Refurbish an Old Skateboard

This is an Instructable on refurbishing an old skateboard. I did this at TechShop RDU in Raleigh, NC:
Also, here's my new Etsy page:

I've had this skateboard since I was a child, and decided recently I was going to teach my dog to pull it on a harness while I ride it. Aim high...

Step 1:

First, disassemble it into its constituent parts. You won't need much more than a screwdriver and a wrench to clasp the bolt on the bottom. After that, strip off the old skid tape and any other pieces of tape, gum, etc. that might have attached over the years.

Step 2:

Next, go over the laminate wood with low grit paper (here I'm using a Random Orbit Sander with 80 grit paper). If you don't have access to a random orbit, you can do the same by hand, but it will take a lot longer. You don't have to worry about following the grain until you get to smaller grits, as imperfections here will be smoothed out. When all the old gunk and dirt is sanded off, come back with first 150, and then 220 grit paper). Lastly, take the board over to the miter saw and take off a few inches from both ends, both to lighten it up a bit, and to prepare for the next step.

Step 3:

Draw a light pencil line down the middle of the board as a reference mark. The next step is why I cut a few inches off each end, and why you need to find a TechShop in your area. I'm using a 60 watt Epilog Helix Laser Cutter/Engraver to put in an image I selected online (thanks to Line the center of the board up with the image size in your program, check from various angles to make sure the image will appear even, and hit go. You can see the image starting to be produced in the last picture.

Step 4:

Here are a few more pictures of the image being engraved into the board, as well as the final image.

Step 5:

Next, cut down one of the sides based on a rough pencil sketch of your desired profile, and sand down. I used a 48" beltsander at Techshop for the purpose, but if you have the time a rasp and sandpaper will work as well. After one side is done, use a stencil to mark it, flip the paper, and transpose the image on the other side. Same deal, bandsaw and sanding. When the sides and back are done, go over it with rough paper to round out and soften the edges.

Step 6:

To start finishing it, I am using a wood conditioner. Coat the board in a thin layer, wait five minutes, and then wipe off. This closes up some of the pores so that a stain will take more evenly and not come out blotchy. Wait a few, apply a stain (I'm using a gel stain for ease of use and clean up), and wipe off thoroughly in about five minutes. At this point give the board some time to dry. The main purpose of the stain is to increase the contrast between the burned etching and the surrounding wood. You can see the difference between the first and third pictures.

Step 7:

Beware the Devil Dog.

Then, apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane with a synthetic brush. Here I'm using Rust-Oleum because it seals well, is durable, and dries relatively quickly. Alternatively, you can use a natural bristle brush with shellac for a richer and higher quality finish (or a shellac french polish if you're up to it). Allow at least 3 hours between coats, 5 or so before any sanding, and a full day before regular usage.  

Step 8:

Next, use some fine grit sandpaper (or actual skate tape if you like, I just had this laying around) and place some artist's spray adhesive one it. Put just enough to secure it to a waste piece, and then head back to the laser printer. I vectored out the lettering to go over what was burned into the wood, and used a back piece with the same stencil design. Once they are cut out, remove them, apply a healthy dose of adhesive, allow to gum up, and then carefully place on the board and secure.

I also took some time to lube and align the wheels so that run a bit smoother, and got all new bolts at a grand cost of around $2.

Step 9:

That's it, you're done. Enjoy being the guy with a sled dog.

Special thanks to TechShop, as always, for the workspace and machinery to do this project. Their website is:

Also, thanks to for the stencil image I used on the board.