Introduction: Making My Own Mini-cruiser Skateboard

For a school project we got asked to do basically anything. We could make something, follow a course, attend some lectures... Basically anything that was somewhat related to my study was allowed. Ever since I started skateboarding/longboarding myself, I have always wanted to make my own deck. So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do so. Not only would I do what I have been wanting to do, I would also get a good grade for it.

What I'm going to use in this project:

  • GrabCad
  • SolidWorks
  • A big printer
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Sanding machine
  • Four glue clamps
  • A whole lot of wood filler
  • Even more wood glue

Step 1: Getting a 3D-model

To start this project I first had to aquire a 3D-model of the deck I was going to make. And since this is quite a lot of work to make myself, I searched for one on until I found one that was similar to what I would like. The model I found was perfect because it already came with a model of the mold I need to build.

After downloading it I edited it a bit in SolidWorks to get it perfectly to my liking. I mostly added a tiny bit of convex and shape.

Now that I have the deck just how I want it, I splice both parts of the mold in 7 pieces. I 'cut' it in half and get a screenshot of the exact middle of the mold, lenghtwise. Then I move the cut a few centimeters to the outside of the model and get another screenshot, and another, and the last one at the very outside edge. By doing this, I can later print these shapes out, draw them on some planks and cut them to the right shape.

I repeat this process for the other mold (there's always an upper and a lower mold).

Step 2: Starting the Mold

After getting al the views of the molds, I print them out in the real size they need to be. I want to make a fairly small deck, so I print these views at 28 inch, or 71.12 cm. Once I have them printed on paper I cut them out. After a quick trip to my local hardware store I have some scaffolding wood planks, which so happen to be the perfect width. I lay the paper views on the planks, draw them over and cut them out. I now have the basic shapes of my molds.

Now I just need to assemble it all. To make sure everything is tightly secured, I glue and screw the parts of the mold to each other. Put some glue clamps on them and let them dry for a while.

Step 3: Now Comes the Grind...

So now the molds are assembled and the basic shape is there. But now comes the sanding, the grinding. The mold still consists of the 'square' planks. What we need to do now is sanding away all the excess wood to get the proper shape. As you might be able to imagine, this takes a. lot. of. work.

With the sanding machine I grind away all the edges to try to make the shape as smooth as possible. This is easy for the top mold, since it has a convex shape. The bottom mold has a concave shape which makes it harder to reach some edges with the sanding machine. (Please ingnore my lack of safety protocol. Always make sure you wear proper footware when working with machines)

Even though you might be able to smoothen out most of the edges, there are always some places that you can never get right. So those places I filled up with wood filler. This is a paste which you spread on the wood. It then hardens and you're able to sand it down again. I didn't have to use much of this in the top mold, but I did use quite a lot in the bottom mold because it was so hard to reach some places due to the shape.

Step 4: Making the Deck

The most work is done; the mold. Now just to make the deck itself.

Most skateboards use 7 or 8 sheets of maple vineer of 1.6 - 2 mm thick. Since I couldn't find any good maple vineer within my budget and timeframe, I went with hardwooden multiplex of 3.6 mm thick. This was the thinnest wood I could find for a reasonable price, at my local hardware store. I have used 4 sheets of this.

The first thing I did was test one sheet in the mold. I placed the sheet on the bottom mold, put the top mold on top and pressed. I could hear some cracks almost immediatly, the wood wasn't flexible enough for the shape of the mold. After some quick research I learned that water and heat could both make wood more flexible. So I put on the tea kettle and waited untill the water was almost boiling. Then I went back outside and poured some of the hot water on one of the sheets. I tested this sheet again in the mold and it was flexible enough.

So now that I have a way to get the multiplex in the mold, let's go for it. I pour the water over the first sheet and place in on the bottom mold. I squirt a whole lot of wood glue on the sheet and spread it so the glue has an even spread all over. Then comes the next sheet; water, place it in the mold, glue. And the next sheet. And the last sheet, but of course without the glue on top.

I did make sure to alternate the sheet according to the wood grain. This wouldn't really matter for the multiplex which I used, but if you use vineer this might be important. Make sure that you place one sheet with the grain vertical and the next with the grain horizontal, vertical again and so on.

When all the sheets are glued and in the mold, place the top mold on top of the sheets. I used glue clamps on each of the corners of the mold to press the two molds together. I turned them as far as I could to make sure the sheets were being properly pressed together. After an hour or so I tried tightening them even more, and after another hour again. When I couldn't tighten the clamps any further, I let it all rest for about 3 days.

Step 5: Finishing the Deck

After the 3 days I got the whole thing out of the shed and unscrewed the glue clamps. I quickly noticed that the wood glue had worked absolute wonders. The sheets were glued together even better than I hoped for.

Now I almost have the deck. It's just still a bit square.

In SolidWorks I drew the shape that I wanted to make the deck, as seen from above. Once again, I printed this in real size, cut it out and drew it on the deck. I get out the jigsaw again and cut out the shape of the deck. After sanding down the edges a bit, the deck is almost done. I downloaded a template for the holes of the trucks and printed it and drilled the holes. I mostly placed these on sight, I didn't measure for an exact place I wanted them.

After drilling the holes, the deck is basically finished. After a quick test ride, I got some spray varnish and sprayed multiple layers on all sides of the deck. When this dried I drove to my favourite skate shop, Sickboards. Here I got someone to professionally apply some griptape, and I bought new trucks. I already had some spare wheels and bearings.

The deck is ready for use!

Step 6: The Graphic

At this point the deadline for this school project was over, I turned it in and got a good grade.

But that doesn't stop me from making this deck even more awesome. I wanted to do this by making my own graphic on it.

I designed this graphic with a T-shirt in mind that I bought in Indonesia a few years prior. It has a geometric shape with triangles passing through each other. I simplified this a bit to make it more suitable for making it myself on this deck.

Again, I designed this in SolidWorks. I printed it out and had to think of a way to transfer it from paper to paint. First I had to think of the colours I would use. I ended up with going for a white graphic on a black surface.

So I used a grey primer first. I didn't know if this would be necessary, but figured it couldn't hurt. So after a few layers of primer, I applied a few layers of matte-black paint. Now only to make the graphic.

To make the graphic I first marked out the corner points. I taped the printed out graphic on the deck and with a small screw, I made a little mark in the paint where all the corners are. Now just to figure out what would be the best way to apply the graphic itself. I tried multiple things, like a permanent marker and spray paint. The marker wasn't really visible and the spray paint didn't work because there was too much wind.

So what I did was use painters tape to mark out one single line between the marked corners. Then take some plain white acrylic paint and a small brush and draw the one line. Then repeat this for all the other lines. This took quite some time, but in the end it wasn't very difficult, just make sure you apply the tape properly.

When I had painted on all the lines I sprayed some more layers of the varnish over it and the deck is completely finished!