Introduction: Surfboard Lamination

I moved out to Long Island for work and bought a surfboard. After a season of riding it into dunes and what-have-you, the tail snapped. Over the following winter I restored the surfboard to its former glory. I have no experience with laminates and prior to this season had never surfed a day in my life.

Step 1: Buy a Surfboard

The original was a 9' 6" Sydney Madden Pineapples from the 70's. It had significant wear but was watertight and as far as I could tell, well shaped. If you are new to surfing, a longboard is where most people begin.

Step 2: Ride It Till the Wheels Come Off

In this step I had already started to peel the bottom glass off. This should show the extent of the injury to the foam core. The deck remained intact and the foam core adherent to it; I decided to patch the deck and preserve the original shaper's logo for posterity. The last image shows the belly of the board a stripped as I could get it. Significant damage occurred when I tried to free it from the foam core, in the end I sanded it down as much as I could.

Step 3: Fixing a Hole

I chose polyester resin for this project as the board was likely laminated with it in the first place. If you are shaping your own board, I would use a newer epoxy system.

My patch material was flour and resin. As with cooking and pretty much every thing else in life, I winged these measurements. The key is to add in layers and build up before you sand down.

To patch the main fault I packed it with resin and placed it over two sawbucks (ironing board/civic) and placed light weights (2-3kg) to hold it closed and reduce any misalignment of the "curve" while it cured.

Step 4: Fixing a Hole

Keeping a surfboard on an ironing board while sanding it is stupid and crazy, but that's how I did it. If you're building a board, build or buy a stand like you'll see in all the videos. Fixing the cracks in the tops prepared me for glassing the bottom of the board.

After dying the patches for the bottom edges, I knew my color matching skills were not the best in the world, maybe not even fifth best, so when I did the top, I added the most minute amount of pigment/dye possible. As you can see, again, you'll need a careful eye to spot the repair.

Step 5: A Word About Resin

Polyester Resin

This stuff stinks, but is significantly less expensive than epoxy systems. The fact that I left the deck on sealed the deal that I needed to keep with the same resin.

To set off the reaction, you have to add MEKP reactant. Some places will call this catalyst, but I believe it participates in the reaction. Depending on your MEKP concentration, the resin will cure overnight collecting bugs, or while you are mixing colors. With experience patching the bottom and sides, I for the most part didn't measure my MEKP. Once you get it, you will know if how much you are adding is "a little" or "a lot." If you're building from scratch experiment, even come up with another project to familiarize yourself with your materials. In the end, board builders apply a "hot coat" which refers to the exothermic nature of a mix with "a lot" of MEKP in it. When I built my outer layers, I generally made these coats "hot."

Catalyst chart, no affiliation, a quick googleing will yield others

Epoxy resin is generally considered better, but I did not want to mix materials. They are also generally easier to mix.

Step 6: Masking

Next I masked my finbox and deck. It probably would have been wiser to reinstall one, if it breaks loose i will do another i'able on finboxing.

The mask is important because it keeps the overhanging fiberglass in the next steps from getting goo on your deck. if not heavily pigmented, you can see through too the mask and cut it with a razor. The trick is to do this while the resin is about half hardened. it will still adhere to the form, but the sliced extra areas will easily pull away. There are images of this with the leash plug.

I just used newspaper and painters tape.

Step 7: Draping

I did mine alone and in a hurry in my backyard, I didn't get good shots of the draping of the fiberglass or lamination. The above images, and a few hours of reading the internet guided me on my project.

Step 8: Goo Your Glass

Again, glassing is time sensitive and I was the only one present for the procedure, The above photo is not mine and is just to illustrate what it will look like when you pour your resin onto the draped fiberglass. If your resin is pooling, it's too thick, but you also have to be careful not to spread it too thin. A video I watched suggested when you move the tool over the glass it should sound like a zipper.

Watch a video or two about how to spread the resin over the fiberglass.

Youtube video of a guy glassing a base

What the above video doesn't show is how the edges are wrapped. He shows this in a different video

Rail wrap

In the demo video the guy uses a paintbrush to impregnate the hanging rails, resin has a tendency to just run off it and waste on the floor. A lot of guys will follow the edges with the resin pot as they use the squeegie to collect drips. I used a different technique I got from a different video, the glasser said he uses a magazine in one hand to hold the flaps level with the deck while he squeegies resin over them. This has 2 benefits, you're pushing resin down into it like on the deck, and the magazine becomes kind of a well of resin to get the rail further on where you might not have poured as much resin because this is your first time glassing and you don't know the right amount to pour on.

Once your rails are wet, they will adhere to the underside of the board. Use the same technique you use to spread resin on the top to laminate the wet edges to the underside. If your overhang is huge, you may have difficulty getting it to stick. If it becomes an issue you can excise excess glass to get a better stick. Generally the parts that bubble loose will be cut off in the next step!

Some builders recommended doing a practice run on cardboard, but that is material intensive. I felt confident enough after my small repairs to glass the whole bottom. Boy was I wrong; learn from my mistakes.

  1. I did not make enough goo to go around, and had to frantically make a solo cup full to finish soaking the overhanging edges. It worked out, but could have gone smoother
  2. I used very dark resin as I am bad at color mixing. Opaque resin is
    difficult to cut free from the masking as you cannot see the masking.
  3. For the love of god, don't do this on an ironing board.

A link I found useful in this undertaking:
Surfer Steve's guide

Step 9: Let It Sit!

Okay, you have it all soaked and the edges are magically sticking to your masking! Have a cold one and relax, find your camera and realize you didn't take any pictures of the previous step. Fantasize about some waves you're going to be catching on this cruise missile of a board.

Over the area where the base snapped I put two layers of fiberglass. It probably wasn't necessary and made it look ugly until we painted it.

The nose glassed pretty well, but the tail frayed a bit. I sanded this down and took a 2in by 5in strip and gently re-wrapped the tail to insure integrity.

Step 10: Cup It Up

This surfboard was so old, leashes were for kooks only when it was made. The previous owner had drilled a hole through the fin for a leash. While this worked, I was going through the trouble of re-laminating the base, a cup was a small task.

You can buy a cup from most surf supply stores, I believe I ordered mine off amazon or some similar megavendor.

Take a hole saw and zip a hole in the deck along the stringer. Be sure to center it perfectly, as I have. I took a swiss army knife and cut out some of the foam so my plug would fit in the hole. I then coated the inside of the exposed foam with resin and flour mixture, and cut a 4in x 4in square of leftover fiberglass.

Push the fiberglass into the hole with the leash plug, and mix up some resin to fill the plug and glass down the fiber to the deck. Most plugs have a high neck around them to keep resin out of the socket during installation. Some are even closed over and have to be sanded signficantly to expose the leash pin. I probably should have gone with this.

once your fiberglass is soaked, spread it out on the deck, but be careful not to let your strokes pull the plug out of the pit. Once satisfied, fill the plug hole with resin. When the resin is tacky, pass a razor over it to cut out a nice ring around your deck hole.

Learn from my mistakes:
  1. Keep it on centerline, drill with a small bit first before using the holesaw
  2. Make sure the "face" of the plug is above your fiberglass level! mine is below it and will never be sanded smooth like the green plug in the pictures above.

Step 11: Find an Artist

Materials for this step are talent and acrylic paint. I searched google for an image I liked and found this octopus painting. I then had my lovely assistant paint the bottom of the board. Due to concerns about delamination around the finbox, I asked her to leave the area unadorned in case I need to route a 1in channel down the middle next season.

Step 12: The Hotcoat

Well glassed surfboards I am told do not require sanding between the glass coats and the hot coat. I had to free some masking from the wrap and here-and-there take down a bump or dribble. After painting, I let the acrylic dry a day and then hotcoated it in my front yard.

The hotcoat is generally made with more MEKP which yields a quicker reaction, you have a lot less time to spread this around. Doing it in the hot sun speeds this up even more. It's easy to have it harden on you while you're still spreading it.

Look back at step 5 for an image of the surf wax. This styrene based liquid makes the resin harder than usual and is very easily sanded.

Spreading the resin for hotcoating is much easier as there is no fiberglass to suck it up. Look at the first picture and see that the rail is rimmed in painters tape. What this does is allow excess to drip to the ground, instead of forming stalagtites on your deck!

In apx 20-30 min you can just peel the tape off.

Before glassing the bottom I cut the painters tape away from the finbox but left enough to cover the fin slot, but just barely. I do not advise this method. I took a dremel and cut grip into the exposed surface of the finbox before glassing. After the hotcoats, I took a fine bit in a hand drill and mapped out the fin slot, and then cut it out with a cutoff disc on the dremel tool.

Step 13: Get Back in the Water

It's probably next season if you worked at the pace I did. The hotcoat is still hazy in areas but when soaked in seawater it appears well sanded. I just wanted to get back on waves.

Nota Bene:
  1. Become comfortable with your materials before attempting to wrap.
  2. You will need more than you think, I bought a gallon planning on doing two boards, I'm not sure enough is left. I would be much more efficient the second time around.
  3. Color matching is hard, you will need much more practice if matching color for a repair.
  4. Use a magazine or piece of cardboard to help wet the edges
  5. Plan to re-install a fin box instead of leaving the old one in. Watch for another instructable in a season or so.
  6. Make sure your cup is midline and above the level of your deck glass.
  7. If not for the artistic assist, the bottom of this board would have been uggos. If you can't paint find some one who can or some graphics.
  8. Finish sanding your hotcoat! Once it is rideable you're not going to want to sand anything ever again!

This is my first instructable! I've always meant to start making them and never got around too it, I always seem to forget to photograph key steps and scrap the instructable. I've taken so many ideas from this community, it's high time I posted something back.