Introduction: Coffin Surf Board Part 1

About: Failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success.

It's been a very long time since I spent some decent moments in the workshop.

You know, it feels like a thousand ages I didn't build something purely for the fun of it. Something I didn't build before, something experimental, something sexy, something probably not functional but just too wacked crazy not to start with.

Sometimes I feel I've been losing my time on these fakkin' French worksites way too long, and with every week looking like the previous I realise I've been orbiting around this Instructables community far too long, also.

Sorry fine people, I've been busy elsewhere.

Circumstances, priorities and issues, that stuff.

But that time was yesterday.

That time is behind me.

Now's the day to send some images back to base camp.

Now's the time to reconnect.

You know, getting fired again helps really a lot tho.

There's no place for free thinkers in this world anyway.

A while ago, at one of these worksites, I noticed a bunch of pine beams someone had thrown in the bin. Not only that very particular kind of special collegue had found the necessity to cut a full dozen nice 4m long pine beams in half, he also thought their best new home would be the trash bin, amongst tons of broken tiles, drywall and all that stuff that's left with a total makeover of a house built in the sixties.

Some people are just way too much disconnected to be worth saving.

Every reasonable person could use a dozen 15cm x 15cm pine beams, right?

To get the story short: I hauled them in my van, stored them in my workshop and hoped for better days to come.

That was already half a year ago.

Six months these things looked at me when I was doing everything but woodwork.

About 200 days I crunched my neurons to find something fun to build with them.

I can't remember anymore how I got the idea, but one day I decided to knock a few of these babies together into a conceptual surfboard.

And that, dear friends, was just the very start of that new adventure I was looking for.

Step 1: Kroc With a 'K'

Before I would start the real stuff I decided to build a scale model.

Scale models are sometimes a very useful feature. Since I know knothing about surfing or paddling I read a thousand reviews, looked at a thousand videos, studied a thousand of shapes and listened to the complete Beach Boys Collection, and somehow I came up with a concept far away frow classic board designs.

It's a fusion of a razor sailing boat, a stand up paddle and a swamp reptile.

Like crocodile, not spelled that way tho.

You know, I just needed lines so I carved lines.

I needed character so I broke these lines again.

I needed good looks so I added detail.

Enjoy this baby. Couldn't be more pleased with it.

Step 2: The Multiple Life Concept

That said, I didn't want it to be too much mainstream either.

Somehow it looked not enough bart to me. Too streamlined, too soft, too much flowers, not enough cactusses.

A few belgian beers later I changed the initial blueprint and went wild places.

That's what scale models are for. They visualize how you don't want to do it.

This concept deserved a higher level. Three dimensions is nice, but three dimensions are only the lowest bar.

Three ain't enough, and so The Great Upgrade came along.

Imagine. Surfing a self built board sounds like fun, right, but did you ever imagine surfing your own coffin?

To be honest, I didn't untill that fifth beer.

All became clear to me.

Suddenly I saw light.

Suddenly I wanted this to be a Conceptual Multiple Life Project.

This board would once become the cover of my own coffin.

Imagine this.

First this wood has been a bunch of nice pines, waving in the French coastal breeze.

Second they've been turned into beams which served as a decorational feature above a French family living and dying in horror beneath them.

Third it will be a surfboard, with me sometimes on top of it but mostly me crashing under it.

Fourth it will be the cover of my coffin, after I'd been crushed under a million hectoliters of water on the Basque coast.

Fifth it will be burned in the fire and the ashes been thrown in the coastal breeze again, returning as nutriment for other trees and giving the people of this earth finally the peace and calm again they badly deserved.

Sixth it will be an epic memory to its inventor, outlasting all the bad things he did in his life, all these wannabe bosses he drove into brutal suicide.

Never forget. If stupid works it ain't stupid.

Step 3: Milkshake Mixers

Building a plain wood surfboard is pretty straight forward.

Or you get yourself a nice slab of softwood, or you build yourself a nice slab of wood.

Length, width & thickness. These elements give you volume, the volume gives you buoyancy. Archimedes got it all figured out.

I only had these trash bin beams with their dimensions.

My board couldn't get longer than the longest beam, respecting a given ratio.

So I went calibrating, shaving, lining up and spraying the magic.

My stuff was painted and not pretty rectangular, so I did my best to turn it into nicely flat sided beauties.

Turning trash into treasure that's my thing.

As there is Milkshake mixers.

These guys bought a heap of my stuff.

And I gotta see a good thing sure enough, now.

Step 4: Tomorrow's Pain

At the time I ran into the project I didn't figure out the details.

I never do, by the way. Details are Tomorrow's Pain.

Since somewhere in the process I planned to glue these beams together in some way, I knocked them temporarly together with a few threaded rods.

Drill going straight through, big washers big bolts. Easy peasy.

Boom, like that.

Step 5: Sunset Over Wasteland

You know, don't underestimate the weight of a light pine beam tho.

These trees are grown and harvested in the French Landes region, a region which was a Pyrennean Wasteland a while ago, when glaciers sculpted the landschape and intertwined river systems carried the sediments to the sea, creating one of Europes biggest deltas.

This sandur landscape was inhabited by herds of bison, deer and a few Magdaleneans running wild on Reindeer moss.

When temperatures rised and the whole region lifted up this land got covered by - a wild landscape where humans were few. It's only two centuries ago that a certain Napoleon decided to cover the whole region with pine, needed to reinforce the tunnels and shafts in the French coal mines.

That said, even tho the board was already inside, it had to be cut out of it and instead of ruining my back every time I needed to turn it over I wanted to remove some ballast, at first.

Outlines sawed out, surfaces thinned. Producing chips, which would be turned into our dry toilet later, good company with the residuals of epic meals and bad comments.

Step 6: Seven Worlds Collide

After that First Carve a second finer carve would come and therefor the whole needed to be knocked & rocked solid together.

I wanted to go old school naval with this concept, like filling the gaps with hemp and pine tar, using bronze nails and walrus ivory.

So before I glued the whole together I shaved the glue faces into slight ridges. Glue would be on the central areas where the beams touched, the tar sealant would be on the areas exposed to mother nature.

Once the 6 faces had the correct shape I glued the whole together and used the rods again to get it all nice & tight.

That's the moment the workshop project became an inside job. I hauled the coffin-ish thing near the stove and hoped for some understanding of my wife, exposing her to the sight of a coffin in our living room for almost a week.

Step 7: It's About the 'Gator

I didn't thrust this first glue episode, the more I didn't use cookies or plugs. Even tho I planned to insert oak rods in the rod holes, this combo didn't look solid enough to me.

I love wood joinery you know, and I always wanted to try the famous alligator joint - honestly, I have no clue what this joint is called but it looks like a reptile gliding through a swamp to me.

To get a proper 'gator joint you have to build the animal itself, and to carve the slide where it'll be going through.

I built the reptile from an old oak beam, and cut the slide with a 45° mitter saw.

To carve the slide properly out a normal chisel is often not long enough. What you need is a weapon called a 'demi-bisaigue' in french - basically a long chisel with a handle perpendicular to the carving direction.

I didn't have one so I built one. Best tools are born out of necessity.

An old clamp, an old file and some welding later I had the tool that would raise me a 'gator.

Step 8: Knockin' on Wood

Once you have built the alligator itself you only have to carve the perfect slide to get the equation right.

Measure twice, cut once.

Two cuts with the miter saw for each slide and half an hour carving later you're ready to go.

I lubed the slide itself with wood glue and knocked the two alligators nicely straight through it.

Don't carve that slide too tight, the wood might split. Telling you this as a friend.

First time I'm doing the 'gator joint, definitely will doing it again.

Honestly I rushed through this episode. First because it's a pretty straight forward project anyway - if I would have done this in the woods the result would have been similar - and two because I wanted to finish this project in time.

I could have added an extra 'gator on the deck of the board for even more structural integrity, but that would have ruined the final estethics of the coffin.

Step 9: Back for Good

This episode is what the whole project was intended for.

This episode was why this life was pretty much worth living.

These few hours erased all the suffering, all the sweaty hands, all the sticky notes and all the sleepless nights.

I jammed the whole brutal playlist of Take That through the speakers, removed the rods, saw the two sides of the coffin correctly and started carving wild.

Sorry but not sorry, I used the electric plane all the way.

Layer by layer, eyeballing, more layers, more chips, more eyeballing, another song, more chips and revealing lines.

I intended to carve a boat-ish style bow, but decided to go for a more classic design anyway.

Plans and intentions become worthless once you're on the road.

Never stay on the road if the driving goes wacky.

Step 10: Where Do You Think You're Going?

Finally the outcome came as a surprise anyway. The alligator joints turned out really awesome and the overall design looks pretty logic and streamlined. At least to my standards.

There's still a long way to go. The hull needs some finetuning, the rods needs to be filled, the whole needs to be caulked and made entirely watertight with hemp and pine tar - no glass fiber and epoxy in this project since I want it to be entirely biodegradable.

I'll need to find or build some forged nails to knock on the deck and the idea of a sword or battle axe is just too good not to realize.

Tomorrow's Pain, right? Life will be long enough to get this project finished in time.

Will this board finally be surfable? Wait and see. To me it'll be a fine body board in the best case scenario, but that's already fine to me.

Next will be bigger and better.

The best lessons are those you learned the hard way.

Life's only a sum of experiences, right?

Thanx for passing by, I'll keep y'all updated.

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