Alaia - Traditional Wood Surfboard




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Surf like in the old days!Shaping a traditional Alaia board from Paulownia planks...

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Step 1: Step 1: Get Your Boards Ready & Do Some Drawing

You need:

* 2 Paulownia wood planks (about 220cm x50cm x1.5cm) you can use any other wood, but Paulownia is nice and light and still robust

* paper and pencil

* sandpaper 80 120 280 300

* respirator/mask

* eccentric grinder/sander (or you just use the sandpaper manually, it only takes longer)

* electric jigsaw (or hand powered...)

* wood glue

* Sealer (linseed oil or ship paint/varnish)

* clamps to secure board on your workbench

First make sure to glue your wood planks together, this will take about 48hrs to dry, make sure to clamp the planks together properly. Best is to draw the shape of your board you want on a paper, then pencil a grid onto your planks and then re-calculate from your small scale to the big board scale.

Put the measurements on the board. You can see the rough outline of your board now.

Step 2:

Step 3: Step 2: Cut 'n Shape

Now make sure to clamp your plank to a workbench properly.

Get the jugsaw ready and cut along the outline you have drawn. Now you have a very rough cut of your board.

Step 4: Step 3: First Sand

Depending on your wood, you might want to go to step 4 straight away.

In my case, the wood was a bit rough , so I gave it a first nice sand with 80paper.

NOTE: use a respirator mask, when sanding, the fine dust can cause lung problems.

Voila, already looking a bit more like a board ;)

Step 5: Step 4: Shaping

Clamp your board to your workbench save and secure. Now it is time to get the edges softer as well as adding a rocker to the bottom. Get your favorite slicer/plane and work on all the edges, making them smoother and rounder. Once you are happy with your out line, you need to add a rocker to he bottom of your board.

Step 6: Step 5: Adding Rocker

For your rocker, it is best to draw an outline again how wide and long you want it. Usually the rocker is about 2/3 along the bottom of the board. Get rid of all the wood with a good slicer, till you get to your desired depth and width.

Step 7: Step 6: Sanding, Sanding, Sanding

This step is all about sanding down your board from rough to fine. Start with the 80 paper, make all edges nice and smooth, as well as the bottom and the rocker. You can also sand away some wood from the nose at the bottom, to get a slight curve. Work your way around your board, changing the paper to 120, then to 280.

I used the electric sander, because it is a lot faster and easier! Although, the last very fine tuning, I did by hand.

You will see how nice the wood feels the more you sand it. MAKE SURE to use a respirator mask while sanding, the wood dust is very fine and cause lung problems!

Step 8: Step 8: Oil It or Paint It

Voila, now you have an ancient Alaia Surfboard. Traditionally you should oil it with linseed oil and rub it all in really well. The wood will turn darker and get a nice glow! It will also protect it from water.

The other option is to use ship paint, this will also protect it from scratches more than oil only. Since Paulownia is quite soft and I found that my board does get dents easily, I use clear ship paint.

Happy shaping ;) hope you will have as much fun as I had!

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    12 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 8

    Looks awesome! How is that trough working for you? Looks great but I havent seen many boards with a that generous of a single channel like that. What were you inspired by? Hows she ride? Either way...props! hit me up and let me know!

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Heya, i't been a while, finally got around to actually reply ;) She rides pretty well, although you need to get used to it - as in with every traditional board that does not have a fin, she is a little wobbly. But its fun anyway and that's what it is about!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Evan!

    Rides quite well, although needed to get used to it ;) Tom Wegener is the inspiration, with other info found on the net and my esthetic look added - I thought the wider rocker looked good!


    2 years ago

    Update: I was told by a user who read the spanish translation, that the measurements are missing. Just for your Info, this one is:

    4 inch nose (measured 12 inches from the tip) and a 14.5 to 15 inch tail (measured on the very end).

    Please keep in mind, if you make one, check out the net for calculations, cause the heavier, taller you are the more you want to adjust the measurements. ;)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    If you wanted to add rocker without removing material, you could laminate the two planks together with a bend put in (since you are laminating anyway).

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Jobar,

    this is a good idea, thanks. In this case, I wanted to remove material, since the planks are quite thick. Would be worth a try with thinner planks though ;)


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Haven't had the chance to try it yet. Traditional Alaias do not have fins, some of them not even have the rocker. You ride them differently to "normal" boards we know. There is heaps of info on the net about it, Tom Wegener is an expert for Alaia shaping. I just love the idea that the board is organic and each one unique!


    5 years ago

    have you had a chance to surf it? if so how does it handle?

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Haven't been on the water yet, since I live land locked, but hopefully will be able to try it out later this year! Once done, will let you know.


    5 years ago

    Traditionally made out of Koa wood and rubbed with kukui oil or any different types of oil from native sources, linseed not being native to Hawaii.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for putting the info in! I didn't know about Kukui, Koa wood though is really hard to get your hands on ;)