In this Instructable, I will be going over the process of making a Back to the Future "Hoverboard" this is actually a working skateboard. It also has an embedded EL wire so it glows and looks like you are "hovering" when riding at night. When I was done making this skateboard, I had learned a plethora about process of skateboard making. If you are a fan of skateboards or Back to the Future, I would differently recommend the project. Thank you and enjoy!
"Where we are going, we don't need roads...."
Glues and finishes:
Pink spray paint (I think it was this one)
1/4" high-grade Baltic Birch plywood
Hover-board graphics bought from This company's Etsy store. Unfortunately, they shut down their Etsy shop, but you could contact them to have them and have them print the graphics using the contact page on their website or their email.
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Cut the Wood and Testing the Kicktail
The first step is to cut and set up the bending process of the wood. I used 1/4" high-grade Baltic Birch plywood for the plys of the board. For the hover-board, I used two pieces of the plywood cut to a rough size of 10x33 inches.
Because I wanted a kick-tail on this board, I needed to bend the plys while gluing it. The way that I added a kick-tail was done in a very unconventional and different method but it worked in the end. The method that I was using was a car jack connected to the ceiling. The car jack added pressure to the board making a kick-tail. The first step was to have pieces of wood on the floor of the shop adding support to the bottom of the board and a sloped piece being added to where the kick-tail was going (photos show a better explanation of this). Next, I added block onto the top of the board large enough to allow the car jack to sit without the wheel touching. The car jack was connected directly to the ceiling of the shop using a 2x3 board cut to length.
The hardest part of this whole press method was knowing how much pressure I could use to add a kick-tail without cracking the wood. This was done by trial and error with a different set of two pieces of plywood positioned like a skateboard that I sacrificed to the testing. I tested may different pressures and when when it started cracking I knew it was to much pressure and the next test we needed less. In the end, I got a feel of what was the max I could bend in without it breaking.
Step 2: Glueing the Board Up
Continuing the process from last step, is to do the finale glue and press of the board.
I used a liberal amount of Titebond iii and spread it very well on both pieces of plywood. Next, I put the glue side to glue side together and placed them onto the bending mount. I used the car jack to add pressure until I found the max that it could hold without cracking as found in the previous tests. Lastly, I added a car battery (could be anything heavy) to the front flat part of the wood to add weight to get a better gluing strength. I then let the glue dry for 24 hours to aquire the best strength.
Step 3: Marking the Board Shape
***This part of the Instructable is kinda difficult recreate because the suppler I used for hover-board graphic has shutdown their Etsy account. I honestly don't know if they still sell the graphics. The company I used is: Worth Creative. I will continue this step as if graphic is available.***
I took my newly bent skateboard 'blank' and unrolled the graphic onto it. I then aligned it evenly and parallel to the 'blank'. I then used a pencil to lightly and carefully traced around the graphic.
If you see reference photos of the hover-board from the movie, you will see that there is a space in between the hover-board graphic and the edge of the board. Because I wanted this to look authentic, I took three standard pencils and taped them together with the middle one just a bit higher up to act as a spacer and not draw any line. Lastly, I carefully traced the line that was the outline of the graphic with the spacer pencil. This, in the end, would leave a nice even buffer or space around where the graphics would be placed later.
Step 4: Cutting Out the Board
Cutting out the board is fairly simple. I used my jigsaw with a new sharp blade on it and started cutting on the outside buffer line that I drew on the last step. It is a bit difficult to cut the kick-tail but just continue cutting with a firm grip. You could also use a band saw for this step.
Step 5: Sanding the Board
**Don't mind the pink spray-painted unicorns that you might see in the photos. I was testing the color of the paint. They got sanded off on this step.**
This step is important because you to want to get a smooth surface for the paint to adhere and to get a good final product. First, I put the newly cut board onto the belt sander to get an even edge and to get rid of the splinters from the jigsaw. Next, I used an orbital palm sander to add a bevel to the edges of the board. I then used the palm sander to sand the top and bottom and top of the board. I don't quite remember the different grip sandpapers I used but guess that it was probably like 120 or 220 grit.
Step 6: EL Wire Channel
***This is an optional section of the Instructable. It will be about adding a channel to fit EL wire to the bottom of the board to make it glow and look like it is "hovering" at night. It was a lot of work to do and ended up breaking a few months later due to the wire ripping off when it got caught in the wheel***
The tool I used to cut this channel is a Dremel with the Circle Cutter and Straight Edge Guide 678-01. I used the straight edge tool, set to about 1cm with an end-mill bit to router out a channel that is just a bit deeper than the EL wire is wide all around the board making a complete loop. Afterward, I tested the fit with my EL wire.
Step 7: Drilling Truck Mounting Holes
This step is important because if you do not mount the trucks straight than the board will not ride straight and will turn by itself.
I aligned the trucks in between the sides of the board and found a spot in which it looked like the trucks were evenly spaced out front and back. I then used a ruler to measure the distance on both sides of the truck. If they were not the same distances on both sides, then I adjusted accordingly to make the truck centered. Lastly, I used a long straight-edge to make sure both trucks were paralleled to each other.
Once the trucks were in the optimal position, I used a pencil to mark where the mounting holes were. I used a drill bit that was the same size as my skateboard mounting hardware in my drill press to drill out the previously marked holes. Then I tested the fit by attaching the wheels and trucks.
Step 8: Paint Pink
I made a makeshift paint booth out of an old shelf with the shelves removed. Make sure you use a tack cloth to wipe off all the dust on the board before painting. Next, I placed the board into the paint booth on top of a 2x4 to keep it off the ground.
I used a pink spray paint that looked similar to the pink on the board from the movie (I may have used this paint but I can not be sure). Next, I painted with light coats until the whole board was completely painted and dried. Next, I did another coat of paint. Be sure to follow the instructions on your paint can.
Step 9: Adding EL Wire
I found that encapsulating the EL wire was to use 5 min epoxy worked best. At first, I thought that I would be able to do a large section of the wire then move on to another large section.
Unfortunately, this idea of encapsulating a third or half of the EL wire at one time was impossible. The reason is that EL wire would float up in the epoxy and would rise out of the EL wire channel. The only solution that I found was to encapsulate very small sections of the EL wire at a time. So I ended up putting some epoxy into a 3-4 in the section and then placed the El wire down into the section, then adding more epoxy if it did not fully cover the EL wire, lastly I used popsicle sticks to hold the EL wire down in the epoxy until the 5 mins passed and the epoxy was solidified. I then repeated this process for the next 3 inches. In the end, when I know exactly how much EL wire I needed, I cut it to that length and covered the end with duct tape.
***one note: Have the connector for the EL wire at the back left wheel area. This is the place that I attached the inverter so this is where I want to have the connector be.***
Finally, when you are done with this step, you are able to test it out.
Step 10: Adding Graphics
This step is fairly simple.
I added the graphics by using their adhesive backing. It is best to align it completely then remove the backing as you press firmly and slowly adhere the graphic to the board. Make sure to get all air bubbles out for a good looking finish.
Step 11: Cutting the Graphics for the Grip Tape
Because I wanted my "hover-board" to have grip tape, I decided to buy pink/green grip-tape so it matched the graphics. First, I took an Exacto knife and a ruler, and carefully cut away all the pink and green stripes that are on the boards top graphic. Next, I marked under where the graphic was on the board and on the piece I cut away with a corresponding number and letter. Lastly, I took the cut piece of the graphic and stuck it onto the corresponding color grip tape. This will be used to later to cut the perfect size and color piece of grip tape.
Step 12: Polycrylic the Board
After cutting away the areas of graphics that would later become grip-tape, the board needed to be finished with a durable coating. I got some recommendations to use Polycrylic as the finish due to its robust nature, being crystal clear, and it would not yellowing over time. I placed the board up on risers and painted a light coat of it onto the board and graphics. After letting the polycrylic fully dry, I applied a coat to the bottom and sides. I repeated this process until 4 coats were applied to the top, bottom, and sides of the board.
Step 13: Adding the Griptape
I used pieces of the graphic that were previously cut away in a prior step to cut an identical version out of the corresponding colored grip-tape. An important part of this step is that I needed to cut the grip tape so it is not the inverse and thus does not fit correctly. How the cutting should be done is ether flip the graphic sticker over and tape it down stickey side up onto the backing of the grip-tape or place the graphic sticky side down onto the grip side of the grip-tape. After each piece of grip tape was cut out, I carefully removed the backing and placed the piece onto the corresponding spot on the board. When I was all done, I smoothed everything over to get good adhesion.
Step 14: Adding a Skeboard Rail to the Back
I wanted to protect the kick-tail edge of my board when I was riding it. So I decided to add half of a plastic skateboard rail to the kick-tail edge. I took one of the long rails and cut and sanded away the sections that are in photo #2. I then attached the newly cut and shaped rail to the back of the board with the provided screws like photo #3. Also there is a pink version of the rails that might match better.
Step 15: Cut the Holes for the Bolts
To add the bolts for the trucks, I needed to cut through the graphic sticker and grip tape. I used an Exacto knife to cut out a circle through the graphics right above and below the bolt holes.
Step 16: Mount Trucks and Wheels
Here is a website with more info on how to assemble a skateboard.
First, I took the bolts and put them through the board. Then, I placed the trucks onto these bolts with the king pin (rubber bushing) facing in towards each other. I next used a Philips head screw driver and the T-tool to tighten the bolts.
I slipped one bearing over the axle and pressed the wheel into the bearing on the axle to set it into the wheel. Then, I removed the wheel with the bearing and placed the second bearing onto the axle. Next, I pressed the other side of the wheel onto the bearing (1:33 min into this video will show this process much better than me typing it). Lastly, I added a washer on the inside and outside of the wheel and tightened the bolt to secure it with just enough pressure that there is no play, but the wheel will still spin freely. Repeat this for all four wheels.
Step 17: Mount the EL Wire Inverter
Because the EL wire is useless without the inverter I had to mount it onto the board. I did this by taking the AAx2 battery holder and painted it the same color pink as the board. Then I took the battery cover and used two short screws to attach it in front of the back truck. I positioned two rubber bands in between the screws to secure the in place. All that is left to do is to tape a magnet onto the cord in a spot that when it wraps around the truck the magnets will hold it in place so that the bolt does not get caught in the wheel.
Step 18: Finshed!!!
Thank You so much for reading my Instructable about how I made a Back to the Future Hover-board/Skateboard. This took a lot of work to build but I think that in the end it worked out and gave me an awesome project to showcase. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post the in the comments section below and I will try to get back to you. Thank you
(P.S. If you enjoyed the Instructable please conciser voting for it in the Skateboard contest. Thank you!)
Second Prize in the