Just as promised, this Instructables shows how I went about constructing my own longboard! :)
From an 1/8" Baltic Birch plywood to a gorgeous looking longboard using only hand tools!
These are all the tools and materials that's required for this project:
- 1/8" Baltic Birch plywood
- Wood glue (I recommend Titebond III)
- A piece of cardboard (for spreading the glue)
- Hand saw
- Hand drill
- Spade drill bits
- Wood filler
- Wood planer (optional)
- Wood stain (optional)
- Paint brush
- Longboard wheels and trucks
- Longboard hardware
- Longboard grip tape
Hope you guys enjoy!
Step 1: Cut Your Wood Into 11" Foot Strips
With a hand saw, carefully cut 12" wide strips of the plywood IN THE DIRECTION OF THE GRAIN. This is important as cutting the plywood in the wrong direction may result in a structurally weak deck, and may even break or snap while riding the longboard. (Ouch!!! > <)
I wanted a longboard with a width of 10", so I cut my wood into 12" strips so that I have 1" room to play with on both sides when it was time for me to cut out the shape.
If you feel confident with your tools and/or wish to build a narrower longboard deck, feel free to cut narrower strips, but make sure to leave at least 1" on both sides.
Step 2: Glue the Layers Together
To create the blank for the longboard deck, you will need to glue 4 plies of 1/8" plywood together to create 1/2" thick deck.
Next you will need to apply a generous amount of wood glue on each of the layers that will be glued together. Make sure to apply enough glue on both surfaces that will be glued together, and not just one. (See second picture - only one side has glue on it. Make sure to glue other half!)
Birch is a very porous wood and will absorb lots of glue, so be generous. It's better to use too much glue than to use too little, because you would rather have a durable and reliable deck than have a fragile one that will break after only a few months of use. (Trust me, it will save you a sheet of plywood, a bottle of wood glue AND your arm if you ever fall!)
Spread the glue even across the surface of the plywood with a cardboard (see third picture), and stack them all together to form a 1/2" thick plywood.
Step 3: Press the Blank
Once everything has been glued together, you will need to press all the layers together really tightly to allow no air gaps between each layer.
I have made 3 longboards so far, each with a different approach (see last 3 pictures). Feel free to be creative here, but just make sure that you apply enough pressure to really press the layers all together.
In case you want to just use my methods of pressing, here is what I did for my 3 longboards:
First picture: This was my first longboard. I wanted to add some concavity to the board, so I attached a 1/2" thick wooden rail on a piece of plywood I wanted to use as a jig. Then I drove my van over it to press the layers together. One thing to note is that once the layers have glue on them, they slide very easily, so put a few screws through all 4 layers of plywood to prevent them from sliding before driving over the blank. Just don't drive over the screws! Also add clamps to areas where the layers are lifting from each other to hold them together.
Second picture: This was actually my third longboard. I did not want any concavity or camber for this deck (meaning I wanted a completely flat deck). I laid some wax paper on the ground, laid my deck blank on top, then placed all the concrete bricks I could find lying around in my house on top of everything.
Third ~ sixth picture: This was my second longboard. I like to be creative, so for this method, I screwed a 1/2" MDF on an old door, which was going to give my deck a concave shape. I drew a line along the center of this MDF, and along the center of my deck blank. I also drilled holes around the perimeter of the top layer of my deck blank (before I glued them together) and they acted as pilot holes to screw my deck blank on to the door. The center lines allowed me to perfectly align the deck during the screwing process.
Note: not so noticeable in the third picture, but you should see the glue oozing out from the sides. This is a good sign, as it means you have applied enough amount of glue and that the layers will adhere well.
Step 4: Glue the Template on to the Deck Blank
You can easily find free longboard deck templates online, or you can design your own with a CADD software.
In either case, cut out the shape and tape the template to transfer the outline on to the deck blank. Some people like to just draw directly on the deck blank instead of transferring a template.
NOTE: for my truck holes, I found some pictures online but realized I wanted to make my own measurements, so I based my template off my truck dimensions. If you are doing a regular top-mount deck, you won't need all the fancy holes. Just four 3/16" holes where the nuts and bolts will be inserted to hold the deck and the trucks together.
Step 5: Cut Out the Deck With a Jigsaw and a Drill
With a jigsaw and a drill (I used various sized spade drill bits to create the holes), carefully cut and drill holes around the design that you have transferred from the previous step.
Try to cut such that you are 1~3mm outside the outline, so that you have room to sand it down to the perfect shape and size.
Unfortunately I could not take a picture showing the cutting process (due to the lack of a third hand), but hopefully the pictures will give you an idea as to how I went about cutting the shape!
Step 6: Filling, Shaping and Sanding the Deck
After the deck has been cut with a jigsaw, most likely there will chipped edges.
Grab the wood filler and squeeze in the filler into every crack you can find around the deck with your finger.
The filler doesn't take long for it to dry, so give it an hour or so and sand down all the sharp and rough edges so that they are round.
For my board, I wanted to add an angled edge at the sides of my deck, so I used a planer to carve out the edges at an angle. (As seen in the pictures) This was just purely a design choice, but feel free to skip this step if you do not want this kind of a look!
Step 7: Stain or Paint and Varnish Your Deck
At this stage, your board is almost ready!
For me, I wanted to stain my deck grey, so I purchased a stain that also acted as a sealer.
I applied the first coat (see second picture) and the stain didn't quite get absorbed into the wood.
I guess overall, it just wasn't a good color choice for staining the wood and I would have been better off just purchasing grey paint.
Either way, I applied 3 coats to get a solid grey deck. For my stain, I did not need to further treat my deck with polycrylic or polyurethane, but if you are using just a regular stain, make sure your stain dries out completely (refer to the stain container), and then apply your polycrylic/polyurethane.
Step 8: Apply Grip Tape and Attach Your Wheels and Your Trucks!
Wait for your varnish to dry up completely (refer to the container to see how long before light use).
Then, grab your grip tape and carefully and slowly stick the grip tape on to your deck, making sure that you leave no air bubbles in between the tape and the deck.
Once applied, grab an old screwdriver that you don't use and scrape the grip tape around the edges of the deck so that it creates crease marks on the grip tape, all around the deck.
With a knife, slowly cut off excess grip tape, following the crease marks.
NOTE: if you wish to have a custom design on your grip tape (see first picture), make sure to cut these shapes out first before sticking the tape on to the deck.
Now, you can attach your longboard trucks to your deck along with the wheels!! :D
Step 9: Enjoy Your Ride!
I think the last step to every DIY project is to admire and enjoy what you have just created!
So, go ahead and take your board out for a sweet ride!
Thanks for reading my Instructables and I hope you guys enjoyed it!
More homemade longboard Instructables and other wood/electronics projects to be uploaded, so stay tuned!
If you are confused about any of the steps I went through, please leave me a comment and I will try my best to break it down further! (Sorry, I know! I forgot to take some critical pictures during the process of building!)
Also, if you really liked this Instructables, please vote!