This tutorial shows how to build a 1″ drop deck in one glue-up. The great thing about this deck is it can be built in less than 3 hours (not including the glue drying time).
1/16″ Maple or Birch veneer
Titebond III woodworkers glue
1″ Insulating foam (extruded polystyrene)
3/4″ sheet of plywood or stable substrate
Thin Air Press Kit 20 X 70″
4 wood clamps
Close-napped 3″ paint rollers
This is an advanced build. If you have not built a skateboard using a vacuum pressing system before, I would advise building a board with less extreme bends.
Step 1: Drop Deck Mold
The shape, width, length and concave is up to you. Attached is a photo with four different examples. They range from 21, 24, 29″ between the drop lengths. The mold on the right is actually adjustable in length with additional add-on pieces that can be inserted into the middle of the mold.
Once you have your foam mold shaped (tutorial) you will need a stable substrate to make sure that the mold does not distort under the pressure of the vacuum bag and exterior clamps. A piece of 5/8" - 3/4" MDF or Plywood will work just fine. Attach the foam mold centered on your substrate, leaving excess material on each side for the flat area to mount your trucks on.
Step 2: Glue Up!
Pre-cut your veneers to the length of your drop board. It is a good idea to add a couple of inches to either end of the board. This will get cut off later when shaping the profile of the deck with a jig saw. It is also a good idea to make your veneers wider that the width of your deck by 1/2 to 1″. This will help if you mis-align your veneers while doing your glue up.
It is important to work with someone while doing the glue up. I recommend 8 layers of 1/16″ maple veneer for a rider weighing less than 180 lbs. 6 long grain and two cross grain layers stacked from the top down to the bottom:
long, long, cross, long, cross, long, long, long
While gluing, apply glue onto both the top and bottom of the sheets. I usually apply a heavier layer on one and just wet out the other with a smaller amount of glue.
You want to apply an even coat of glue with no build up of excess glue from where you poured it onto the sheet.
Work very quickly when applying the glue. You have less than 9 minutes to get the wet veneers into the bag and pressed. Use Titebond III as it has the longest wet time of any glue presently on the market.
Step 3: In the Bag
Place your glued veneers onto the mold. Align them so the front and back are equal on the mold. I use elastic bands to hold the veneers in place as shown in the photo.
Make sure you have pre-prepared your vacuum bag. There is no time to look for a pump or replace your sealing tape. All this needs to be done before starting your build and have everything at hand before starting.
Place the breather netting under your valve. This will prevent the valve from sealing against the veneer and evenly evacuate the air.
The Thin Air Press vacuum bag comes with a one-way valve where the top cap can be removed so you can vacuum the bulk of the air from the bag (using a vacuum cleaner). Then evacuate as much air as you can using the manual pump.
** the hand pump makes a 'clicking' sound when all the air has been evacuated from the bag.
Step 4: Clamping Drops
To maximize pressure in the key areas of the drop deck, you will need 4 pieces of plywood 12″ wide by 6 to 8″ long. Also a selection of 4 clamps with as deep a throat as possible. Clamps shown in photo will work great.
Place your vacuum bag, mold and veneer stack onto a couple of blocks. I am using two pieces of 2″ foam. This allows room to work with your clamps and wood blocks in the next step.
Place pieces of plywood on the top and bottom, aligning the top piece parallel to the trailing edge of the inside foam mold. Using two clamps, clamp as close as possible to the edge of the foam as shown. Repeat this on the other side of the deck. Remember the glue is drying and timing is critical. Work as quickly as possible!
** If the bag has pulled between the foam mold and veneer, grasp the edge of the TAP bag and firmly pull the material outward. This will ensure the veneer is pressed tightly at the edges of your deck
That’s it! It’s chill time until your glue dries. Wait at least 8 hours before removing the deck from the bag.
Step 5: Cut Out Shape
Using a jig saw with a sharp blade, cut your deck from the blank. It is better to cut outside the line and hand shape your deck using a surform and sander to its final shape. This is much better than losing your line by cutting through it and having to re-shape your deck by eye.
Check out the flex, see how it works by placing blocks where the trucks would be mounted. Sand and finish the deck as you would any other.
As mentioned before, this deck is an advanced build but not beyond any deck builder with experience using a vacuum bag.
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Feel free to ask any questions and I'd be happy to help.
Courtesy of Ted from Roarockit