Intro: Lazy Man's Custom Skate Deck
In this instructable, I will show you the shortest path I have found to make your own custom skate deck.
So it used to be that I'd press decks from scratch; homemade press, single birch ply all glued up, the whole 9 yards. It was fun but after a half a dozen or so decks from scratch, the cost and the time began to wear on me.
When I decided one day to downsize from long boards to a little cruiser, it just made more sense to cut it out of a pre-pressed blank deck. It turned the whole process into an easy weekend project that I could complete with basic tools; My lazy butt hasn't done it any other way since.
I hope you don't think me a cheater, and you can find some fun in butchering a premade deck.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
-A blank skate deck, the widest offered (I used 8.5" here). You can get these from most any skate shop, I got this one from Orbit in San Leandro CA for about $15. I would definitely recommend them if you live in the bay area.
-Fresh grip tape
-1' wide roll of paper, I got mine at an art supply store. Any paper that will cover the bottom of the deck will do, I find these long strips convenient
-Trucks, Wheels, etc. I used some trucks from an old longboard with some fresh wheels (you might want to go smaller, they look a bit goofy on this deck)
-Painting supplies to art up the bottom
-Electric palm sander
-A metal file
Step 2: Templating
- Measure carefully and mark a center line down the top of your deck. Feel free to use pen, there will be grip tape covering the top
- Cut a piece of paper slightly longer than your deck and fold it in half lengthwise. While still folded, cut v's out of the crease every few inches.
- Unfold the paper and set it down on top of deck. Align the crease in the paper with the centerline of the deck using the holes you cut down the center. Once aligned, place tape over these holes to fix the paper to the deck.
- Marking on the paper, outline the rough shape of the deck below.
- Here is the fun part, start sketching out the shape of the deck you would like to make, staying within the boundary of the deck below. This is why I always get the widest deck available, it gives you more real estate to work with.
- Refine, refine, refine. Look at your curves from a low angle to catch any subtle wobbles in the line. Step back and check the proportions from afar, make sure you are liking what you see. Remain aware of the transition to the tail. I usually catch a bit of the curve up at the nose, but try to keep it minimal to preserve the mini pool board look. I spent about an hour erasing and redrawing, take your time.
- After you like where you are at, take one final pass over the right side of your sketch with a clear crisp line. Untape the paper and refold the left side under along the existing crease. While still folded, cut along the crisp line you made; unfold and review your template. Double check that the curve remains consistent where it crosses the crease, these spots can get pointy/indented if you don't hit the crease perpendicular while cutting. Check, and shave it in a little if needed to smooth the curve
- Tape the paper template back down in position, being careful to align the seam with the deck centerline again, and trace out your shape onto the deck with a sharpie. Be vigilant that the paper lays flat, and do a lot of small strokes from the paper to the wood to avoid catching on the paper's edge. You don't need to make a fine line, the line you will ultimately be cutting to is the transition from sharpie to wood so it can be as thick and messy as you want.
Step 3: Cut Out the Deck
- Cut out the deck with a jigsaw, taking all appropriate safety precautions. We are cutting from the top side so any marring from the guide will get covered by grip tape. Take it slow and do not over-cut, err on the side of leaving a bit of sharpie behind.
- Come back around with the palm sander to smooth the cut, and to bring in any areas that still have sharpie showing.
Step 4: Round Out the Edges
I round out the edges by hand with some rough sand paper. I used to try using a router, but it doesn't work with the bent deck surface, so you gotta elbow grease it.
Stand back and enjoy your custom shaped deck. This is the fun part for me, you could throw urethane and griptape on the board now and be ready to ride...but I have never been one to pass up the opportunity for art.
Step 5: Artwork - Base Coat
I kind of made it up as I went along for this deck. Not knowing where I would go with it, starting with a weathered blue background. I masked around the edges top keep the edges wood.
Step 6: Artwork - Cactus Pattern
Next, my idea was to do a diamond grid pattern of cacti.
- Since it is a repeating pattern, I cut a little stamp out of some scrap linocut, and glued it on a square of basswood for rigidity. I wanted to do the fruit and pot in red, so I cut and peeled those parts off to be stamped second.
- Lining out a grid of tape on the blue background as a guide, I stamped the cactus. First the green, then gluing the red portion back on to the stamp and peeling the green portion off, then stamping the red part out.
- It looked a little messy, so I went over the cacti with a pen to fill in detail and cover up the rough edges.
- At this point I decided the background was too dark, so I went over the whole deck with sandpaper to lighten the blue, carefully working around each cactus stamp a not to lighten those. This was stupid...this was when I began to regret winging it on the art.
- Using tape as a guide again (see pictures) I drew out dark blue lines between the cacti to accentuate the diamond grid.
Step 7: Artwork - Snake
Cactus grid looked good, could have stopped at this point, sometimes think I should have stopped at this point, but hey what is life without a little self doubt. So I decided to make it a little more interesting with a snake squirming through the background.
- Much like shaping the deck, drawing this out was a process. I did a sketch on the deck with paper, then iterated it several times with trace paper. Cutting and reconfiguring snake sections. Playing with it, and trying to get it to work with the cactus pattern.
- Next I cut the final snake shape out of the paper, taped it down on the deck and traced it with a nice sharp pencil.
- I then removed the paper and inked in the pencil line, also filling in the few details of the snake.
- I then added highlights and shadows to the snake with white and dark blue colored pencils to try to make it look a bit more 3d
- At this point I kinda got cold feet and felt like the snake wasn't jiving as well as I hoped, so I decided to put the kibosh on arting and wrap it up as is.
- Applied a couple coats of polyurethane to seal and moved on
Step 8: Grip Tape
To apply your griptape:
- unpeel a couple inches of one end and stick it down on the tail.
- pull the paper backing off slowly, following the newly exposed stickyness with your other hand to burnish the tape down onto the deck. Work your way across, and burnish it down from the center to the sides to try to avoid any bubbles
- Once all stuck down tight, rasp along the edges of the deck with your file to wear away the tape, ultimately cutting out to the shape of your deck.
- Pop out the holes for your truck hardware with any ol' pointy thing.
Step 9: Add Trucks and Wheels and Get Moving!
Install your trucks and you are good to go :) (hopefully you will have something of a more appropriate scale for your new deck)
Hey guys, thank you for reading. If you have any additional ideas to make this project cooler, or just and thoughts, at all please comment below. I'd love to hear your ideas!