Thursday, July 17, 2008

DUDE! Like, surf's up!

When I first arrived at the WoodenBoat school, the one thing that really blew my mind was the surfboard building class. I can't say as anything they did really met my preconceived ideas of what this would be. Surfboards were the last thing I expected to find there.

On the weekend before the class started, Mike LeVecchia and Brad Anderson were hard at work making up the shaping benches and clamping equipment their class was going to be using during the week. Now surfers get a reputation as being pretty laid-back people, but these guys were going all-out to make their class a success. They were seriously dedicated and put in long hours to make sure that their students were well taken care of.

Let me try to explain their boards as best I can. The core of the board is a CNC cut plywood frame that looks as much like it belongs in an airplane as a surfboard. The assemble this frame and bond it to the cedar bottom of the board. On the sides, they use strips with a cove and bead cedar strips to create the contoured edges of the board - very much like the canoes I build. The tip and tail area of the board are reinforced to make the board stronger and to allow for the mounting of vent plugs and a fin box for interchangeable fins. The cedar top was bonded on and the boards were shaped. This is really a gross simplification of what went on during the week from my popping in and out trying to find out where all of the clamps in the shop had gone! (See the pictures below - they used clamps like candy...)

The students finished all the woodwork before leaving and were going to do the fiberglassing at home after a great 'glassing demonstration by Brad. When completed, this creates a beautiful, strong and lightweight board that should be the envy of any proud builder!

What was amazing to see was the work ethic put in on the part of the students. They were in the shop at every opportunity - lunch time, before dinner and into the night. It was really great to see people who were driven to create such beautiful things.

Brad has written up a great post with great pictures over at the Grain Website. Congrats and good luck to the folks over at Grain Surfboards!

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