The narrow planks we all know as surfboards – all riding up and down the ocean waves, withstanding the biggest and strongest splashes, weren’t made overnight. Otherwise, they would have broken at the first slap of water.
Surfboards, one of the constantly evolving inventions since surfing became a thing, can be intimidating to make. But, with proper techniques and know-how, materials, and tools, it shouldn’t be so hard. The question is – how long does it take to make one?
This article discusses how long it takes to make a surfboard and other surfboard-building topics, such as:
- What goes into making your own surfboard
- How much does it cost to make your own surfboard
- How long does it take to glass a surfboard
- What materials do you need to make a surfboard
How Much Time Is Needed to Make a Surfboard?
The most experienced surfboard shapers and makers would safely say a week or two for standard surfboards, six to eight weeks for custom boards, and eight to ten weeks for more complicated orders like glass-on and wooded fins.
Surfboard shapers understand just how exciting it is to order a surfboard. It doesn’t matter if it is your first or a hundredth surfboard; you simply want to get the surfboard right away. But, shapers need enough time – from gathering materials, tracing, cutting, shaping, etc.,
In addition, they also have other orders to attend to. Thus the length of time they say they need. If you have the materials, a workshop large enough to make a surfboard, you can take it into your hands and perhaps cut the time significantly. Some of those who made their boards said they finished theirs in 7 to 10 days, or sometimes less than that.
To help you understand better, here’s a glimpse of a shaper’s schedule.
First day (3 to 8 hours)
- Shaping blank
- Installing pre-glass fin boxes
Second day (1 to 2 hours labor, 9 to 12 hours curing time)
- Laminating bottom and top
- Sealing coat top
Third day (1-hour labor, 6 to 8 hours curing time)
- Hot coating bottom
- Installing post-glass fin boxes
Fourth day (1 to 2 hours labor, 3 to 4 hours curing time)
- Installing leash plug
- Sanding top and bottom
Fifth day (1 to 2 hours labor, 3 to 8 hours cure time)
- 2nd seal coating or gloss coating
- Final sanding or polishing
What Goes Into Making Your Own Surfboard?
Making your own surfboard can be intimidating. Partly because of the amount of time it takes for commercialized surfboard companies to finish one surfboard. But, what most people don’t realize is, making your own board even when it is outside your skill level shouldn’t be menacing.
As long as you have the basic tools, you can do it!
The first thing that you need to figure out when making your own surfboard is whether you are making it with your own surfboard blank or from scratch. If it is from scratch, you can prepare a block foam or buy a blank and skip the few steps to make the rough blank.
These are what goes into making a surfboard from Styrofoam or epoxy resin, which is pretty similar to the traditional polyurethane surfboard or polyester resin surfboard making.
- Deciding on the surfboard’s design
- Making a stringer
- Gluing a stringer between block foams
- Removing bulk foam from the block foam
- Rough shaping the blank
- Cutting out the rough shape of the surfboard
- Shaping the blank
- Doing the artworks
- Fiberglassing or lamination
- Sanding the hot coat
- Sand gloss-coating
Here’s to give you a better understanding of the terms mentioned:
Blank – a rough piece of foam or the pre-shaped block used to make surfboards
Stringer – a thin strip of wood that runs from nose to tail and extends down the center of the foam blank. This adds stiffness and rigidity to the surfboard
Glassing or laminating – the second or third step in modern-day surfboard shaping where the shaper applies the fiberglass to the surfboard using either polyester or epoxy resin
Hot coat – coat of resin smeared over the glassed surfboard
Gloss coat – coat of resin applied across the sanded hot coat
How Much Does it Cost to Make Your Own Surfboard?
It will likely cost you around $200 to $300 to make your surfboard. First, the tools you need are estimated at $150. This price includes tools and supplies such as:
- Face mask/respirator
- 6oz fiberglass cloth (at least 6 yards depending on the size of the board)
- Epoxy resin and hardener
- Spreaders and squeegees
- Fin system and fin boxes
- Masking tape
- Leash plug
- Black pigment
- Latex gloves
- Measuring buckets
- Stir sticks
A foam blank is what you initially need. These blanks usually cost anywhere between $70 to $140, depending on the size you plan to build. To save yourself time, look for blanks that have a built-in rocker. After all, you are not paying yourself in shaping board, and labor usually costs around $27.16 per hour.
How Long Does it Take to Glass a Surfboard?
Surfboard glassing requires fewer labor hours than other significant steps in making a surfboard. It isn’t the process that takes time but waiting for the resin to cure. Generally, it takes about 4 hours for the resin to cure enough to flip the board to glass its other side.
Take note that epoxy slower in colder temperatures and quicker in warmer temperatures. You may want to plan the whole day in glassing, laminating, and sealing coat on both sides of the surfboard.
One of the most rewarding feelings in riding the waves is knowing that the stick you are riding is the one you made. It is you you are shredding the waves with. It is your personality on the surfboard. We would all want the boards we make perfect, but it’s still the best as long as they’re rideable.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: What to consider in choosing the right size of blank
A: There are three things to consider in picking a blank – length, width, and rocker profile. The blank length should be at least ¼ inch longer but no more than 6 inches longer than the envisioned final shape. The width should be wide enough in all key dimensions or 12 inches from the nose in the wide point and 12 inches from the tail. Finally, the rocker – while some blank manufacturers have custom rockers, there are other options, too – more curvy, shortboard rockers, or flatter fish rockers.