Surfers Textbook


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This area of construction is indeed a much-specialised art form, which can only be fully developed over time and experience in the industry. It is not until you have produced several surfboards (I have heard some shapers say in the thousands) can you really appreciate the difficulty of combining a range of curves with little more than a few hand tools and a great deal of hand/eye co–ordination to produce and assess what the desired shape is to be. Unlike the glassing process, which involves a very structured systematic method to obtain the finished result, shaping is much more difficult to carry out due to all the variables that need to be considered. I have endeavoured to put into place several procedural steps, which may appear to be unnecessary but will ensure a pleasing result. With a little practice it may become unnecessary to complete some of the set out which has been explained and work maybe carried out purely by sight and feel. It must be born in mind many subtle features are shaped into good quality commercially produced surfboards and it is experience and understanding of design that allows for appreciation of such. The techniques employed by experienced shapers vary greatly, all producing products that meet the needs of their surfing market. Some commercial shapers can turn out a couple of short boards an hour whereas it may well take a beginner many hours to produce their shape for the first time.

By contrast, a brief outline is also given as to the process of shaping expanded polystyrene (EPS) to produce surf skis, nipper, paddle and rescue boards. It is shaped in a different fashion to that of surfcraft, which utilize polyurethane foam.

With greater demand and the desire to produce higher volume output several attempts have been made to produce automated and or computer shaping machines. These vary in their ability to turn out a final shape from a blank and range from commonly used 'profiling jigs' to fully automated computer controlled technology. For additional information on innovations, refer to Section 1 Overview of the Surfing Industry.

Finally, the methods and techniques involved in adding a nose and or tail block are described, particularly as they are now often used when replicating longboard designs of the sixties.