Surfers Textbook


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The use of glass fibre and resin is referred to as ‘glassing’ or ‘laminating’ and is now a much specialised part of the manufacturing process. Since the late eighties many of the larger manufacturers utilise contract glassing firms to have this work carried out, rather than the role of the traditional manufacturer where the whole process is performed under the one roof. Glassing requires less personal interpretation than the shaping process and providing definite procedures are followed very closely, few mistakes are usually made – it is ‘cut and dry’ so to speak. Due to this, two main points are clear. Careful preparation is essential to ensure all materials are available when needed, as once the polyester resin is catalysed there is a limit to the working time. Secondly, attention to detail is also critical, for example, measuring exactly the correct quantities of resin to ensure it cures at the anticipated rate. Once again, the aspect of safety is emphasised, this time relating to the use of extremely flammable and often corrosive chemicals, which require adequate ventilation and care when handling.

There are several methods and options involved in the glassing process. The technique described involves using two layers of 6 oz cloth on the deck and one layer of 6 oz on the bottom. If desired you may choose to adjust the number and combination of layers. However if this is done it is necessary to consider the weight and strength relationship in terms of the craft’s durability.

Glassing a blank which has a foam spray and/or left clear for a filler coat spray is the most commonly used method. This description is followed by laminating a board using unbleached glass fibre cloth (Volan) and/or pigmented resin. Finally a detailed explanation is given on how to carry out decoration using fabric which was used in the past and now with the resurgence of long boards this technique from the sixties has remerged. Due to its popular use, this option exists for an adventurous designer. Note if you choose to colour the blank by pigmenting the laminating resin it will be necessary to also refer back to the previous section on colouring.In the early sixties foam centre glass skinned surfboards were coloured using pigment paste mixed in the laminating resin. This was due mainly to the use of unbleached or green glass and the resins, which were cloudy unlike the clear resins of today. Have a close look at some old long boards or short boards of the very early seventies. Volan or green glass fibre was later replaced by Silane, which could be used to carry out 'free lapping' allowing for several layers of glass to overlap without any darkening in appearance as had occurred with Volan. Hence, the pigmenting method is now generally limited to the construction of coloured fin panels although there is a growing trend to use this process in the reproduction of early surfboard designs. For additional information refer to the Fin and Fin Systems section. By this stage, you should be well aware of all the techniques and processes used to decorate a surfcraft as the advantages and disadvantages have been discussed in Section 4 Designing and Planning. More than likely you will have already made a firm decision as to the method you will use. The following needs to be read in conjunction with the previous information.

Finally a collage of spray artist Jim Davidson’s surfboard art is included to inspire and acknowledge his near lifetime involvement and contribution to the surfing industry.