If you want to learn how to make a skimboard, do it for the fun of it and expect to make a lot of crappy ones before you make anything decent (what I'm saying is you probably won't be saving any dough this route).
That said, there's no sweeter ride than the one you make yourself. How it actually rides will depend on your craftsmanship. Here's some guidelines to get you started...
Woody or Foamie? This will depend on where and how you plan to use your creation. Will you be riding waves? Then you will want a foamie. Or will you be riding along beach shores or other smooth water surfaces? A woody is best for that.
Another factor to consider is that a wooden skimboard is far easier and cheaper to make than one with a foam core.
How to Make a Skimboard: Things You Will Need
Whether you want to learn how to make a skimboard made from a wood or foam core, there are a few things that you will need:
Flat surface - preferably a solid, steady table
An electronic cutting blade of some sort. Preferably one that is easily mobile.
Sanding block or stone
2x4 blocks or other props (to support nose and tail when adding rocker)
Bricks or something heavy to weight the board down when adding rocker
Wood stringer (1/4 inch Poplar is good - 16"x3"x4")
Cardboard cutouts for shaping
Paint, stickers and/or stencils, varnish
Vice grip clamps
How to Make a Skimboard: Woody
Learning how to make a skimboard from wood is by far the easiest type (as opposed to a foamie - see below). Plus you can get more creative with the shape and style.
Get a good piece of wood such as mahogany or birch plywood.
The plywood should be about 3/8, 1/2 or 1/3 inches thick are common sizes and a good 5 feet long and 3 feet wide will be enough to work with.
Thicker wood will be more durable and heavy. Generally a slightly heavier wooden board is desired, but not too heavy or it will be too difficult to ride.
Draw out the shape of your soon-to-be board.
Evolution of Wooden Skimboard Shapes.
Cut out your board. Be sure to cut it as clean and even as possible.
Sand the entire board. Focus on rounding off the edges so they don't catch in the sand. Smooth the whole board really good getting any pieces poking out.
Soak the board for at least 24 hours (2 days is better).
Add rocker: While it's still wet, place the board on a flat surface. Put 2x4's (or anything else that can work as a prop) under the nose and the tail. Use something heavy (books, chunk of wood, whatevs) on the middle of the board. The middle of the board should be touching the flat surface and the nose and tail should be curving upwards, propped up by the 2x4's (or whatever you used).
Let it dry in this position.
Time to sand again. This time make it really really super duper smooth. This is (most likely) the last time you need to sand it.
Now it's ready for a coating to protect it from getting water logged. There are two ways to do this.
1. Paint. This is the easiest way.
Use and oil based paint to seal the board. Cover it with a few good, smooth layers. This is the fun part... getting to create your own style and design! Then, if you want, apply a coat of lacquer to give it a nice glossy finish.
2. Fiberglass. This is more difficult and expensive but much better quality.
There are a couple different ways to do this:
You can go the extra mile and use a layer of 4 or 6 ounce cloth fiberglass. If you decide to glass, it's a good idea to use a sealer to finish with.
Simply cover it with a resin base to coat it. Brush on a thin layer of resin, covering the the entire board. Generally a polyester resin is your best bet. It's cheaper and easier to work with than epoxy. A good place to find resin is at a marine or aircraft supply store.
If needed, you can do a finishing touch by sanding out any imperfections. Then buffer it to make it nice and shiny.
Voila! You now have your very own, hand-crafted skimboard! Now get out and shred!
How to Make a Skimboard: Foamie
Here's where things get tricky... and potentially expensive! But hey, it's all for the fun of it, right?
Ok then, here are a couple ways how to make a skimboard with a foam core...
Quick & Dirty: like the name says, this is a fastest and easiest way that will produce an ok board;
Pro: To do anything well, always take more time and is usually more difficult. But you'll be making a board like a pro!
How to Make a Skimboard: Choosing and Sizing Foam
No matter which way you decide how to make a skimboard from foam, there are a few factors and processes that will apply either way:
An easy way to determine proper size for you is to use your body for measurement.
Make the board about the same length as your body from your toes to your mid-waist.
Width should be roughly equivalent to the distance from your wrist to your shoulder.
Denser foam is heavier but stronger which means it will be less likely to break. Good densities are H-60 and H-80.
If you can find closed cell foam - get it. It means water won't get in and turn your board to mush if you ding it.
Cut as smooth and even as possible - a twisted or uneven board won't ride very well.
Common thicknesses are 3/4 and 5/8 inches.
It's usually preferred to sand the rails (edges of the board) so that they curve down. They should be rounded at the top and come to a smooth flat-ish, but slightly rounded, edge at the bottom. Keep them even all around!
How to Make a Skimboard - The Quick & Dirty Way:
Start with a thicker piece of foam than your board will actually be.
Once you have determined your size and shape, create your board by cutting the whole board out of the foam, including rocker.
Be very careful to shape it evenly (twisted boards don't ride very well)!
Shape the rails - again (I can't stress this enough) - keep them even!
Once the board is all smooth and even, you are ready to design it and start glassing. Skip past the Pro Way to see the steps on designing and glassing below (waaaay below - the Pro Way is long!).
Check out this video showing how to make a skimboard from foam the Quick & Dirty way:
How to Make a Skimboard - The Pro Way:
Measure the wood stringer the length of the board.
Mark the measurements for the rocker on the wood stringer. The front (for the nose) should be a steeper curve than the back.
Draw the shape for the rocker along the bottom and cut it out.
Sand smooth on sanding block.
Measure the stringer along the top to match the same thickness as the foam.
Draw the shape and cut it.
Measure the foam in the length you want it to be.
Draw a straight line lengthwise through the middle (this is where the stringer will go).
Draw one half of the board from the middle line and cut it out.
Using the half you just cut out, place it on the other side of foam matching it with the middle line.
Trace around it and cut the new piece out.
Place the two halves together, matching along the middle line and tape them along the curved sides so they are completely even with each other.
Sand the flat edge so they are both exactly even and smooth.
Tape the flat edge, remove the tape from the curved edges and sand them - also till they are smooth and even.
Keeping the flat edges taped, flip them open.
Place the wooden stringer in the center (in the straight edge where the two halves meet). The steepest curve goes to the front of the board.
Detach one half and keep the tape stuck to the other half.
Use the Gorilla Glue along the flat edge. (this is seriously the bestest, strongest glue you will ever use! umm - don't get it on your hands though!)
Wet the side of the stringer that is going to stick to the foam. This will activate the Gorilla Glue.
the stringer and the foam together and use the tape to keep them
together. Use a lot of tape at the nose and tail where the rocker is to
keep the foam curved in the same form as the stringer.
Let dry for est. 1.5 hrs.
Clean any dried glue off the top and bottom of the foam with a sander.
Prop the nose and tail end of side with the stringer attached to keep the shape of the rocker.
Wet the other side of the wood stringer to prepare to glue on the other side.
Grab the other half and use the Gorilla Glue along the flat edge and attach it evenly to the stringer.
where you will want the really strong glue to hold all pieces in place.
Use lots of tape around the nose and tail end to keep the foam inline
with the rocker of the stringer.
With the props secure under the nose and tail, use bricks or other heavy objects to weigh down the rest of the board.
Wait for another 1.5 hrs for glue to dry.
Sand off excess glue.
the middle (top and bottom) so that the wood stringer and the foam
pieces are completely flat and even. The flatter and smoother the
bottom, the better it will ride. If the stringer pokes out anywhere
from the bottom, the board won't be rideable at all - it will catch. If
it pokes out at top, it will kill your feet.
Shape the rails - again (I can't stress this enough) - keep them even!
You are ready to move on to designing and glassing... see below.
Check out these great videos for easy step-by-step instruction how to make a skimboard in the Pro Way (parts 1, 2, & 3):
How to Make a Skimboard: Designing and Glassing
Now that you have the shape of your board finished, you are ready to give it your own flare and finish it with a fiberglass coating.
You are going to want a wide, well ventilated space that is ok to get mucked up.
Place the board on a sturdy table/stand that is smaller than the board so the edges hang off.
Before starting the fiberglass process, the fun part of making your own skimboard is creating your own design and decorating it. Go to town! It's your board... make it as pretty or crazy or whatever you like!
Use stickers, stencils and/or a very lightweight paint.
Caution!: Some paints can melt the foam! Check the specs first - most water-based latex sprays are ok.
4 or 6 ounce weights are the most common. This is the strength of the cloth.
Use a standard cross weave.
3 layers on the bottom and 2 layers on the top.
Do the bottom first. Lay all three layers and cut it around the edge of the board leaving just enough to fold a little onto the top. Cut a "V" shape at the nose and tail so that when you fold it over it lays flat.
Resin: Epoxy or Polyester
Polyester is cheaper and easier to use.
Epoxy is more expensive, more difficult to work with but far better quality.
Mix roughly 16 ounces of resin with about 8 ounces of hardener in a narrow, easy to mix in bucket. Once mixed (est. 30 sec), pour it into a larger, wider bucket so it won't set as quickly. Mix it up again for about a minute.
Pour some of the resin onto the middle of the board.
Using a straight scraper/spatula of some sort, guide the resin all around the board. The trick is not to get any air bubbles in the layers of the fiberglass cloth so it's good to get the resin to soak all the way through, all over the board.
Keep it SUPER SMOOTH and spread it all the way past the edges (catch the drips back into the bucket).
As you spread it out past the edges, you can start folding the fiberglass under, onto the top of the board. You can cut off any excess pieces to keep it as smooth and bubble free as possible.
Work your way around all the edges smoothing everything out with your scraper/spatula tool to ensure there are no bubbles anywhere along the rail. If bubbles form and harden, you will need to sand them out and re-apply more resin.
Also check for any excess dripping resin, get right under and smooth everything out.
Curation time is about 3 hours. Go skimming or watch videos about skimming.
Put 2 layers of fiberglass on the top, but don't go all the way around the edges. Cut it so it will sit even with the layer that has been folded up from the bottom.
Tape all around the edges so the resin doesn't drip and harden down the rails.
Repeat the same smoothing process as you did for the bottom.
Let dry again. Est. 3 hours.
Repeat the coating of resin all over the board, again starting with the bottom and working out all bubbles and excess drips. This is what's called the "flood" coat because it fills in any little bumps etc. left by the first coat.
Once everything is dry, give the entire board a good smooth sanding (have I mentioned yet to make your board really smooth?).
Now you can do a very thin layer of resin - again starting from bottom; top last - remember... smoooooth! This is the last coat, the "gloss" coat, because, yup, it makes it all shiny and glossy!
Congrats! You made it through (I think you deserve a "How to Make a Skimboard" certificate or something... that's a lot of work!). You should now have something that hopefully resembles a decent skimboard... go test it out!
I highly recommend watching these videos on how to make a skimboard, about the glassing and coating techniques:
If you found this information about how to make a skimboard helpful and you made some following these guidelines... please, show some pics! or videos! Let us all know what worked or didn't... I'm always interested to see how things turn out and of course learn new and better tricks. I'm sure everyone else from the skim community would be stoked to see also... happy skimming!
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