A surfboard stringer can serve both functional and aesthetic purposes in surfboard design.
And just like everything else, different variations of stringer material and layout can affect how your surfboard is going to perform.
What’s a Surfboard Stringer?
A stringer is the piece of wood (or other material) that typically runs down the center of a surfboard blank.
Stringers affect the flex and rigidity of a surfboard.
They often come already attached to an unshaped blank, but can also be added and customized during the surfboard shaping process.
Stringers have been around pretty much since the introduction of the polyurethane surfboard blank.
Surfers and shapers found the need for a bit more stiffness to this new type of board, which drastically reduced weight at the expense of the strength of a wood board.
Stringers help determine how a surfboard will flex and recoil, which will influence its maneuverability, stability, speed, and turning characteristics. This can all be influenced by the material used for the stringer as well as the placement of the stringer(s).
All of this comes down to how a surfboard absorbs and distributes energy. Ideally, this energy can be used to build speed and connect maneuvers along the wave.
Stringers can also enhance the appearance of a board.
You’ll typically see a lot of creative stringer color combinations and layouts on classic logs – not only do they help the bigger boards maintain stiffness and strength, they also add some pretty sweet style.
Stringer Materials & Layouts
You can find stringers in a variety of materials, each bringing their own unique flex, weight, strength, and appearance to a board. The most common types of stringer materials you’ll find are:
- Red Cedar
- Poplar Ply
- Applecore (Colored Basswood Ply)
- High density foam
Stringer layouts can come in a number of configurations too. Each will further affect how a surfboard performs. Stringer configurations include:
- Single Center Stringers.
- Multiple Stringers – 2 or more stringers side by side. Double, T bands, triples.
- Wedge – 2 stringers that start together at the nose and separate towards the tail.
- Flared – A stringer that exits at a rail.
- Parabolic – a stringer that follows the rails of the board.
- Stringerless surfobards – These boards feature no center stringer and may include other strength reinforcements like carbon fiber, wood planking, ridges, etc.
How Thick Should a Surfboard Stringer be?
Stringer thickness should be determined by the type of board being made.
The larger the surfboard, the thicker the stringer should be.
Shorter surfboard blanks typically have stringers around 3/16” and longer, stiffer boards will have stringers around ⅜” or more.