Surfboard Shaping Guide

Shaping your own surfboard is something that can blow the roof off of your overall surfing experience – it can get you thinking about design elements and performance characteristics you’ve probably never thought about before.

Shaping a surfboard can be fun, challenging, frustrating, and messy.

And it can be extremely rewarding to surf something that you’ve built yourself – regardless of how ugly it is or even if it’s a total dog.

It’s relatively easy to shape a surfboard that will float – it’s more difficult to shape a surfboard that perfectly matches the vision you have in your mind that surfs exactly how you want it to.

With that said, this page is designed to serve as an overview of the surfboard shaping process – from idea to surfcraft – to help you, the aspiring backyard shaper or first-time garage-hack, decide whether or not you really want to shape your own surfboard.

What Materials Do You Need to Make A Surfboard?

If it’s your first time making a surfboard, you really don’t need all that much.

You probably shouldn’t spend a fortune on the best shaping tools, outfitting a shaping bay, or the best materials for your first few boards.

It’s probably wise to get a few under your belt to see if you’ve caught the surfboard shaping virus (a variant of the surfboard-buying virus).

If you’re looking to shape a foam and fiberglass surfboard, at a minimum you’ll need:

That’s really all you need assuming you’ll be glassing on your fins and building your own leash loop.

All of those materials can probably be sourced for around $200.

For your first few board, you can also get away with minimum tools, which would include:

If you don’t have any of these tools laying around already, they can probably be gathered for around $100.

As for a workspace, you’ll need:

  • Something to shape, glass, and sand the board on.
    • This can be a homemade shaping rack, saw-horses, or even an empty trash can.
  • A space you don’t mind getting extremely messy and will be able to clean up.
    • Shaping a blank outdoors is not the environmentally conscious thing to do.

To be on the safe-side, you should also have:

  • Eye-protection.
  • Respirator/face mask.
  • Gloves.

Find more recommendations for surfboard shaping supplies here.

How do You Shape a Surfboard?

Shaping a surfboard really boils down to only a handful of steps. Patience, preparation, and attention to detail will make each step go more smoothly.

Making a surfing involves:

  • Planning & Design – You can design a board from scratch, copy a board you like, or work off a pre-existing design.
  • Transferring the design to the blank.
  • Shaping the blank.
  • Glassing the bottom.
  • Glassing the top.
  • Glassing-on the fins and leash loop.
  • Hot coating the top and bottom.
  • Sanding.
  • 2nd hot coat, if necessary, and finish sanding.

If you simplify that a bit, building a surfboard is design > shaping > glassing > sanding. 4 major steps.

After that, you’re ready to surf your creation!

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