wow 17 pages huh? has anyone said SWAYLOCKS.COM yet?? best site ever, do some searches, read to forum, it has everything you could think to ask..
^^^^ pagination is the bane of the internet. Check yo settings and download autopager for firefox or chrome too.
You dont need a lot of tech to shape your first board.
The first four boards i made were all shaped out in the sun, and glassed outside. All four of the boards shaped and glassed that way served me well for years. Was there a bit of waviness in the rails and bottom that better lighting would have pointed out? Yes. But they rode good to me, and to other relatively good surfers who tried them out multiple times.
Then i built a shaping room with the good racks and lighting, etc. After maybe a two or three boards your shaping skills are to the point where the better racks and lighting are something you will appreciate.
Advice: Get a close tolerance poly blank for your first shape, glass it in your garage COMPLETELY out of the sun with UV Cure polyester laminating resin so you can take your sweet time. You will need some styrene surfacing agent for the hoat coat. Get John Carper's Shaping 101 and glassing 101 and watch them over and over until you pretty much get all of the steps down and making sense.
I plan on using a close tolerance PU blank but I want to get one much larger than the size I pan on shaping. I want a 6"8. Would shaping down a 7"3 blank throw my rocker off? I want to be able to use some of the extra foam to practice shaping rails.
idk, seems like getting a close tolerance blank, then hacking down that much might defeat the purpose. You might be biting off more than you can chew on this first board.
With that said, i dont recommend using the blank for "practice". Educate your self about how to cut a clean template, bevel, screen and finish your rails. Then just go do it. Its an $80 hunk of foam, and theres a learning curve. Get good instructions such as the Carper videos, watch them closely and repeatedly, and ask someone whose shaped a board before to help you get started if thats possible.
Using a 7'3" to build a 6'8" will result in a slightly flatter rockered board than using a 6'9" blank. Its not a big deal if thats what you want. If you decide to go that route, and cut maybe 2" off the nose and 4" off the tail (or 3" and 3") you'll be fine. But the part about the longer blank for rail practice tells me you need to do more research before you buy anything.