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  1. #1
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    Shaping an Alaia

    So I don't really anything to do while waiting for these tropical systems to make their way up north, and I really want to try something new, so last night I decided I was going to attempt to make an alaia. My first questions are just about the basic tools and materials needed to shape one:

    -What kind of wood should I use, and what size should the blank be?

    -What's the best way to seal it? I'm looking for something simple and organic, probably linseed oil if it works well.

    -What should I use to sand/shape it it? I'd prefer not to use electric tools on this but can if necessary.

    Thanks in advance for the help, I'll keep everyone updated once I get into the whole process.

  2. #2
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    You can use any wood, but the lighter the better. Paulownia is ideal. Lots of people have used pine but it tends to soak up water and deteriorate quickly unless you seal it permanently with resin or varnish.

    You can hand sand or use an electric one. Use boiled linseed oil to seal it.

    Check out google for lots of hits on this subject. Bit of warning these are very very hard to ride and really need an open faced wave to get going. They will pearl and/or sink in sectioning waves and do not work well in lots of white water as we have here on the east coast.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ND081 View Post
    So I don't really anything to do while waiting for these tropical systems to make their way up north, and I really want to try something new, so last night I decided I was going to attempt to make an alaia. My first questions are just about the basic tools and materials needed to shape one:

    -What kind of wood should I use, and what size should the blank be?

    -What's the best way to seal it? I'm looking for something simple and organic, probably linseed oil if it works well.

    -What should I use to sand/shape it it? I'd prefer not to use electric tools on this but can if necessary.

    Thanks in advance for the help, I'll keep everyone updated once I get into the whole process.

    basic hand tools are spokeshaves, blockplanes, trim planes, sand paper, soft/hardblocks, any wood will work it depends how long, if you want to do it cheap get 2x4, seal it depending on wood with epoxy resin and fibverglass cloth, 1.5oz -4 oz cloth, or if your using something like cedar you can seal it with linseed oil, but you will have to keep re applying it. i would suggest epoxy if you want it to last.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarter View Post
    You can use any wood, but the lighter the better. Paulownia is ideal. Lots of people have used pine but it tends to soak up water and deteriorate quickly unless you seal it permanently with resin or varnish.

    You can hand sand or use an electric one. Use boiled linseed oil to seal it.

    Check out google for lots of hits on this subject. Bit of warning these are very very hard to ride and really need an open faced wave to get going. They will pearl and/or sink in sectioning waves and do not work well in lots of white water as we have here on the east coast.
    i understand the shortcomings of an alaia in east coast waves, but i'd still like to make one because it sounds like a great project. and i've read quite a bit about them but everyone seems to have a different method for making them so i thought i'd ask you guys.

    Quote Originally Posted by a2tall View Post
    basic hand tools are spokeshaves, blockplanes, trim planes, sand paper, soft/hardblocks, any wood will work it depends how long, if you want to do it cheap get 2x4, seal it depending on wood with epoxy resin and fibverglass cloth, 1.5oz -4 oz cloth, or if your using something like cedar you can seal it with linseed oil, but you will have to keep re applying it. i would suggest epoxy if you want it to last.
    i think i'm going to stick with linseed oil because i'm only going to be able to ride it a few times a year and i wouldn't really mind re applying every so often. i want this board to be as "natural" as possible.

  5. #5
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    post pics or vids of the process for us to view. Best of luck.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarter View Post
    post pics or vids of the process for us to view. Best of luck.
    ill try and get pictures up as soon as i start. thanks

  7. #7
    Shape it by hand with a whatever you can find. If you're just making one board a surform may be the cheapest way to go. I use a scrub plane then other planes to smooth it out. Get paulownia if possible or at least western red cedar or redwood. You need a light wood that is faily stable. I guess balsa if you don't mind glassing it. Paulownia, WRC and redwood hold up really well in and out of the ocean even without being sealed!
    Boiled linseed oil is good, but raw tung oil is better. Thin either 3 parts turpentine to 1 part oil and apply several coats then go surf.
    I ride my alaias all the time from shin slappers to well overhead and always have a blast. Stick to trying to replicate the original ancient alaias cause they work great. Don't get all crazy adding "modern" stuff like concaves or fins it'll just slow it down and make it ride like a dog. The anceint Hawaiians spent a few hundred years refining their designs so why reinvent the wheel?
    Need more advice or ideas for your alaia project? Check out Xylemsurfboards.com. Once you build your board let me know if you need any tips to figure out how to ride it, I've been riding/shaping alaias for a while and I'm glad to help.
    Have fun shaping your alaia!
    -Josh
    Xylem Surfboards

    P.S. To the guy that said alaias need better waves: If your alaia doesn't work in less than ideal waves, you likely made it wrong. It should work in just about whatever waves the ocean can throw at us. I don't mean to come accross like a jerk, but poorly designed surfboards just don't work right in any surf. Its gotta be right. Right?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xylem Surfboards View Post
    P.S. To the guy that said alaias need better waves: If your alaia doesn't work in less than ideal waves, you likely made it wrong. It should work in just about whatever waves the ocean can throw at us. I don't mean to come accross like a jerk, but poorly designed surfboards just don't work right in any surf. Its gotta be right. Right?
    I did not say "better" waves, just open faces to glide on. Alaia's are not that fun on crappy close out dumpy beach break waves and are best suited for longer rolling waves that you can glide and spin on. If you have some video to the contrary lets see it?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xylem Surfboards View Post
    Shape it by hand with a whatever you can find. If you're just making one board a surform may be the cheapest way to go. I use a scrub plane then other planes to smooth it out. Get paulownia if possible or at least western red cedar or redwood. You need a light wood that is faily stable. I guess balsa if you don't mind glassing it. Paulownia, WRC and redwood hold up really well in and out of the ocean even without being sealed!
    Boiled linseed oil is good, but raw tung oil is better. Thin either 3 parts turpentine to 1 part oil and apply several coats then go surf.
    I ride my alaias all the time from shin slappers to well overhead and always have a blast. Stick to trying to replicate the original ancient alaias cause they work great. Don't get all crazy adding "modern" stuff like concaves or fins it'll just slow it down and make it ride like a dog. The anceint Hawaiians spent a few hundred years refining their designs so why reinvent the wheel?
    Need more advice or ideas for your alaia project? Check out Xylemsurfboards.com. Once you build your board let me know if you need any tips to figure out how to ride it, I've been riding/shaping alaias for a while and I'm glad to help.
    Have fun shaping your alaia!
    -Josh
    Xylem Surfboards

    P.S. To the guy that said alaias need better waves: If your alaia doesn't work in less than ideal waves, you likely made it wrong. It should work in just about whatever waves the ocean can throw at us. I don't mean to come accross like a jerk, but poorly designed surfboards just don't work right in any surf. Its gotta be right. Right?
    great post thanks for the info i'm definitely going to check out your site

  10. #10
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    Mar 2012
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    http://m.xylemsurfboards.com/

    These are gorgeous, I'm totally inspired man. I'm going to make one.