still can't find the disk with the close-ups, but I found a couple of boards my friend made for me. Obviously, he was pretty good at pin-stripping and color.
below is probably about the tenth board he ever made...and it was damn near perfect. Super tight, high performance short board. As was mentioned earlier, the tolerances of the blanks are so close to an already shaped board, most of the work is already done for you.
below is a fishy groveler he made out of a standard blank (they ran out of fish blanks, so he chopped the nose off a shortboard blank...or something to that effect). This thing was amazingly fast for the shape. The rails were kinda boxy/not real clean and the flat entry rocker got me a few times, but this is my favorite board of all time...so far. Sometimes the magic boards are the ones full of flaws.
For epic surf, go with a professionally shaped board.
Confidence in your equipment can make the difference between making or not making a wave... or a session. And for surf with consequences, most people have more confidence in a pro builder than themselves.
But I'd have to say for average east coast surf, better waves make almost every board work better.
Everybody should build their own board, at LEAST once. I'd say build yourself a half dozen boards. You'll learn a lot about surfboards and how they work, you'll get a greater appreciation for those who are talented at the craft, and you'll even learn a thing or two about yourself along the way. It's a win/win.
And you know what else??? It takes a lot of the mystery out of it, too. Anybody can build a functional surfboard. The secret a lot of board builders don't want you to know is that there's a right way to do everything, and if you know the fundamental principals of board design, and have some degree of skill with your hands, you can build a board that could give you the session of your life. You don't need a guru shaper; you can be your own guru.