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  1. #1

    Trying my hand at shaping: What shape should I start with?

    I just decided that it's time to shape my first board and I'm looking for some insight as to what shape might be a good one to start on, as well as the dimensions, etc, that y'all would recommend. A wide, classic fish was the first thing to come to mind as a good start, but what do you think?

    I'm 5'11, 175-180 pounds, and am a longboarder through and through, but a smaller board, gasp, perhaps even a shortboard, with good float and smooth maneuverability sounds like it'd be the ticket. I'm just about intermediate in terms of my surfing ability -- took several years off because of location limitations -- but am getting back into it now on my 9'8" Scott Anderson Farberow I. I'd like a board that I could have fun on now, but also still enjoy riding once my ability gets back up to where I'd like it to be.

    Any tips are much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    milton delaware
    the first few boards i made were wide fishes. One good thing about shaping a board like that is that the fish blanks dont really need significant rocker adjustments to make a perfectly good riding fish. Concaves and other fancy details arent that critical in a fish, (i think ive made some with flat bottoms i.e. no concaves to speak of at all - that ride great) and its not that hard to put two keel fins parallel to the stringer.
    Last edited by mitchell; Nov 1, 2011 at 05:35 PM.

  3. #3
    Hey kielsun,

    Good for you. I've shaped 4 boards now and it is an awesome process. I chose my shapes based off of what I am used to riding. I put elements of different boards I have liked and try to link them together. They rarely turn out the way I want but whatever. This way I cancompare my hand vs. theirs. Obviously, it's hard to compete with a machine and YEARS of experience. My suggestion would be to stick with what you know. If you're a longboarder and you haven't ridden a shortboard before it's not going to be worth the time and money that you put into it. Go for a fish with true retro fish dimensions or try something a little shorter than what you're used to. Maybe in the mid 7' range.
    IDK, just my two cents.
    Have fun with it and post pics as you go.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    West Long Branch, New Jersey, United States
    Ive shaped a few boards in the past year and found the easiest one was a regular shortboard with a thumb tail. I copied my favorite board and beefed it up a bit. most of the blanks you buy already have the rocker in them and if you buy close to the size of the board you want to get out of it you shouldn't have to make any adjustments really. I just shaped two retro fishes on 5'8" and one 5' 10". The most difficult part was glassing the tail but I tinted the resin so that adds a little difficulty. A fish style board without the cut out tail would be the easiest in my opinion. If your going to ride the board in decent surf you definatly need put a little vee in the bottom by the nose though instead of totally flat bottom.

  5. #5
    Surfing is all in our minds. Build the board of your dreams. Then put your art in motion.
    Last edited by GreenFlash35; Nov 2, 2011 at 12:13 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Monmouth Beach, NJ
    First... building your own has it's own special gratification. Getting good at it takes practice, but if you have an eye for detail and good with your hands, the learning curve is steep and before long you'll be very happy with your results. Take the leap and don't look back, brother...

    Next... stick with a simple shape, and do a clear, free lapped glass job. A fish is a good idea. Natural rocker, simple flat to vee bottom (vee in the tail), not much foiling to do, and down rails. Examine... I mean really STUDY a few fish shapes. Take measurements if you can. Note the thickness flow from nose to tail. Note the profile of the rails. Look closely at how the tail tapers at the stringer. Keep that image in your mind and try to replicate it as best you can.

    Last... all boards ride. They might not ride the way you expect them to, but they all ride. When you finally start to build boards that ride the way you expected them to, you've made it.

  7. #7
    I am thinking about shaping a board for the first time, and i'm not sure whether to use glass on fins or install fin boxes? Another question i have that might sound dumb, what is vee? Any other advice would be great, thanks!

  8. Depends on how much you want to spend, shaping boards is a very rewarding experience, but there are a lot of overhead costs if you want to do it right. I am fully committed to shaping/glassing and have spent hundreds of dollars on the proper tools and installation tools. The best bet if this is something that you just want to do one or two boards with is to have someone who already has the installation tools put the fins plugs in for you. I did this in the very beginning and it worked out great. I am located in the Lewes, DE area and could do it for you if you are near that area. Also vee is the opposite of concave, the easiest way to describe it is if you place a level on the bottom of the board perpendicular to the stringer, there with be an upside down "V" in the distance from the level to the foam. This was very extreme and popular in the late 60's when Nat Young/Bob Mctavish started the shortboard revolution with their shorter vee bottoms.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by mgarbutt View Post
    I am located in the Lewes, DE area and could do it for you if you are near that area.
    Awesome. I will almost definitely take you up on the offer! I live in Baltimore, but regularly travel your way for surf, so it wouldn't be a stretch to make it up there sometime this winter. I'm currently leaning toward a single-fin egg with lots of volume rather than a fish. Seems like it might be a better transition from a longboard, but I'm sure I'll change my mind 40 more times before I get started.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Monmouth Beach, NJ
    An egg is a good choice. You could even set it up as a 2+1 so you can have fun experimenting with different fin combinations... as long as somebody else is doing the installation! Ha!

    You're a good man, mgarbutt...