YOU ALSO CAN BECOME A SHAPER. THE GUIDE

PART I - DESIGN

Chapter 5 - THE CHOICE OF MATERIALS

At this point you should have precisely put the tools, the project, the model and the workspace. It's time to choose the blank, the stringer, the fabric, the resin, the fin and leash system and get to work.

1. CHOOSE THE BLANK WITH THE RIGHT SIZE

Once you have decided between PU or EPS, you need to choose the appropriate blank size. The three elements you need to take into consideration are:

  • Length

  • Width

  • Rocker profile

Whether you've opted for an EPS or XPS block or a PU blank complete with a crudely preshaped stringer, outline and rocker profile, your surfboard must fit inside the foam piece! Your job will be to take her out.

In the case of a PU blank, when choosing the length, in general, it should be at least an inch or two longer than your project. If you choose a blank that is longer than the design, you will have a greater chance of moving your template forward or backward to obtain a more or less pronounced rocker. But be careful not to exceed with a blank that is too long for your project, as you may find it difficult to achieve the correct shape of the rocker in the tail. Generally the manufacturer's blanks catalog guides the choice in the attached descriptions.

When choosing the width, you need to make sure that the blank is wide enough in all of its key dimensions: 12 "from the nose at its widest point and 12" from the tail. Make sure the blank is large enough in the nose and tail area to accommodate your project.

To choose the right rocker profile you need to make sure that your project profile fits within the blank. There are usually two standard profiles for a short board: the very pronounced rocker for shortboards or the flatter rocker for fun boards. The thickness of your design must fit within at all key points.

Many manufacturers have a catalog with the characteristics of each blank, which will help you in choosing the most suitable one to contain your project.

USBLANKS, in addition to offering a very large sample range for which it will be difficult not to find the most suitable blank, offers the possibility of requesting a variety of foam densities starting from a standard with blue color, a rocker profile and a customized stringer setting. Click here to download your USBLANKS catalog.

If you have chosen to use the EPS instead, you will only have to make sure that your project with the maximum measurements of the width, length and rocker, are inside the EPS block. If you have designed on a program like AKUSHAPE or SHAPE3d, you will have all the necessary measurements to determine the box you will need.

Given the high prices of shipments of bulky items, try to go to companies that work with polystyrene (I think every city has at least one) and have a block cut and maybe, if you're lucky, you can even make a cut to follow the rocker profile in such a way as to lower the work and dust to get your board out.

If, on the other hand, you want to take advantage of our EPS PRESHAPED service, you will have your blank already modeled both in outline and in rocker profile directly at home according to your project.

On the other hand, those who want to create the PU board starting from one of our USBLANKS, can take advantage of the new PRESHAPED service which in this case will be complete with all the details, including rails, concave and so on. You will only have to pass a card to finish the rough cut of the cutter. Contact us for more info on surfshapehouse@gmail.com.

2. CHOICE OF THE STRINGER

PU blanks already have a stringer inside. Normally it is a plywood in the shortboards or noble wood in the long boards, but you can opt for other woods that know how to combine lightness, strength and malleability. The options that manufacturers normally give are lime, redwood, paulownia, balsa and the precious cedar used mainly for longboards.

If you opt for an EPS block your wood must contain the rocker profile of your project. Which wood? Go to a wood seller and find out what they can do for you. Remember: resistance, lightness but above all malleability.

A valid option that will result in energy savings is the use of unidirectional carbon bands to be laminated together with the fiberglass. Currently, you can indulge yourself with a myriad of solutions, both from an aesthetic point of view and of materials as an alternative to wood (PVC, FOAM EXTRA HARD) and carbon (Kevlar, aluminum, basalt, etc.). For reinforcements, we have a wide choice thanks to the support of Colan Australia and the possibility of requesting customized reinforcements.

When choosing the setting you will have to take into account the relationship between resistance and flexibility. Tests on boards to check the breaking strength have shown that for the same weight a board with a larger stringer and a lighter fabric is far weaker than a board built with a finer and lighter wood and a heavier fabric . With this choice, you will have a more resistant board even to blockages. Don't be afraid to experiment, always keeping in mind the fundamental elements of a board: resistance, weight and flexibility, I repeat flexibility !!!! A rigid board, in addition to being not very reactive, almost annoying in the water, is also more prone to breaking. If you are at your first table and you are not an engineer or a test driver, it is always best to follow and copy.

Go to a wood center and have a strip of wood cut to fit your project. Soft woods such as linden, paulownia or balsa would be perfect, but you will find that it is not that easy to find them. Even the cheapest compensated are fine; here the problem will be the shaping of the plane or your spoke shave with your blade, which will not be so perfect. Get wood advice from your carpentry shop. For the thickness, see you on an as-needed basis, typically a 4mm is used in a short. Remember that it is not so necessary to put a mason beam to give strength to your board. In a classic longboard you can certainly use larger thicknesses, because we do not have particular weight requirements. The difficulty to make a longboard will be to find a panel over 2 meters and 75cm, or 9 feet. You can have a whole wooden panel cut diagonally. Here the price will certainly rise. For a shortboard, usually 4mm plywood is used, up to 5mm and 6mm for funboard or similar boards.

If you are not obsessed with wooden cores, you can do without it and get even better results in terms of resistance / flexibility. Carbon, the most used as an alternative to wood, especially for EPS with epoxy, will save you time with excellent results. A setting that we like to use is that of a band on the bottom along the entire length of the board and a band on the deck in the central part of the board (starting from the end of the pronunciation of the rocker on the nose and ending before the beginning of the rocker on the tail. ). 2 "unidirectional bands may suffice, but you can increase or decrease according to your needs, weight, power of the wave on which you want to use the board, fiberglass setting etc. This is just a type of setting, in fact you can indulge yourself looking, however Unless you're an engineer, copy by looking around and on the internet An example of a particular setting is Lost's “Carbon Wrap”, but there are all sorts of them out there right now.

Another way of giving strength to the table is the use of Special Fabrics such as Fiberglass type "S", (and not the normal "E")). "S" fiberglass fabric is more expensive but much more resistant and flexible. Two 4oz layers on the deck and a 6oz layer on the bottom in "S" Glass. If you then add some carbon, your board will be bus crush proof.

But be careful that the shape phase on a stringerless blank must be very careful and above all with a light hand !!!! The risk that the blank, due to its light weight, will fall, break or deform is within reach.

3. THE CHOICE OF THE RESIN

We essentially summarize what has already been said:

  • Polyester resin: relatively inexpensive, short working times, very short hardening times, less resistance than Epoxy, clean finish; easy sanding (with paraffinized styrene additive); very toxic;

  • Standard epoxy resin: higher costs, long processing times, very long hardening times, greater resistance; imperfect finish, not very toxic; very sensitive to environmental conditions.

  • Resin Research epoxy resin: higher costs, long processing times, short hardening times, greater resistance, clean finish, easy sanding, safe; very sensitive to environmental conditions.

We also remind you that polyester resin cannot be used with EPS blanks, as the styrene contained would melt your bread. Now choose according to your needs.

If you choose polyester, you will have to purchase styrene paraffin , an additive to be used exclusively in the hot coat or gloss phase, which will facilitate sanding. Not using it would mean throwing meters and meters of sandpaper, mixed in the first step.

The styrene monomer, not to be confused with styrene paraffin, is used in addition to the resin to promote a state of greater liquidity of the resin if needed, such as for a gloss-coat.

To bring the polyester resin to hardening, MEPK catalyst must be used. A UV catalyst can be used instead. It is a powder to be added to the resin in places without UV rays. After working, it is necessary to expose the part to UV rays from the sun or other artificial sources. Contact with UV rays will induce hardening.

The epoxy resin is a system composed of two elements, which when mixed according to the proportion indicated by the manufacturer, are joined to reach the solid state.

Resin Research has created Additive F , a chemical additive that allows the resin to reduce the possibility of those annoying bubbles or uncovered spaces of tissue forming, typical of epoxy resins. It, which can only be used in combination with Resin Research epoxies, also favors sanding as does paraffin for polyester resin.

The spatula to be used must be resistant to corrosive agents and flexible. The size may vary, we recommend around 15cm. For mixing resin and respective hardeners and additives , flat-shaped wooden sticks are ideal, such as those used by pediatricians to observe the throat. The recycling of ice cream sticks or other is fine. The choice of mixing tool is fundamental in the case of epoxy, as it must be efficient in moving all the resin content.

For this reason, the container must also be, in the case of epoxy, flat, without bulges or protrusions. In the case of small adjustments, paper cups are excellent, while in the case of larger quantities, it is better to play it safe with more resistant plastic containers. Even here you can recycle, as far as polyester is concerned, any container can go, as long as it is dry and clean.

4. THE CHOICE OF FIBERGLASS FABRIC

This is an important choice! Often we tend to try to get a board as light as possible. If, as we said, your first board will not be a competition short, but rather a board to have fun even when the waves are not big and steep, then weight is not that important. Sure you won't have to make a brick, but we believe greater resistance to blockages and breakage is more important.

The most commonly used fiberglass fabrics on the market generally have a weight of 4 ounces and 6 ounces. It is also possible to choose the width of the fabric, normally 65 or 80 cm, according to the type of board to be laminated. For a shortboard a 65 cm will suffice, while for a funboard or longboard over 21 ”wide, a wider fabric of 80 cm will be needed. Our Hexcel fabrics are a guarantee of resistance, ease of impregnation and clarity.

Normally you tend to put one layer on the bottom, and two on the deck to resist the pressure of your feet. On the market, especially for mass-produced boards, there is a standardized use:

4; 4 + 4 ounces for the shortboard,

6; 6 + 4 or 4; 6 + 4 ounces for funboards

6; 6 + 6 for longboards.

If you choose two layers of different weights on the deck, it is advisable to place the 4oz fabric, the lightest one, on top. You can cut the 6 ounces flush with the rail, and turn the finer fabric over the rail to facilitate impregnation, especially in the area of ​​the rails. In addition to a variety of fabrics available on the market, there are many possibilities to add resistance, with the use of patches in fiberglass, carbon fiber or kevlar. For example, it is important to add resistance in the plug area, usually with normal fiberglass patches, and in the tail area, through carbon or hybrid tape to be inserted under the fiberglass fabric in the most stressed areas. In the GLASSING section of our site you will find a wide range of Colan Australia reinforcement tapes.

5. CHOICE OF THE PLUG SYSTEM

The choice of detachable fin systems are probably the best choice, both from a practical point of view (the removal of the fins makes the trip safer, especially by plane) and from a performance point of view (the fins can be modified in relation to the size and speed of the waves).

Unless you plan to install fixed fins, the choice of fin configuration, the preferred type of installation (pre or post lamination) and the availability of work tools will guide the choice among a multitude of fin systems. We will only name the main systems on the market, but know that there are many more.

TYPE OF PLUGS OR BOX

FCS X2 : these are the classic shot glasses that have depopulated until a few years ago. Now outdated, they are preferred if only for the ease of installation and the lack of need for additional electrical tools that often a beginner shaper may not have. You will need a drill and a cup bit. The position of the holes to be made can be facilitated through the self-construction of a template using plywood about 3mm thick. Mark the center of the cups, then pierce with a 28 mm diameter cup tip. Place the central and side fins inside the glasses, and start by placing the side fin on the wood, inserting the glasses inside the holes and trace the internal line of the fin on the wood. You will then have the guidelines for placing your template on the blank. For the central, the guide line of the fin passes perfectly in the center of the circle. The installation takes place after lamination (after hotcoat before the final sanding).

FCS FUSION: this is a transition system between the old FCS cup system and the new FCS II boxes. I recommend to those who want to have a system that welcomes the old FCS fins, because maybe they have many sets of fins with that system, but who prefer the greater resistance of a pre-laminated box.

FCS II: the new system, which in our opinion FCS had to develop in order not to be overtaken by the largest American competitor, which we will see later. It is installed on the board before lamination, and has a new technique without the need to tighten the fin to the box. With inserts sold separately, the new FCS box can also accommodate the old FCS fins. There is a KIT for installation and requires the purchase of a router cutter. For a non-professional who does not want to invest in this not exactly cheap instrument, he will be able to obtain the seat with a bit of patience and precision.

FUTURES: alternative to FCS, it is a box that houses a fin exclusively with Futures attachment. Also in this case the installation takes place before lamination. There are installation kits that facilitate the operation to be added to the one-handed router cutter. As for FCS II, it can also be done without spending hundreds of euros, but the operation is even more complex as the venue hosting the Futures Box consists of two levels with different widths, which in turn differ in height between the central fin. (1/2 ") and side fin (3/4"). Do not worry though, it is still a feasible operation, of course, with even more precision.

FINS UNLIMTED SINGLE FIN : central slots that allow the insertion of a large fin and the possibility of adjusting its position. Installation can be done both before and after lamination and is very simple. You can build an easy-to-create template. Even in this type of box, a router cutter can prove to be important.

GLASS ON FINS: if, on the other hand, you don't care about the possibility of taking your board on a trip, or you have a certain attraction for the Oldstyle, you can opt for fixed fins. In addition to the fins that you can of course build yourself, you will need fiberglass filaments, called Rowing and patches. The assembly takes place above the lamination of the board.

 

CONFIGURATIONS:

  • Single fin: means a single large central fin; this fin can be moved inside the box, allowing a setting with a fin more or less close to the tail.

  • 2 + 1: means a large fin that is mounted on a central box, and two small fins mounted on plugs near the rails to add stability.

  • Twin Fins: two fins mounted on side plugs, I must say, my favorite setting.

  • Thruster: the most common setting in modern shortboards. One central and two lateral fins.

  • Quad: 4 fin configuration (quad), without any central fin. Here, pay attention because FUTURES uses two central boxes and two side boxes, as the attachment of the fins follows this pattern .

  • There are also other types of configurations, and many others are being studied and experimented. Some types of tables are Finless configured.


Ultimately there is no system better than the other. Older FCS shot glasses are the easiest to assemble, and with a required equipment common to anyone with few tools at home. All systems sell mounting kits: they are very expensive but above all you can do without them if you are not a professional. As for the FCS X-2 shot glasses you can build it very easily. If, on the other hand, you have a vertical cutter you can easily opt for the other systems, stronger and in step with the times. Futures System is among others the one with the most installation difficulties. But don't worry, it's not that difficult. After choosing the fins, and the type of plug, you will have to decide the angle CANT, as some types of side plugs have different angles available. FCS for example has three lateral gradations 3 °, 5 °, 9 °. Futures is standard and the angle is set during installation with the use of protractor. Colloidal silicon can be more than useful when installing post lamination plugs as well as leash plugs. For the boxes it is not necessary to add fillers, but a little thickener such as colloidal silicon can remain more than useful to avoid excessive slipping of the resin.

6. LEASH PLUGS

You will have to choose the plug between different models. Reducing to two basic models, post lamination, easier to assemble, pre lamination, much more durable. Futures, has a more complex shape and therefore has a much more complicated installation, while the cylindrical shapes can be installed with a simple cup tip. For post lamination installation, colloidal silicon is recommended.

7. TIMING PROGRAMMING

At this point you should have put the tools, the project, the model, the work area, chosen the blank, the stringer, the fabric, the resin, the fin system, the leash. It is now important to plan the times before starting work. There is no objective time required to build a surfboard. The amount of time it takes to build a surfboard is subjective and contextual as it depends on your skills, your time to dedicate to it, the environment around you and the choices of materials.

SHAPING: For the shape of the board, times vary from a scarce hour of a Proshaper to 10 hours or more of a novice person. The important thing is to take your time, and be very careful and precise because a shape made in a workmanlike manner will greatly reduce the work required in the subsequent phases. Humps and holes will create problems in the sanding phase and will probably force you to repeat the resin coatings. So be patient and don't be in a rush to finish.

Your second board will be shaped with better results and in half the time. The learning time curve is very steep. At the fifth board, we are sure, you will be able to complete the shape of a normal board in about 3 hours, or even less for the more confident. Proshapers can get to shape a shortboard in under an hour. A must for a shaping lover is to follow the Instagram profile and the Youtube channel of Maestro Matt Kazuma Surfboards. A fortune for all apprentices to be able to enjoy a Master who makes techniques learned with decades of experience and millions of handmade boards known and accessible to all of us.

LAMINATING & GLASSING: The resin coating of a board generally requires fewer hours of work. The difference is the waiting times between one process and another to allow the resin to dry. As a general rule, epoxy resin reaches complete hardening much slower than polyester resin; most of the epoxy resins on the market have very slow hardening times, so much so that it will be possible to go back to work on

your table only the next day. In general, colder temperatures slow down the solidification of the resin and extend the time required for the various resin phases.

With our Resin Research epoxy resins, it will take about 2-3 hours to be able to flip the table. A huge advantage over other epoxy resins that has led us to greatly reduce the time in the production of EPS and epoxy resin boards. The latest addition Kwik Kick hardens completely in just 30 minutes at a temperature of 32 ° C, in less than 2 hours at 20 ° C. But what is even more surprising when scrolling through the technical data sheet is the fact that with Kwik Kick we can now build an EPS board at colder temperatures, even below 15 ° C, which was previously unthinkable. Having said that, we recommend working at at least 21 ° to have a perfectly fluid resin and not to exceed 28-29 ° C in order not to speed up processing times too much. With our Resin Research epoxy resins it is therefore possible to rotate the table up to 3 times in a single day. However, a beginner will have to take his time to fix every time the imperfections that will most likely be created, especially on the fabric turned on the tail and nose, which you will have to sand well.

Preparation for lamination and lamination itself will take you about two hours. Adding a layer of resin to your board is pretty quick, about 20 minutes on each side.

These are times that tend to the times required by the polyester resin, 10/15 minutes of potlife and about two hours to be able to overturn the table and start a new process.

PLUG INSTALLATION: The installation of the plugs or fin boxes takes from 30 minutes to about an hour, depending on the system chosen, and the availability of suitable tools. Also add here the time necessary for the resin to harden. The leash plug only takes about 10-15 minutes.

SANDING: Sanding will take at least 2 hours, depending on how much you do with an electric sander and how much you do by hand. The first few times it is almost guaranteed that bubbles will form and stretches of tissue will be exposed. The exposed cloth will suck water, therefore it is necessary to make a new resin coating in the exposed areas by providing a retouching or a new hotcoat.

FINISHING: The final sanding and polishing of your table should catch you

another 2 hours, at least the first time, then it will be much faster.

It is good to know that there are many factors that influence the timing of implementation as well as the microclimate in the work environment. By standardizing the times your schedule could be as follows:

1st day : Shaping of the blank, installation of fin boxes;

2nd day : bottom and deck lamination;

Day 3 : Hot coat deck and bottom, fin plug installation:

4th day : Leash plug installation, deck and bottom sanding;

5th day : second hot coat or gloss coat, final sanding / polishing;

It is about average times. Know that you can do everything much faster, but also take more time, especially in the first phase of shaping. As for the glazing, it is good to know that it is important to carry out all the phases within a short period of time, especially if you use polyester resin to promote adhesion between the layers.