Longboard experimentation!

This is by far my most favourite project that I have worked on to date. Maybe it’s because every minute that I’m working on it I’m thinking about the moment I get to give it away. I’m hoping it will be a complete surprise to my girlfriend for her birthday. To be honest I have never even longboarded. She loves longboarding, and talks about it all the time – but has to borrow a board every time she goes. 

So, thus the idea was born! I researched for what seemed like weeks – and it was weeks. Everything from proper dimensions, to what boards were good for cruising versus downhill, even the length between the trucks, the finish, the curve, the press. Everything was new to me. 

I found a fantastic resource early on in my research that became a constant companion in my work. The people over at Silverfish Longboarding and their board building forum were a huge help in my building experience!

I decided on a pintail design. First, because I was pretty sure I was pushing my skill set with this project, and this seemed like the easiest design. No drop through mounts, no kicks, just the right amount of concave for a beginner like me. 

The first step was acquiring some wood. Through my research, I knew that I had three options. Baltic birch, maple, or bamboo. Maple and bamboo were both too hard to press with the simple press that I had planned, not to mention out of my budget zone! So, baltic birch it was! I purchased two 5×5 pieces of 1/8 inch baltic birch from a local lumber shop and got them to cut them into preplanned sizes that would fit in my car. When I got home, I used an exacto knife to score the boards into 6 long grain and 2 cross grain from each 5×5 board, then simply snapped them apart. 

Then came the template! I downloaded this from the SF downloads section, printed it, and pasted it onto some cardboard. 

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Once all the boards were sliced, I sorted them based on which I thought had the best looking grain for the top and bottom of the board. Then moved on to designing my press!

There were a plethora of designs to chose from – but very few within my budget and time frame. I ended up going with the most simple design I could find – it was just three 1x3s and a 2×4!

Two were laid flat across the table and the board would be set across them to create a gap between the table and the board. The final 2×4 would be placed across the centre of the board and clamped down to put pressure on the board, pushing it down into the table. 

Hard to explain! Easier to show! 

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I wish I had gotten a better picture! This is a dry run without full pressure on the clamps. Hope it gets the idea across!

I used 5 pieces of 1/8 inch birch, laid out – long, cross, long, cross, long grain, for a board 5/8 inch thick. Waterproof woodglue spread evenly over each piece, then into the press they went. 

Let it rest 24 hours and I was ready to take it out! Unfortunately – I made some major mistakes! I didn’t think the press would create enough pressure to make sure I didn’t get any air bubbles in the lamination – so I screwed the edges of the board. 

I WAS NOT THINKING – because I had cut the boards at uneven widths to get the most out of the sheets I had bought, the cross grains were only 10 inches and the long grain were 12. When I screwed through the top of the 12 inch long grain, it hit the two inch gap and grabbed the bottom 12 inch board – bubbling the middle of the board. 

So there were bubbles in the lamination. Major gaps. Major disappointment for Raff.  Oh well! One full 5×5 to slice up and try again! This time, all the boards were cut to a width of ten inches, no screws were used, and a better 2×4 was used to clamp the middle down. 

I wasn’t going to scrap the old board though! No, no, no! I grabbed a syringe, pried open the gaps, squeezed some glue in and clamped those spots with mini-clamps. 

This will be my trial board – no worries about mistakes – I’ll try everything that I want to do to the actual board, on this board first. My mistakes have always been the best teacher for me, and I’m excited to try things without worrying about the outcome, and if the board turns out and I can use it – even better!

Here’s after I cut the board out, and in the process of cleaning up the edges with my amazing spokeshave. I cannot tell you how much I love this tool. Interestingly enough, my girlfriend bought it for me for my birthday, so I think it’s only fitting that I use it to craft her gift!
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Enough for tonight! But I will continue to post as progress is made, because I am having too much fun to not share!

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