Jim, a member of our Connecticut Chapter, is building a Grain surfboard and this blog will document his progress. Grain surfboards come in a do-it-yourself-kit with everything you need. You pick the type of board you want and then shape away with traditional hand tools. The best thing is, all boards come from Maine grown, sustainably harvested northern white cedar. Not do you shape a great surfboard, you also do it in an environmentally friendly way! For more information, go to the Grain Surfboards website.
Jim started by getting materials for the rocker table and getting organized. He says that he’ll definitelylearn a lot about basic woodwork stuff during the process. He already built the table, which was rather easy and started piecing together the frame and stringer (see pictures). “The cedar from Maine sure smells good…”
The rails are really hard at first for someone who hasn’t done this before. Jim recommends to anyone doing this to read the instructions many times over first. He did, and still had to go back and also email the Grain guys,who were a great help. For anywone that doesn’t have steam to get the rail strips to bend in the nose, Jim recommends using hot damp towels and slowly working them into position. Be patient. Jim cracked one rail but did a nice glue job repair that worked fine. The 2″ clamps work great for the first several rails, but he suggests investing in about 10 of the 3″ clamps for the last rails. The 2 inchers don’t reach well.
|“OK, so I got a little bored waiting for the glue to set up and tried a pic looking down the frame holes…”|
The last rail is in place – and pretty glued up – Jim will have to sand it off later. Next comes the challenge of figuring out how the internal blocking for the fin box sits around the keel. This isn’t explained in the instructions very well at all and it’s critical once the deck is glued on not to later wind up drilling into free space instead of wood where the fin box goes… Jim says he can’t wait to start shaving the rails flat for the top planks to glue on – then the real shaping begins!!!
If you’re interested in trying this yourself, Check out Rich Blundell’s Tree to Sea site. He designed much of the board work that is GSB today.
Things have been a little slow due to the weather. Jim’s basement is too cold to glass because the epoxy needs to be close to 60 degrees to set up well and with the space heater he can only heat the basement up to 57 degrees. So here’s a brief update: the board is railed and sanded and the fin box is cut and glued in.
- The nose came out surprisingly good – Jim was afraid that the top and bottom planks had left gaps, but no! The little space heater is cranking in the background.
- The wood looks great, even before it is cleaned and glassed…
- Jim didn’t have a router available, so he cut the fin box out with drill bits and then chisels. He made a template before of where he had glued the blocking inside the board, straddling the keel and framework, so he knew where to cut out without entering the hollow part of the board. It worked great! No holes!
- Jim taped around the fin box to keep excess material off the board, then he mixed up epoxy and some fine wood dust.
Time to start planning ahead – where to launch for the first ride? Maybe San Diego…..
Finally warm enough to glass! Jim decided to put the Grain logo on the deck. The vent plug will be to the left of it. The little blue dot is tape over the leash plug that comes up through from the fin box. This is the top deck, it has to dry overnight, then he can start on the bottom deck the next day. Jim says he’s learned a lot doing this so far and he has had a blast – he decided that he will definitely build another one in some time, maybe the 10 foot Waterlog. It will be easier because he already knows the little tricks along the way to make it look sharper. Comin’ down the home stretch!!! Last pics to follow soon!
“Here’s the final set of pictures! What a trip, finishing up with the last of the varnish. This has been a total blast from start to finish, finally! I loved every moment I spent working on this board and can’t wait for the first session with something I made. A big mahalo to anyone who’s followed along and offered words of encouragement. I’ve learned a lot in the process, about board making and about myself – trying to relearn patience and a quiet spirit. (Watch for an article in WindCheck on this board very soon, with obligatory CT SF plug.)”