Wood surfboards a real alternative

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Surfboards were always organic, and it kept like this for thousands of years until petroleum derivatives became mainstream. Today, wooden surfboards are not just made out of wood to follow fashion trends or for being eco friendly. They are made out of wood for the practical use and enjoyment in and out of the water. It’s not about good or bad, better or worst. It’s simply a different –and cleaner– surfing experience.

This words from Mark Gray in his article ‘Getting wood’ (The Surfer’s Path nº67, 2008) perfectly sums up what it feels like to ride a wood surfboard:

“Likewise, you don’t have to be hyper-tuned pro to sensea different ‘feel’ to an epoxy board if you’re used to riding a polyurethane board. Therefore, it stands to reason that wood will offer a different set of sensations again. Any wooden board that has just a bit more heft tan you’re used to will give a feeling of more drive when surfing down the line, more glide over flat spots, a greater ease in catching waves (especially with offshore winds), and a i smoother drop on take off. In general, wood boards use gravity more effectively than superlight boards do.”

wood surfboards construction methods

HOLLOWED OUT WOOD STRIPS, GLUED UP LONGITUDINALY.
The most basic of all methods, it was introduced during the balsa+fibreglass era, but it was quickly put aside with the introduction of poliurethane foam.

SEALING
Usually glassed, but depending on the kind of wood they can be varnished or oiled.

MOST USED WOODS
Balsa, paulownia, red cedar, agave.  

ADVANTAGES
-    Done properly, makes a very strong board.
-    Apreciably lighter than a solid one.
-    Very few joints.
-    With the right wood doesn’t need to be glassed (but keep joins perfecly sealed!).

DISADVANTAGES
-    Many hours of very complicated hand work.
-    Big waste of material due to the chambering process.
-    Without the experience and the right tools, shaping the foil and rocker from a flat wood blank can be quite difficult.  

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WOOD PANELS COMPRESSED AND BENDED AGAINST AN INTERNAL FRAME.
In essence, it's the same concept that Tom Blake used to make his second generation of hollow surfboards in 1929 that made him famous. It was also our choice to make our FlamaClassic boards.

SEALING
Depending on the kind of wood they can be glassed, varnished or oiled.

MOST USED WOODS
Paulownia, balsa, red/white cedar.

ADVANTAGES
-    Pretty simple process of production.
-    Thicker rails give a good strength to the board.
-    Lighter than chambered or hollow boards (if it's not glassed!).
-    Very few joints.
-    It can be mass produced.
-    Cold press means that little energy is needed (none with a manual press).
-    With paulownia wood doesn’t need to be glassed.

DISADVANTAGES
-    Needs a kind of wood capable of bending without cracking.
-    Milling the internal frame is pretty tricky.
-    Risk of weakening the board by too much shaping.

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THIN STRIPS OF WOOD OVER AN INTERNAL FRAME, TIED TOGETHER IN TORSION.
This construction concept was taken from wooden boatbuilding and today is perhaps the most popular because it can be sold as a DIY kit.

SEALING
Always glassed in order  to seal the huge amount of joints.

MOST USED WOODS
Red/white cedar, redwood, paulownia, poplar, and cork in boards with solid rails.

ADVANTAGES
-    Saves on materials in comparison to chambered boards.
-    With the right estructure they can be lighter than chambered or cold-press constructions.
-    Can be mass-produced easily and sold in kits.
-    Can be selfmade in a garage.

DISADVANTAGES
-    Many hours of very complicated hand work.
-    Trying to reduce too much weight can lead to a weak surfboard.
-    There are so many joints that fiberglassing is obligatory.
-    Every piece of wood needs to be cut precisely (a CNC cut reccomended).
-    They are expensive (unless you do it yourself!).

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INNER CORE AND PARABOLIC STRINGERS, COVERED WITH A WOOD SKIN.
A vacuum-press laminating technique widely used in the industry, very versatile, that can work with a wide variety of materials 

SEALING
Depending on the materials used.

MOST USED WOODS
Red/white cedar, redwood, paulownia, poplar, and cork for the rails.

ADVANTAGES
-    Makes very light, solid and high performance boards.
-    In combination with timber it can reduce (or completely eliminate) the use of fiberglass.
-    The versatility of this technique offers endless possibilities and a promissing future.

DISADVANTAGES
-    Is not truly a wood board.
-    The construction of the stringers is quite complex.
-    Installing the wood skin is a very commited work.
-    Expanded polysyrene (EPS), although it’s 100% recyclable, it’s a derivative of petroleum and is not biodegradable.