Surfboard Shaping In North Carolina

About a month ago I had the opportunity to attend surfboard shaping lessons at Hot Wax Surf Shop in Wilmington, North Carolina. The lesson were led by Michael Paul, the owner of Hot Wax Surf Shop. During the two days of lessons, Michael helped me transform a blank foam board into a lifelong surfboard.

When I was planning my STEP Signature Project, I knew that I wanted to do an artistic endeavor. College can be a very stressful time, especially when you are making decisions that directly affect your future. Surfing is a relaxing hobby that I picked up a few years ago and I wish I did it sooner. I never would have thought that a girl born and raised in Ohio could surf and have fun while doing it.

I took the leap and learned one summer and now I had the opportunity to dive deeper through the STEP Program. Shaping the surfboard and learning the entire process was a once in a lifetime experience. I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to participate in the STEP Program and create the board that I will be riding for years to come.

There are many steps when it comes to shaping a surfboard from scratch and Michael Paul made sure that I was able to do each one with confidence. We started by deciding what shape we wanted the board to be. I decided that I wanted it to be a stable board, but also have an element of “fun”. We used an intermediate level design but added a more intense nose flip and tail kick. The flip and kick made the board faster and will allow me to catch waves earlier than a normal intermediate board.

Then I began drawing the template onto the blank board. After the template was complete, I began sawing off the excess foam. Once the foam was cut, Michael showed me how to square the rails that we would eventually round at the end. Then, we added the “fun” factor, the tail and nose rocker. One step that I did not expect, was trimming down the piece of wood in the middle that holds the two pieces of foam together. While we worked, we had to trim the wood down to match the new surface level.

Drawing the Template

Trimming the Foam

Squaring the Rails

Adding the Rocker and Tail

Adding the Concave

After making what I would consider big cuts off the board, we skimmed the bottom and top of the board to take off some of the thickness. The final step on day one was to add the V shape and concave. Once we added those two features, it started to look like a surfboard that you would see on the beach. The next day we picked right back up and added the bottom rail line and the tip rail bevels. Each step felt more tedious than the next once we began softening and harding the edges. Finally, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel when we started screening the completed board. We blew off all the shaved off foam and I signed my name and wrote a bible verse close to my heart. That exact moment will be etched into my brain forever. It was like I was in a surfer movie and I was putting my mark on the masterpiece that I created. The final step was to submit my personal design for it to be glassed onto the board. I still have about a week until I get to see the final product. I know no matter what, that I will have an appreciation for the board that I put so much hard work into.

Trimming the Wood

Final Skimming

Signing My Name

Crafting the surfboard had many steps and each one was important. I think the process can be used as a metaphor for life. Each step mattered, even when it felt small, like when I was skimming the surface of the board. I found joy in each one and worked hard. They added up and created a work of art. I hope that in each step I take in my life, that I can find the joy as they are all adding up to create my life story. While shaping the board, I talked with Michael and he told me stories about his journey. It was inspiring to hear how he got to where he is today and I hope one day I can share my experiences with someone, and it have the same effect. I went into my project thinking that I would learn more about my seasonal hobby and I came out knowing way more than just how to shape a surfboard.

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