Cool ocean mist blowing through your hair, sun beaming on your tan skin, balancing as you seem to fly across the water. Everybody’s gone surfin’, surfin’ U.S.A… Everyone knows the classic Beach Boys ode to surfing. What everyone doesn’t know is how surfboards go from being made to making waves.
Surfboards typically start with a polyurethane foam core, a fiberglass outer shell, and polyester resins. Rather than being mass-produced, a large portion are hand-crafted by individual surfboard builders. Starting with the foam core, this cement mold is made in two halves. The inside is lined with a paper that keeps the foam and mold from sticking together. The halves are clamped together as the mold is heated and, as the polyurethane is poured into the mold, the heat causes a chemical reaction which forms the white mold.
The next step would be to add the stringer, which is done by cutting the mold in half and gluing a stringer between the two halves. After the two halves are clamped back together, this step allows the board to keep from breaking in half. Next, an outline of the board is cut with a saber saw and smoothed. A power sander is used to remove any ridges and shape the sides. After the blank has been shaped, it is covered with the fiberglass and resin to form the outer shell.
Once the board has been designed or painted, fiberglass cloth is laid over the surface and cut to fit. Polyester resin is mixed with a catalyst and the resulting chemical reaction causes the resin to harden. As the hardening process is taking place, the builder pours it over the fiberglass and spreads evenly. After a second coat of resin, some sanding, and compressed air, the surfboard is ready to hit the waves!