Namaste Wood Fiends. Recently, at the Byron Bay Surf Festival, I caught up with fellow wooden board builder Steve Hann from Noosa and got the low down on his latest wooden board projects. Steve is shaping under the "etc" label (Epoxy Timber Construction) and is creating some super light and incredibly strong surfboards. He's even managed to test them in some serious Samoan surf. I was blown away at how great these boards are and after some firm persuasion on my part (incessant begging and pleading), Steve kindly agreed to share his build secrets.
The boards have an EPS foam core and composite sandwich combination of Basalt Innegra fabirc, fibreglass and paulownia timber deck skins. They are light, flexible and incredibly strong. Even after some heavy sessions in double overhead Samoan surf, the boards had no deck compressions or damage.
Read on for the full details on how these little beauties are made.
1. The board is hot-wired from a large block of foam.
Steve cuts his blanks from a solid block of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam using a custom made hotwire cutter. He uses plywood profile templates and outline templates designed in AKU Shaper and Hollow Broad Template Maker to guide the cutter. This ensures a clean and accurate blank as a starting point for all his boards.
Using a second custom made hotwire cutter, he then cuts 10 and 15 degree rail band chamfers on the deck. The outlines for the rail band cuts are made by importing sections from AKU Shaper into Autocad and drawing 10 and 15 degree lines on them. The cuts are accurate and the rails only need a light sand with (60 - 80 grit) to blend the curves. Hotwire cutting is clean and minimises the amount of sanding required to shape the board.
The completed foam core, Ready for glassing.
The bottom of the board is glassed with a single layer of Basalt Innegra 5oz cloth and epoxy resin including a 25 - 30 mm lap around the top of the rails onto the deck. Steve uses Surfset Flex acrylic epoxy resin from Sanded which has a 4 hour pot life allowing plenty of time to lay up the glass. The Basalt Innegra cloth is strong, light and flexible and is used extensively in the aerospace industry. It is quite textured so an additional layer of 4oz cloth can be layered over the top of it. This eliminates the need for a fairly thick hot and gloss coat to fill it in but does add to the final weight of the board. Tints can also be added. The deck is taped and the lap is trimmed while the resin is tack free but not fully cured.
3. The timber deck skin is vacuum bagged onto the deck.
The timber deck skin is glassed (underneath) and vacuum bagged onto the top of the board, overlapping the Basalt Inenegra rail lap. Steve uses a 4oz fibreglass cloth cut just inside the edge of the paulownia deck. The fibreglass is epoxied to the bottom side of the timber skin and then the timber skin is flipped over, and taped to board. The whole board is inserted into the vacuum bag, sealed, connected to the vacuum pump and the air removed. The thickness of the timber deck skin is approximately 1 mm – 2 mm.
4. The deck is glassed.
The board is removed from the vacuum bag after the epoxy has cured, the deck is sanded and a layer of 4oz glass is epoxied over the top of the board. The fibre glass is cut to the outline of the board allowing a 25 - 30 mm lap past the edge of the timber.
5. The fin boxes are installed.
6. A hotcoat is applied top and bottom with an overlap on the rails.
7. The hot coat is sanded, and a gloss coat is applied. The sanding at this stage is fairly critical. The better the sand job, the better the final gloss coat will turn out.
8. Final sanding then ready to surf. Steve starts at 240 grit wet and dry sandpaper and works his way up to finer grades from there.
Some more shots of Steve's other creations.