Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Catch the next wave

By Justin Newcombe

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Justin Newcombe finds a crafty way to keep the kids happy at the bach these holidays.

Justin Newcombe with his daughter and their DIY surfboard. Photo / Richard Robinson
Justin Newcombe with his daughter and their DIY surfboard. Photo / Richard Robinson

Last summer holidays we hired a place which was short on comfort as well as remote in location, what with the mozzies, the library of ultra crappy books, the miniature world bathroom. And yes we're definitely going back this year.

There were no shops to speak of save a small set-up at the camp ground and some Auntie up the road from our crib selling an old lawn mower and some hand-me-down scratched Solid Gold LPs. That left the daily trip to the beach as the highlight. In the beginning these trips were relatively short; however once my kids discovered the joys of the surf (between the flags of course) it was hard to get them home again. The turning point came when we uncovered a couple of broken foam boogie boards in the garage. Although these were next to useless, with a parental push, some good fun was still to be had.

This year I've traded-up, and made the kids a couple of boards out of marine ply. I've figured out a method which is easy, really looks the business in a 1950's kind of way and most importantly the boards float. It is possible to make a lighter board using a different construction method but I wanted something I could make in half an hour in the evenings and not have to worry too much about the technical side of things.

Once my first board was finished I took my daughter Greta to the local beach for a test run. Although it was quite cold her determined test ride was a big success. Because the board is heavier than a foam one it doesn't float as high but once Greta caught the wave it really took off, was easy to turn and took her right into the shore. Its construction also makes it extremely durable, meaning with a bit of care, this boogie board may be around should I be lucky enough to have any grandkids.

Step 1

Mark out a half-template using a piece of doweling or flexible rod as a guide. The width and height of the board will depend on the size of the person riding it. Now cut out the template.

Step 2

Use the template to mark out two board shapes on 4mm marine ply and two on 12mm marine ply then cut them out.

Step 3

On the 12mm ply sections use a scribe to mark out the internal width of the rail. Mine are 50mm wide with a 50mm strip down the middle of the board and a series of 10mm ribs going from the middle to the sides every 100mm or so. It is easier to cut out the frame without the ribs and they can be added later during the gluing process.

The front of the board has a wider section of 150mm, the back of the board being 100mm. This is because the front and back sections will require more shaping than the sides.

Step 4

Make a basic mould using offcuts of plywood or other timber scraps - this is what the first 4mm ply section and the first 12mm cutout will be clamped over to form the bottom of the board.

Step 5

Use a glue powder to thicken the resin, mix up two-part epoxy resin in 200ml batches. Apply thickly to the 12mm frame then put this over the 4mm panel and press over the mould. Check that the frame and the bottom panel have good contact (but unlike PVA or other wood glues, don't squeeze the glue out of the join as this will weaken and starve the join).

Step 6

Let this dry then release the clamps. There will be a certain amount of springback, but a good shape is pretty easy to achieve.

Step 7

Repeat this process for the second section of 12mm frame. For larger boards you may want to add a third layer. To save on plywood this can be made out of offcuts and sandwiched in between the two whole frames.

Step 8

Finally glue on the deck, making sure that good contact is made with all surfaces. I used 12mm screws around the edges and timbers clamped across the middle of the board.

Step 9

Once dry, unclamp and remove screws in deck. Sand, file, plane and shape the board. I concentrated on the nose shape and the back of the deck for comfort.

Leave the sides of the board reasonably square underneath but rounded on top for comfort. This will make turning easier for the swimmer.

Step 10

To fit the leash plug, drill a hole into the top of the board using the depth gauge on your drill. Set the plug in place using epoxy glue. You can get a leash plug from any surf board manufacture supply store.

Step 11

Mix up a small batch of resin and fill in any gaps. When the resin is dry, sand and repeat until the board is smooth.

Step 12

Seal the board using a 50/50 mixture of thinners and marine varnish. Let this dry for 48 hours then sand, mask and paint using a good marine paint. Let each coat dry before lightly sanding the board down with fine steel wool.

Step 13

Once the painting is completed, varnish the top of the board and finish with car polish.

- NZ Herald

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