Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Boards of 2010

With the completion of the last two projects for the year, the shop has been cleaned and the project slate is clean. Here is a retrospective of the eight boards that were created this year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Santa’s Workshop–Part 3

For the final project of the year, I went for a high performance pintail longboard for my surfing buddy. His boards were surfed out – yellowed with age, ding repairs all over and heavy with water. It was time for a new one, but I knew he’d never ask me, so I took the initiative.
He was over this morning to drop something off, and I asked him to help me photograph my latest project. I had him hold it up while I snapped, and he suddenly noticed this:

Santa’s Workshop-Part 2

I made this nice little fun shape for a young lady who lost her dad to cancer – the same time as I was undergoing treatment. It was a hard time for all, but she remains a happy kid and a good friend to my oldest daughter. She was over one day and saw me working on Angelyne’s fish, and asked me: “uncle, can you make me a surfboard?”. It is impossible to say no to that.
If it looks familiar – that’s because it’s the same shape as the family board. It’s an all-around fun board, can be ridden by little kids like a longboard in mushy waves, by bigger kids a bit more aggressively, and really rips for big kids. It will allow her to either enjoy surfing once in a while as a fun thing, going to the beach and riding the foam straight in, or allow for progression towards more proficient surfing.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Santa’s Workshop, Part 1

First up for the Christmas season is this lovely tanker I built for my big brother Rod. After he and Becky’s wonderful visit to the islands last summer he asked me to build him a suitable board for his home break in the great state of Maine. So we have the “Big Brother” model: 9 feet long, full profile with plenty of thickness. Fabric inlays on both sides; spray fade on the deck with masked rays and pinlines. A real beaut. It’s on a slow boat to South Berwick and should arrive in January.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Winter Board 2010

Your basic high-performance shortboard. 6’6” x19”, 2 3/4” thick. Even with double 4 oz. glass bottom and double 4 top with a 6 oz deck patch, it’s still real light.

Friday, October 1, 2010


The latest out of the shop is this unique alaia. Based on the success of the omilu model, I made Omilusome changes that I hoped would be beneficial. First, more wood. The omilu was a bit to thin and too light, making it flex more than I would like. Additionally I don’t feel like it would hold up to  overhead waves. Also, maintaining more width throughout would help in catching waves and planing. The omilu tended to downshift once off the face. While fairly easy to maneuver, I felt it was too loose – particularly when in the flats, where it was a chore to keep it from spinning out.


So, I developed the uhu. Very little wood was removed from the blank – just enough to give it a nice outline.Unlike the narow waist of the omilu I went with a “stinger” tail, keeping the board wide up until the last 20 inches or so where the tail steps in. For control I went with a Catch Surf setup – rounded 70/30 rails up front and hard, inward-canted rails in the tail (Catch Surf hand-makes finless soft surfboards which are really taking off).  The bottom is the standard single concave, with the addition of a couple of channels in the tail to help keep it straight.

So how does it work? I took it out on a nice chest-high day at an empty reef break out by the Coast Guard air station at Barbers. It was perfect alaia surf – long, gentle lines with reforms and multiple sections. The board performed beyond expectations. It was markedly easier to catch waves than the omilu, allowing me to get in earlier and really set up my rides. It tracked straight – almost too straight, and I really had to use a shortboard-like technique to turn it, unlike the omilu which really needs a light touch. The only negative was that it really wasn’t any easier to paddle than the others (alaias are a MAJOR arm workout). The extra wood didn’t make a difference – it was essentially neutrally buoyant weight. The positive side of that is that you can duck-dive the thing about 6 feet no problem, and actually “swim” underwater with it.

As for the graphics…after cutting the outline, it just looked like an uhu (parrotfish). I bagged my first Scarus%20sordidus%20RS%2008%20(2)LGuhu a few weeks ago (granted a red-phase, not a bicolor) and that sealed the deal. I just wanted something interesting on the back so I made some camo stencils and went with an aquaflage scheme. The logo is again just a reflection on my current obsession of spearfishing. I couldn’t bring myself to put a camera mount on the nose – it would just ruin the art.

I’m really excited about riding this board this winter. This will be my “co-number one” along with a “normal” shortboard I’m making for more critical surf.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Manini – Done.

The newest model is a twin-fin fish that I’ve called the Manini (the Hawaiian name for the convict tang, one of themost common reef fish). This one has a nice wide bat-tail and low-to-medium rocker to keep it going in smallish surf. This one is a kids board which will allow my 10-year old to progress from mini-longboards and funshapes up to proper short boards. It’s still got plenty of volume and length for her. At 6’ it may seem small but fish are generally ridden 6”-12” shorter than ones “regular” board due to their design. Take a mini-mal, cut 6’ out of the center and there’s your fish.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The little fish progresses. Almost ready for glass.




“Little Brother” is also shaping up, ready for art. 6’ 4” squash:


Monday, September 6, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010


That’s what I’m calling these two boards.

“Big Brother” is a 9’0 longboard, full and thick, for my oldest brother.


“Little Brother” is a high-performance 6’5” shortboard which will be my winter board.


Since they both are new shapes I’m starting by cutting the templates out of 1/8” ply:

DSC04290 DSC04289

Monday, August 2, 2010


Came out nice, with the exception of a few air bubbles under the glass on the deck. Otherwise it's good to go. The wahine who received it was stoked!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Grad Present

This board is a "customer board" for a recent H.S. grad. It's going to be crazy. 8'6", single-to-double concave/slight vee, and a color job that is turning out insane.


 P7170003  P7170002P7170007

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Time Lapse Shaping: Fish

Here's a fish I did recently from a 6'2" EPS shortboard/fish blank. Making a board from a foam blank is like sculpting, where making a wood board is more of an exercise in engineering. The wood boards are more satisfying...but a hundred times more time consuming.

This fish is essentially ready for glass after less than 2 hours work shaping (I'm going to put color, fin plugs and a leash plug in).

Time Lapse Fish from rotorhead guy on Vimeo.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Biofoam Board Chronicles: Shaping

Working it over top and bottom:

Biofoam part 2 from rotorhead guy on Vimeo.

Shaping the rails and finishing:

Biofoam part 3 from rotorhead guy on Vimeo.

Next up - Art!

Friday, April 30, 2010

New Paddle

In Action:

Early Season South Swell from rotorhead guy on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

SUP Paddle

The bending jig used is actually for an iako (outrigger crossbeam). I’ve modified it for a nice double-bend. Since my last 2-ply paddle failed (see the video here) I used 4 laminations on this one; two lams of douglas fir in the interior and mahogany on the outside. Here is is just out of the jig:


From there, it’s a whole lot of hand-shaping with a small plane and a spokeshave. Here is some sequentials:

P4250052 P4250056


The blade is douglas fir with mahogany highlights. I made a temporary jig to glue up the “wings” on to the shaft.


I used the same blade template as the last paddle, as I really liked how it felt both paddling and surfing:


The blade was covered with glass set in epoxy:



From there, once the epoxy was dry, I sanded and filled with urethane, and she’s ready for her premiere.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My First West African Order

Found this one in the in-box:

From: Charles James
Sent: Wed 4/21/10 8:37 AM

With regarding you and your company,Am Charles James And I will like to know weather you do carry Planer Board do you have them TX-22 Special Planer Board in stock available for sale,for me to make a purchase of it. If yes i will appreciate alot cool let me know the size and the types as well as the prices arrange you have in your inventory plus sales tax Excluding Shipping & Handling Because it will be Picked Up and Shipped international to West Africa (Accra-Ghana) Do you accept credit card as a method of payment and what term?
Thank You

Wow, I'm fresh out of planer boards, Mr. James (or is it "prince James"?). I promise the next time I work up a batch of "TX-22" boards I'll make one for you. As soon as I get that $8000 bank draft from Ghana.

I may have to design a new shape called the "TX-22" as it is kind of a cool name...

The Biofoam Board Chronicles: Getting Started

The latest project is a BioFoam blank that I'm shaping with my daughter. Biofoam is "50% organic soy-based plant materials", which means it's a little easier on the environment than regular EPS blanks. It seems to shape well with hand tools; we'll see how it goes when I break out the planer this weekend. I've challenged the girls to come up with an art design for it. It will be glassed with epoxy and will primarily be a fun board for the girls to ride this summer.

The Biofoam Project: Chapter 1 from rotorhead guy on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Super Sting Session

The Super Sting is designed after a mid-70's stinger, with modern rails, a concave-to-vee bottom and 1+2 fin setup. The result is a board that paddles easily and catches waves like a dream. The main fin is set forward making the board "pivoty" while still holding a good line when one's stance is mid-board. She's got a redwood bottom with mahogany details between the planks, and a bookmatched redwood deck with mahogany strip rails. The art on the bottom is based on an old French woodcut, and the deck has my "modified" Loiselle coat-of-arms (the three crosses on the shield are traditional, the mermaid, seahorse and shark are my own additions).

This video was shot with the new GoPro HD hero camera, which gets my highest recommendation.

What a beautiful spot. Life is beautiful.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wood Longboard Sessions

The first wood board I made, using a Grain Surfboards interior frame. Heavier than necesary - I used thicker wood and two layers of glass on the deck - and it still rides like a dream.

Dawn Patrol 9 Jan from rotorhead guy on Vimeo.

Surf for the New Year from rotorhead guy on Vimeo.