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HOW TO SHAPE A SURFBOARD

1. General Information on Surfboard Shaping

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2. Railbands. Looking at the "simple rail dims chart", it displays one single value for rail mark. Do I have to use the same rail mark on all the board length or shall I multiply by dimension as far as I go further or backward on the board?

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3. Can I use your Rail Runner tool to shape the rail bands?

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4. I know the kit does not come with any electric power tools such as an electric planer. Just wondering do you need a specific kind of electric planer like the ones you guys offer on your site, or can you use pretty much any kind of planer?

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5. I'd like to get a blank and glass to shape a handplane as a weekend project. Are you able to help? I see you have all that's needed for glassing, but not quite sure about the blank (whatever material's easiest to shape).

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6. There are bead tear-out areas are around the nose and along the stringer of my EPS shape. I don't want to keep removing foam and take a chance at screwing it up. What is the secret to sanding them out if I should do that?

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7. If I leave out the stringer would I have to use carbon on the rails or will it be strong enough without?

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8. I want to shape a fish. With the 6.6 is it possible to shape a fish and be able to use the fish "paper" templates that you supply on your web site?

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9. Could you tell me where I can get the rail band measurements from?

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10. I planed the bottom of the board and for my first time I was quite surprised at how well it turned out, but on the deck I tried the planer when I reached the top quarter of the board the curve of the board lifted the center of the planer and nothing cut.

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11. I'm working on some boards now, and I'm trying to remember the tool you guys use to take down the stringer without messing up the foam around unnecessarily. If I recall, you use something other than a mini-block plane.

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12. I started shaping a noserider. I foiled the blank and put slight vee in the tail. The problem is that after I put in all that tail rocker in the tail, the tail is almost paper thin.

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13. I won't be able to put in a fin box because I shaped the tail too thin. So i would have to glass on a skeg. Should I just cut off the tail and shape a smaller design or will I be able to still salvage this blank for a noserider?

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14. Is the EPS blank sealing spackle for glueing the blanks together or is it for when you glass it ?

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15. I was interested in making my own flowboard of foam. I currently have a wood one I was interested in making a 39 inch board with channels since they don't offer channels on the foam boards.

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16. With a wood tail block is the idea to glue it and clamp it....like when you glue the EPS blanks?

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17. How do you make a wood tailblock? wood glue? how do you attach it to the foam? is the glassing process the same?

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18. How do you calculate the nose and tail rail band markings since those will be tapered? Would you apply the same multiplication to those suggested markings for the nose and tail rail bands using the table for say a 3" thick board?

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19. Hey guys I was doing some research on rail band guideline charts and I understand your the man to come to! When you have some time can you please email me the PDF for your guidance chart for rail bands ?

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20. Railband layouts: Relative to the midpoint rail band dim are they typically about a 1/2" - 1/4" difference? Or am I just overthinking this way too much and looking for exact measurements on everything because I’m afraid of screwing up? haha.

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21. I cut out the outline for the Board and now ready for foliing the blank. Do you have a suggestion for thickness and rocker sizes for the 62A blank using a 5'11" template. The Board will be used by a 13 year old - currently approximately 100 pounds.

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22. Im looking into building my own wakesurf board. They're shorter than all of your kits, only about 5' give or take. Wondering if you have anything suitable or know any previous customers who have done the same using your products.

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23. I'm shaping my board right now and it's coming out just as I want it to, the only problem is it's a little too think. Is there an easier way to thin it out beside just keep sanding it?

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24. i want to use EPS blanks. Apart from the shaping kit are there any other tools you sell that would make life a lot easier, spokeshave maybe? Iv watched people butcher EPS foam before.

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25. I was wondering if you have Greenlight Surfboard Design Guide Vol. 4. I have vol. 1, 2, 4, and 5 but can’t get a hold of 4 on the web.

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26. I'm interested in a power planer after shaping a few boards by hand. I don't think I can swing the bucks for a Hitachi, but I see you now offer a low cost power planer. Give me an honest appraisal. Since I only make one or two boards

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27. Do you still use a jigsaw and your homemade blade to cut outlines? I cut down the saw blade from a reciprocating saw to use in my jigsaw but tends to deform the cut a bit. It's hard to find a blade that is stiff enough to cut accurately.

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28. Shaping room lighting. I'm building a second shaping room and considering T12 lights. I used T8 lights in my first shaping room. Any comments?

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29. Looking forward to trying out the new rasp set. What kind of feedback have you had from your customers who have purchased them?

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30. I have a question about the power planer (non-hitachi) you sell. Will your planer make smooth cuts on eps? Also is it modified to adjust cutting depth like the hitachi knob does?

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31. Do you sell Rail Band Templates?

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32. I was going to use a jig saw to cut the outline. What type of blade would I use?

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33. i'm shaping my first surf board fish from your 5'6''B emplate. How i manage to get the right thickness from nose to tail?

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34. How do I shape a channels on the bottom of my board?

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35. My outline cut is uneven and wobbly. How do I fix it?

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36. When using my trim plane on the stringer it gouges the foam next to it. How do I avoid that?

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37. How do you calculate the nose and tail dims if the rail bands since those will be tapered?

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38. What is the difference between your steel PRO TOOLS and the PVC plastic tools?

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39. I'm shaping my board right now and it's coming out just as I want it to, the only problem is it's a little too thick. Is there an easier way to thin it out beside just keep sanding it?

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40. If i were to follow your A-Z Guide, what would i need to purchase off your site (building material wise), I have most of the necessary tools but was wondering for the actual material of the board.

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41. How to get EPS foam smooth without spackle? Screen or sandpaper?

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42. I've watched a few videos on YouTube and see they use electric planers I was wondering are they special designed planers or just standard from a hardware store

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43. When foiling my board how do I know how thick to go on the nose and tail and at the intermediate points?

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44. How important it is to have the board totally smooth and even before glassing?

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45. Rail band dimensions at 12" from nose and tail?

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46. How do I flatten the deck and bottom to square up with the rail outline cut?

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47. I'm done shaping my blank and it has a slight gap by the stringer at the tail end what do I do to fill that in?

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48. More info on shaping rail bands

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49. Should I measure my railband marks at the mid point of the board or the wide point? My wide point is 4" in front of the mid point.

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50. What grit sandpaper would you recommend for shaping the rails on those EPS foam blanks?

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51. Where can I find info on rail bands and rail shape designs?

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1. General Information on Surfboard Shaping

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Please review the Surfboard Shaping section of our Surfboard Building Guide for general info in shaping a surfboard, Stand Up Paddleboard, Kiteboard, Wakeskate, etc.

If you have specific questions on surfboard shaping, please enter search terms in this extensive FAQ & knowledge database to find your answer. If the answer to your question is not in our HELP CENTER, please email info@greenlightsurfsupply.com for assistance. 

2. Railbands. Looking at the "simple rail dims chart", it displays one single value for rail mark. Do I have to use the same rail mark on all the board length or shall I multiply by dimension as far as I go further or backward on the board?

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Your nose and tail rail marks can vary by the nose and tail depending on the type of board you are shaping. In a high performance shape you will have a rail mark at the nose that is 1/2" and the center and tail marks at 1" to account for the foil of the board as shown here 

Each board can be a little different so don't be afraid to adjust the numbers slightly to account for the rail thickness you desire.
Reference:
Simple Rail Bands Chart - (midpage)

Boxy Rail Bands
Knifey Rail Bands



3. Can I use your Rail Runner tool to shape the rail bands?

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The "fred tool" part of the rail runner is for the bottom tuck only. The bottom tuck is normally anywhere from a 3/8" - 3/4" radius (depending on your preference) and the rail bands are cut in the the rail runner. 

The deck rail bands are much bigger and not a "radius" but an arc or curve. The rail bands are created with a power planer or G-rasp tool and the sharp corners of the rail bands are cut down by rail screen (you should be using a more aggressive screen like the sand shark screen to shape the rails down... they'll come out round and less angular or boxy)

Think of the rail bands as facets of a diamond. Flat surfaces intersecting at points. There is a curve hiding in there that is exposed when the corners are screened off.

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More info and dimensions for rail band shaping in our Surfboard Building Guide

4. I know the kit does not come with any electric power tools such as an electric planer. Just wondering do you need a specific kind of electric planer like the ones you guys offer on your site, or can you use pretty much any kind of planer?

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Any planer will work to shape a board.
We offer an entry level electric power planer that works great for shaping all types of foam and is simple to use.
The Hitachi modified planer is a surfboard specific planer with on the fly depth adjustment, a bit more power, and better dust control. The modified Hitachi makes shaping railbands much easier and allows you to shape your surfboard's foil and rocker fluidly as you can adjust the depth of the cut while walking the board. It is a great tool for the experienced shaper or anyone that plans on shaping a bunch of boards.

You can also use a stock planer like a Bosch, Dewalt, Makita, etc. The planing techniques are different since there is no adjustability but the goal is to remove foam quickly with a planer, which stock planers off the shelf will do. There is just more hand shaping with a G-rasp and Rasputin involved when using a stock power planer.

Another note, if you choose a stock planer make sure it has 2 blades for a smoother cut on foam. A single blade power planer will tear the foam like crazy and make more work for you!

5. I'd like to get a blank and glass to shape a handplane as a weekend project. Are you able to help? I see you have all that's needed for glassing, but not quite sure about the blank (whatever material's easiest to shape).

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We can supply you with all of the materials that you need. We would suggest EPS foam and epoxy resin with some 4 oz fiberglass. If you would like to use a strap system we would suggest a 4 leash plug setup. If this fits your needs we can get a handplane kit setup for you. Just shoot us and email with your handplane blank request info@greenlightsurfsupply.com

6. There are bead tear-out areas are around the nose and along the stringer of my EPS shape. I don't want to keep removing foam and take a chance at screwing it up. What is the secret to sanding them out if I should do that?

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To fill in any marks we spackle the entire board with light weight white spackle.  Then you can take screen and smooth out all the spackle once it has dried.  This is purely an aesthetic step to give the board a perfect look to the finish.  

7. If I leave out the stringer would I have to use carbon on the rails or will it be strong enough without?

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We suggest laminating a strip of the Uni directional carbon fiber along the centerline of the bottom of the board or you can wrap the rails with the Uni directional carbon fiber for more torsional strength.

You can also laminate the bottom of the board with VectorNET carbon fiber reinforcement for additional strength.

It is recommended to do at minimum lamination of 1 layer 6 oz and 1 layer 4 oz on the deck to reduce pressure denting from your feet. 

8. I want to shape a fish. With the 6.6 is it possible to shape a fish and be able to use the fish "paper" templates that you supply on your web site?

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Absolutely, the 6'6" blank is designed for first time shapers and you can make any size board from it up to 6'6". Our paper templates work well on all blanks.

9. Could you tell me where I can get the rail band measurements from?

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Our Railband dimensions are in the Shaping section of our Surfboard Shaping Guide.

10. I planed the bottom of the board and for my first time I was quite surprised at how well it turned out, but on the deck I tried the planer when I reached the top quarter of the board the curve of the board lifted the center of the planer and nothing cut.

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Due to the nose rocker curve in the deck of a surfboard planer blades cannot easily get to the foam in that area. A trick is to turn the planer on an angle so the barrel is more parallel to the stringer in the nose curve area. It's not easy and most beginners just use a G-rasp or tigershark paper on a hard block to shape that area.

11. I'm working on some boards now, and I'm trying to remember the tool you guys use to take down the stringer without messing up the foam around unnecessarily. If I recall, you use something other than a mini-block plane.

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A spokeshave is the tool you want to take down the stringer.

12. I started shaping a noserider. I foiled the blank and put slight vee in the tail. The problem is that after I put in all that tail rocker in the tail, the tail is almost paper thin.

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Most blanks do not need a lot of added rocker since the blanks are designed with proven curves. Blank selection is very important. If adding more than 3/4" of tail rocker choose a longer blank and cut the excess length from the tail so there is extra foam thickness to shape into. Good shapers plan their shapes first and choose the best blank for the least amount of work.

In this case we'd cut the tail shorter to where you have about 1/2" of tail pod thickness and reshape it a little. Chalk it up to a learning experience, the board will still surf fine and you'll be stoked on it.

13. I won't be able to put in a fin box because I shaped the tail too thin. So i would have to glass on a skeg. Should I just cut off the tail and shape a smaller design or will I be able to still salvage this blank for a noserider?

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Sounds like the board won't surf as you had intended it to. No shame in salvaging the blank and shaping something different. 

You can certainly glass on a fin, that's cool too. And you get a lot of extra glassing experience when glassing on fins. It's a good thing to do at least once in your board building life.

You could use another longboard blank and 'flip" it so the nose rocker would be used for the tail (as long as your outline template fits in the nose area [which would be the tail of the blank when you flip it]) Some guys flip the US Blanks 98Y for nose rider designs.

Or we can custom order you a blank to whatever rocker you want. No problem.

14. Is the EPS blank sealing spackle for glueing the blanks together or is it for when you glass it ?

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The EPS sealing spackle is used after shaping to fill in 'tear outs' and provide a nice looking, bright white surface to glass. Use stringer glue or epoxy to glue up the blank.

15. I was interested in making my own flowboard of foam. I currently have a wood one I was interested in making a 39 inch board with channels since they don't offer channels on the foam boards.

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We can help you out. No problem. Please schedule a time to bring your flowboard by the shop to talk about it. 

16. With a wood tail block is the idea to glue it and clamp it....like when you glue the EPS blanks?

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Yes, after shaping the foam blank chop off the end and glue a wood tailblock on. Use masking tape to hold the block in place. Then carefully shape the block into the desired tail shape.

17. How do you make a wood tailblock? wood glue? how do you attach it to the foam? is the glassing process the same?

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Glue and clamp pieces of wood together. You can use wood glue, gorilla glue, or resin. When the tailblock is cured and you can glue it to the board.

18. How do you calculate the nose and tail rail band markings since those will be tapered? Would you apply the same multiplication to those suggested markings for the nose and tail rail bands using the table for say a 3" thick board?

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Yes just do the calculations based on your board's thickness in the midpoint, nose, and tail... the goal is to keep the railbands smooth and flowing so don't get caught up in the numbers too much.

19. Hey guys I was doing some research on rail band guideline charts and I understand your the man to come to! When you have some time can you please email me the PDF for your guidance chart for rail bands ?

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The railband dimensioned layout drawings are found in our free Surfboard Building Guide A-Z

20. Railband layouts: Relative to the midpoint rail band dim are they typically about a 1/2" - 1/4" difference? Or am I just overthinking this way too much and looking for exact measurements on everything because I’m afraid of screwing up? haha.

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Yes, the railbands will taper in the nose and tail areas up to a 1/2" difference from the midpoint dims. It's all relative to the foil of the board. If you are unsure what the railbands will look like simply mark the railband dimensions at the midpoint, 12" from the nose and 12" from the tail and connect the dots with a pencil. Follow the flow of the foil with the line. If the line looks good and matches the flow of the foil then go cut it. If it doesn't look good make a new line until you find what looks right to you. 

21. I cut out the outline for the Board and now ready for foliing the blank. Do you have a suggestion for thickness and rocker sizes for the 62A blank using a 5'11" template. The Board will be used by a 13 year old - currently approximately 100 pounds.

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Aim for 2 1/2" thick with 4" nose rocker (1/2" thick at tip) and a 1 1/2" tail rocker (~5/8" thick tail). Foil the flow of foam to be 2 1/2" thick at the midpoint a bit forward of the midpoint of the outine.

Have fun and feel free to contact us anytime if you have a question or need anything.

22. Im looking into building my own wakesurf board. They're shorter than all of your kits, only about 5' give or take. Wondering if you have anything suitable or know any previous customers who have done the same using your products.

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We certainly do have a lot of customers who make Wakeboards with our materials. 

We do custom cuts for wakeboards since there are so many styles. 

The blank can be shipped to your door cut in half and you glue it up for between $35-$50 depending on where you live.

Let us know if you have any questions or would like us to cut you a blank

23. I'm shaping my board right now and it's coming out just as I want it to, the only problem is it's a little too think. Is there an easier way to thin it out beside just keep sanding it?

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Normally guys use a power planer to mow down the foam to the thickness you want. 

By hand, the trick is to shape the stringer down first with a trim plane, then level the foam to the stringer with a G-rasp or shaping rasp.

24. i want to use EPS blanks. Apart from the shaping kit are there any other tools you sell that would make life a lot easier, spokeshave maybe? Iv watched people butcher EPS foam before.

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Yes I definitely recommend a spokeshave for fine tuning the stringer and not tearing the foam. But, tear-outs are a common occurance with EPS foam and there is no way around it. There are 2 ways to remedy tear-outs

1. after shaping spread a thin layer of lightweight spackle over the blank to fill in the holes - or you can use an epoxy / Q-cell slurry which gives the board more strength but increases weight a bit.

or

2. Use various sanding screens and foam shaping pad to close up the tear outs. Each progressive sanding screen grit will shave the EPS bead down and not tear. We use up to 320 grit to close them all up... 

Please note the quality of the foam has a lot to do with it... make sure the blank in at least 2# density. Also, sharp tools and shaping a little slower help reduce tearouts.


I have used Micro-planes before and in my option they do not take enough foam away. Takes forever to get the shape you want.


We developed PRO-TOOLS to aggressively and efficiently shape EPS foam. They do cause a little tearing which is normal but finishing the shape with spackle or sanding screen makes the board look like a polyurethane blank..

25. I was wondering if you have Greenlight Surfboard Design Guide Vol. 4. I have vol. 1, 2, 4, and 5 but can’t get a hold of 4 on the web.

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You can find all the Design Guides here: http://greenlightsurfsupply.com/pages/surfboard-design-guide

26. I'm interested in a power planer after shaping a few boards by hand. I don't think I can swing the bucks for a Hitachi, but I see you now offer a low cost power planer. Give me an honest appraisal. Since I only make one or two boards

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Our surfboard shaping power planer is a great value for a power tool but you can use any planer to skin and shape a blank. Whatever you can find for the lowest cost as long as it has 2 blades. 1 blade will tear the heck out the the foam.

27. Do you still use a jigsaw and your homemade blade to cut outlines? I cut down the saw blade from a reciprocating saw to use in my jigsaw but tends to deform the cut a bit. It's hard to find a blade that is stiff enough to cut accurately.

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I use a 6" Sawzall blade in my jigsaw to cut the outlines then a railrunner to square it up, or a hard block with sandpaper. (We have plastic Rail Runners for less cost as well)

Diablo 6 in. x 6-12 Teeth per in. Demo Demon Nail-Embedded Wood Cutting Reciprocating Saw Blade (5-Pack)

28. Shaping room lighting. I'm building a second shaping room and considering T12 lights. I used T8 lights in my first shaping room. Any comments?

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T12 lights are fine for a shaping room, they put out a bit more light than T8 bulbs. Doesn't really matter, we're looking at shadows on a blank and not necessarily the light.... Position them about 2" above the top of a blank on your shaping racks.

29. Looking forward to trying out the new rasp set. What kind of feedback have you had from your customers who have purchased them?

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The only feedback we've gotten has been very positive except one guy wore out the grit by trying to shape a stringer which is advised not to do on the site. 

30. I have a question about the power planer (non-hitachi) you sell. Will your planer make smooth cuts on eps? Also is it modified to adjust cutting depth like the hitachi knob does?

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The power planer is great for both EPS blanks and PU foam (I've shaped many with this planer) but does not have the on-the-fly depth adjustment of the modified Hitachi. 

The adjustment is nice but not necessary to shape a board. With a non-adjusting planer, I usually keep it cutting full depth for the major foam removal and finish the delicate parts in the nose and tail by hand.  

31. Do you sell Rail Band Templates?

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Sorry, we don't sell rail band templates. It's almost impossible to have standard rail band templates due to various thicknesses in everyone's foils and length of board. You can make rail band templates to copy boards but not a one-off shape.


Railbands must be shaped according to the board's foil, thickness, and flow as well as the surfer's preference in rail shape. 


Laying out railbands is pretty simple. Here are examples of Boxy and Knifey rail bands. Use the chart below to lay out the rail bands you want.



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32. I was going to use a jig saw to cut the outline. What type of blade would I use?

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It is best to reshape a SAWZALL blade to fit your jigsaw. Takes a little elbow grease and a file or grinder if you have one. It helps to bend an kink in the tab to help the blade stay in the jigsaw.

Get a 6" one that is wide like this to help keep the cut straight. Any brand will do...


33. i'm shaping my first surf board fish from your 5'6''B emplate. How i manage to get the right thickness from nose to tail?

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The foil (thickess) of a board is all dependent on the midpoint thickness and volume of foam you need to float. 


Most blanks have the foil already shaped in and not much additional tweaking is needed, unless you choose a blank that is not right for the shape.


If you're making a 3" thick board at the middle, the thickness at 12" from the nose and tail will be somewhere in the 1 1/2" to 2" thick range. 


There is not right or wrong numbers. It all works. 

Here is a reference drawing for the how the rail band dimensions change along the foil of the board that may help you see the proportions of thickness.


You can measure the thickness of your current surfboards as a guide too.

34. How do I shape a channels on the bottom of my board?

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It's simple to shape channels though. Just use a hard block with sandpaper wrapped around it and shape the channels by putting pressure on the corner of the block.

35. My outline cut is uneven and wobbly. How do I fix it?

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The outline cut is the most crucial aspect to the way your board looks and any dips or wobbles in the outline will show up in the rail and you can't get it out at that point.

For a flawless outline we make a tool called the Rail Runner that does the work for you. It also shapes the bottom tuck of the rail which is one of the most critical aspects of a board since it determines how much "grip" into the wave the board will have so it's best to undershape it to start and screen it to the radius you want. As soon as you cut that tuck railband a little too much the foam is gone and you're intended rail shape is altered. 

36. When using my trim plane on the stringer it gouges the foam next to it. How do I avoid that?

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First, the trim plane is not the best tool for finish passes on the stringer to make it flush with the foam. You want to use a spokeshave for that.

When using the trim plane drag it along the stringer on a 45 degree angle to help keep it flat and not rock sideways which can gauge the foam. Also go along the grain of the wood. You'll know when you're going against the grain because the trim plane will dig in deep an get stuck.

You can also file a radius on the edges of the trim plane blade to keep them from hitting the foam.





37. How do you calculate the nose and tail dims if the rail bands since those will be tapered?

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This is covered in our Surfboard Building Guide. The calculations based on your board's thickness in the midpoint, nose, and tail... the goal is to keep the railbands smooth and flowing so don't get caught up in the numbers too much.

Here is an illustration on railbands but here it is for reference

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0689/1441/files/Surfboard-rail-band-dimensions-boxy-full-fish-egg-rail-shape_2a15f067-9b86-42cf-b8c0-6ab288a8ad20.pdf?16216708058669744041

Here are suggested rail band dimensions. 


The railbands will taper in the nose and tail areas up to a 1/2" difference from the midpoint dims. It's all relative to the foil of the board. If you are unsure what the railbands will look like simply mark the railband dimensions at the midpoint, 12" from the nose and 12" from the tail and connect the dots with a pencil. Follow the flow of the foil with the line. If the line looks good and matches the flow of the foil then go cut it. If it doesn't look good make a new line until you find what looks right to you. 



38. What is the difference between your steel PRO TOOLS and the PVC plastic tools?

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The only difference between the PVC and steel tools is that the steel are heavier and require less "elbow grease" to shape foam as well as come with a lifetime warranty. They both give the same results on the foam.

39. I'm shaping my board right now and it's coming out just as I want it to, the only problem is it's a little too thick. Is there an easier way to thin it out beside just keep sanding it?

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Normally guys use a power planer to mow down the foam to the thickness you want. 


By hand, the trick is to shape the stringer down first with a trim plane, then level the foam to the stringer with a G-rasp or shaping rasp.

40. If i were to follow your A-Z Guide, what would i need to purchase off your site (building material wise), I have most of the necessary tools but was wondering for the actual material of the board.

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If you have all the tools you'll just need a blank, resin, fiberglass, finboxes, and a leash plug to build a board.


We offer surfboard building kits in traditional materials or newer epoxy materials.


You might also want to consider getting just a blank, a beginner glassing kit, and fin boxes of your choice.


41. How to get EPS foam smooth without spackle? Screen or sandpaper?

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We screen EPS with 100 / 150 / 220 / then 320 grit for a super smooth, spackle-free surface. Each screen grit cuts the beads until all the small voids between beads are gone. We use a foam sanding pad with the screen to even out contours.  It's more work than spackling but leaves a very nice and clean foam surface.

42. I've watched a few videos on YouTube and see they use electric planers I was wondering are they special designed planers or just standard from a hardware store

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There are power planers out there specifically designed for surfboard shaping with on-the-fly adjustments for tapering foam(a huge help for shaping rocker, foil, and rails), special dust chutes and handles but any planer will do the job. Just make sure it's got 2 blades so it doesn't tear the foam. 

We sell an affordable entry level power planer that does a great job on both PU and EPS foam as well as stringers. 

43. When foiling my board how do I know how thick to go on the nose and tail and at the intermediate points?

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While there are no concrete numbers to sufboards it's a good idea when you start to keep more foam in the board that you can fine tune in the end before glassing. 


Aim for a 1/2" thick nose tip and a 5/8" tail tip thickness. Then foil your board for a nice flowing line from the nose to tail. Don't get caught up in the numbers too much. Water doesn't know numbers...


Here's more info on Foil from our Design Guide:


SURFBOARD FOIL

The change in thickness you notice when you view aboard from the side is referred to as foil. This thickness flow in most modern boards is smooth and even, without noticeable lumps or transitions. Foil determines to a great degree the overall volume of the board, how it flexes, the degree to which it can be flexed before it snaps, and whether the board is designed for long drivey turns or quick snaps. In general, thinner boards (2 3/8 inches thick or less at the thickest point) will be more flexy, harder to paddle, and less drivey… but more responsive. These boards are most suited for better surf, smaller or more advanced surfers, and strong paddlers. Thicker boards (2 1/2+ inches thick or more at the thickest point) will be less likely to snap but stiffer in terms of flex, will be easier to paddle due to increased buoyancy, and be more drivey. They will be more difficult to control in bigger surf, but work better in weak, small or slow waves because the added volume will allow them to catch waves easier and give the rider something to “push off of” when putting the board on a rail. A thinner board would have a tendency to sink under these conditions. Obviously, heavier and more powerful surfers require boards with more volume for flotation and to resist being pushed too deeply into the water and stalling on a hard turn.
While a trained eye can get a good feel for what the overall thickness flow is doing, and what it is intended for, by viewing from the side, the best way to quantify foil is by taking measurements along the length of the board using calipers. Measurements are most often taken at 12 inches from the nose and tail, 24 inches from the nose and tail, and at the wide point. Typically, boards are 1/8 to 1/4 inch thicker 12 inches from the tail than from the nose, and 1/16 to 1/8 inch thicker 24 inches from the tail than from the nose. The thickest point is typically found at the wide point. Boards designed for drive over responsiveness have their wide points and thick points ahead of center. Retro boards, single fins, classic longboards, and guns are good examples. These boards paddle better because the concentration of foam volume is under the chest when lying prone, and the center of the buoyant force is closer to the front foot when riding. Modern performance shortboards, however, have their wide and thick points behind center, which makes them inherently more difficult to paddle, but have a tighter turning radius. Rather than having the bulk of volume under the chest and front foot, the thick point back puts the concentration of foam between the surfers feet, better facilitating back-footed, rail-to-rail surfing.

44. How important it is to have the board totally smooth and even before glassing?

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It's a good idea to get the stringer flush with the foam so the fiberglass lays flat across the stringer. If it is not flat there will be a gap and there's a good chance the glass will crack there letting water into the board. 


Also, a smooth, clean shape is easier to sand. Wavey rails, high and low spots on the deck and bottom will cause a lot more work sanding.


Take your time to get the shape as nice a possible (without overshaping) and you'll find the glassing and sanding process will go pretty smoothly.

45. Rail band dimensions at 12" from nose and tail?

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The board is foiled from nose to tail so the thickness of the rail is different at 12" from the nose than the midpoint of the board. The rail band chart shows dims for the center of a 2 1/2" thick board. You can measure the thickness of your nose and tail at 12" marks and do a little math to determine the rail marks based on your midpoint rail bands. 

After a few boards you can just eye it up though. The most important thing is to keep the rail shape flowing along with the rocker and foil.


46. How do I flatten the deck and bottom to square up with the rail outline cut?

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Flattening the bottom and deck can be done by hand with two tools: a stringer trim plane and Greenlight Rasputin Tool


Surfboard shaping flattening deck and bottom

47. I'm done shaping my blank and it has a slight gap by the stringer at the tail end what do I do to fill that in?

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Squeeze some Gorilla glue into the gap. It will expand and fill it then you can sand down any excess and glass the board.

48. More info on shaping rail bands

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Let me preface this reply with the fact that water doesn't know numbers, it's the flow of shape that matters. Numbers are only a guideline to shaping what looks good to our eyes and feels good to our hands. 


That being said the railband dimensions change at 12" from the nose and 12" from the tail due to the tapering foil of the blank's profile and the narrower nose and tail widths than the midpoint. 


Most importantly you want to copy the bottom rocker onto the side rail and make that taper slightly in the nose and tail areas. The deck rail bands will affect overall volume of the board and shape of the top rail. 


You can do math to calculate the rail mark dimensions at the nose and tail based the change in thickness compared to the midpoint.  For example, a 2 1/2" thick midpoint rail mark of 1 5/8" [1.63 / 2.5 = ~60% for a 60/40 rail] will reduce down to 1" if the foil thickness is 1 5/8" @ 12" from the nose (~60%)


You can put your rail marks on the board and trace them out (making a tool for that is fine but I use my hand and drag my pinkie along the edge or bottom to trace the outline or rocker and adjust the curve while walking to hit the rail mark dots - or come close. 


Then take a look and if you don't like it, make adjustments. It'll all shape off when tools hit the foam.


The apex is between the rail mark and top of tuck and will appear when screening the rail bands to round them off.

49. Should I measure my railband marks at the mid point of the board or the wide point? My wide point is 4" in front of the mid point.

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Always use the midpoint of the length of your board for the railband measurement, not the widepoint. Although the widepoint being only 4" away will not really affect the railband dimension as the board's thickness should be pretty much the same in that area.

50. What grit sandpaper would you recommend for shaping the rails on those EPS foam blanks?

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We recommend the most aggressive grit you can get your hands on to shape the foam quicky. We have Tigershark sandpaper which is 36 grit and also our Greenlight shaping rasps are 16 grit and are the most efficient way to shape next to using a power planer. 

51. Where can I find info on rail bands and rail shape designs?

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You can find the rail band designs in the shaping section of our Surfboard Building Guide.

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