Recession. Depression. Furlough. Fiscal cliff. Government shutdown. Apocalypse. Call it whatever you want, the current economic climate has left many of us short on income and long on time. Why not diversify your quiver on the cheap? If you’re feeling handy you can make the following four wooden surfcrafts in your backyard. Here they are, listed in order of ascending difficulty.
This is the easiest place to start if you’re interested in making your own wooden waveriding vehicles. Handplanes are small wooden planks that can be attached to your hand for bodysurfing. Handplanes should be shaped like tiny, stubby, finless surfboards. Any material will work, but lighter and more buoyant wood works best. All you need to make a handplane is some wood, a jigsaw, a power sander, and some time. Shape a little wooden bullet for your hand, attach a homemade strap and rekindle your love affair with the ocean in one of the most intimate ways possible.
Isn’t that just a crappy, homemade wooden bodyboard? Well, yes, but it’s so much more! The bellyboard is a larger version of the handplane. As the name suggests, bellyboards are placed under the chest or belly while riding, rather than on the palm of an outstretched hand. Bellyboards are smaller than bodyboards, and the hardwood is a bit less user friendly, but they do have one advantage over their foam counterparts. When constructed correctly, bellyboards are insanely fast. If you like the feel of bodysurfing but you’re looking for a bit more planing power and control, bellyboards are a good place to start.
Alaias have enjoyed a little resurgence lately thanks to the finless antics of several washed up pro surfers. If you’ve mastered the art of handplanes and bellyboards and want to make something you actually stand up on, alaias are a good place to start. Wood choice is more important. Artisan skill is more important. Your outline, edges, and bottom contour all need to be perfect if you want the thing to work. If you want to reconnect with surfing’s finless roots, or if you plan on being stranded on a desert island in the near future, an alaia may be exactly what you are looking for.
The Wooden Surfboard
This is the mack daddy of the do-it-yourself surfcraft. Nothing screams soul and demands respect like putting your own hand-shaped wooden stick on rail. No blog can ever teach you how to shape a wooden surfboard. It is a craft learned best through dedication and love. If you can build your own functional wooden surfboard, you have no use for the internet, you have clearly transcended our technophile post-modern hell, and you deserve every set wave that comes your way.