Monday, May 08, 2017

Foam E-Z at Boardroom 2017


          Sure, it would be easy to give you a typical rundown of what went down this past weekend at the 2017 Boardroom Show in Del Mar. 

Al Merrick and Icons Of Foam shape-off winner Rex Marechal
(Picture courtesy US Blanks)
           It would be easy to mention that for the tenth year in a row the event was a rare and wonderful opportunity to rub shoulders with the past, present, and future mavericks of the board-building industry. That stoke was passed around like it was free (it is), and that creative innovation was the champion of day. 
           Of course if we were to do that, we would have to mention that the actual champion of the show’s Icons Of Foam shape-off was San Diego County’s very own Rex Marechal in a dogged showdown to replicate one of Kelly Slater’s most iconic Al Merrick surfboards. We would be sure to clarify that this was no simple task, going up against the likes of names like Christenson, Kinoshita, Sakal, and Hinds (just to name a few!). It would likely go without saying that the whole reason for all of it was to rightfully honor Merrick, a man who has been inarguably at the forefront of surfboard progression for near fifty years (but we would probably say it anyways).
            Lastly, we would more than likely make a small jab or two at you if you missed the event, just in jest. We would say if you could have been there, then you definitely should have been there. We would say it was nothing short of an amazing weekend spent with some amazing craftsmen and women.
            That’s what we would say if we were to give you some sort of recap of the events that transpired this past weekend, which it seems we now have.  

These groms won the ultimate prize pack of the day, featuring an Arctic Blank,  Douglas Surf  cloth/resin/ catalyst, and a set of Futures Fins fin boxes and Alpha fins. Now they get to fight over who gets what. 

Giveaway winners
Douglas Surf Glassing Demo Station next to Foam E-Z's Booth
Graham Day of Driftwood Caravan Surfboards stoking on his new  E-Z Square and E-Z Shape Pad
Al and Britt Merrick Judging the shapes with their E-Z Square Pro

Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth and congrats to those who won our giveaways! See you all down there next year!

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Join Us For the Seal Beach Boardriders Hall Of Fame Ball

Over the last year a group of seal beach surfers led by Chad Wells and Mike Reilly have put together a surf club called the seal beach boardriders. The club is made up of over 50 people of all ages and has recently competed against other clubs in organized surf competitions. 

The west coast boardriders series has included teams from Laguna, Huntington Beach, and Newport beach with many more teams coming from the entire coast in 2017. In 2017 there will be more than 4 events. Even though the little sleepy town of Seal Beach has far less residents then the other cities the team has put forth some good showings. Part of the process of building the club is to generate funding to pay for events, help kids go to college and/or pursue their dreams of traveling to the next important surf contest and help support the seal beach surfing community. Due to this need for funding the team decided to put on a fundraising event while incorporating the first of its kind Seal Beach Surfing Hall Of Fame.

On May 5th, 2017, members of Seal Beach’s surfing community will gather at the Golden Sails’ Crystal Ballroom in Long Beach to honor the lives of those that make up the towns’ legendary lineup of local surfers.
The first inductees into the newly created Seal Beach Surfing Hall Of Fame, will be Sean Collins, the creator of surf forecasting website, Surfline; Tim Dorsey,  a Seal Beach lifeguard who pioneered surfing on the North Shore of Oahu in 1957, Jack Haley, the 1959 West Coast Surfing Champion, Denny Buell, a lifeguard and well known surfer in the 1960s and 70s, and Rich Harbour, owner of Harbour Surfboards and often referred too as the Godfather of Seal Beach surfing. 

Tickets can be purchased online at They cost $50 for adults and $10 for minors.

For the surf community and community of Seal Beach, the night of camaraderie and family fun is much needed. This years’ historically wet winter caused the Seal Beach Surfing Championships not to run for the first time in a decade. The event put on by Lifeguards is always looked forward to by local surfers.

Let’s all get together this Friday….Eat some good food, listen to some live 80’s music and celebrate the surfing legends that came  from our town all while raising money for the future of seal beach surfing.

- Chad Wells and Mike Reilly

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Everything On The Inside...brought to you by US Blanks (Part 3; BLANK SELECTION)


       In Part One we discussed the various foam types available (Polyurethane, Superfused EPS, and Block-Cut EPS). In Part Two we discussed the various densities of foam available and how to find the exact right strength-to-ratio fit. In Part Three, Blank Selection, we’ll help you choose the blank that has just enough foam for your design. 


       Selecting the appropriate blank for your build is pretty easy to do, but selecting the RIGHT blank will reduce your time, workload, materials waste, and allow you focus your attention on fine tuning the details of your design.

       US Blanks offers 85 blank models, from Shortboards to Guns to SUPs. Your goal will be to envision your desired final design, and then fit that design within the shape and dimension of the foam blank. For this example, let’s assume that you’d like to build a shortboard with the dimensions 6’1” x 21” x 3”.

No shortage of thickness in these Longboards

      There are 3 main criteria that you’ll assess when selecting the best blank for your build, in this order.

   -Genre (surfboard style)
   -Width & Thickness

Genre - US Blanks categorizes their blanks by 6 categories; Shortboard, Fish / Egg, Funboard, Longboard, Gun, SUP. Page 10 of their blank catalog has each Blank grouped by category (see the attached document). Narrowing the genre will help you to find the blank with the correct outline and rocker for your desired design. Obviously, for this example we’ll be selecting Shortboard genre.

Height - Selecting the right height is the best way to reduce wasted material and time in your build. Why buy 10’ of foam when you’re planning to build a 6’ shortboard? That said, it’s best to select a blank with just a couple inches of added height beyond your desired design, just to allow for subtle adjustments or potential errors. Since we’re planning to build a 6’1” shortboard, consider selecting a 6’2” - 6’4” Shortboard blank.

Width & Thickness - Once you’ve selected Genre and Height, you will likely have narrowed your search down to 3 or 4 blank options. The selection can be finalized by determining your desired Width & Thickness. We’d like to net 21” of width and 3” of thickness.

Following our criteria thus far: we have 4 blanks to choose from:

Only 1 of those blanks offers enough foam to fit your desired width and thickness, the 6’4” MB.

The US Blanks catalog ( Blanks Product Catalog.pdf) is a terrific resource to become familiar with. 

Once you have the right Foam Type, Density, and Blank Selection, you can dial in the specific Rocker Profile for the style of waves and surfing that you’re board will be built for. We’ll address Rockers in Part Four of this series.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Everything On The Inside...brought to you by US Blanks (Part 2; DENSITY)

In Part One we discussed foam selection, and helped to delineate the differences between Polyurethane foam and EPS foam, as well as the differences between Block-Cut EPS and Superfused (molded) EPS. In Part Two we’ll discuss the various densities (sometimes referred to as “weight”) available for each foam type. As surfboard design and surfing styles have developed, US Blanks has engineered different foam densities to accommodate each need. 

Density = Pounds-Per-Cubic-Foot of material (foam) for a given space (the blank’s dimensions). 

            When Gordon Clark and Hobie Alter began producing polyurethane foam surfboard blanks in the mid 50s, they designed their foam for be a similar weight to the wood logs that surfers were accustomed to riding. The heavy foam boards were very sturdy and stable, but difficult to maneuver. As surfer’s skills developed, Clark provided lighter foam, which surfers were able to turn more easily. This trend towards lighter-weight foam continued up until the late 90s, where Kelly Slater, et al., ushered in very thin, narrow, highly-rockered shortboards. These boards allowed for the emergence of aerials, fin-releases, and 360s, but also saw a much greater incidence of board breakage, due partially to the lighter foam, but also the higher impact maneuvers. Since the late 90s, foam density trends have diverged into a wide range of needs. The current “ride anything” ethos requires that shortboards are available in either lightweight or Tow-weight, longboards to be built for high-performance or as throwback logs, as well as any manner of single-fin, kneeboard, asym, funboard, SUP, Gun, and even multi-foam constructions (PU & EPS).
            As with any aspect of board building, what you gain in one area, you will lose in another. Lighter weight foam will offer more maneuverability, but inherently less strength. The loss of strength can be mitigated by other construction materials like stronger stringers, carbon fiber, thicker glassing, and stronger resin, etc. 

            To ensure the exact right foam for any build, US Blanks offers (6) density options for PU blanks, as well as (2) density options for EPS blanks. For PU, the weight is identified by the color on the nose of the blank. Due to a few variables in the manufacturing process (mold compaction, skin-to-core ratio), exact PCF (pounds per cubic foot) for PU foam is not given. Rather, a stock weight (Blue) is designated and then all other densities are referenced from that weight, as a percentage of either more dense or less dense.

From Lightest to Heaviest:

- Orange Density (Competition Weight) is approximately 12% to 13% lighter than Blue. This would be most commonly used for elite level professional shortboards.

- Red Density (Performance Weight) is approximately 6% to 7% lighter than Blue. This is a common selection for a surfer who wants more performance from their shortboard, midlength, or longboard.

- Blue Density (Stock Weight) is the basis for comparison. Blue is the perfect combination of weight to strength ratio; light enough to maneuver, yet strong enough to provide extended use.

- Green Density (Cruiser Weight) is approximately 9% to 10% heavier than Blue. This is a common selection for classic longboard and funboard designs.

- Brown Density (Classic Weight) is approximately 30% to 32% heavier than Blue. This is a common selection for traditional log-style longboards. 

- Black Density (Tow-In Weight) is approximately 205% heavier than Blue. This is almost exclusively used in shortboards designed for tow-in surfing.

EPS Blanks (both Block-Cut and Superfused) are available in two densities; 1.5 pcf & 2.0 pcf

Ultimately, there are some fairly simple standards that you can follow (i.e., shortboards should generally be Orange, Red, or Blue. Longboards should generally be Red, Blue, Green, or Brown). Most performance characteristics in the water will be determined in the shaping bay by contours, rocker, fin setup, etc. but selecting the appropriate foam density is key to having the right foundation upon which to build.

For further information, please reference:

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Everything On The Inside (Part 1; Foam)

            Shaping surfboards is a lot like finding the right person to marry. Well, in truth it isn’t like that at all. There are however effectively enough similarities however that we could justify using such a dastardly bait-and-switch to reel you into part one of our six-part series on understanding surfboard blanks. Just as many Hollywood movies would have us believe about love, there is a right “the one” for any potential surfboard.
            The thing about picking the right one is that on the surface it’s a pretty simple equation. As long as you have your length, width, and thickness in mind, then the rest will fall into place right? Wrong. In case you missed it that’s only three things and again, this is a six-part blog. Now we’re not out to overcomplicate a simple thing, honestly. But we’ve been doing this long enough to know that when it comes to surfboard blanks, there truly is a hell of a lot more than meets the eye. That’s a thing that can really tangle a person up in the shape room if they come to the party unprepared.
            So we’re going to prepare you, and we’re not going to do it alone. The fine folks over at US Blanks, with their innumerable years of expertise have opted to weigh in on the matter as well. For now, we will begin at the beginning and start with the difference between polyurethane and EPS foam. Scoff at the simplicity if you must, but don’t be surprised if by the end of this all you have found yourself to have become much more particular about your blank selection. Enjoy.

Polyurethane vs. EPS Foam… What’s the Difference??

            Polyurethane Blanks: Polyurethane, or PU, blanks are generally the most common type of surfboard blank out there (and definitely the older of the two types).  Polyurethane is a type of plastic, which is poured into a hollow-cavity mold of specific proportions. Once poured, the PU foam expands to take the shape of the mold and hardens to become the surfboard blank.  (As you may know, surfboard blanks are made in a variety of shapes and sizes intended to closely meet the shapers requirements of a desired surfboard to reduce waste.  The blank roughly resembles the contours and shape of the finished board).
            Polyurethane blanks can be glassed with a variety of different cloth types and resins, which makes them a reliable and versatile choice…especially for beginners. PU blanks can be glassed with either polyester or epoxy resin, a choice that often comes down to personal preference.

Polyurethane Foam in action

            Expanded Polystyrene Blanks: Expanded Polystyrene, or EPS, blanks are much more recent option available to surfboard shapers, having come into popular use around the mid ‘90s. “EPS is a closed-cell foam, made up of tiny, hollow, spherical beads. In fact, EPS is made up of 98% air, which is the reason behind its lightweight. Common uses for EPS are packing applications (foam peanuts, ice chests) and construction applications (insulation, void filler). EPS is inert and non-toxic, both to the environment and one’s health. It is regarded as lighter and more buoyant than traditional polyurethane foam.” (Read More about EPS in depth here).
            EPS foam can only be glassed with epoxy resin, as polyester resin reacts negatively with EPS foam and tends to ‘melt’ the blank and ruin the board. The process of glassing with epoxy is a little more intensive than with polyester resin, as people often ‘seal’ their blanks with some kind of spackle mix to save resin/ board weight, as bare EPS foam tends to absorb resin directly into the foam. With the advent of higher quality EPS foam in recent years however, there is a dissent on opinion on how necessary this step actually is. The resin in general takes a fair bit longer to ‘kick-off’ when glassing a board, which is both a blessing and a curse and takes a little more effort to learn than polyester resin can.

Superfused EPS compared to Block Cut Eps

A Word on Foam Selection from the Experts at U.S. Blanks

            “Polyurethane (PU) is most common type of surfboard foam. US Blanks PU is made in Los Angeles from 100% solar power and is available in 6 densities (lightweight to very heavy). Any type of stringer wood can be used with PU foam and it can be glassed with either polyester or epoxy resin.
            US Blanks also offers 2 types of EPS foam: Block-Cut EPS or Superfused EPS. Block-Cut EPS blanks are cut from a large block of foam; therefore they are available in any range of dimensions (within 24’ x 4’ x 3’). Superfused EPS blanks are molded into a specific blank size (of which US Blanks offers 13 sizes). Because these EPS beads are fused into a smaller blank mold (as compared to the large block), the cell structure is tighter. 
            When selecting foam type, the differences are more a matter of preference than of quality. Surfers tend to like PU for it’s “traditional” flex and feel, and they comment that EPS is lighter and has more verve (or liveliness). As with most surfboard materials and design features, different surf conditions call for different board types. Many surfers have both PU and EPS boards in their quivers. 
            Once you decide which foam type is appropriate for your build, you'll be able to select the appropriate blank size.”

- David Scales, Creative Director at US Blanks

Polyurethane US Blanks

Check back soon for Part Two of our Six Part Series of Everything On The Inside presented by US Blanks to learn about proper blank selection.