Monday, October 10, 2016

Turning Down The Volume


What does surfboard volume mean?

 No, I’m not going to waste either your time going into some overly complicated explanation about what volume is. I am sure you read all about it back in, like, 2013 on The Inertia or in Surfer or something like that. It’s height X weight X width, it’s in liters, and it’s pretty complicated to figure out in a surfboard. Right, moving on.
            Taking it a step further, what does surfboard volume mean with regards to actually shaping surfboards? Well, not much really. It is a number that’s useful for the comparison of finished surfboards. To a surfboard shaper, volume will usually, at most, be a small number in the bottom screen of some CAD program that changes when you start clicking things. That’s about it.
            The more important thing to consider here is what volume definitely should not be. For any shaper, new or experienced, volume should not be a goal. Going into any shape with the intention of coming away with some particular end number in your head should not (necessarily) be your main objective.
             No matter what way you look at volume, it is actually not a design element of the board. Yes, you read this correct and would do well to forever commit it to memory; 

Volume is not a design element of a surfboard.  

Volume is merely the result of an equation. It is what you get when you add up all of the different components of a surfboard as a whole. I’m talking length, width, thickness, foil, concave, and even the weight of the glass job; i.e. the actual design elements that require much thought and planning when shaping a surfboard.
            So now that we’ve gone over what volume isn’t, it’s necessary to come back to a point I made earlier. Widespread use of volume measurement is relatively new in the surfboard building industry, but this doesn’t mean that it is just some sort of fad. It is a useful metric. It is actually an incredibly useful number to consider when comparing (and I deliberately reiterate the term) finished surfboards. The bottom line is that when it comes to a hydrodynamic vessel such as a surfboard, every little tiny detail that touches the water will affect the way a board rides. Some of them are micro features (think those tiny inevitable glassing defects, or a machine cut board that is slightly more sanded than an identically cut board) and others are major features (think, well just about anything you can actually see on a surfboard). 

The point being, even at the elite level of surfboard building, variation is inevitable. 

            So what does volume mean to you as a surfboard shaper? It should serve as a constant reminder that each element of your shape adds up, in one way or another, to every other element. Each pass of the planer you take or ounce of resin you pour onto a board should be done with every other step, previous or future, kept in mind on some level. No, volume should not be your end goal. Volume should just float somewhere in the back corner of your mind like some mystical reminder from some ridiculous shaman that everything has a purpose. Besides, if you’re really dying to know the true volume of your finished board, I’m sure you’ve got a displacement tank sitting around somewhere just dying to be filled up, right?

-Joey Estrada

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Throwback D.I.Y. Lessons

While recently perusing the backlog of Foam E-Z content, I came across tons of rad old content. Some of it went on to be posted in blogs and newsletters, others never made it past the draft stage. What seemed to be true of all of it though was that for all of the dramatic changes and differences that happen in this industry (typically occurring over the course of only a few years) there is much that stays  the same. Case and point, this surfboard glassing guide that was discovered from an unreleased 2008 newsletter. The information found within this guide remains as accurate and useful today as it was nearly ten years ago when it was compiled, and even longer before that. No matter what materials you're working with (for the most part) you should find this guide to be an indispensable reference source, whether you are glassing your first board, or you've completely lost track of what number you're on. It's a great and thorough guide on the surfboard glassing process, and a healthy reminder of how thoughtful planning and attention to detail will ensure a beautifully finished board. Enjoy. 

The Keys to a Solid Lam Job by Thomas Go'offe

You might not know this but the Laminating Coat could quite possibly be the most important strength component to your glass job. This is where it all begins! There are five key components:

1. Choosing the glassing schedule
There are million ways to skin a cat here but what is most important is to be sure the cloth combination is appropriate for the board you are building. The most common combo for a high performance short board is single four (4oz) bottom with a double four (4oz) deck. Stock long boards are traditionally glassed with single six (6oz) bottom with a double six (6oz) deck.

2. Cutting a smooth outline
Most people overlook this step as being an important one but it truly is. If you cut your cloth with a smooth line you can alleviate many pitfalls down the road. A smooth cut helps minimize the fibers from coming unraveled therefore helping to keep the overlap smooth.

3. Saturating the cloth thoroughly (including the rails) and working the resin in
The key here is to use enough resin to saturate the cloth entirely but not waste a bunch on the floor. The resin should be poured on the flats of the board and worked in with a squeegee angle of about forty-five degrees. This relatively flat angle gives you the ability to move the resin around and push it through the cloth. As you move it around the resin will drip off the rails, at this time you should drizzle the last of your resin above the rail line and use your squeegee as a backer to the hanging cloth. This will help to "wet out" the rails.

4. Extracting excess resin out and adhering the cloth to the foam
Now the task is to pull the excess out and insure that the cloth does not float above the foam. After your board is saturated in resin you will need to steepen the angle of the squeegee to approximately seventy-five degrees and methodically pull the resin back out. The idea here is to move the resin out from under the cloth in an attempt to adhere the cloth directly to your shaped blank. For high performance boards (light) you can really pull hard till you hear the cloth scream but be careful not to leave it too dry. Most other board styles don't require such an extreme extraction of resin. Once you've adhered the cloth to the flats of the board you will need to "wrap the rails". By this time the hanging cloth should drain a bit. Start from the middle and work your way out. Pull the cloth from the top of the rail under the board fairly tight and push your resin towards the stringer area.

5. Sanding the bottom lap completely flat
This step takes some time to master but is an invaluable step to creating a flat and highly bonded lam. First cut any hanging strands of cloth off with a sharp razor blade. Using white 80 grit sandpaper you will need to carefully sand the edge where the cloth meets the foam on the deck. The can be extremely touchy if you have an air spray in this area. Go slow and try very hard to sand only on the resin/cloth and not on the bare foam. If you have done a great job on step 4 "wrapping the rails" your task here will be minimal.
As you can see this is not rocket science but it does take some good instruction and gets better with experience. Each step is critically based on the next. Following these tips and using these professional secrets will help you in your first step to glassing your board. Spend time getting your lamination right and it will pay off in the long run with a strong and resilient surfboard.

Monday, September 19, 2016


 Photo Credit: Andre' Beriau
   It is a played out stereotype that all surf adventures involve exotic locales and tropical waters. Adventure, by most definitions, is an experience that must involve some degree of unusual and uncommon elements. To go truly off of the beaten path, one must do more than merely step off of a paved road and onto some tropical beach. Sometimes it involves finding a new way of doing things entirely, finding a new type of beach. 
       For 32 year old New England shaper Jacques Beriau of Sea Love Surfboardsthis has involved leaving the perennially sunny shores of San Diego for the biting chill of the East Coast. Since 2010, Jacques has been shaping up boards for a different cut of surfer. With snowy lineups and heavy winds taking the place of palm trees and crowded beaches, Jacques has been able to carve out his own path along the often overlooked breaks of Maine's coast. The result has been his own unique design and aesthetic, that is evident in his boards, that are the result of a different kind of surfing community and environment. They have a quality that you wouldn't find in some typically tropical or suburban surf town. There is an element of ruggedness to the designs, a sense of the hours spent in less than hospitable conditions developing the craft. There is a sense of true adventure and wildness to them. 
-Joey Estrada

First things first, can you tell us a little bit about when you first got into shaping, and how?

I first started shaping surfboards while I was living in San Diego. I’m about 5’4” and 130lbs soaking wet, so it was hard for me to find off-the-rack boards that were exactly what I was looking for.  I had a few customs made, but it was hard for me to explain the feeling that I was searching for, and then have someone translate that into a shape for me.  I felt that I needed to take care of that aspect of my surfing.  I was surprised with the first few shapes that I made for myself, and a few years later decided to offer some of the shapes I was creating to the public.    

What made you decide to move to the East Coast?

My family is here, and my roots.  I grew up here in New England, and after chasing California for a while I felt more settled and even keeled coming back.  Sometimes you have to leave a place to see the beauty in it.  I moved back to New England in 2010 for an opportunity to finish a teaching degree.  I teach 7th grade science, and at that time, there weren't a great deal of teaching positions open in Southern California.   Some of my best friends in the world still live between San Diego and HB, so I get out west a few times a year, get a burrito, see the homies.

Sea Love Surfboards 
Photo Credit; Andre' Beriau
 Were there any shapers you considered to be mentors of yours?

I have never actually had the opportunity to learn from another shaper inside the shaping bay.  When I started, I just figured that I’d learn what I could teach myself because the boards were only for me anyways.  I read everything I could get my hands on that involved surfboard design or the craft of shaping.  I’ve always been plugged into the historical aspect of surfboard design.  I just wanted to understand why these boards were created, what actual waves they were made for.  So I did all the research I could, and tried to get my hands to create what I was reading about.       

What are some of your most popular kinds of shapes like?

I’ve been riding a twin keel fish pretty much full time for a while now.  They work so well for they type of surfing I like to do.  I’ve always been a skate rat, and that shape is about a close as I’ve come to deep-end bowl carving.  I also ride a mid-length single fin, a piggy log too.  I dig the feeling you get out of shapes like that.  Just like riding waves.  I’m not crazy about fighting them. 

How are the waves around you and how have they affected/changed your shaping style?

Here in Southern Maine we have a pretty wide variety of surf.  Some great beach breaks, a few critical points too.  I’ve always shaped surfboards with particular waves in mind, and for the surf here, I’ve been into mid-lengths a bit more lately.  We get some heavy off-shore winds, so I’ve been adding a bit of belly to the front of my personal boards, seems to cut that off-shore texture pretty well.  

What's the surfing/shaper culture like on the east coast, what makes it unique?

Photo Cred; Andre' Beriau 
There are some great surfy people in my area, really good folks.  We have Grain Surfboards here in town, their crew puts on some great community events throughout the year and they are exceptional craftspeople.  As a whole, East Coast surfing has always been in the shadow of its California counterpart, but that’s ok I guess.  Its cold here for a big part of the year, and we definitely don’t have the surfboard design history that Southern California has.  It can also be difficult as a surfboard shaper to find materials, but you folks at Foam E-Z have made that piece so easy for me.  Cold empty waves, vs crowds though?  Snowflakes falling straight down on glassy chest to head?  A handful of your homies sharing it?  Those are the parts that keep me here.       

Who are some of the surfers you enjoy shaping for and working with?

Shaping boards for homies is always the best.  Especially homies that I get to surf with regularly, my brother Andre’ is probably my all time favorite person to shape boards for.  I know exactly how he rides, so I while I’m in the shaping bay I can translate that into his surfboard, he’s pretty good at letting me tell him what he wants haha.  Plus, he’s my brother, so even if I shape him a turd, it's a turd shaped with love.

Alright rapid fire question time;

Favorite tool?

My new racks, welded by my good homie Stu Gingras.

Favorite blank to shape?

US Blanks 7’3”A Red Density.  1/16” Redwood Stringer. 

-Favorite place to surf?

York County Maine

Biggest overall influence?


What're your go-to board dimensions/set up?

5’2” x 19” x 2 3/8” Fish, wide point 4 ½” forward.  Glass-on Fiberglass “Beatty” Twin Keels from True Ames.    

If you're interested in ordering a board from Jacques, you can contact him here:

Instagram:  @jacquesberiau

Sunday, September 04, 2016

The Best Shaping Advice I've Ever Received


 I had almost nothing to do with the first surfboard I ever made. I was learning to shape and glass from a friend, but I was letting them take the reigns on the whole thing for the most part. I made a few passes with the planer here, took down parts of the stringer there, and even worked in some resin during the lamination, but mostly I watched. I was intimidated. I had convinced myself it was altogether too overwhelming for me to handle on my first go and had resigned myself to a position of observation. On my second surfboard I did even less. I second-guessed myself every step of the way and was constantly in need of someone to step in to fix what I had done. The inferiority complex had already begun to set in. I would never be a great surfboard builder. I was going to quit.

The only thing that had convinced me to shape one more actually, was the fact that I had previously purchased a third, extra blank in a fit of excited anticipation previously (before the heartbreak of board number two of course). Rather than risk enduring the karmic wrath that would surely ensue by letting a perfectly good 5-10 RP waste away and brown the way a rotten banana would, I decided I would hit the shaping room one last time. This would be my third and final board I had decided. I swore to myself that I would do this one all by myself no matter what. If it turned out horrible, well, I was well aware that there was a perfectly good dumpster just outside of the box.

So I shaped my third board. It was slow going and it was more than just a little frustrating at times, but I was determined and stubborn as hell about  finishing the shape. A couple of hours of sweat and dust later I amazingly (surprisingly) had a board that was more or less what I had set out to shape. I had me two rails, a couple of (mostly) symmetrical concaves, and a stringer that wasn’t too terribly chunked around the foam. Soon enough I had a board that was laminated and even had a neat little checkered fabric-inlay even. I was stoked. This board was actually coming out like, well, an actual  surfboard. Pretty soon I was going to be on my own little 5’10 single fin, and it was one I could finally say that I did all myself. Honestly, I was even a little proud of the thing.
            Naturally, I felt I had to keep that all to myself. It was a secret stoke, a secret pride. I reckoned  that if I let anyone who actually knew anything at all about making boards about that I was actually pleased with the way this board was coming out they would surely laugh in my face. It was admittedly pretty far from the type of “actual” surfboard you would find in a shop after all. Luckily, all that was left was one quick and easy little hot coat and then the board was off to the sander and I was free to enjoy my own hand-made guilty pleasure board in secret whenever I pleased. I was nearly in the clear. 

            There was always one shaper however who was always around with some advice and opinions. Up until that point he had been my biggest critic with the boards I had made. He had been shaping twice as long as I had even been alive and was well respected by the people he had worked with. Somehow he had always seemed to catch me just as I was in the most damming part of my creations, always the parts that needed the most fixing. Somehow he was always there to point out what I could and should have done better.  
            “Just leave it to the Pros” he would always tell me, only half joking. This time he had caught me right as I was cleaning up my hot coat and about to take it to the sander. Three minutes later and I would have been in the clear, three minutes later I would have gotten it there without anybody seeing it. I was so close. He walked up and began inspecting the board as he usually would. He lifted the nose and looked down the board, felt the rails out, held it down on its side to check the profile. He hadn’t said anything yet about it yet, just scratched his beard and inspected.
            I couldn’t let him know I was secretly super into this board. I had to be coy. I shrugged and said only “Yeah it’s whatever.” I hemmed and hawed and began listing everything I thought was wrong with the board. If I pointed everything wrong with it out first then surely I wouldn’t look totally clueless I reasoned. He said nothing still. I stood there for a second feeling like a fool. I began to wonder why had I bothered with this third and final board! After an excruciating amount of time he  finally put the board down. I had expected him to agree that there were some glaring flaws and point out even more things, to really show it for the amateur shape it was. Instead he shrugged and said a thing that I hadn’t expected, a thing that unexpectedly changed my whole philosophy on making surfboards.
            “Yeah well, water isn’t that smart. The thing’s still gonna float. It’s still gonna surf.” He had turned and started to walk away, throwing back “you’re getting better though, better than the last two!” as he walked out the door and around the corner. Water isn’t that smart, I thought to myself for a while after that. What a strange philosophy.
            So I rode the board and surprisingly it was way more fun than I expected. In fact, all three of the boards up until that point had been, despite their relatively rough nature. Throughout the first session, those words stuck with me in a surprisingly reflective way. Sure, it’s important to have a plan and consider everything you’re doing when it comes to shaping/glassing a board. Hell, it’s even important to know (at least on some level) how and why certain things work. A lot of people have done a lot of work to learn that valuable information. But for every tiny detail that goes into making a surfboard work, it’s a relatively simple thing that we’re doing, and it’s oftentimes best not to overthink that.
            To accept your limitations and always be open to new ideas and learning from the people who know; that’s what makes shaping a worthwhile undertaking. It should go without saying that that wasn’t my board I’ve made. In fact, by now I’ve made boards of all kinds and am well in to the double digits in only two years. While some certainly end up better than others and I still get a little frustrated now and again, I have yet to have made a board that won’t surf.

If you’ve ever been curious about learning to shape your own surfboard and want to skip the hassle and frustration of trying to learn on your own, check out our Foam E-Z shaping lessons, where you can work with a professional shaper to learn all the skills and techniques of shaping your own board!

-Joey Estrada

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Setting up a shape room is a lot of work. It’s not the actual building of the room that’s necessarily all that hard.  You buy the supplies. You set them up. You start shaping.  E-Z? Not exactly. Planning and building a shape room takes some time and careful consideration.  There are a lot of factors to consider and many different ways to approach it. This is why we eventually came to the inevitable conclusion of, "why bother?"  Instead of sitting around letting you scratch your head and get frustrated with blueprinting your shape room, we decided to call in a little relief from the Pro’s who have been doing it for a while; the guys who have nailed it down to a science. If you’ve always assumed that shape rooms came in the same sizes and colors, think again.  Because we got a few answers even we weren’t expecting.

These are the shapers that have opened their doors to let you in!

Gerry Lopez: Shaper of Gerry Lopez/Lightening BoltSurfboards…49 Years Shaping
Jeff ‘Doc’ Lausch: Founder of Surf Prescriptions Surfboards… 47 Years Shaping                       
Joshua Martin: Founder of Martin Shapes…30+ Years Shaping
Matt Parker: Founder of Album Surfboards… 16+ Years Shaping
Rich Harbour: Founder for Harbour Surfboards…57 Years Shaping
Rusty Preisendorfer: Founder of Rusty Surfboards… 47 Years Shaping
Ryan Lovelace: Shaper of Ryan Lovelace Surfboards…10+ Years Shaping

Tim Stamps: Founder of Stamps Surfboards…27 Years Shaping

Todd Proctor: Founder of Proctor Surfboards…25 years Shaping

1. First things first, what are the most important tools to have in your shape room? 

Rusty Preisendorfer

Rusty: A measuring square. A rocker stick. Sharp tools. A planer, surform, block planes, sanding blocks, fresh sandpaper, and screen. The blades all need to be kept sharp, surforms fresh, paper new, screen is the only exception.  

Doc: Good hands. Good eyes.  

Matt Parker: Surform, sanding block, well used sanding screens, sharp blades, Hitachi Modified Planer, good pencils, a broom.

Stamps: All of them, that's why I have them all in here.

Todd Proctor: Very important to have is a bunch of pictures of perfect waves where you've traveled and surfed as well as pictures of ones you are going to go surf.

2. What height do you set your lights at?

Stamps: Depends on the width of the room and the height of the shaping stand…it's geometry. You want to sent your racks first, then lights because you want your racks high enough to not destroy your back.

Matt Parker: 56”

Proctor: Mine are set at 4'. I'm 6'0" tall...make sure you set em at what works for you. 

Matt Parker
Rusty:  It's a relationship with how tall the racks are set and how wide the room is. I'm tall so my racks are set at 42". My lights are single bulb and are set at 48" with a shelf over them to keep the light out of my eyes and focused on the blank, and to place my tools.

Doc: Racks 38” high without padding. Lights at 42.5” to bottom 8’ bulb double feature.

3. What color is your shaping room? 

Jeff 'Doc' Lausch
Doc: Dark dark dark forest green.

Rusty: The entire room including the floor is dark blue. In the early days my room was painted dark green. Never black. Too much contrast and play with the shadows.

Gerry Lopez: Green like a tennis court, I feel it is a more soothing color than black.

Proctor: Inside of the barrel J-Bay blue/ green.

Matt Parker: Dark Blue

Josh Martin: Dark Chocolate

Ryan Lovelace: My room has always been dark red, it was the color or my room growing up and it feels warm and homey to me which is my most important requirement; I shape on average 14 boards per week so I spend a lot of time in there and I want to feel comfortable and mellow - dark red does that for me and offers a really warm vibe & pretty dramatic lighting for the board. 

Harbour: In the late ’60’s I was going home stressed and started thinking that the white walls of my shaping room were not helping matters.  So I painted them a soft blue.  Wow, what a difference!  I never had seen that color used in any other shaping room, but blue rooms soon began to show up around the country.  And after my adjustable racks were installed,  I painted a series of black horizontal lines on the room’s end walls that were exactly where the bottom of the board shows when lifting it up to look for twists.  If you make sure the blank is centered on the rack, twists of 1/8" or less are visible - and even I find this amazing.  This is one of the better shaping room tricks I can think of, and I never had seen it in any other shape room when I did it to mine

4. What are the dimensions of your room?

Rich Harbour
Rusty:  9'8" wide 20' long and 12' high. The length and height can vary depending on what type of boards are being shaped but the width is somewhat critical. It could vary 6" either way but I find that any more and the room gets too wide and the shelves and tools are too far away from my racks and the light starts to diffuse. Any less and the room gets too crowded.

Matt Parker: 16’ x 12’

Gerry Lopez: 12' X 16' X 12' tall, too small but I built it before SUP.

Harbour: It is 9’-0” wide and make it at least 16’-0” long and 10’-0” high.

Ryan Lovelace: 9' x 15', like I said its cozy but it definitely gets the job done!  I wouldn't mind having another foot of width or so, but I've always worked in pretty confined spaces so I don't mind. 

Doc: 8’ x 15’

Proctor: 20' long X 11' wide X 12' high. I like to be able to flip around boards of all sizes in all directions...

5. How do you contain the mess?

Josh Martin
Ryan Lovelace: I use a shopvac hooked up to my planer and I'd say of an hour spent on a board, 45 
minutes of that is planer work so very little dust gets

Gerry Lopez: Vacuum system for planer and sweep up after each board.    

Josh Martin: Ha! I don't really... I built my floor for both comfort (on the feet) and ease of cleanup. It is Masonite over a thin foam sheet over concrete. I use a big squeegee rather than a broom to sweep the floor with. I rather enjoy walking around in, looking at and remembering all the boards the shavings and dust came from. Clean and sterile shaping rooms make me nervous like I'm at the doctors office.

Harbour: Broom.

6. What sort of mouth/eye protection do you use?

Gerry Lopez: Glasses and dust mask.
Gerry Lopez

Josh Martin: I use my eyelashes and eyelid reflexes for eye protection and disposable 3M dust masks. Ears too get protection in the form of retired fire truck #22 ear muffs given to my dad by a fireman customer.

Ryan Lovelace: I guess I have a big face and most of the 3M masks that come with a liner bother my nose, but I've been stoked on the 3M 2300 N95 Moldex mask the past few months.

Harbour: Paper Mask with a plastic breather vent.

7. Do you use a vacuum system or something similar?

Todd Proctor

Harbour: Tried it and never could get the hang of it. With the current computer system blanks there is no need.

Josh Martin: Delta dust collection system for my Skil.

Ryan Lovelace: Rigid shop vac into PVC piping the runs up the wall and across the ceiling, then the slinky hose from there to the planer - I like my vac systems really simple, the most complex ones I've used are the most problematic and least effective - I'd rather spend my time at the shop shaping instead of clearing out foam dust from clogged tubes.

Stamps: Only if for some strange reason I use a planer.

8. What, in your opinion, is the most important aspect to consider when it comes to setting up a new shape room?

Tim Stamps
Gerry Lopez: All the above but especially size relative to the boards shaped in it. Space is a good thing if you have it but correct lightning will make or break your room. 

Stamps: Sturdy level true racks, good lighting, flooring, and a kickass sound system. My choice is a boom box from the 80's.

Josh Martin: A stoked mindset and a top light. I spent years shaping in a blue tarp'd off section of garage with only a top light. Then maybe good racks. Good racks and a properly used top light will allow you to shape great surfboards. 

Ryan Lovelace: I think space is super important - feeling like you don't have to restrict your movement in order to accomplish your task is really big for me.  I recently shaped in a room where the racks were a foot closer to one side of the shaping room than the other, and being more cramped on one side vs. the other drove me absolutely insane when I was trying to get 4-5 bards per day done.  the past 10 years I've shaped and glassed about 4,000 boards out of one-room shops where I'd shape, switch out the racks, then glass & sand, so I don't mind a good mess when I'm making a board or two; but when you're really trying to put out a flawless shape and hone your skills, having a comfortable work space that feels like your own and is as comfortable as your home makes for a really focused and clear experience!

Ryan Lovelace

Foam E-Z Shop Vac
Planer Switch Plug System

Organization is Key