Friday, September 04, 2015

Rockers; A Detailed Explanation!

Everyone knows how important rocker is to the performance of a surfboard. US Blanks offers custom rockers at no charge, including private rocker templates.

While our master plugs were designed with a Natural Rocker that fits a variety of designs, we know that individual style and design will require adjustments.

We use the deck line to adjust rocker, and all adjustments are referenced to the Natural Rocker. If desired, we can adjust rocker to the bottom. Adjustments can be made from almost any point on a blank and from one blank size to another. Unless instructed, all rocker adjustments will be made from the center of the blank. If the adjustment is made from a point other than center, the adjustment point will be part of the description. Rockers transferred from one blank size to another will require a match point. Radical rocker adjustments may result in bumps or dips created in the deck line.

Selecting the exact right rocker profile will ensure that you have the perfect contour for your specific board design. Rocker helps determine board speed and turning radius.

Flatter Rocker = More Speed
More Rocker = Tighter Turning


All blanks are designed with a Natural Rocker optimized for the widest range of potential design needs. Natural Rockers are written in number of inches that the tip of the nose and tip of the tail rise from the bottom plane of the blank.

The Rocker Formula:

Natural Rocker = Inches Rise in the Nose, Inches Rise in the Tail
(from the Bottom Plane)

Natural Rocker 5 -1/2″N, 2-1/16″T

The Nose is always written first. It begins with the number of inches the tip rises from the bottom plane of the blank and is followed by the letter “N”. A comma separates the Nose rocker from the Tail rocker. Likewise, the Tail rocker is written in number of inches the tip rises from the bottom plane of the blank and is followed by the letter “T”.


All Custom Rockers are written as adjustments from the Natural Rocker. Adjustments are made from the center of the deck unless otherwise specified.

Rocker Adjusted from Deck Center (the default adjustment)

+1/2”N +1/8”T

This indicates that the tip of the Nose is adjusted +1/2” and the Tail is adjusted +1/8” from the Natural Rocker and the adjustments were made from the center of the deck.

Rocker Adjusted from Location Other Than Deck Center

Adjustments made from a location other than Deck Centered (DC) are indicated by  the number, in inches, that follows the “N” or “T” in the rocker formula.

+1/2”N18” +1/8”T12”

This indicates that the tip of the Nose is adjusted +1/2” from the Natural Rocker, but only within the last 18” of the Nose. And the tail is adjusted +1/8” from the Natural Rocker but only in the last 12” of the Tail.

Rocker Adjusted from Multiple Locations

Rockers can also be adjusted from multiple locations within the Nose or Tail to add subtle rocker to a given area and then increased rocker to another area, (i.e., a “Flipped Tip” effect). This is indicated by simply adding values to the existing rocker formula.

+1/2”N18” +1/2”N12” +1/8”T12”

This indicates that the tip of the Nose is adjusted +1/2” from the Natural Rocker in the last 18” of the Nose and then an additional 1/2” in the last 12” of the Nose. And the tail is adjusted +1/8” from the Natural Rocker but only in the last 12” of the Tail.


A drop down menu of all available rockers accompany every blank page listed here  (and in the US Blanks catalog). If you can’t find what you need, we will gladly make you a custom rocker.  We can get your custom
rockered blanks within one week of ordering.  Let us know if we can help!

Thanks to US Blanks for this informative explanation of how rockers are determined.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Father and Son Shape Lesson!

Brad Nadell of Foam E-Z in Westminster, California has long supplied Orange County’s finest shapers and shapers-to-be with everything needed to build a surfboard.  A few years ago Nadell built a shaping bay that would allow first-time shapers the chance to build a surfboard without the investment in tools, space, and perhaps most importantly, under the guidance of a professional.

Recently, Brad’s childhood friend approached him with the idea of building a board with his 12 year old son.  Brad called in world class board builder, Chas Wickwire, to guide the process.  Here’s what transpired.

“My goal is to just provide an overall view of the shaping process.  I put a heavy emphasis on 2 of the main 
building blocks: comfort with the power planer and the geometry building a rail.  I make it as systematic as possible so if the first-time shaper decides to attempt a 2nd board, they’ll have the fundamentals.  The whole process takes about 4 hours and nobody is going to leave as an expert shaper, but we’ll certainly help you avoid a few botched surfboards.”

“Vance is 12 and he’s been surfing since he was 6.  I have a photo of him on his very first wave at San Onofre and to this day he has the same exact style, arm placement, and everything.  Surfing’s been a great bond to share and we surf the same spots that I surfed when I was 12.  Vance was ready for a new board and I thought that shaping would be a very cool extension of that experience.”

“I just wanted to shape a board that I could ride every day, when the waves are a little smaller and it’s harder to surf my normal shortboard. After talking with Chas we decided to make a 5’10”. It’s pretty thick. Chas suggested we make it a little wider in the noses it paddles easier. And we made it quad.”

“I’ve surfed Seal Beach my whole life so I’m very familiar with the waves that Vance surfs and the goal he’s trying to achieve with this board. We designed this shape with a low entry rocker so it gets into waves really easily, goes fast and is easy to ride when the waves are less than ideal.”  “We used the 6’2” A which is a real versatile blank to shape a 5’10” x 21” x 2 3/8”.”

“I thought it’d be more fun to shape a board than just go buy one, but I was really surprise how much math is involved. Not just in the fractions with the length and wide, but there’s a lot of geometry. I thought it was going to be more like an art project, but Chas used a lot more math than I expected.”

“Vance was epic. For his age, he had great intuition. If he decided to pursue it, he’d succeed for sure. He looked really comfortable with the tools and allowed the planer to rest properly.”  “We’ve made a lot of great friends in this room and we’re really grateful for share this process with anyone who is interested to learn. I’d encourage anyone to come on out and give it try. “

Thanks to David Scales of US Blanks for coming out and doing the story.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Art of the Perfect Stringer Curl

Is there anything more gratifying?  When thumbing through Instagram, if you happen upon a perfect stringer curl, its a guaranteed double-tap.  Its a bravo to the shaper who kept his blades sharp, maintained a steady hand, and lucked into some straight grain.

We asked a few stringer curl connoisseurs whats required to achieve Rapunzel-status.

Firstly, a word from the kingpin of color-dyed plywood:
Bradley Appelcore:  Super straight grain (vertical grain) material, whether from Bass, Cedar, or Redwood performs best.  The straighter the grain without interference from diverging branch grain are guaranteed perfect curlers!  It can be from fast growth (wide grain) or old growth (tight grain) as long as it is arrow-straight. Its easy to notice on Cedar and Redwood, but much more difficult to spot on the Bass.

Sharp tools are key, low angle, and a steady, even push, keeping your palm out of the way from inhibiting the emerging curl.  There isnt much you can do if the stringer is from solid wood and has divergent grain (grain rising away from the blank or grain diving into the blank) even with the sharpest of tools.

Essential Tools
Tim Stamps:  The best tool to get the curl is the block plane.  This curl came from the blade from my Lie-Nielson standard angle block plane.  This block plane was a gift to me several years ago from Rich Harbour.  Hes a tool fanatic!

Josh Martin: My vintage Stanley model 60 1/2 block plane is the best tool to get the perfect curl.  I hand grind the iron razor sharp.  Also, my Xacto mini spoke shave is the best for mini curls.

Nick Aleandro:  Each wood will work a bit differently so it of best to have a variety of planes or spoke shaves to choose from with various bevel angles.  I prefer narrow curved Japanese plane since I can use the same tool on the deck and base no matter the rocker.

Massimiliano Purchiaroni:  The tools are very important.  I used a normal David Combi plane, a spoke shave, and a Japanese curved plane.

The Best Wood for the Perfect Curl
Josh Martin:  Premium light Balsa is my favorite wood to get the perfect stringer curl, but it needs to be the good stuff.  The heavier it is, it tends to get stringy and produces the worst curls.  The good stuff produces the most golden and perfectly relaxed curls.  The best part for me is the sound produced when making them.  A light clean hissing sound that almost sings like a rubbed crystal wine glass rim.

Wade Tokoro: Basswood with the David block plane is the best combination.

Breno Basiliro:  Powerline Strignerz is a composite so it is even throughout the length of the board.  You will not run into grains, as with wood, which can break the flow.

Tim Stamps:  From my experience, the type of wood that most often gives the best ‘spiral curls is Basswood.  My guess is its the combination of the woods density, cell structure, and grain pattern.

Massimiliano Purchiaroni:  Red Cedar is my favorite for a perfect curl.

Todd Messick: Balsa is like Butter compared to the rest. Easy Breezy!

Wade Tokoro:  One long pass with a sharp blade.

Todd Messick:  The curl comes into play based on function.  I angle my planner to create a roll or curl,  as i cut across the blade.  This technique allows the cut stringer to curl off the side instead of rolling over on top of your pass.  Form follows function.

Nick Aleandro:  Sharp tools are the only option.  At a minimum you should be able to shave with the edge.  When sharpening I go to at least 8000 grit and use a Veritas honing guide to make sure I get consistent results.  What ever your method, a sharp tool and slow cut work best.  It is always better to do a few passes rather than to try to cut one deep one.  If you are digging in often in one section, try approaching from the opposite side or skewing your edge.  Wood sometimes just likes to be difficult, so dont get frustrated.

Breno Basiliro:  The curl is a reflection of how continuously youre able to run your hands and make micro adjustments, feeling the board and stringer as you move.  Again, sharp tools are still the most important factor.

Josh Martin:  I customize my plane irons so that they have a slight radius from corner to corner.  This is done so the corners dont score the foam as much on each side of a stringer but may affect curl quality as well.  Sharpness cannot be over emphasized.  Holding the plane at a slight angle to the grain direction seems to produce the best curls.  Dont be in a bad mood when making curls.

Tim Stamps:   To get that perfect curl takes three main things: a very sharp blade, a deep cut, and the proper skew angle. Ive shaped quite a few boards, and these spirals and curls are always things that brighten my day and get me stoked. Just like seeing a perfect wave peel down the beach!

Bradley Appelcore:  I actually carry a tiny cheap Stanley planer with a medium angle thats 1-3/8″ wide by 3-1/2″ long with a sharp blade loaded slightly on the bias and it works killer.  I have to check the glue line on all production panels so it sees some serious mileage.  However, when I want the kind curl for showing off my fancy stuff on Instagram, I use my grandfathers two handed plane from the 50s where I can control bias and angle with precision controls.  But that one stays on my workbench.

by David Lee Scales for US Blanks