Friday, December 30, 2016

A Foam E-Z Year In Review

        New Year, New Me. The classic phrase that if oft repeated at the end of each year by countless people looking to one way or another improve themselves. Whether or not you choose to actually stick to your resolutions however, we think that it's important to spend a little time reflecting back on everything you've accomplished in the past year and how you've grown. At risk of all humility going out the window here, we've had a pretty awesome year. From interviews with industry legends and collaborative projects, to explorations of board building theories and techniques. We have had a hell of time bringing you original and exclusive blogs this past year. Just wanted to take a second to review and highlight some (but certainly not all!) of our favorite posts from this year. We hope you enjoyed our blog this year and we can guarantee that there will be plenty more where that came from in 2017. Until then enjoy the coupon you'll find here for a discount off of your next online order with us

What The Blank???: Boardroom 2016 Icons of Foam: Gerry Lopez

      One of our first features of 2016, this is exclusive interview with one of the progenitors of what we think of when we talk about high performance surfing, Gerry Lopez, highlights his influence on the shaping world. Before Gerry was to be honored at the 2015 Boardroom Show in the Icons Of Foam Challenge, we were able to talk with Gerry about his theories on board design, and the past, present, and future state of surfing. Give it a read here.



      In one of our most popular posts of this year, we were able to talk with some of the industries most cutting edge shapers about how they set up their own shape rooms. Loaded with great insights from Tim Stamps, Rusty Preisendorfer, Ryan Lovelace, Rich Harbour, Jeff 'Doc' Lausch, Gerry Lopez, Josh Martin, Todd Proctor, and Matt Parker, we were able to take a rare look behind the doors where dreams are made. Check it out here.


What The Blank???: Two Wheels and A Single-Fin: An Interview With Forrest Minchinton

      Forrest Minchinton has had one hell of a busy year. He's spent 2016 traveling the world with the boys at Deus Ex Machina surfing, shaping, riding motorcycles, and even making a few appearances in some movies. If a true adventure spirit is what you're after, this is the article for you, read it here


What The Blank???: Grind TV Board Shaping Demo @ Foam EZ

      Earlier this year we did a Facebook Live three-part series with Grind TV in our shape room. In it we covered shaping a board start to finish with Chas Wickwire (of Chas Surfboards) followed by a board coloring demo, the colors chosen by the live viewers! Filled with plenty of FAQ and technique breakdowns, this is a great refresher for any aspiring shaper or glasser to refer to. Give them a watch here.


What The Blank???: Turning Down The Volume

      Surfing is sport that is constantly under the influence of trends and crazes that shape the collective consciousness of our industry. While some leave a great and lasting mark and others fade into obscurity, other trends are little more murky and complicated. Surfboard volume is one such trend lately that falls into the latter category. In this "think" piece, we talk about the benefits and pitfalls of surfboard volume as a measurement, and how you can use that number to make a more informed decisions as a shaper and as a surfer. Check it out here.


What The Blank???: The Changing of the Tides

      Speaking of ever changing surf trends... this article on the generational gaps that tend to separate shapers and surfers, explores how technology and the internet can be used to improve the future of surfing. Give it a read here.


What The Blank???: Interview with Shane Jones of JONESEA Wetsuits

     We believe that in the surfing world, the D.I.Y. spirit is a true virtue. Our good friend Shane Jones of Jonesea Wetsuits understands and embodies this as well as anyone we could think of. Therefore we recruited him to make a custom summer jacket earlier this summer and we took some time to pick his brain about finding your own path. Read it here.


What The Blank???: The Best Shaping Advice I've Ever Received

      Closing out our list of top blogs of 2016, we wanted to leave you with something to inspire you heading into a new year. It can be easy to get discouraged or overwhelmed at times when it comes to building surfboards, especially if you're new at it. What you'll find in this blog is some very simple and helpful advice from a man who's been shaping for a lot longer than most to help you push through and keep shaping! Check it out here.

Happy New Year...see you in 2017!

Monday, December 12, 2016

~ A Green Christmas ~

      Full disclosure, I wrote this article with the general intent of making some connection between the holiday season’s association with the color green and the virtues of green (as in ‘bio-friendly’) surfboard building practices. I was going to do a little research to figure out the significance of that color to the holidays, probably crack a few puns to relate the two things, and then cleverly shift to my main point of environmentally conscious craftsmanship. It was going to be a jolly ol’ time. Turns out holiday green is only a thing because of some weird nonsensical stuff the Romans and Egyptians used to do with plants in the winter… or something like that.  After a thirty-minute tangent Googling some generally useless information, it seemed best to just skip that whole song and dance and get right to it.

    So anyways, we all know green is good. Surfing is inextricably connected to the world’s system of interconnected ecosystems, and therefore protection and preservation will always be in our best interest. Here at Foam E- Z we laud the efforts of suppliers, manufacturers, and individuals who strive to reduce the impact us board builders unavoidably leave on the environment. It’s our hope that by highlighting these efforts, we can help inspire others to follow suit and find more ways to improve our methods.

      Though these are by no means the only companies we support who are making a positive impact, here are two companies that have recently been making a difference that we are stoked on, as well as a brief guide on ways you can reduce your own individual board building footprint.

- Joey Estrada

U.S. Blanks…Now 100% Solar Made

Recently U.S. Blanks has taken up the charge by converting their Los Angeles based factory to run entirely on solar power. This is the latest move from the surfboard blank mainstay that has made a name for itself by proudly producing their diverse line of 90+ different blank models entirely within the United States, while upholding California’s strict environmental guidelines.

With the installation of their new grid of 680 solar panels to their factory this past month, they will not only be able to run their entire production on the suns energy, they will be producing enough to contribute some back to the grid!


Carbon footprint reduction has influenced every decision made at US Blanks. With our 680 solar panels, our goal is to generate more energy than what is required to fuel our factory and to contribute that energy back to the grid.

-Jeff Holtby, US Blanks


Entropy Resins… The Amazing Sustainable Bio-Epoxy

Entropy Resins aren’t exactly new to the game of the eco-friendly glassing materials. They have spent the better part of the last few years creating and refining alternative epoxy resins that have increased bio content for a reduced carbon footprint. To understand a little more about their resin and what sets them apart, we did a little interview some of its creators here.

FeZ: How, in general, is your resin made that differs from other epoxies to make it more bio friendly?

       Entropy:  So what we do is replace as much petroleum as possible in base raw materials with bio content without sacrificing performance of the resin. We do this by integrating the bio-content in to epoxy molecules that are chemically identical to traditional epoxy. However the bio-content is significant and measurable.

This bio content is all plant matter, mostly pine saps, oils, etc., that are sourced from the waste stream of the food and chemicals processing industry. We also derive waste from bio-fuels production that are processed into our resins. Essentially we are up-cycling other industries’ waste.

This is important because it minimizes the energy, water, and chemicals used to make our resin vs 100% petroleum based chemistries, again, replacing as much petroleum as possible with this food & fuel waste bio content.  Other than that, the basic properties and methods of creating our resin are about the same (all resin manufacturers have their own techniques, formulas, etc which make them all unique in one way or another).

It just so happens that over the last 8 years, we have perfected our formulas and methods, and now have a leading resin compared any other brand out there.  There is a reason why Channel Islands make all their epoxy boards with Entropy, as well as all Firewire/Slater Designs, Mayhems, Roberts, Pyzels, Maurice Coles, and an endless number of the "smaller guys" (usually higher quality builds) are moving over to use our resin exclusively...taking away the sustainability, the resin is just out performing everything else on the market!

Being transparent about our bio-content and how we verify and measure the impact of our bio-content is the key differentiator for us (i.e. not just claiming ‘bio’ but measuring the impact on the environment of that material). We’ve also listened to the market, and continuously worked to give them clearer and faster curing resins with great workability and cure times… all while balancing our bio-content and verification.”

FeZ:  What does the percentage of  'bio-content' mean?

       Entropy: So with regards to the percentage of Bio content.  Our products have varying degrees of "bio content"...the ONE sits in at around 38-40%. The latest version of ONE was actually reduced to 30% bio-carbon content this year. We did that to give our users a much clearer, and better performing version. It’s still USDA Bio-preferred certified though, and the highest bio-content available resin today.

BRT/CLX System
The CLR and BRT come in around the important thing to note is that this number reflects the mixed content (Resin and Hardener cured).  There are a lot of other companies out there that will throw wild number like 50 %...They may not be lying, but they are likely talking about just one component...either the A side or B side. 

Also, we only report ‘bio-carbon’ content (i.e. carbon atoms only). Some other companies claim a total ‘bio-mass’ number (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen atoms, etc.)… This is an important distinction, because there is no way to measure and verify total ‘bio-mass’ today. You can only measure bio-carbon content, (per below) and the USDA only recognizes bio-carbon measurements. Therefore, that’s what we go by. Customers need to be careful about everyone throwing around bio-content percentages, and should take the time to understand this distinction. They should look for testing as done by ASTM D6866.

Once you combine the two, that percentage will go down.  In order to get USDA certified (our ONE system) you have to have a minimum of 25% in the finished that means A and B fully cured.

However, Bio content is only half the story with our resin.  

Bio content doesn't really mean anything if you can't do it right.  You have to focus more on the overall carbon footprint of a product, bio or not.  We have gone so far as to have a 3rd part organization called SCS Global, do a Life Cycle Analysis on our products and company as a whole.  They did an extensive audit of our company, from where we source the raw materials, how we manufacture, every truck, boat, plane, bottle, etc. to show our over all carbon footprint.  Compared with standard epoxy resin systems, we have 40% less of a carbon footprint and continuing to improve on that daily.  And this isn't something you can just pick up and do...If another resin manufacturer was going to switch to implementing bio content, chances are their overall carbon footprint will go up as they have to change their whole manufacturing.  We have spent the last 8 years refining and dialing ours in.

FeZ: What are some of the long and short term benefits (from an environmental standpoint) of using your bio-resin over more standard resins?

       Entropy: As stated above, the manufacturing of our resin and the way we run our business is much more sustainable compared to other resin companies. We also are a 1% for the Planet member, and probably the only chemical/ resin company to do that. 1% of our sales go to non-profits working to reduce climate change, and wildlife and land preservation. Lastly, we only sell bio-based resins. It’s not just a product line for us, it’s the entire mission and purpose of our company.


Thursday, December 08, 2016

Foam E-Z Holiday Guide

Foam E-Z Holiday Buyers Upgrade Guide!

         Oh the holidays. What an interesting time of year. If you work in retail, you probably hate it. If you are tenacious enough to brave the malls and stores, you probably hate it. And in that regard, if you are a procrastinator, you definitely hate it. But fret not, for the holiday season is not all bad! No, there is absolutely no shame in admitting that the holiday season is also the season for upgrades baby!

            Allow me to get a little Don Draper on you here for a second (I promise it’s for your own benefit, not mine!). Every single shaping and glassing set-up could use a few upgrades. That’s a fact. As with everything in life, technology and machines grow outdated. Even the finest tools occasionally become dull and worn beyond over restoration time. The problem of course is that surfboard building isn’t exactly the most profitable pursuit out there, and new tools ain’t cheap. But therein lies the opportunity this holiday season!                 

            Provided you’ve kept yourself off of a certain naughty list this year, this is the opportunity to let your loved ones foot the bill on some of the those tools that you were too cheap or too broke to buy for yourself previously. Seriously, don’t be afraid to throw together a wish-list of your dream set-up and send it out to every single one of your family members, friends, or any other potential “loved-ones” you can think of. Just don’t forget to remind them that ultimately, better tools for you mean better boards for them!  

           We’ve thrown together a list of some potential upgrades for you here, but don’t forget to visit us in-store or online to throw together your own list. Happy hunting. 

Using this? Spoke Shave

                        The spoke shave is a solid and affordable entry-level tool for shaping, but sometimes entry level just doesn’t cut it. Anyone who’s ever rolled one of those things mid-cut in the flats of the stringer, for instance, knows this. There’s no need however to break the bank just yet going for the most expensive alternative. The block plane is about as reliable and enduring as they come when it comes to a shaping tool. Its heavy-duty construction and sharpenable/adjustable blade mean this thing will be in your tool kit for a long time. Perhaps the highlight feature of this planer though is its in-hand weight, which helps keep your stringer cuts steady and uninterrupted.

Using this? E-Z C-Calipers

                        Quite literally an ‘upgrade’ tool, the E-Z Scissor Calipers differ from the E-Z C-Calipers in that they are… easier. With a bamboo plywood build and a guaranteed accurate measuring guide built onto the handle, all you have to do is place it onto whatever part of the board you aim to measure and then read the number. Simple and accurate. All it takes is one hand and (hopefully) two eyes to operate. Ditch the tape measure save yourself the time and potential for error with this tool.

Using this? Carbon Tape

            When it comes to explaining carbon fiber materials, things can get a little technical. Such that there is not really a spot for said technicalities in a simple holiday guide, so we’re just going to give you the quick gist of it here. The main difference between this uni-directional carbon tape and regular carbon tape is the amount of actual carbon fiber in the roll. This stuff has more of it (a.k.a. more strength), and is woven in such a way so that it doesn’t interfere with the natural flex of the board, yet improves the spring back performance of the board. Wild right? We know. Plus, when it’s wet out during glassing, it finishes pure black. What’s more badass than that? Nothing.  

Using this? The Internet

         We’ve got nothing against using the Internet as a resource for board building knowledge. No really, in fact check out our blog on that very topic here. But why spend hours scouring for knowledge every time you want to try something new, or get refresher on your skills? This DVD three pack includes Shaping 101, Glassing 101, and Airbrushing 101, and each one gives an accessible and in-depth coverage of, well, exactly what their titles say they do. Legendary shaper John Carper of JC Surfboards opens up his shape room and glassing factory to you to show you how to get through this whole board building process. You could of course buy the DVD’s individually… but why not save twenty bucks and just get all three!

Using this? Homemade Single-fin Jig

         We know what you’re thinking, but don’t be misled. It may be called the Futures Strongbox Jig, and of course it works perfectly for that particular application, HOWEVER it is not limited solely to the Futures style long box. This jig can be adjusted to fit just about any plunge router base, and can accommodate most longboard style single-fin boxes. It comes already set to fit a Makita router, and adjusts with ease at the a few simple turns of some wing nuts. With its non-slip rubber bottom, this jig is simple and easy to use. Sure you could spend some time trying to build one yourself, or even (gulp) try to eyeball it. But as they say, ‘time is money,’ so you might as well just spend that money on this instead.

Using this? Hand drawn logos/stickers
            If you don’t have your own logo yet, are you really even a shaper? Well, if you shape boards then probably yes… But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s scientifically proven to be *47% more satisfying to ride a board that has your own logo glassed into it!
            No matter what you’re looking to have printed, we can help you get it done. These professionally printed laminates are guaranteed to show up bold and vibrant when glassed into your boards. Doesn’t get more professional looking than that. Email you Jpeg or PDF file of your artwork to, along with the sizes you want them to be printed, and we will cram as many onto the roll as we can for you!

                        *Not technically scientifically proven... (technically nonsense)

Using this? Solar Cure Ding Repair Goo

            Solar cure (i.e. Suncure Fiberfill) are great short-term solutions for dings. Perfect for those moments that require a quick fix to get you through the rest of your session or surf trip. The drawback to these fillers however is that they aren’t intended as permanent solutions, as they grow brittle and begin crack out over time. For a more lasting and watertight repair, these kits include everything you need to get the job done like resin, cloth, mixing cups/sticks, sandpaper, and instructions. Though it can seem a bit daunting if you’ve never done your own ding repair before, most repairs are actually quite straightforward and doable, even for a beginner. Besides, if you need some more insight to your specific repair, you could always give us a call, or check out our comprehensive ding-repair book here. (Some sizes available in epoxy!)

Using this? Plywood Surfboard Racks

            There is a lot to be said for a person who is a through and through D.I.Y. board-builder, from their shapes, to their, tools to their racks. It is no secret in fact that we thoroughly admire such spirit; it is lifeline of what Foam E-Z is and represents. However… there is equally as much to be said for certain tools that benefit from a certain level of construction and precision.
            Coming in at easily the most expensive item on this list, these shape racks are an investment that any regular shaper will do well to make at some point. Their durable, heavy-duty construction ensures that you will never again have to worry about wobbly or uneven racks affecting your finished board. The heavy base and adjustable height/width of these racks ensures that they can be setup to any preference, anywhere and with ease. That’s a convenience you can’t afford to miss out on. (Racks and base available individually).

Using this? FCS II Fin Boxes

         Don’t make us work to hard to sell these to you. Please. Clean black and white is good from time to time, but color and variety are the essence of life! For the first time ever FCS has made their wonderful FCS II box system available in these colors, and they are shockingly awesome. Shockingly. That’s a joke, see, because they’re electric neon colored… right. Available in zero, three, five, and nine degree sets!

Using this? SUP Handle

         If you’re going to build an SUP you’re going to need a handle. So why not do it in style? These handles easily pop in and out of the board once installed so they sit flush with the deck when you don’t need them, and have an easy to carry padded grip when you do. Bonus feature? They’re a great place to run cable lock through while transporting the board. Hate to use such a horrible and cheesy phrase like “the Cadillac of SUP handles,” but this is basically that. (Available in black and white)

Using this? Epoxy Resin

         Look, nobody hates talking politics more than we do, but it seems our incoming president can’t quite make up his mind on where he stands regarding the world’s environmental issues. Obviously to us water-dwelling folk, this is an issue that hits very close to home and is monumentally important. Now before any gets all up in arms here about their views here, we would like to offer an alternative solution. We can all do our part, as board-builders, to reduce our environmental footprint by being more conscious of the materials we’re using and the waste we create.
            Entropy Bio-Resins, for instance, have spent years developing this SuperSap epoxy system that has a significantly higher bio content than most other readily available epoxy resins. If that load off of your conscience alone isn’t enough to sell you, this epoxy also has an advanced optical brightener added to it. Simply put, it has greater UV stability intended to keep your board pearly white, even after prolonged sun exposure. (Available in 3 quart and 1.5 gallon kits).

Using this? Dusty/Crusty old shaping and glassing clothes

         Okay so lets face it, this one isn’t technically an essential. In fact, the truth is that the amount of time we have to spend weekly dusting this particular product’s in-shop display is equal to the percentage of unlikelihood that you’ll actually stop in and buy one. HOWEVER, this is indeed a wonderful item to have available in your workspace. Imagine a world where you weren’t constantly transferring that lingering foam dust on you to every from your car seats to your bed. A world where you didn’t constantly have to throw out your resin caked clothing. Well this cleaner and easier life can be your reality, all for a mere couple of bucks. Can you stocking stuffer?

-Joey Estrada, 2016

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Changing of the Tides

“I’ve never apprenticed. I’m one hundred percent self-taught. In those days there was no such thing as someone letting you come in to their shop and showing you what to do, or bringing in some hacked up blank that they’re going to glass for you and make it look nice. If you were going to do something you had to do it yourself.”

(Speaking with Surf Splendor podcast on how he learned to shaped)

Shaping and glassing surfboards are not simple skills to learn.

 The entire process is hands-on, highly labor intensive, and deeply dependent on one’s knowledge of an entire backlog of tricks and techniques. Often these tricks are less than intuitive at first. As a result, much of the industry has spent the better part of the last fifty years shrouded within  a steadfast veil of proprietary secrecy. People’s livelihoods depended on their ability to exclusively offer the greatest original designs after all.  If you wanted to learn you generally found a broken board in the trash, and sanded or planed it into something new in your garage.  If you wanted to play in the industry – you had better be prepared to set aside many hours worth of sweeping up someone’s shaping bay to earn the sparse nuggets of knowledge that were offered.  Thus, until recently, the boardbuilding industry was a sealed and self-contained establishment that opened itself up only to the determined and lucky few. Then came the Internet.

Admittedly, surfers were not the first to embrace this medium. It took a few years for the vision and innovation that technology would bring to catch up with the surfing world. Once it did however, the game would never be the same (think accurate and accessible long term surf forecasting, CAD shaping programs, higher quality board-building materials and testing, etc.). More specifically, it seems that the growth and presence of the Internet has spurred much greater interest in the building of surfboards in recent years by stripping back many of the barriers that previously existed. The mass dissemination of readily available information on all things surfboards meant that it is no longer merely a matter of whom you are lucky or diligent enough to know. It’s more rather about what exactly it is that you are looking to learn now. All of the answers are just a quick Google search away [insert sickening pun about ‘surfing’ the web here].

Slowly and steadily board-builders from around the world have developed a deep well of resources to refer to and share amongst each other. Resources that are perhaps for the first time ever available to anyone of any skill level.

 From websites and forums (i.e. Swaylocks), to YouTube channels and podcasts, and [of course] our own backlog of Foam E-Z curated resources (here and here for instance), anyone could pick up a rudimentary idea of what building a board involved if they were so inclined. 

This has been undoubtedly one of the preeminent causes for what I will glibly refer to here as the D.I.Y. Shaper Revolution that’s been running strong for the last fifteen or so years. But while this trend has gained popularity amongst the many folks who have taken it upon themselves get their own hands a little dusty, it is been met with its fair share of ire from some of the old guard of surf craftsmen.

I am referring to quite a broad range of builders spanning multiple generations who have dedicated their lives to building surfboards. These are the craftsmen and women who have spent many years paying their dues and making a name for themselves. The ones who have kept their tools honed and their craft sharp. These are the builders who have worked hard to continue to push the progress of surfboard design forward and defined how we think of what a surfboard is and can be. They have inspired an innumerable amount of curious surfers to roll up their sleeves and attempt to emulate some of their greatest designs. Conversely, they are also the ones who are at times the most critical of those looking to take up the planer and learn.

It is quite a brutal world out there for any shaper. Social media and surfboard building forums in particular make it quite easy to facelessly rip apart one another when we don’t agree with each other’s ideas or concepts. However, what you quickly learn is that in the eyes of the beleaguered veterans you aren’t a real shaper if you design your shapes on a computer, and if you like your boards a little funky and with two fins, you’re just a hipster kook. Mainly, there is an overarching theme that if you don’t know what you’re doing that it’s best to leave it all in the hands of the professionals who do. What is the source of this consternation?. Is it the fear of losing out on business from young up-and-comers?  Perhaps, but board building has never been particularly lucrative.  Is it the very real possibility that we may be becoming an industry oversaturated with ineffective designs that cannot be efficiently produced?  Or is it something more fundamental? 

While these are in fact legitimate concerns to consider, they seem to somewhat miss the mark. At the other end of the changes that the Inernet and social media have brought comes a lot of potential and opportunity.. The benefits of being able to easily share and be privy to new ideas from shapers from all backgrounds outweigh whatever negative may come with that. This is something we should fully embrace now because no matter what your skill level, this is the best way we can continue to grow and get better. Sharing in others’ ideas and experiences is what will continue to create better surfboards.

It’s true that not every idea you come across will be valid, and not all the opinions you read will be entirely sensible. It’s up to you to figure out what works when, and what doesn’t. It’s important to keep yourself educated, but even more important to always do so with an open mind. If I’ve learned anything from the patchwork quilt of a board building education I’ve received over the years from many different shapers, it’s that nobody does anything the exact same way. At times the methods are vastly different from one shaper to the next.  Yet somehow, no matter who’s doing it or how, they’re all still making the same things- quality surfboards. The takeaway? Well the most important is that there is no singular ‘right’ way to make a surfboard. Different isn’t necessarily worse.

The entire world of surfboards lies before you, past present, and future. So make an Instagram account and follow every shaper you come across. Read every single blog on surfboard design that you ever come across. Crack a science book and learn a little bit about hydrodynamics. Ride boards made by as many different shapers as you can and make your own as often as you can, and try to meet the person behind it. Respect what came before you, but feel free to entertain whatever wild ideas come to you. They won’t all be good, but the fun is in finding those answers. Just don’t limit yourself and grumble at the changing landscape of the board building world. The surfboard industry is open for the partaking and there’s a lot every single one of us has to learn still. Besides, if you ever begin to feel a little disheartened or stagnant, you could always just go it the old fashioned way and find a shop to sweep. 

- Joey Estrada & Joe Jeffery