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