Author Archives: Garage Shaper

About Garage Shaper

Garage Shaper is a nickname here at DailyStoke.com as well as a good description of Garage Shaper's favorite hobby…next to actually surfing. Garage Shaper has been surfing for many years and always had an interest in how boards were built but was always too timid to try it himself. He finally broke down a while back and got hands-on; the foam dust hasn't settled yet and he's getting new ideas every day. Being mostly self taught, Garage Shaper says he's had my share of mistakes. His goal is to build unique boards that ride well and share projects with surfers that will benefit every waterman. Look for more cool projects from the Garage Shaper soon!

Firewire continuing a good thing – Linear Flex Technology (LFT)!!!

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FirewireSurfboardsFollowing on the heels of the introduction of the new LFT construction in 2013, Firewire has expanded the LFT models to include all the Firewire/TOMO colabs, as well as top selling models such as the Unibrow, Dominator and Spitfire. (See our past Dailystoke Reviews on the Unibrow and Dominator)

Recently there have been comments made about the performance potential of composite stringers”, said Firewire CEO Mark Price, ”Firewire has once again helped lead the charge with the introduction of LFT almost 9 months ago, and the expanded models now offered in that tech”.

technology_linear-flex-technologyLFT incorporates Firewire’s new SPRINGER HD, a 0.75” (18 mm) wide aerospace composite that runs down the centerline of the board.

Inserting a high-density material down the center of the board does create engineering hurdles. For example, time the SPRINGER HD will compress far less than the surrounding EPS core, creating the ‘ridging’ effect often seem on a PU surfboard as the surrounding foam collapses on either side of the stringer.

LFT-Cross-Section-sWe prevented this by stopping the SPRINGER HD approx.10mm below the top deck, and we added a durable top deck skin to board. This durable material adds structural integrity while simultaneously working in tandem with the SPRINGER HD to optimize the overall flex pattern. The end result is a durable surfboard with lively flex that will maintain its hi-performance characteristics over time.

The Dailystoke will hopefully get our hands on a LFT model soon so we can give you our first hand read on the tech…if it performs as well as the other Firewire technologies, we’re sure it will be a winner!  As always, thanks for reading…and be sure to tell a friend.

– Shaper

Exciting news from Firewire Surfboards – Pyzel Surfboards Collaboration!!!

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FirewireSurfboardsAfter the successful collaboration with Tomo Surfboards (see the Dailystoke Tomo Review for more details), Firewire has entered into a similar arrangement with Pyzel Surfboards. For the Dailystoke staff, this is a dream collaboration…we have been passonate patrons of Pyzel’s boards for years, and think that this collaboration will be a win-win for everyone involved – most importantly, the consumers!!!pyzel-surfboards

Jon Pyzel is clearly one of the best short board designers around”, said Firewire CEO Mark Price, “and we are excited about the opportunity to combine his high performance designs with Firewire’s innovative flex technology”.

jpyzelJon Pyzel commented, “Looking at past and present surfboard technologies, I believe that Firewire is ahead of the curve, utilizing some of the most advanced and groundbreaking types of alternative construction available today”.

Jon continued, “I also really appreciate the fact that they are committed to keeping the environmental impact of their board building process to a minimum through the use of bio-resins, citrus based cleaning products (in place of Acetone), and recycled packing materials. Furthermore, Firewire is run by a bunch of surf stoked people who love what they do and are just as excited about surfboards as I am”.

Firewire is introducing two Pyzel colab models this year. In addition, Firewire teamriders can now get Firewire technology in custom designs from Jon. The recent World Tour wins by Sally Fitzgibbons and Michel Bourez on designs by Nev and Jon is a perfect example of how the Pyzel Colab broadens the range of options for Firewire’s current riders and future team prospects.winners_rio_02-300x183

The first Firewire/Pyzel release will be the Pyzalien, hitting retail mid-2014, while the Slab will be introduced around September 2014.

Firewire believes that minor refinements to the shape of today’s modern surfboards can only produce incremental performance benefits. Exponential improvements in performance require the ongoing development of new materials, construction methods and radical shape, which, in turn, will fuel new design success. In addition, with the increased eco-consciousness of today’s consumer, Firewire is constantly refining our raw materials to decrease the environmental impact of our boards. Currently their surfboards emit only 2% of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that conventional polyurethane boards do throughout their lifespan.firewire-pyzalien

Firewire has been put to the test many times via our often brutal, and candid, Dailystoke reviews.  Time and time again, they have proven themselves as not only one of the best surfboard manufacturers; but, also as one of the biggest influences and driving forces behind the future of the surfboard industry.  Their technology and shapes keep getting better and better and with each new one we ride, we come out asking how the heck they do it!  With more collaborations like this new one with Pyzel, there is no doubt in our mind that we the consumers, are in for some amazing surprises and advancements in the next few months!!!  firewire-pyzalien-logoKeep your eyes peeled for more on this exciting new collab and our fingers are crossed that we will be able to give you our read on this new line with another Firewire review!!!  As always, thanks for reading…and be sure to tell a friend.  See www.firewiresurfboards.com for more.

 

 

Exciting News Update – Firewire Teamriders Dominate ASP Rio Event 2014!!!

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 In unprecedented affirmation of the performance characteristics of Firewire’s parabolic rail, EPS/Epoxy sandwich construction, Firewire teamriders Sally Fitzgibbons and Michel Bourez won their respective divisions at the 2014 Billabong Rio Pro.

This is a very big deal for both Sally and Michel and we are so stoked for them,” said Firewire CEO Mark Price, “and I’m equally stoked for Nev Hyman and our entire product development and production team who continue to produce some of the best performing surfboards in the world”.

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The man, they myth, the legend – Mr. Mark Price himself

Price continued, ”When Firewire first came on the scene there was understandably a lot of skepticism about the technology, but I think that today’s result cements Firewire’s credibility as a viable alternative to the traditional center stringer polyester surfboard.  And that bodes well for future development around new materials and construction methods”.

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Michel Bourez proving he and his boards have the right stuff

Firewire believes that minor refinements to the shape of today’s modern surfboards can only produce incremental performance benefits.  Exponential improvements in performance require the ongoing development of new materials, construction methods and radical shape, which, in turn, will fuel new design success.  In addition, with the increased eco-consciousness of today’s consumer, Firewire is constantly refining our raw materials to decrease the environmental impact of our boards.  Currently our surfboards emit only 2% of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that conventional polyurethane boards do throughout their lifespan.

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Sally bringing home a win for Firewire

The Dailystoke team has been a strong advocate of Firewire’s technology for years and it was only a matter of time until their boards dominated the podieum.  Congrats to Michel, Sally, Mark, Nev, and the entire Firewire team!  Keep up the inspiring work everyone…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sick Sh!t Our Boys Take on Todos Santos on First Big Winter Swell

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After looking over the wind charts and buoys we made the call opting to head down the night before and stay at a hollow beach break north of Todos Island in Baja. At first light the following morning we awoke to solid lines stacking on the horizon with sunny, glassy conditions. No doubt its looking to be a special day for the infamous Killers at Todos Santos Island.

Photo: Sunrise lines at the beach break

We scoped a few other breaks along the trip south to the harbor and all signs continue pointing to an amazing day of waves and weather. The time has finally come to dust the cobwebs off the 9’2 guns.

Photo: San Miguel Wrapping Around 2nd Point

After securing a boat and loading the gear we arrived late in the lineup to a pack of skis, pongas, and fishing boats in the channel.  A crew of chargers with big surfboards are scattered along the point ready all eager for a taste of the first winter swell. I decided to take out my stand up paddle board and have a closer look from the inside of the channel to get a handle of how big it really was. I saw some guys sitting way out the back and wonder just why they would be out that far. Within minutes I hear screams and hollers from the channel and watched in horror as the horizon turned black. After scrambling to the safety of the channel I get taken out by the sideways jet wash bouncing off the infamous todos boil from of a solid 25′ set. It’s the real deal today.

Photo: Having a closer look from the channel on the SUP

Photo: Jaime Mitchell from behind the peak

The swell continues to build slowly throughout the day and combines with a dropping tide and rare all day glassy conditions. The heavy chargers put on a display from Jaime Mitchel, Rusty Long, The Gudasuskas brothers, Gary Linden and many more showing how it’s done in waves of consequence.

Photo: Rusty Long showing how it’s done

Photo: Explosions on the inside

After finally getting our confidence together and heading out into the lineup we watch the pros and take notes. And just when we began to relax the mother of all sets turned the horizon black again narrowly taking me out as I scraped over it. My friend wasn’t so lucky and I watch nervously looking deep into the trough as I passed over it and cringe as he ditches his board in front of a 30′ freight train of whitewater. Just as I had written him off as a dead man the wave shot him up to the surface out the back and he was quickly rescued by a jet ski. His leash snapped and his board had vanished into thin air. After taking several laps to the inside on a friends ski and even climbing onto the Island to search the shoreline the board had simply disappeared. We were dumbfounded as to where it had gone and it marked an unfortunate end to a beautiful day of big clean waves. As darkness approached we packed up the ponga and headed back to the mainland sharing cold beers and stories about the day.  Our bummed out mood from the loss of the expensive gun was quickly brightened by a pod of small dolphins jumping and riding next to the boat.

Photo: Dolphins Playing

Happy to be alive we rolled into the docks and just as we pull up notice some fisherman handing a surfboard back and forth. Holy shit!, it’s the missing gun. We run over and sure enough it’s the missing board without a scratch on it. The fisherman had been trolling near the Island and had found it floating in the open ocean and scooped it up. It seems to have been washed around the entire Island and then out to sea. Most lost boards end up getting pounded to dust in the rocks on the inside but somehow this one had made it out unscathed. After a quick conversation and exchange of cold beer they happily returned the board. The perfect end to an amazing day. Until next time.

Photo: Alex with the missing 9’2 Gun after returning to the docks! Happy to be alive and happy to have his board back!

Check the video of the todos santos swell on Surfline, if you pause the vid at 37 seconds you can see Alex and Garry Linden diving for lobsters during that clean up set. This is the one that took Alex’s board around the Island and into the open ocean.

About the Author Marc Miller:

A San Diego native, he spends most of his time surfing and traveling when work doesn’t get in the way.

Also the Co-Founder ISLE Surfboards & Stand Up Paddle Boards an online retailer of surfboards & Sup equipment.

 

Dawn Patrol Surf Gear: The Joby Switchback Review

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Our friends at Joby have stepped it up once again and sent us one of their newest products from their Gorilla Torch line.  This time we were tasked with reviewing the Joby Switchback and we couldn’t be more stoked on the results!

Joby is known for their cutting edge designs and super functional products that are mostly based on their Gorilla technology; articulating legs that allow their products the versatility and ability to grip or stick onto almost anything.  The first Joby product we were introduced to was the Flare.  It packed quite the punch and made dawn patrol sessions a breeze to get ready for in the dark.

With their Switchback, Joby took functionality to a whole new level and added a few more options that put it at the top of must have’s for 2011.  The Switchback is a multi function product and serves as both a lantern and headlamp!

As a lantern, the Switchback provides more light than I would have ever expected.  This is greatly due to the newest advancements in LED technology and their new ultra-efficient holographic lens.  A 5-LED array includes a 130 lumen spotlight, two white floodlights and two red LEDs as well as six brightness settings, an adjustable dimmer switch, a beam distance of 60 feet and a battery life of up to 72 hours on 2xAA batteries.

With a push of a button the adjustable headlamp conveniently pops out of the lantern housing and provides the same light options as mentioned above.

Testing took place on another chilly dawn patrol morning and I found that the lantern provided a perfect light to work under and it was softer on the eyes than most other LED lights I’ve seen.  

The small hook on top of the lantern housing allowed me to easily hang it from the rear gate of the car and it illuminated the whole trunk.  I popped the headlamp on to put my fins in and it was almost better than doing during the day!

After this review I definitely put my stamp of approval on this new addition to the Joby family of torches and recommend it to anyone.  Coming in around $60 bucks, you’re getting a heck of a lot of bang for your buck and can’t loose.  Thanks for reading and as always, be sure to tell a friend…

Shaper

Materials

Lantern and headlamp: Rugged ABS plastic, nylon and polycarbonate with aluminum headlamp housing and 92% ultra-efficient holographic lens
Stand: ABS plastic with TPE grip rings and feet
Water resistance IPX-4

Light Engine

Bright CREE® XLamp® XP-G LED spotlight
2 white LED and 2 red LED flood lights

  • Brightness: Min (5 lm); Low (20 lm); High (80 lm); Max (130 lm)
    Beam distance: 23 m
  • Average Battery Life: Up to 72 hours

Batteries Compact and lightweight design with battery life up to 72 hours

Size Headlamp:
Lamp housing: 2.6 x 1.3 x 0.8″ / 65 x 32 x 21mm
Battery housing: 3 x 1.8 x 1.1″ /77 x 46 x 28mm
Lantern with headlamp installed:
Closed: 4.5 x 3.3 x 2.1″ /115 x 85 x 54mm
Open: 6.5 x 3.3 x 2.1″ /166 x 85 x 54mm

Weight 8.8oz/250g (lantern + headlamp + 2 AA batteries)

V-Moda Vibrato Headphones

V-MODA Vibrato Headphones: Bring the Noise

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V-Moda Vibrato HeadphonesOur friends at V-Moda: v-moda.com recently sent us a pair of their Vibrato Headphones to check out. They came at the perfect time as I was headed on an extended surf trip and had plenty of time to give them some proper field testing.

The the Vibrato series has taken headphones to a new level. They are sculpted from Zinc Alloy and feature next generation hybrid silicone ear-tips. They provide a number of tips to choose from to cater to multiple ear sizes and preferences and they also provide some sports ear hook adapters to keep them in place for any activity. The headphones themselves have real a solid feel, unlike other plastic headphones I’ve owned in the past that feel fragile and cheap. They also host a generous amount of cloth-coated cable that did not seem to tangle as easy as some others I’ve used. The starboard ear bud cord provides a shirt clip and a volume/play/call control module; it works best with apple products (i.e. – iPhone, iPad, and iPod) but it is compatible with other brands as well.

As far as sound is concerned, I was really pleased with their performance. The most notable feature was the noise cancellation; I couldn’t hear anything but the music, even when at one of the busiest airports in the world! They put out great bass and crisp vocals and they were plenty loud; I couldn’t even turn them up all the way!!! Taking calls was a breeze with the on wire controls, just be sure to take one side out so you’re not screaming…

Lastly, the headphones come with a handy leather storage case to keep them in when not in use. It is slim enough to fit in any pocket or bag and has enough room for extra ear buds and the sports hooks.

After a week of traveling with the Vibrato Headphones I would highly recommend them to anyone. Coming in around $130 bucks I’d say you’re getting a great product at a great value. Although it may be a bit more than most people spend on headphones, if you’re serious about music and want a product that can keep up with the latest technology, go get yourself a pair of V-MODA headphones. Be sure to check out their entire collection to see which pair will suite you the best. As always, thanks for reading and be sure to tell a friend….

– Shaper

Ride Makes Snowboards…and Sick Clothing

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Our friends at Ride recently sent us a sampling of their apparel line to get our read on it and help keep us warm this winter!  Ride Snowboard Company manufactures and markets snowboards, boots, bindings and apparel. The company was founded in 1992 and is based in Vashon, Washington.

They sent us a Cut Out Flex Fit hat and one of their classic Logo Pullovers.  The first thing that grabbed our attention was the colors and great designs.  In addition, the attention to detail on each product will certainly ensure that they will have the durability to stand up to anything you can put them through and they will last.

The overall fit of the sweatshirt was great and it was constructed of thicker fabric that was super warm.  The hat comes standard with FlexFit.  The logo is tastefully situated in the lower corner and the black and grey goes with anything.

If you’re looking for a brand that puts out quality gear and embraces the board sport lifestyle give Ride a try.  Check them out at: www.ridesnowboards.com.  As always, thanks for reading and be sure to tell a friend.

– Shaper

Surf Munkey Surf Hat: Keep the Sun Out Yo Face

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Our friends at Surf Munkey (http://www.surfmunkey.com) recently sent us one of their new patent pending surf hats to try out (patent pending feature keeps hat bill out of your face).

The hat is constructed of a durable nylon fabric which offers great sun protection and fast drying times.  It is secured to your head with comfortable chinstraps and buckle that will keep it on your head in any conditions and the worst wipeouts.  The most unique feature of the hat is that the front bill can be stored out of the way by simply folding it up and using the integrated Velcro to keep it in place.  It comes in a variety of colors and one size fits all.

With sun protection at the top of my list these days I would suggest a surf hat to anyone spending long hours in the water.

Surf Munkey offers a comfortable and functional option that was designed by surfers and it has been engineered to overcome many surfingchallenges (i.e. – duck diving, visibility, etc.).  Coming in around $25 bucks, the Surf Munkey hat is a great way to stay safe under the sun and enhance your surf experience.   As always, thanks for reading and be sure to tell a friend.

– Shaper.

Darkfin Surf Gloves: The DEVOLUTION BEGINS!!

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I will be the first to say that I have been opposed to webbed gloves in the past and have maybe even heckled a few of the people in the line up that have tried some.  The ones I’ve seen have looked ridiculous and didn’t seem to help the users do anything but look more novice and uncoordinated.  However, while watching a recent video I caught the one and only big wave hell man Jamie Sterling wearing a pair of webbed gloves with board shorts on, check it out STOKE TV here: http://www.dailystoke.com/video/darkfin-surf-gloves-jamie-sterling-devolution/.  Gloves and boardshorts?  I was intrigued and after a little investigating I was quickly referred to Darkfin Gloves website https://www.darkfingloves.com/.

Darkfin is the only manufacturer in history to ever use natural latex rubber to produce a webbed glove which basically boils down a biodegradable, eco-friendly product. The main reason being that if the user were to loose a glove in heavy surf, the ocean water combined with UV light would allow for it have as little of an environmental impact as possible.  Darkfin has been experimenting with gloves and marine propulsion since the early 1980s and have refined it over the years to finally get the product they offer today.

The most standout feature is the rear web design which creates a 3 dimensional surface area in the palm of your hand.  This unique application increase in surface drag more than any other glove that has webbing just sewn between the fingers.  More importantly, Darkfins’ rear web feature allows for your hands to have almost the same amount of dexterity as you would have barehanded.  You can zip your wet suit, hide your keys, and do up your leash with no trouble.  They also claim to increase your paddle horsepower by as much as 70%!

I decided to test the gloves on a nice peaky little day.  My first impression upon opening the protective UV storage bag they come in was that they were pretty cool looking…even the monster from the black lagoon would be jealous!  The natural rubber they are constructed of makes them feel like a pair of your Mom’s old yellow dishwashing gloves but more bad ass.  They had a nice fit and slipped under my wetsuit with ease.   It was offshore but really windy which usually makes paddling a bit more challenging; the tide was also high so I’d have a short paddle across the channel before getting to the line up.  I saw a nice empty spot firing towards the middle and I started to make my way down for some field testing.

Just grabbing my board on the way down to the beach, I felt like I had a better grip and once I hit the channel and started paddling, I noticed an immediate difference!  Me and my little 6’2” were smoking the guys on longboards and I was in the line up in no time!  After a short rest and a surprise clean up set I finally stroked into my first wave.  I was almost too early as I wasn’t used to the added paddle power but I made the drop and rode out on a nice little right.  As I quickly mastered the learning curve of the gloves I was catching more waves, getting deeper, and actually conserving more energy than any webless day I’ve had.  The rip that day was also strong but I held my position with no problems.  The last wave of the day was a drainer that doubled up right off the take off.  I shocked myself and at the last minute went for a late takeoff, making it with time to spare and only having to use just two power strokes to get to my feet.  Hand drags and face saves have more impact as well and if you have to ditch your board and take one on the head, you can get deep and well out of harms way with just a few strokes down.

Overall I was really pleased with these gloves and couldn’t believe what a difference they made in my wave catching abilities.  I probably won’t wear them during every session but I will definitely make them a standard for the next big swell that comes to town.  Competitively priced around $25 I don’t see any reason every surfer shouldn’t own a pair, you won’t be disappointed!  As always, thanks for reading and be sure to tell a friend.

– Shaper

Finis Wave Monofin: Swim Like a Mermaid?

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Our friends over at Finis sent us a training product to stay in shape for surfing during the cold winter months.  They call it the Wave Monofin and I put it through some rigorus testing at the local pool.  The fin has been designed for you to use both legs to kick like a dolphin or a whale.  The fin has two fixed foot pockets and it straps on to your feet easy without creating any discomfort.  Note: Put it on in the water, I had to lean this the hard way!!!

My first few laps were a bit challenging as I tried to figure out the best way to move my body.  However, after a few more attempts I got it down and couldn’t believe how much propulsion I was getting!  After about an hour I had to call it quits just from pure exhaustion, it’s a heck of a workout!

The next day is when I really felt the soreness in surf muscles, mostly in my core and lower legs.  If you’re a surfer, swimmer, or watersports enthusiast I would highly suggest checking out Finis line of mono and training fins.  They definitely will keep you in shape for the next swell and you’ll have a blast doing it!  Check them out at http://www.finisinc.com/ and as always, be sure to tell a friend.

– Shaper

Finis XtreaMP3: Music while you Surf

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Our friends at Finis www.finisinc.com recently sent us one of their XtreaMP3 players to put through some testing.  The Xtrea is a completely submergible MP3 player.   Shock resistant and skip-free it plays up to 240 songs (1GB memory) in high-quality surround sound. The player is very small and attaches to a comfortable neoprene arm strap.  The player is USB compatible and completely waterproof up to depths of 15 feet (4.5m).
Loading music onto the player couldn’t be easier, its pretty much plug and play!  I tested the player in the local pool and found that it delivered decent sound quality and it was super easy to use.
The battery lasted longer than my session and I’d say that if you’re looking for a waterproof MP3 player for surfing, swimming, or water activities, the XtreaMP3 is a good choice. Check out Finis’ Xtrea and other MP3 products and accessories at http://www.finisinc.com.  As always, thanks for reading and be sure to tell a friend!
– Shaper

Day 3: Building a Wooden Surfboard with Tree to Sea

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By Day 3 everyone was a bit worn out but our excitement kept us going.  The boards were freed up from their rocker tables and the final shaping could begin!  I was surprised how light my little fish was and I have to say that the Palowina wood is just amazing stuff to work with.

Rich gave some instruction on traditional hand planes and how to use them properly and Mark showed everyone the modern power plane and its benefits.  By dusk pretty much everyone had their boards rough shaped and looking great!  Some fine tuning still needed to be done but there was no question what you had in your hands.  

After 3 long days we were all walking away with ridable art; hand made hollow wood surfboards and the life long knowledge of how to make them whenever we want!

Personally, I took a lot away from the class and feel that there is no price tag too large for the knowledge you get in those 3 days.  We started with flat stock and ended up turning it into a smooth, hydrodynamic shape that we can ride for a lifetime.  I also walked away with a bunch of new friends that I know live locally, are into surfing, and building wooden surfboards.

With this first Tree to Sea workshop beta test complete and under their belts, Mark and Rich are busy refining and organizing new workshops as well as updating the Tree to Sea sites.

Below are some options they plan on offering and I would highly suggest reaching out to see how you can get involved.

Artwork, glassing, and an open water test are still in the works for my little 5’11” fish and I will continue to update you guys on the journey of the Vola!

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to tell a friend…

– Shaper

Tree to Sea Happenings:

Wandering Workshops: Going ‘glocal‘ with weekend-long Strip and Feather workshops. In other words, using locals, globally, to “host” workshops that Rich would teach just like the one highlighted in this article. T2S “Hosts” will attend the workshop for free in exchange for specific duties. In general, hosts are expected to organize a workshop in their local communities Like Mark did for this workshop; Rich will provide all they need to get started.
“Workshops in Warm-n-Wavy Places”: This is the idea for doing extended workshops in exotic locals and allowing indigenous locals to participate for free. Then those locals can use Rich’s method, plus their own indigenous wisdom on local materials and techniques, to craft destination specific boards for sale to surf tourists. The goal is that they can make a living and support themselves off of the surf industry.

T2S Instructor Certification: Upon successful completion of the first workshop, qualified hosts may become eligible for T2S instructor certification and then be able to run their own workshops using the T2S brand and proprietary Strip & Feather method. The T2S instructor certification is in place to ensure woodworking and educational quality are there as well as the shared environmental philosophies Rich hopes to relay via T2S.
T2S in Schools Springback: This workshop idea should work well in high school woodshop settings. The idea is that a woodshop teacher hosts the workshop with Rich and then use the Strip and feather know-how to get kids interested in building during the school year. It is a free educational program to offer to underfunded schools.

Day 2: Building a Wooden Surfboard with Tree to Sea

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Day 2 was another early start but the momentum from the day before just kept building.  The flow was similar to the first day and everyone eventually found their own groove and more or less kept pace with each other.  Since I was building the smallest board I made it through some of the checkpoints a bit quicker than those with 10 foot logs but the process and methodology is pretty much the same for all of Rich’s designs so I could help others when I had a free hand.  Day 2 is also when the shortcuts Rich has implemented into the assembly process really pay off.

The modified Blundell Strip and Feather technique uses a square cut ¼ inch strip opposed to Rich’s original Grain design which incorporates bead and cove rail strips that interlock around the radius of the frame.  It also introduces CA Glue (Cyanoacrylate Glue) and using it’s near instant bonding attributes to assemble the rails in a fraction of the time it would take to glue each bead and cove strip individually and wait for it to dry.

Just be sure to “mind the gap” as Rich would say!

This method does require that the back side of the rails and outside edges are coated in an epoxy and sawdust mix.  This method actually creates a structural I-Beam of epoxy between the ¼ inch strips and adds strength all around the rail structure.  The majority of the rest of the day was spent prepping the rails for the deck, sanding and plaining, and ultimately trying to create as flat of a surface as possible.  The last step for Day 2 was to glue the top deck onto the frame and secure tail blocks if needed.  At this point it really starts to look like a surfboard!  We left the boards in the rocker tables over night to dry and anxiously waited for the next morning.

At this point, those making their own fins were instructed on using the excess deck and hull material to create fins that would be glassed on later.

Day 1: Building a Wooden Surfboard with Tree to Sea

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Day 1 started early and began with getting everyone acquainted, signing release forms, and a rough overview of what we needed to accomplish on each of the days to complete the build in 3 days.  Each day’s lessons were conveniently laid out on a near by concrete wall; I referred to it as the Fred Flintstone chalk board.  Rich would explain the upcoming task and follow it up with a hands on tutorial on a demo board he was constructing to the side.  He and Mark would then circulate and consult with each student individually, making sure everyone was on par.

We were also lucky enough to have access to a few different wood species but I was most impressed with the Paulownia Mark had ordered from a plantation in South Carolina.

All of the stock had been milled to perfection beforehand and all we had to do was pick colors and patterns. (Note: It is definitely worth highlighting the extra effort and personal sacrifice Mark put in to mill up all of the wood himself. He even cut his hand on the tablesaw and received a few stitches before the class started but it didn’t slow him down all weekend! Thanks again Mark, you’re a trooper brother!!!).

By the end of day 1 we had our top and bottom panels glued up and our internal rib structure cut out, assembled, and glued to the bottom panel.  This was a long first day full of splinters but we made a lot of headway and the stoke was in full force.

Building a Wooden Surfboard with Tree to Sea & Rich Blundell (the co-founder of Grain)

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Dailystoke Board Build

An opportunity to build a wooden surfboard, with Rich Blundell, one of the co-founders of Grain Surfboards in York, ME…count me in!

So I hooked up with Mark Cruickshank, Mark was part of the Tree to Sea board builders forum started by Rich Blundell.  Grain has made hollow wooden boards trendy and once again part of the mainstream. I’d always dreamed of having my own wood board but I could never afford one, nor did I have the time to put into a kit. Mark said that he and Rich were going to be hosting a 3 day class together and I’d be leaving with a board ready to be glassed…I couldn’t say no!

Growing up in New England I certainly knew of Rich and his history with Grain. Rich Blundell and Mike LaVecchia started Grain Surfboards out of their basement; designing and experimenting and defining the best building practices as they went. Once they had the process down they decided to make a real go of things to see how people reacted to surfboards made of wood. Fast forward to today and you can see that it was certainly a good choice to make. Grain is leading the industry in the wood board movement and they are making quite the impact in surfing communities around the world. Rich ended up parting with Grain for a number of reasons and although he has moments when he wishes he was still designing and sanding boards in Maine, he believes everything happens for a reason and it was the best decision in the end.

Reflecting on Grain as it is today, Rich speaks highly of them and what they are doing. “I’m really stoked at with what they’ve done with it. They have really built a great brand and business based on those early methods and designs; it’s wonderful to see guys like Rastovich tearing it up on them and I love knowing many other people around the world are riding and enjoying them as well”. Ultimately, Rich’s real passion is environmentalism and getting the word out there about building HWS and using sustainable materials and resources to do so. Grain’s efforts have only helped educate and expose more people to that idea, so for that he is most grateful.

You can tell Rich is not the type of person that can be held down. Creative, intelligent, and eager to experience new things, he is a jack of all trades and after spending a few days with him, I can honestly say that I have never met anyone else with as much of an appetite for life. He is beyond dedicated to environmental awareness and truly loves to travel, educate, and share with others. He is also passionate about his T2S planting fund; for every $1.00 raised via T2S, Rich has vowed to plant a cedar tree! These Tree to Sea workshops seem to be the perfect outlet for him, allowing Rich to make a positive impact and spread the stoke globally. Rich is also heavily involved with his production company Omniscopic Productions www.omniscopic.com which allows him to explore science, outdoor education, and filmmaking. He has produced science and nature films for ABC, NBC, National Geographic etc. and he is always looking for new projects and people around the globe to partner with. Do I smell a wooden surfboard documentary in the works????

Mark Cruickshank is one of the nicest and most genuine people I have met.

Aside from being a good guy, he is a gifted craftsman and what Rich considers to be the best example of how he wants the Tree to Sea forum to educate, encourage, and help people around the world build their own boards. By day, Mark is a SW Engineer and busy Dad that caught the HWS bug after visiting Rich’s original build forum. He is mostly self taught and he has added his own ingenuity to the board building process, creating some unique approaches and innovative short cuts that have helped improve and streamline the HWS construction process. Mark and Rich originally met through the forum and have become close friends since, building boards and surfing together whenever possible. Mark also helps manage the Tree to Sea sites grainsurf.com treetosea.org and he is always looking for new ways to make them better and more user friendly. When it comes to building HWS, they are two peas in a pod as they share a common passion for surfing, board building, block plains, and sawdust!

The class was Tree to Sea’s first attempt at hosting a homegrown course and it was condensed into a 3 day Strip and Feather workshop. “Strip and Feather” is the name of a technique based on Rich’s original HWS construction method which has been slightly modified to improve the construction process for novices and allow for everything to be done in two or three days. As Rich states “The Strip and Feather technique allows me to do what used to take me a week or more in just a few days” The strip in strip and feather stands for the ¼” wood strips used to construct the rails and the feather relates to the sanding and blending method used to fair everything together. I was hoping to build a fish under 6 ft. and Rich had a custom template he had designed that he had not yet built. The plans detailed a seamless little 5’11” fish which he had titled the “Vola” or flying fish. Without question I knew it was the board for me and I was honored to be the first to build it.

Solio Solar Charger: Charge Your Phone on the Beach!

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After loosing the battery life on my phone during a surf trip for the millionth time I finally started to look for a solution.  Our friends at Solio had just the thing and sent me one of their Classic solar chargers to tackle my power problem.

The package arrived quickly and upon opening it I was surprised at its small size (4.7 inches by 2.5 inches by 1.4 inches).  The unit weighs only 5.8 ounces but it houses 3 fans/blades which open outward making up three separate solar panels.  I was a bit skeptical that it would be able to produce the power needed to charge my phone as well as the endless number of other devices it claimed to work on but I figured it was worth a shot.

Solio provides you with an adapter for almost any device out there to include the most popular cell phones, ipods, etc.  The Classic is pretty easy to use, especially considering it only has 1 button!  Once you plug the device into whatever you need to charge it starts to trickle the power in.  Once your device is fully charged, it will continue to create and store the power created by the solar panels in it’s internal battery.  There is also an added feature of charging the unit’s internal battery via a conventional wall socket or USB for portable power anywhere. Solio claims you can fully charge the device with 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight. Keep in mind that clouds may make charging more difficult.  With the Classic, 60 minutes of sun will power your phone for about 10 minutes of talk time and four days of standby time.

My field test came at the perfect time as I forgot to charge my phone the night before my Saturday morning session…AGAIN!!!  After making a few calls to the boys to decide which spot was looking the best I was down to critical battery levels.  I plugged in the Solio and placed it on the dashboard, using the pencil they provided to keep it upright.  I angled it toward the morning sun and went out for a few hours.  When I got back to the car I was surprised to find my phone about half way charged and ready to use!  I was blown away and it was the talk of the lot that day.  Over the next few days I hooked it up to a number of other devices from my cameras to my ipod and as long as the sun was around, all were charged.

If you are a surfer, traveler, or just into FREE energy, I would highly suggest getting yourself a Solio Charger.  They now offer a number of models but even with the Classic you’re getting a great product that is good for any of your electronics and most importantly, the environment.  Check them out at: http://www.solio.com/charger/.  As always, thanks for reading and be sure to tell a friend.

– Shaper

SPECS

”           Long life internal 1650Amh Lithium-Ion Battery.

”           3 High efficiency solar cells.

”           Multi-function LED light/start button.

”           Charging cable input (USB / AC).

”           Charge output

”           5-6V, 800mA output range.

”           4.8 Watts

Gath Convertible Surf Helmet: Product Review

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My favorite local surf breaks are located along New England’s historic shoreline.  Most of the time I’ll stick to the safer sandy beach or point breaks, but with so many untapped spots around here, it’s hard to resist the allure of finding a new wave to surf on your own.  These surf locations are usually cold, unpredictable, and littered with danger; from large barnacle encrusted boulders to deep underwater caves, it’s enough to make anyone a bit tense paddling out.  The best of these spots  are what most would consider slabs; complete with steep drops, stepped faces, heavy lips, and severe punishments for any mistakes made.  During this years active hurricane season I’ve been able to see a few of these waves in perfect form as well as a number of other places which usually lay dormant until the right conditions hit.

Before tackling these spots I was lucky enough to get in touch with our friends at Gath.  They suggested I wait for them to get me one of their Gath Surf Convertible helmets before charging any big spots.  These helmets are sick and have been designed specifically for surf and water sports.  They are the lightest helmet available world wide, are super comfy, and will protect your brain bucket in almost any conditions.  The helmet comes standard with ear protectors which are easily removed to expose the ears (ideal for hot weather) or easily attached (for added impact protection and extra warmth in cold conditions). Adjustable audio vents on the ear protectors allow for further flexibility to shut out the cold wind or open to improve hearing.  The helmets are offered in a number of colors and categories (surf, wakeboard/skate, kayak, jet ski, kiteboard, etc.).  Mine came dressed in a carbon fiber finish that made it look extra stealthily and it fit like a glove.  I couldn’t believe how light it was and I was very impressed with the durable construction and ease of use.

It wasn’t long before another good swell hit home.  It wasn’t a hurricane, but a strong Nor’easter instead which can pack just as much of a punch and kicked up the kind of conditions I was looking for.  Me and a few of the boys made our way down to the spot we had been surveying and jumped in.  Armed with my Gath helmet I slipped into the lineup for some field testing.  Duckdiving with the helmet was a breeze and it actually kept a lot of the water out of my ears.  We all got in a few waves and although I had some epic wipeouts, I never did hit the bottom or any rocks.  I can say that the Gath helmet did give me the added confidence needed to feel comfortable stepping over the that ledge which I otherwise would not have done and it stayed in place even after getting rag dolled by some rather unfriendly sets.

If you are a water sports enthusiast of any kind I would highly suggest getting yourself a Gath helmet.  And from a pure surfers standpoint, if you want to surf heavy slabs or heaving reefs you’d be silly not to put one on your bean.  They retail for around $100 bucks and are a must for anyone looking to explore and be safe.  Check them out at:http://www.gathsports.com/.  As always, thanks for reading and be sure to tell a friend.

– Shaper

GorillaTorch Light Review: For Pre-Dawn Surf Sessions

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Gorilla LightWith dawn patrol sessions get darker and darker as we approach the end of the year I’ve find myself in need of a flashlight a lot more.  I’m usually scrambling in the dark for last minute necessities or a bar of wax but thanks to my friends at Joby, getting prepared for an early morning surf is now easier than ever.

Joby sent me one of their Gorillatorch flare lights. The Gorillatorch was just released in last year and it comes from the same line of Gorilla technology that Joby has had so much recent success with.  The Gorilla grip allows for hands free work and comes complete with adjustable legs that are magnetic; for this review I found it worked best by sticking the magnetic feet onto the side panels of my car door or wrapping the legs around my roof racks.

As for the light itself, it gives off up to 100 Lumens of LED light power and has 3 levels of brightness!  For those of you that don’t know what lumens means, let’s just say this is one of the most impressive and intense lights I have ever used!!!  It also comes with strobe and red light features.

Gorilla LightThe whole unit is powered by 3 AAA batteries and after running it for quite some time now, I haven’t had to change them yet.  The light is has been designed to be rugged and weatherproof and after this review I would certainly endorse that statement.

If you’re a morning or evening surfer going in or coming out in the dark or if you’re just looking for a new flashlight, I would highly suggest checking out the Gorillatourch.  Coming in around $35 bucks you can’t go wrong.  Check them out at: http://joby.com/gorillatorch.  Thanks for readying and as always, tell a friend…

– Shaper

Home Depot Surfboard Shaping Project – Part 2

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Finally looking like a board!Readers will know that I was intent on shaping a surfboard out of pink foam insulation. I went to Home Depot, and bought 2″ and 1″ pieces. Once home, I mixed up a batch of epoxy and sandwiched it between the two pieces of foam; placing the thinner sheet on top. To guarantee good adhesion I moved the top sheet back and forth a few times. Then I busted out my old encyclopedia collection; I placed a few books under the nose and the rest on top. This step is critical as it sets the main rocker for the whole board! I let it dry overnight and removed the books in the morning. As expected, the rough rocker and shape stayed!

Now, at this point I could have added a stringer, but to be honest, I was still unsure of how to do it. So instead, I just went at that block of foam like a pit bull on a piece of meat! I got the rough dimensions from a buddy of mine that has a similar fish and I watched a half dozen Youtube videos on shaping. My pucker was so tight on the first pass I barley took off any material. It took a bunch of light passes with the planner to really get a good feel for it but once you figure it out, it makes more sense and is way easier than it looks. Side bar tip: Foam dust is wicked itchy and it dries out your hands like crazy! A vacuum system on your planer would be a worth while investment…if not buy a Tyvek suit for a couple bucks and wear some goggles and a respirator!

I found that the planer is a great for getting your rough shape but the real magic tool to dial in the body is a Sureform. Know it, love it, live it….there is a slight learning curve with these as well so do a couple test passes on some scrap first. A horizontal pattern tends to work best for me but everyone’s opinion differs.

For me, finding symmetry was the toughest part. With this project I had no stringer which meant no centerline!!! I shaped most of it off of feel and sight although snapping a chalk line from the tip of the nose to the center of the V in my swallow tail helped temporarily. After another visit to Home Depot, I started my sanding process by using a 60 grit drywall sanding screen attached to a long wood block. A few passes with this and your excitement really starts to grow! The foam takes on a super smooth and soft feel and I can remember saying to myself… “it’s really starting to look like a board!”. I worked my way all the way up to 220 grit getting the deck and hull as smooth as a baby’s ass! The rails can be touchy, just go slow and use a screen by itself.

Finally, I was done. The shape was perfect and it really looked like a surfboard!!! However, when I went to pick it up I was blown away how much flex there was…there was too much, it felt weak and I thought it was going to snap! This was due to the lack of a stringer so I had to think on the fly….Back to Home Depot!

Click on the link for Part 3 of the Home Depot Surfboard Shaping Odyssey

Home Depot Surfboard Project – A surfboard shaping story – Part 1

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Rough shapeThere is a shared ritual for anyone who puts their hands on a surfboard for the first time. First, you’ll feel the smooth contouring of the rails, then sight down the stringer, dance our finger tips over any bottom contours, flip it over a few times and then ask: “How’d they make this?” These days, all you see are cookie cutter, CNC replicas of surfboards being mass-produced and sold at the same price they always have been, if not more expensive than they were! I’m certainly not opposed to this technology, I can appreciate the business aspect and I love to read about new materials and advancements. However, because of this, I feel that the surfboard industry has lost some of the romance it once had when you knew your board was truly hand crafted and made for you. However, there are still pockets of “traditional” board shapers/builders that are keeping the craft alive in dark alleys, basements, and garages all across the world. My hope is that my writing will be enough to inspire some of you to become part of the long tradition of shapers and innovators and do your part to help further the art and technology of board building.

To be honest, my interest in shaping really peaked at the worst time. Clark Foam had just closed their doors, putting the surfboard industry in a panicked state. Prices on everything related to surfboard manufacturing skyrocketed and board prices ended up following the same trend. Discouraged that supplies were so hard to come by I almost gave up…that was until I walked by the insulation department at my local Home Depot! I spent $11 bucks on two sheets of Owens Corning pink insulation foam (think pink panther), one 2″ and one 1″ sheet. Then I made a stop at a local Marine Supply Shop and bought some West System Epoxy with a fast cure hardener.

Stay tuned, and you’ll find out how Home Depot and Shaped a cool Fish.

Part 2 of the Home Depot Surfboard Shaping Odyssey Thing Continues Here.