Innovation Session: Recycling A Broken Surfboard – Part 3

This is part 3 of a 4 part series – you can read the rest here:

Continuing where I left off. Previously I stripped down the old broken board, shaped the foam into something new & now I’m ready to put the finishing touches on my recycled surfboard.

Surfboard artwork has always been a place for expression an individuality. From back when islanders would carve artwork into their giant wooden plans, to the pre-war era surfboards with paint to contemporary sticks graffitid with spray paint and Sharpie.

How a board looks shouldn’t affect how it rides – but I defend that it does. So much of how a session goes is built on momentum that the good vibes from the parking lot compliment to a paddle out conversation can all contribute to which waves a surfer paddles for and how they ride them.

I love having surfboards the get me stoked. Sometimes that is classic gems from another era I’ve refurbished. Sometimes it is bold colors. For this board I’m feeling excitable.


When I think about the surfboard I have in front of me I realize that it transcends decades.

Originally shaped in the 2000’s by Bill Stewart, a shaper & artist who’s work brought him fame in the 1980’s and who created the gift surfboard that was presented to Mikhail Gorbachev to celebrate the end of the Cold War in 1990.

The new shape is a Mini Simmons, a contemporary design modeled after the shaping principles of Bob Simmons who innovated in late 1940’s and 1950’s.

This foam tells a story 70+ years in the making.

Nothing is more appropriate to inspire the artwork on this new board than another board who’s story spanned 70+ years.

I am of course talking about the bright pink Hover Board of Back to the Future: Part II fame.


Looking at my rails, the shape isn’t too far off either. Lets get to work.

Taping & Painting

I’m using acrylic paint to do the artwork. I’ve used it before to color match ding repairs but I’ve never done a whole board. I’ve been warned that if there is too much paint, the glass won’t stick to the foam and the board will be ruined.

Traditionally, most boards are either airbrushed with color or pigment is added to the glass. I am hand painting this though so I’m going to dilute the paint with water to get a pretty light stain.



The first step is taping everything. Where the tape is, paint will not go, so I can create nice borders.



I’ve decided to take a few artistic liberties. The first one is the background color of the board. The ‘read’ one has a texture, which I don’t feel like doing, so I’m going to go for an average color of that section. It is notably darker as less bold than the pink in the stripes so I’ve mixed in a bit of grey.




You can see the pinks are slightly different. A second coat should help even more.



Here I peeled some of the initial tape and created new borders to paint the Green.



Unfortunately, I painted the green before the pink had fully dried so it bled a bit. Notice how clean the lines are where pink is bordered by white – the tape really keeps the paint out.




I didn’t want the black to bleed everywhere so I painted using a sponge instead of a brush. It actually worked pretty darn well though the color isn’t as quite as flat across the space and the lines aren’t as clean.



Here is the finished bottom.



Another area of artistic liberty. The top of the movie prop had some additional items including a Mattel logo & foot hold. I don’t care too much about those and like the flat design of the colors a bit more. I think the magnetic plates on the bottom are essential to sell the story, but the top details aren’t.









The final steps from my part are writing Hover Board in the yellow space & deciding what to do with the rails. The prop board had pink rails, but there is already a lot of pink on this board. I’m debating using the green or even leaving it white.

I’ll take the board to get glassed by a professional – glassing isn’t my favorite – it’s messy, toxic and mistakes are disastrous – that is one part I’d rather delegate.

This is part 3 of a 4 part series – you can read the rest here:

Surf Mavericks: Update 5

A long summer of mediocre waves, strong winds and lots of slop all but removed surfing from my routine. Riding waves was relegated to a vacation activity. Limited to a few trips to Santa Cruz for south swells, a road trip to So-Cal and a camping weekend up north. Far from the daily habit it once was.

As a result, two and a half months from the end of the year, I am basically back where I started. No where close to being ready to surf Mavericks. I can hold my breath for just over two minutes, I’m not in great cardio shape and my arms don’t have the strength they need to get me in and out of giant waves.


This isn’t where I wanted to be at this point in the year. This is where I am.

Thankfully the fall, a glassy head high jolt of electricity, has reignited my fire for surfing. It started with a day towards the end of September that looked like this.


The reports were coming in that we had gotten our first north swell. The forecast was calling for OH+.

I was at the beach before sunrise, though you wouldn’t have known it. There was about 50ft of visibility which meant I couldn’t see the water from the parking lot. Nor could I see the waves from the water line.

I paddled out into a dense fog, unsure if anyone else was surfing. As I duck dove the first few walls of white water, each increasing in size, I knew the reports were true. I came up from one and looked to the end of my visibility where I saw a surfing dropping in. The wave was well OH for the few seconds before it closed out on him.

There were only two of us out there and the waves were a mess. The sand bars haven’t yet prepared themselves for the winter surf. I can sympathize with that.

Without catching even a single wave I turned around, happy, knowing that I was at least on pace with the sand below. Success that day was a kick in the butt.

Arm Strength: Weak – need to do some paddling

Breath Holding: 4:06 record – 2:12 current

Days to Go: 76

Times surfed on Hail Mary: 1

Resting Heart Rate: 64

Innovation Session: Recycling A Broken Surfboard – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 4 part series – you can read the rest here:

Picking up where I left off about a month ago – this weekend I continued to work on recycling my old broken longboard. The next step of the process was shaping the board. The foam was still pretty rough as you can see from the picture below. The top had a lot of soft spots and divots, both of which can ruin the long term resilience of the board.

The Shaping Room

Shaping a board is a messy job. As layers of foam are carved away using planers, files & sand paper, sticky foam dust escapes. The easiest way to have it all contained is to do it in a shaping room – a special room designed for shaping surfboards. Some of the key features about a shaping room that make them ideal are good lighting to highlight imperfections in the board, an air compressor to blow away the lose dust, a tape line on the back wall to check the level of the board and finally lots-and-lots of tools.

Some day I would love to have a shaping room shed in my back yard, but present day the easiest option was to rent one. A local surf shop has one for rent for $25 an hour. To give context, a board usually takes between 2-4 hours to shape so it isn’t super expensive.


The two things I had to do were change the foil and create the new rails. I didn’t get a good shot of the foil change so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Tweaking The Foil

Foil is basically the thickness pattern of the board if you look at it from the side. Since this came off of a broken longboard, the shape was thin up front and continued to get thicker the whole way to the back. That isn’t ideal for a surfboard, you want the tail to be thin to help with turning and water release. I took about an inch off of the bottom, gradually curving from the center.

While I did that I also smoothed the whole shape with sandpaper. You can see below that the foam looks much more pure after I took a few millimeters off.


New Rails

When it came to the rails I had two goals in mind; hard rails on the bottom and keeping as much foam as possible. Hard rails on the bottom help create a carving edge and maximize the surface area. I left them at 90*. For the top, I rounded everything off slightly.


Compare the image above to the previous rails. Quite different.


Fixing Dings

The final thing I had to do before painting was fixing the dings. There were a few spots that I had previously carved out for a ding repair when this was a longboard. I wasn’t able to shape around them, so I have to fix them. I planned on using Q-cell, the hardening substance I normally use to fix dings, but a shaper recommended I try spackle. Apparently Q-cell is so hard that sanding it down often ruins the shape of an unglassed board.

I’m still a bit unsure as to how this is going to work, but I spackled two major spots and a couple of little dings. I’ll have to sand everything smooth one final time before painting the blank.


This was part 2 of a 4 part series – you can read the rest here: