The Hiatus

Well, in short, life has taken it's toll on my surfboard design and construction journey. For those of you who don't already know, my wife was diagnosed with Breast Cancer early last year, and well, as you can imagine that threw our life into a bit of chaos. My available free time was swallowed up while I juggled work around the medial appointments. And, being a typical bloke, I bottled up heaps of emotion and well, that too took it's toll on my health. Having been through that last year, and my wife now finished Chemotherapy life is starting to get a little bit back to normal. Although, having said that, we've decided to repaint the house ... it's amazing how you want to do things when you're ill, but can't, so now we're both onto a path of better health, we really want to fix up the house. So, that's going to now suck time away from my surfboard journey.

But, I have a plan. I'm going to outsource the glassing and concentrate on design for the near to medium term. That means, I only need to find the time to fit in some design work on the computer, a bit of work in the shed to finish off the blank, printing out some decals, and then some time around my working week to drop off and collect the board, and well, that's all ... well, except go surfing.

So, with this new plan, I have created a new design. I've been wanting a shorter board for the beach breaks, and figured something around 6'2" would be about right for me. Since my surfing time has taken a beating over the last 12 months, and then again recently with a neck injury (yep, just as I was getting my paddle and surf fitness back I hit the bottom and popped the disc at C5/C6) I have a compounded problem to overcome with the design process; I'm both heavier and less fit.

So, what to do? Well, first, more volume, so I've gone up from 30 litres to 33 litres. Then, I've tweaked the design with a slighter reduced concave (bees dick stuff like 1/16th of an inch) but that was in conjunction with a slighter flatter rocker, that corresponds with the shorter board. I've gone slightly wider too, from around 19 1/4 to now 19 5/8. So, the final version is 6'2" x 19 5/8 x 2 5/8 for a final volume of 33.7 litres. Yes, I know, that's almost 34 litres ... I'm allowing for the extra weight of a steamer, OK?

The other thing I have tweaked is the rail profile, so it's a little more forgiving. Bit more boxy I guess, but still the same overall profile.

Plan is a thruster, but thinking a couple of extra plugs for a quad option might end up in it too. Centre fin will be at 3 5/16, Sides at 11 with 1/4" toe and 7 degree cant (well close to it, I have a template jig that is now my magic cant angle).

So, there ya go, I'm back and with that, this one is going to be affectionately know as "The Hiatus" ... thinking I'll use this for a decal:


PS: The FUP is still not finished. It has fin plugs installed and well, it stalled there 🙁





FUP – fin options

LOGO_MULTYSYSTEMWith an unknown design like “the FUP”, I figured as many fin options as possible is best. But, the issue, or question is “what positions”?

So, to start, it has to have thruster option, so I went and checked what I’ve been using against the McKee M5.

I’ve had my centre at 3 3/4, sides at 11 3/8 (with 1/4 toe in)

Looking at the McKee formula for the 6’3″ and 6’6″ (i.e. the FUP is 6’5″):

Centre – 3 3/8 (for the 6’3″) and 3 7/16 (for the 6’6″) … mine at 3 12/16

Sides – 11 1/16 (for the 6’3″) and 11 5/16 (for the 6’6″) … mine at 11 6/16

So, I figured I will stick with my centre fin position (i.e. one less variable), and it was more the “quad” linkage I was chasing so the centre fin for Thruster should be OK.

For the sides, with only 1/16″ difference, and planning to use Gearbox fin system, I will have fore and aft movement, so can tweak once in use. Cool.

Now, the “quad” option and the rear fins … McKee has them at:

5 3/16 for he 6’3″ and 5 5/16 for the 6’6″ … so, only 2 /16 or 1/8 between the two, which again, can be adjusted with fore and aft movement by using Gearbox

So, I’ve decided to place them at 5 5/16.

Now, the issue of “Toe-In” … Mckee has his layout guide, which uses the “measure x off the nose” method … which I do not use. So, a bit of time on swaylocks has been thinking if the fronts finsa are going to be 1/4 toe in, then the rears can go in at 1/8″ toe in … this seemed to be common option.

So, that’s it done, right?

Nope. Next issue is fin cant …

Again, looking at the McKee layout guide, he uses 92.5 for the back and 96 for the front, measured off the horizontal.

I have been using between 96 and 98 for my sides on thrusters, and feel 7 is about ideal. So am going to stick with that … which, then means, the rear quads need to be less, so using the mckee layout and research on swayslocks, I’ve decided to go 4 for the rear quads.

Now, I should also mention the “other school” of thought with quad fin placement being more “rail centric” … and using say 1 1/18 off the rail for all fins. I’ve decided to use the mckee “width between rear fins” method, because I am a traditional thruster surfer, and my research seems to indicate the mckee layout suits that transition better. The front fins will be 1 1/18 off the rail though. So, after all that thought process, whether good or bad, the final details I’m going to use are:

Front Fins – 1 1/8 off rail, 11 3/8 from tail with 1/4 toe and 7.5 cant

Rear Fins – 5 3/4 between, 5 5/16 from tail with 1/8 toe and 4 cant

Centre – 3 3/8 from the tail (but, thinking about using a fin box for more options!)




FUP Update

After I posted yesterday (i.e. re: “the FUP”), I decided to seek input from as many people as possible. So, I posted on a couple of surfboard design and construction forums, namely sanded and swaylocks; you can see the ‘discussion’ about the FUP on those forums here and here. I also shared a link via my facebook and twitter accounts with a few comments being received overnight (thanks crouch, JJ & digger) 😉

With a cool night and noise already in our neighbourhood (happy new year everyone!), I decided to get a ‘feel’ for “the FUP”, and well, one thing lead to another and by the time 2015 came around I was covered in foam dust and had hit the wall. I did manage to run a tape measure, layout square and calipers over it, and found out she is actually:

Length – 6’5″


@ centre – 18 3/4

1′ off nose – 11 3/4

1′ off tail – 14

Thickness – 2 5/8


Nose – 4 3/4

1′ off nose – 1 9/16

2′ off nose – 6/16

2′ off tail – 1/4

1′ off tail – 3/4

Tail – 2 5/16

So, here’s a couple of video clips I shot this morning which might help to show the “flow” of the concave depth and current status of the blank:

Here are some progress shots too:


the FUP - deck side outline (316x1024)

FOIL – deck up:

the FUP - deck up foil (1024x175)

FOIL – bottom up:

the FUP - bottom up foil (1024x170)

And, a few others while she was laying in the stands:

the FUP - side 3 (768x1024) the FUP - side 2(1024x768) the FUP - side (1024x 768)

RIDE REPORT – my predictions

So, now having handled the blank, and “scrubbed” it to an almost finished state, I have a few thoughts about how it may go …

1. The deep double has the rails at an acute angle, which I suspect will give “bite” but also instability; could ‘catch’ quite easily especially in bottom turns.

2. Down the line speed, at potentially the expense of handing with it tending to “track” … but, it could be a good hollow wave board due to the rail bite and straight through water flow.

3. An uncertainty in handling with the ‘tri hull’ created by the rails (as outside hulls) and the stringer … bit like a tri hull catamaran. While it “should” be stable, I think what is likely to happen is the water flowing at angles across the bottom will became turbulent, especially as the water crosses over the stringer section. When on full rail, it won’t impact, but as the board comes back to a more level point, it will “catch” and bog, which will create a point from rail to rail that is unstable or unpredictable.

4. It will not like fat, flat or mushy waves … will need some shape (i.e. curve) in the face of the wave to engage the rails and that acute angle from the deep double.

5. Will need fin options to fine tune it, so am thinking to put in a small single fin box (for maximum adjustment fore and aft) plus option of a larger back fin, with a mckee 5 fin system layout for the other 4 fins, so it can be ridden as both a quad and thruster. Might be cool to try with a big single and some side bites 🙂

OK, that’s my take. What do YOU think?


She’s been known to visit from time to time (i.e. that special little lady; the fuck up fairy), but never like this … well, not around here …

So, here’s the story so far:

I decided to get two blanks cut to work on over the Christmas / New Year break. One, a remake of the Forty One Two – winter version (i.e. my current all rounder) and the other, an evolution of the Nineteen Ninety Seven (i.e. the minimal that started this journey) … so I sent the files off for cutting, and knowing the rush before Christmas had no expectations they would arrive quickly. So, about a week or 10 days later I went to collect the first one that made it into the cutting queue; the all rounder. Sweet.

Then, about a week later, I went to collect the minimal. Oops… there was a mix up, and somehow the all rounder was cut again. Ok, no worries … BUT …

There was a difference, a BIG difference … and that is where this part of the story gets interesting.

Note: Before we go any further, as you may know, I get my blanks cut and other supplies from Shapers. So, with this little, ah, glitch (see below), I just want to point out they have been on top of it, and have actually given me the second ‘glitch’ blank to play with, at no charge. It’s sort of become a talking point, and as you’ll read below, they, like you, have input into writing the rest of the story.

It appears there was a ‘glitch’ with the file sent to the machine. Now, remember, this was or should be exactly the same file (i.e. the same file was accidentally sent for cutting twice), so somewhere along the process, when it’s been cut the second time it has developed a “glitch”, and the end result, is what I’m calling “The FUP”

So, here she is in all her glory:

The FUP - Single and Double at Centre (close up) (1024x768)

That is at the CENTRE of board … Yes, you read that correctly … THE CENTRE!

Here is a close up of the depth of that double concave:

The FUP - Double Concave at Centre(1024x768)

Not sure if you can see it clearly, but that ruler is showing the depth at 1/2 of an inch!

And, remember that is at the centre of the board …

Here is another picture of it, this one taken from a wider angle:

The FUP - Single and Double at Centre (1024x768)

So, as you can see, the whole mid section of the board has some seriously deep concave(s) … the single concave depth, as measured by using a straight edge from rail to rail and then measuring down to the stringer is 3/16. That runs from approx. 12 inches off the tail right through the centre of the board and up to approx 24 inches off the nose.

The Double Concave depth(s), as measured using a straight edge laying from rail to rail and then measuring down to the deepest point in the double, are:

@ 12 inches off the tail – 3/16 of an inch

@ 18 inches off the tail – 1/4 of an inch

@ 24 inches off the tail – 6 / 16 of an inch

@ centre – 1/2 of an inch

The concave(s) (i.e. single and double) at the tail, through the 12 inches to 18 inches off the tail (i.e. between the fins) are fairly, ah, “standard” as you can see from this picture below:

The FUP - Single and Double at 12 off tail (1024x768)

As mentioned above, the crew at Shapers have given the cut blank to me at no charge. So, I’ve decided to make it, and see how it goes … Yep, you heard right, it’s going to be made, and ridden, but I’m not sure of a few things and need YOUR help. Yes, you … so, my questions for you:

1. Do you think I should reduce some of that double concave through the centre of the board? If so …

a) … should I take it out by increasing the single concave by shaving down the stringer, (i.e. flatter rocker at stringer), or

b) … should I take down the rails (i.e. flatter rocker at the rail), or

c) … a combination of both, and if so, how much off each?

2. How do you think this board will go?

a) … as is without any adjustment to the double concave as per above, and

b) … with your suggested refinements from above.

3. What fin configuration should go in this board?

a) … standard thruster, or

b) … standard quad, and if so, mckee set out?

c) … a five fin combo?

d) … what about a single fin box for added variety?

4. Any other thoughts?

Thanks for visiting :)

website visitorsOk, am officially gobsmacked. Like really, really gobsmacked.

Since it was a tad hot today, and I did not want to overheat out in ‘the bay’ today (where is that southerly change?), I decided to fix up this site. In the process, I reconfigured the set up and removed a lot of the “bloat” in the back end. It seems to be running a lot smoother and quicker now, so let me know how you find it.

The surprise was looking at the visitor statistics.

As you may recall, I originally set this up as a free WordPress site. After some issues with losing content, I set up this site in July 2014. Since then, and up to yesterday (i.e. stats run approx. 24 hours behind actual time zone in Australia) there have been 2,140 unique visitors to this new site. Yes, that right, Two Thousand One Hundred and Forty!

As you can see from the graphic above, this extrapolates to over 79,000 page views. WOW!

I am gobsmacked!

Thank You for visiting. I’m stoked that so many people have found, and are finding my musings of interest.

I would love to hear from you all ; with the modifications today I have added some easy to use ‘social sharing’ buttons. You can now also use your Facebook login to add your comments.


As you may have noticed on the back wall of “the bay” I have “home made” calipers.

I made these when I first set up “the bay” and started this journey … in the process of sorting out some pictures, I stumbled across the templates that I used. It dawned on me that I had never written anything in here about the calipers or how I made them, so here goes:

1. I used some plywood I had lying around … but of 10mm from memory.

2. I used the templates (as per below) to mark out the arms, etc. As you’ll notice, I decided not to use the extended end section.

3. Using a trusty old “ozito” jig saw I cut out the arms

4. I gave all the edges a sand

5. I used a bolt and nut, with a couple of washers I had laying around to join the arms together.

So, there ya go, a simple and inexpensive “homemade” set of calipers.

Here’s the templates:

caliper arm left caliper arm middle caliper arm right

Fin Cant – the hidden gem?

fin cant OK, so I’ve been playing with fin cant, you know, how much your side fins “lay over” to the rail. Anyway, this whole surfboard design process is proving to be both mind blowing and a total mind fuck; all at the same time!

I started this journey because I wanted to push some crazy idea’s I’ve had from years of surfing. So, using AKU Shaper I have a “base design” that I can duplicate with accuracy, and then I can tweak certain elements of the design to feel for myself what each design element change makes to the performance of the board. What I have found is that the fin cant is a hidden gem … let me explain.

Looking over some old boards, boards I have bought from various shapers over the years I noticed some interesting common elements. Least of which was rocker, and now so too fin cant … all the boards I’ve kept, which are the boards I liked and surfed to their death, have more fin cant than the normal 6 degrees. Yep, all of them! What’s more, boards that I’d had just before starting this journey, all with the standard 6 degree fin cant are OK, but by no means great. The last great board has 7.5% of fin cant …

So, I’ve been using more fin cant on a few boards, and with the ability to adjust it since I have been using the Probox Fin System, I’ve been able to get a great sense of what impact it has …more fin cant, a way more free feeling, easier to turn, but a feeling is less drive. Less fin cant, drive, yes, but at the detriment of the turning easy.  With the last board I’ve made, I’ve pushed the outer limits of the fin cant and have struggled with a totally different sensation; sort of like not getting much drive from the board, but with a different angle of attach to the wave at the same time. Playing with different fins has proven what I thought … more fin cant and bigger fins are a match made in heaven.

And, then BINGO, it dawned on me what I was feeling, what this weird sensation was … it was like I was surfing a quad. The same almost stalled response when wanting to drive, but the smooth hold the turn all the way around with ease feeling. And the angle of attack, except more vertical than the recent quads I’ve ridden … a totally different sensation and one that I’m having fun figuring out!

I actually, as much as I hate to admit it, I actually do not think I have the athletic ability to get the maximum out of this set up! After all, I’ve just turned 43, and while the brain wants to, the body does not seem up to where and what I want to do on a wave sometimes … I’m talking about a board that wants to go vertical and then easily burst around off the top, or, just as simply, go free and loose with fins drifting and then biting back to bring the board under me …

I can only think how many surfer are getting boards “off the racks” with standard fin cant and are missing the performance sensation.

Hell I love this process. But, it is frustrating until you get the combination right. Hasn’t help that I have not been surfing as much due to health issues, but, that’s another story …

I’m off for a surf!

Cut Laps

OK, so I mentioned some time ago, that I changed my technique when glassing and lapping the rails.

Having started with “free laps”, I found them messy and the results not so good 🙁

After some time away from glassing myself, I glassed the Forty One Two (winter version) and naturally went straight back to the cut lap technique. However, I made a few rookie mistakes and thought it best to log them so I can come back and remind myself before I glass the next board. I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, some of the laps actually came out quite good, as this first picture shows:

Cutting the cut lap (1024x768)

The outcome / result of that section of rail and lap is this:

Cut Lap - almost perfect result here (1024x768)

Pretty bloody good if I do say so myself!

Now, the ugly and not so good … First, let’s remember why this is so UGLY. This is a reminder for me!

1. It does help to make sure the tape sticks to the blank (i.e. clear off all dust and don’t lift and restick the tape too many times)

2. Make the tape line as smooth, flowing and uniform as possible

3. Do a good job of covering the rest of the blank with paper … leave no gaps or holes

3. Make sure the cloth that you are wrapping goes past the edge of the tape …

Now, wingnut2443, you idiot … read that last bit again … make sure you cut the cloth so it goes past the edge of the tape!

Otherwise, this is what you end up with:

Error with lap length - stuff up cut lap (1024x768)

And, once you cleared away all the tape and paper, completed your “good” sections, this bad stuff looks really bad:

End result when lap no over tape when doing a cut lap (1024x768)

Which means you have to try and sand down that raised ugly stuff so the next layer of cloth goes down as smooth as possible. AND, you know what that usually means when you try and sand the lap edges … yep, you get the foam, make a bigger mess and end up with an ugly lap line which does not “blend” when fully sanded later …

So, get it right from the start! Otherwise, this is what you end up with … a good section, followed by an ugly section:

Cut Lap poor result (768x1024)


Glassing Stands

Having “fixed” the wobble with the stands (see here), and wanting to improve the overall set up… It was time to make some new glassing stands. Now, keep in mind space is an issue since all the construction is completed in our 3m x 3m garden shed as you can see here, and as you can see from the pictures, one side of the shed has the beer fridge, a small work bench (which also doubles as the resin mixing station 😉 ) and a storage cupboard … the other side has the lawn mower, some tool storage and all my surfboard construction gear (in the shelves and drawers). All up the actual useable area for surfboard construction is the middle section of the shed which is only 2m wide, by 3m long …

This same area is also the “storage” area for the shaping / glassing stands, wheelbarrow, bikes, and other kids toys, etc … so, having multiple sets of  “stands” or even fixed stands is not possible.

So, the solution – a convertible stand “system” … one set up for shaping / spraying / sanding … another for glassing.

The initial version for glassing was a simple set up using some PVC pipe:

old glassing stands

The issue with this was a difficulty in being able to set the stands so they were “level” and stable. (i.e. they would “rock” or “wobble”) … having fixed the wobble in the stands, the glassing option needed a solution, so with some creative thinking a new concept emerged:

new glassing stand (651x1024)new glassing stands in use (578x1024)

As you can see, these new “glassing stands” are held firm and can be easily leveled … 🙂 … and made some from cheap pine timber, it was very inexpensive. I already had the clamps, which are still useable for other projects when and if needed … again, making this a cheap but effective solution.

They worked a treat, although, I need to wrap some more tape and packing around the supports so as to provide a more “soft” point which touches the board.

Oh, and yes, it’s also easy to store the ‘glassing stand’ attachments; they fit onto my surfboard storage shelves in the back left corner of the shed (with all the other surfboard stuff)

So, all in all, if you have limited space like me, there is no reason why you can not have a functional set up …  and it does not have to cost a lot of money.

Evolution of surfboard design

surfers_evolutionSo, the latest evolution in the FFW Surfboards design process is curing … damn, don’t ya just hate the waiting to cure process!

Anyway, while the surf is not doing much around here today, I thought I would look back at the evolution of the design process for this ‘all rounder’.

It all started with the ‘forty one’ … why that name? Simple. I made it for my 41st birthday.

Then, it was tweaked, to take some “excess” foam from the front third, and pulled the tail in a bit. This one became known as the ‘forty one’ II … pretty simple naming process!

That design was then tweaked further with the addition of the full concaves into the AKU Shaper design software. Now, if you have not read here already, I can not believe how accurate the software, to cut board, process works. It is amazing, so much so, that with the first two boards, I was tentative with what I saw on the screen against what I thought the cut board would come out like … well, no more, and with this evolution of the ‘all rounder’ which I’ve tagged as the ‘forty one two’ – mkII

Which brings us to this latest incarnation of the ‘all rounder’ … the ‘forty one two’ – mkIII … which has the lower rails, refined concave ‘shape’ and ‘depth’ with a slight reduction in the overall width … but, keeping the volume basically the same as the previous board.

So, what did I learn with each of the design tweaks?

The first board, the ‘forty one’, as I’ve posted on here felt like it had too much foam in the front third and had too much overall volume. It felt too “big” in the front half of the board, and lacked some turning ability which I know was due to the tail, because having pulled that it on the next one, the turning ability dramatically improved. What I also found was in using the design software, adding in concave … yeah, get your head around that first … you add the concave by pulling down the edge of the rail … so, the volume in terms of ‘thickness’ can be reduced when you add in the concave via the design software.

This also, made me realise, that when I did the first board, because it was cut flat, when I hand shaped in the concave I actually flattened the rocker … so, by using the design software and adding in the concave, I ended up with a better rocker. This however, left me with a board that had a funny ‘keel’ under my front foot as I pushed the double under the front foot … only to realise that it could be smoothed by pulling one of the design points, so that now in this latest one, the ‘forty one two’ – mkIII the keel is gone and the shape of the concave has been “smoothed” out …

The current one I’m surfing performs well, in waves that are not flat … it likes a wave with more shape, does not have to be big, but needs to have some shape, otherwise it’s just dead … in small surf, it gets up and goes, actually all of them have, which has been a surprise, but the difference in performance with each is noticeable once the waves get some shape and I can actually ‘surf’ the boards. This last one, likes coming off the bottom and a can fly off the top, when I put the energy into it … if I’m a bit slack, it bogs, but if I can give it the energy and make sure I hit the top turns in the right spots, it comes off the top very nicely. In some running waves during some point surfs last week, it was awesome … I even managed one small little runner that become a bottom turn, sliding, lose fin top turn, slide, back to bottom turn over and over down the line. Fun!

The other aspect with the mkII version, is it’s comfort in tubes … I think I’ve had more green room time on this one board, than any other board I have ever ridden. I seem to get into waves easier (maybe the light weight blank giving it some more zip?) and so can get into waves behind the peak  so I can then tuck under the pitching lip … where, previously, I would get pitched, or have to surf around the breaking section having been caught up in the lip …

So, I’m now waiting for this latest one to cure so I can go surf it!