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 🙁





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!

Shaping Stand Modifications

P1010776My stands developed a ‘wobble’ …

I initially thought it was the uneven floor in the garden shed. So, for sometime, I was working around it by “packing” under the edges of the buckets to make them “even” and to remove most of the wobble. Beer cartons worked a treat!

However, upon close inspection, the issue became obvious.

As you can see from the first picture, the issue at hand was the outward bow in the bottom of the buckets. Since I only used sand to fill the buckets (i.e. not concrete like other people have used), it was a simple fix …



I removed the sand, and then added a plywood “base” to the bucket … I had some plywood laying around, so it was a cheap fix.

Lessons, tips and tricks:

1. Using sand in the buckets to hold the stands upright proved useful

2. If using a bucket like I did make sure it has a solid base to avoid the “bow” … or add a solid base 😉

3. Have level and stable stands. It really makes a huge difference!

A record for a custom surfboard?

waitingI hate waiting for a new board.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the process and how time consuming it is … running a surfboard business would be hectic; especially at this time of year. Over the years, on average, for a new custom board I would have easily had a 6 to 8 week arduous wait.

That’s not what has happened with the Forty One Two – MkIV.

I started to make my own, using AKU software to design, then having them machine cut … I finish them and until the last couple was having a dig at glassing. I miss glassing and sanding. I love the smell of resin, and the feeling of sanding. Is it the rubbing that feels so good?

Sorry, side tracked there … where was I, oh, that’s right, I’ve had the last couple glassed.

So, here’s the timeline breakdown …

The AKU file was sent for cutting on Monday 25th November …

I got the cut blank back at the end of the next week, it was ready, but I picked it up on the 6th December …

I finished it over that weekend, and dropped it into the glassing service on Monday 9th December …

I got a text to say it was ready on Monday 16th December …

Yes, that’s correct, from file, to cut blank, to finished board in 3 weeks!

Yes, that’s a custom surfboard in 3 weeks.






That’s it in the pic above …

Now, it’s just the arduous wait while it cures … I hate waiting for boards to cure.

Merry Christmas to me.  First surf on it will be New Years day …


PS: Do you like the new FFW logo?


Fins = confidence to design?

confidenceAs I wrote a while back, I have been trying different fins in the latest evolution of the “Forty One Two”. Now that I’ve found the right fins, I have the confidence to tweak the design. Weird I know!

As you may have read, this latest board has a lot of lift, get up and go, but with that, lacking some control.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no athlete, or high performance surfer. Rather, your average bloke in his early forties, who is lucky enough to get to surf almost every day. So I am “surf fit” and have some experience, having started surfing just over 30 years ago.

As I wrote previously, I started with Performance Core K2.1’s and then put in some of the Parko JP5 fins.  I ended up deciding to try some AM2 fins, and bought an “after market” copy of what I thought were AM2’s … the first give away should have been the poor fit, with a gap between the base of the fins and the board. I sanded the tabs so it would fit flush, but the base of the fin had a curve, so I had to give the corners near the tabs a sand too …  after surfing the fins for a while I concluded there was something still wrong.

Thinking board issues, I decided to double check the finished dimensions of the board.

Now, that was an eye opener … what it said in AKU Shaper, is within a bees dick of the finished board. I checked the concave shape and depth, both single and double and they were as per the AKU design, and what I had wanted … although, I was starting to think it may have been the depth that was causing the performance issues … more depth, more lift, less control?

Or, maybe outline issues I had not figured out yet.

In the process, I decided to check the fin cant, toe, etc … well the toe was the same as other boards I had, but the fin cant was the shock. I had asked for 6 degree cant (when I had the board glassed) and that’s what I got … BUT, all the other boards that I had liked over the last few years had more, some 8 degree’s, other around 7. Each board having concave, I measured from the stringer across to get a ‘true’ comparison.

Lesson there … check what your riding!

OK, back to the fins.

It was at this stage, I checked the after market AM2 fins against some genuine AM2. They were different, and with that knowledge it filled the gaps with what I was feeling with the board. I had thought the AM2 would add drive, but less than the JP5 fins, and maybe a tad less than the JP5 with K2.1 centre fin combo, but more than all the K2.1’s. Same with the pivot … a mid way solution which was what I needed. What I had found was less drive, like way less, no punch off the bottom and a weird release off the top feeling, like it got “stuck” … I was really starting to doubt my design process.

After comparing the after market AM2 with the genuine AM2, things fell into place. But I still was not getting what I wanted from the board.

So, I went around to see the boys (Tank, Elvis and Foils) at Shapers … As usual they were more than happy to help, well Tank was, the other two were off loafing somewhere as usual. Tank went through a heap of fins and options with me, and after a process of elimination he lent me some Asher Pacey AP02 fins to try …

Whooah, that’s what’s been missing! I used the AP02 sides with a slightly bigger ‘nuke’ back fin … very nice, and just what was missing.

First wave, punched off the bottom, vertical, and off the top with pace. I was not ready for it. Over the session, I found the combination was great and all the ‘issues’ seemed to dissolve. Cutbacks had speed to burn coming out of them and I did not feel like I had to ‘muscle’ the board to get it around … The AP02, being a tad bigger than K2.1, there was  no lack of control.

So, now having found the right fins, I feel confident that the design is OK. So it’s time to tweak it … look out MkIV is on the way!

I’m keen to hear if anyone is finding fin changes are radically changing the performance of their boards. What fins do you use? How have they changed the performance of your board? How have the changed the way you surf a wave?