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

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!

Performance vs Wave Quality

confused dudeThinking about the tweaks I’m doing to my next design, and some recent waves / experience with the current board, I’m now at the dilemma of whether I am designing the board for better performance, or whether I should ‘tone it back a bit’ so it handles average waves better. Making my own is giving me this luxury, and issue … using the computer design, machine cut process I know I can produce the board I want (and for the record, I know full well there is no way I could do that mowing the foam myself).

The current board, the forty one two – mkII, as you’ll have read in the ride report has some quirks. The update though, is now that the deck is compressing, the performance is changing, and improving … add in some great waves lately, and it has been a real buzz. Very happy with it …

So, now I’m rethinking how far I push the tweaks.

Do I go for lower rail volume, which will more than likely make it struggle in less quality waves (which is the norm, well 80% of the time anyway), or do I leave them a but “softer” so the board performs better across a selection of waves?

The bottom contour has me also second guessing. The double into deeper double … all inside a single into deeper single, is working … and I’ve worked out how to get rid of the ‘keel’ impact, but keeping the same depth in design. But, again, not sure if I should back off the depth of the double under my front foot a bit, to give it more all round ability?

What’s your take on double under your front foot? What’s it do? Why have it?

Would love to hear any and all thoughts.



PS: How many of you are using the new version of AKU Shaper? I love the way in the new version your current design stays as a shadow, so you can see the impact of your changes without the need to ghost a board. Being able to move the lights up and down in ‘the bay’ is pretty cool too, as is the quality of the image render. $7 per month, so a backyarder … sure, it adds to the cost of the few boards I’d make, but it is pretty neat software, and I think worth the $ (wonder if they’ll give me a discount for this write up?)

Decisions on the run …

Holding the board downOK, thought I would share one of my ‘decisions on the run’ … so, here’s the situation, I have the shaping stands that I turn sideways and whack on the ‘glassing stands’ … so, then when I glass I have the ‘reverse’ tape to hold the board … but once glassed, there is usually some sanding needed, like the dags on the laps, etc … so I end up just doing it with the glassing stands in place … but, it does get a bit hard to hold the board at times, so I decided on the run to use some masking tape to hold the board down …

So, while I’m sanding say the tail, or fin boxes, etc. I whack on some tape like the pic here (click it for a larger view).

You can see my stands in this pic too … and the ‘glassing stands’ I attach to the top.

Feel free to use any of my idea’s in your own R&D … after all that’s what Rip Off and Duplicate is all about !!!

Getting Organised

New StorageWell, the swell has been pretty ordinary lately … so, I have spent some time thinking about how I can get more organised in the shed. You see, I’m a bit ‘just get it done’ when I’m making boards, and I end up with stuff everywhere … the shelves on the top of my side lights have been very handy … I put stuff on them until there is stuff all space … and end up moving stuff, knockng stuff over, etc … so, then when I move it, I’m putting it in corners and “away” as I moved to the next phase of the board making process.

So, I was going to build some shelves, and use plastics containers, but when I priced that up, and thought about the practical aspect of it being used … well, I ended up going this way (see pic, click on it for a larger view). It has ten slide out plastic (easy to clean and hose out of foam dust, yeah as if I’m ever going to do that!) and have enough room in each for what I want.

And surprisingly, this did not come from Bunnings. Nope, it’s from Officeworks … for $38 !!!