Obama Hand planing

The Commander in Chief having a surf in Hawaii.

The Inertia

Hand planing isn’t about being trendy or being different for the sake of being different. Like surfing, hand planing is about having fun. In addition to the simple fact that it’s fun, here are three reasons why you might want to consider a hand plane as your vehicle for wave sliding during your next session.

1. Waves Feel Bigger

For many of us, bigger is better (up to a certain point). In the digital age, where nearly every wave is documented almost to the point of redundancy, the contrast between how a wave feels and what it actually looks like can be sobering. So, recognizing how you feel during your session is far more important than how cool you look. By hand planing, or body surfing in general, allows the wave to feel much bigger. You can transform nature’s chest-high waves to overhead simply by not standing up. It’s genius.

Kolohe Andino getting a few on his newest edition to his quiver. Photo: Jason Ke

Kolohe Andino getting a few on his newest edition to his quiver. Photo: Jason Kenworthy

2. More Space and More Waves


Nothing kills a session’s vibe faster than an unruly crowd. Here in the wave-starved region of South Florida, when breaks like South Beach start working, the lineup can turn into a circus very quickly- especially when there are a few dozen longboards and SUPs in the lineup. Luckily, arming yourself with a hand plane allows your footprint to be dramatically reduced, as it becomes much easier to navigate the madness.

To illustrate this notion, try going out in a crowded lineup, surf for one hour and count how many waves you get. Then swim out with some fins and a hand plane. I would venture to say that the wave count on session number two would be much larger. Also, depending on your state of fitness, how long it takes before for your arms start to feel like noodles while surfing will vary. One of my favorite ways to extend a day in the water is to switch from surfing to hand planing, and back to surfing again. Since body surfing works the lower half of the body more than the upper, hand planing will give your arms a rest while maximizing your waves and time in the water.

3. Less Gear

It goes without saying that surfboards of all shapes and sizes are totally awesome. For being inanimate objects, they make us very happy. But these fragile works of art can sometimes be cumbersome and simply a nuisance to carry around. Conversely, hand planing is refreshingly simple. Many people think that a tiny, hand-sized board at the end of your arm wouldn’t make much of a difference while body surfing. I was one of those people. That is, until I tried it. But don’t take my word for it. Try it out for yourself. Plus, you can make a little art project out of it by building your own plane. It’s pretty simple. If you’re not the crafty type, you can choose from a variety of shapers. We’re big fans of Lucidious Originals, which is a Bali-based company that finds reclaimed teak and converts it into insanely beautiful pieces of slideable art. Reduce, reuse, recycle, and get pitted.


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