I have always wanted to build my own surfboard, inspired for years by the work of Grain Surfboards in Main, San Francisco’s Danny Hess, and my friend Patrick Burnett of Burnett Wood Surfboards in Cape Town, South Africa.
There are tons of plans, templates, and techniques available online these days for anybody wanting to take on the DIY project. However, I’d never found myself in the right set of circumstances to take on such an ambitious project. That was all until last summer when, after working as a videographer and photographer at Camp Thunderbird in Minnesota, I had the opportunity to start making “The Redwood Thunderboard”.
Bill Wilson, the maintenance manager of the camp, kindly gave me free reign in his perfectly equipped workshop and suggested I “harvest” the material for the project from discarded camp sailboats. The boats were handmade in the 1950s by then maintenance manager, Arnold. After toiling a few planks off the old boats with a claw hammer, crowbar and some cursing, I found that the wood was as clean and good as ever, even after over 70 years of weathering in the North Woods.
I set to work in the fall and it took about two months to get the basic form of the board together and finished before the harsh Northern winter set in and it was time to decamp to the sunnier climes of Southern California, where I was able to finish up with fiberglass and set my board to water. Here are some photographs illustrating the journey. As Grain perfectly put it, “We love building surfboards. The process, the tools, the material, all come together to give a great sense of satisfaction. It’s the process that we’re passionate about—a process that’s thoughtful—with sustainability, longevity, quality, and awesomeness built in.”