******Updated August 2011, Check out the New Video on “How To Build A Snowboard HERE

presented by transworld.tv

 

 

From original article by Melissa Larsen & Robyn Hakes published in 1998

If building your own snowboard was as easy as following instructions from a three-page article in the back of a magazine, a lot of people would be out of a job. Building a snowboard is complicated, time-intensive, patience-trying, a lot more expensive than buying a factory-made stick from your local shop, and a factory board will likely hold up much better than a homemade one. This article is in no way meant to be presented as a definitive step-by-step guide to snowboard construction. No, no-what you have in your hands is a starting point.

A few months ago, a solitary black-and-white photo submission was sent to us with the words, “Randy Jesperson, grinding an edge on a new Olive snowboard. Randy builds Olive snowboards in the machine shop of his parents’ dairy farm in Spruce Grove, Alberta. Used with permission.” written in pen on the back. So cool. Who builds snowboards like that these days-handcrafted, a labor of love? The picture was set aside until a worthy use could be found for it.

Soon after, a reader, Chris Roberton, wrote in asking if we knew where he could buy raw materials to build a snowboard. Our curiosity piqued, we wrote back to find out his story. He told us the tale of his life-how he loves to build and design things, and how, short of a few details like how to build a press (factory snowboard presses cost about 10,000 dollars-a little expensive), he was pretty sure he’d figured out how to go about constructing a snowboard from scratch.

He shared his ideas with us, and we enlisted the help of Greg Pronko from Glissade Snowboards, who was nice enough to advise us on the feasibility of Chris’ plans from a manufacturer’s standpoint. He took it one step further by coming up with an idea for an economically feasible vacuum press-using pressure instead of heat to bind the snowboard components together. His illustrations are what you see here.

That’s what this article is: the product of our conversations and musings with Chris and Greg put on paper for like-minded individuals to analyze and expand upon. It’s a collaboration of ideas produced by a few people excited about the possibility of constructing a snowboard with your own two hands-much in the same way some people are into rebuilding classic cars. It’s something to think about, something to dream about, and a resource to use if you ever come up with enough money and time to take on the project yourself. Enjoy.

Step By Step: The Home Snowboard Operation

By Robyn Hakes

Before you can do any board-building, you need to have a place to work. Your parents’ garage is a good place to start if it’s clean, well ventilated, and of course, okay with them.

The basic snowboard components required for this project include:

1.Base material-extruded (squeezed through a machine called a die) or sintered (heated and put through a press until it welds together) polyethylene plastic. Sintered bases are more expensive, but they’re also more resistant to wear, hold wax more efficiently, and glide better than extruded bases1.

2.Steel edges.

3.Woodcore-pre-milled (meaning pre-cut with a gradual tapering of the thickness from the center to the edges, thicker in the middle and thinner toward the tip and tail) with insert pattern drilled in.

4.Inserts.

5.Rubber foil (optional).

6.Tip and tail spacers (pieces of plastic cut to the shape of the tip and tail).

7.Fiberglass.

8.Resin (type that cures at room temperature).

9.Peel-ply (mesh material, this is in place of a topsheet).

10.Super Glue.

There are some essential tools you’ll need as well: a jigsaw (don’t use any machines without supervision), a razor-blade knife, at least one screwdriver, a power drill, hand clamps, and a hand-held belt sander. Don’t forget to use proper protection, including a heavy-duty apron, work gloves, safety glasses, a hair net (to keep yourong locks out of the way), and old clothes you don’t mind ruining.

The most important piece of equipment, though, is a board press. This is what makes all the parts stick together and become solid. You can’t make a snowboard without a press.

The simplest press to make and use is a vacuum press. Have you ever seen something that’s been vacuum packed? Well that’s what this does, it sucks all the air out and compresses the board components, forcing the resin to adhere to the board parts. Hopefully, if you’re considering making a snowboard, you’re already quite handy and inventive, because the vacuum press is basically a concept and not an actual machine. You’ll need to acquire a vacuum unit and port from a hardware company.

The rest of the press consists of vacuum-bagging film that covers the entire mold, extra-sturdy double-sided tape to secure the bagging film in place, cloth breather material, a polyethylene sheet (a simple tarp will do), and plastic tubing that will connect the vacuum pump to the vacuum bagging material. You’ll have to shop around for this stuff. Try looking on the Internet or checking hardware or building supply stores. I they don’t have these parts, they might give you some suggestions.

Again, you will also need resin that cures at room temperature. Professional board builders use resin that is heated to around 300 degrees.

Before you put the board in the press, you’ll need to construct a mold. The mold holds all the board pieces together and is also contoured to build camber, and nose and tail kick into your ride.

Hand draw the curvature of your board, just simple arcs, on several pieces of plywood. Cut each piece of plywood with a jigsaw, remembering to get your parents’ supervision as well as wear your safety gear. Stack each piece next to each other. The plywood pieces should measure two or three inches wider than your actual snowboard. Cut a piece of sheet metal to hang slightly over the edges of the mold (lengthwise and widthwise). Secure the sheet metal with screws, but make sure they are on the outside so there are no holes in the working area where your snowboard will go.

Your mold will be slightly larger than your board shape, so make sure you determine your board size and shape before making the mold. See illustration number one to get a better idea.

Let’s Get Started!

The first step is to come up with a board shape. Draw an outline of the size and shape you’d like to make. It’s illegal to blatantly copy a board that’s already on the market, so if you do take your favorite board and trace its shape, you’d better watch your back. If you start selling these as your own creations, someone might come knocking on your door.

Once you’ve got a board shape drawn on paper or cardboard, use it as a pattern to make a template out of wood. Put the template down on your base material and use your razor-blade knife to cut your base.

Okay, we’re ready to build a board.

1.Before putting anything in the mold, rub on some wax. This will keep everything from sticking to the metal later.

2. Take your cut-out base material and place it in the mold.

3.Next, glue your steel edges to the base. Use the Super Glue, and put on a hand clamp every few inches. Your edges should be cut to the exact running length of the board. Manufacturers differ on this subject. Some use full-wrap edges, while others use this wrap-in technique. The easiest technique is to have two edge pieces end just a little bit higher than where the tip and tail kick up. You might ask the building or hardware supply if they can pre-cut and bend your edges. If not, you’ll have to cut and bend your edges with pliers. If you bend the last two inches of metal in toward the center of your board slightly, they’ll be more secure (see illustration number two).

4.Some manufacturers add strips of rubber foil close to the edges to dampen the board against chatter. If you chose to do this, get the foil and the edge wet with resin, and place the foil over the metal, just slightly in from the edge of the board.

5.The woodcore is next. When you order it, it should be pre-milled, meaning it will be tapered-thicker in the middle and thinner towards the tip and tail. Cut it to fit your board length. It should end where the tip and tail begin to kick up.

You also need to smooth the side edges of the woodcore so it tapers outward. Making a sidewall board at home is difficult. With the technique described here, your fiberglass layer should be a little wider than your snowboard so that during pressing, it will come down over all the other pieces and basically create a capped edge.

6.Ask your woodcore supplier to pre-cut the insert hole pattern. Put your inserts in (they should just snap into place), and then lay the core on the base.

7.Put the tip and tail spacers in. These will come as pieces of plastic that you can cut with your razor-blade knife to the shape of your board. Make sure these are the same thickness as the tip and tail of your woodcore.

8.Next step, add fiberglass. You can use either biaxial or triaxial glass. Either is good, but traditionally, triaxial glass offers more tortional stiffness. You’ll be doing what’s called a wet layup process, which is really messy and will take several tries before you get the exact amount of resin dialed. When ordering resin, make sure you ask for one that has a high pot life. No, you stoners, this isn’t a drug reference, it means the resin won’t harden in the container while you bone-heads figure out what you’re doing. Lay the fiberglass over the base materials (it should be slightly larger than your board, overhanging about one-half inch all the way around). Smooth resin over everything with a flat plastic scraper. Make sure you smooth the resin evenly over the entire board. Everything should be wet with resin, but there shouldn’t be any puddles.

9.Instead of a topsheet you’ll need something called peel-ply. This is a mesh sheet that adheres to the fiberglass and allows the resin to be sucked up by the cloth breather material while keeping the fiberglass in place.

10.Run the double-sided tape around the perimeter of the board materials to secure the vacuum press (see illustration number one).

11.Place the plastic tarp over your board. Put the breather cloth on top of that and the vacuum bagging film over the whole thing. This piece will be larger than the entire mold, to allow the sucking of the vacuum to work properly.

12.Run the press for approximately 24 hours. The colder the temperature in your area, the longer the board will have to press. Ask your resin supplier how long they suggest.

13.To finish your board, you’ll need the jigsaw again to cut off the excess fiberglass. Use the belt sander to smooth everything out.

14.Drilling out the inserts is the trickiest part of finishing. Since you don’t have a topsheet you’ll be able to see the insert holes clearly. Use a drill with a countersink bit. You’ll need to make sure you have enough threads in the inserts for three complete turns of your binding screws. If you drill too much out, a tap will rethread the insert.

15.Finally, take your board to a local shop for a base grind. Your base is covered with resin and gunk, and you probably won’t be able to afford the machine to properly do this process, so spend the twenty bucks and have it done by a professional. Get it waxed while you’re at it.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Keep in mind, this is a completely bargain-basement board-making process we’ve outlined here. You’re bound to run into a lot of problems, breakage being among them. Most of the board brands on the market overcame these problems long ago. So if you’re looking for a board that rides great any day of the year, you’re better off heading down to your local shop and asking for theithe foil and the edge wet with resin, and place the foil over the metal, just slightly in from the edge of the board.

5.The woodcore is next. When you order it, it should be pre-milled, meaning it will be tapered-thicker in the middle and thinner towards the tip and tail. Cut it to fit your board length. It should end where the tip and tail begin to kick up.

You also need to smooth the side edges of the woodcore so it tapers outward. Making a sidewall board at home is difficult. With the technique described here, your fiberglass layer should be a little wider than your snowboard so that during pressing, it will come down over all the other pieces and basically create a capped edge.

6.Ask your woodcore supplier to pre-cut the insert hole pattern. Put your inserts in (they should just snap into place), and then lay the core on the base.

7.Put the tip and tail spacers in. These will come as pieces of plastic that you can cut with your razor-blade knife to the shape of your board. Make sure these are the same thickness as the tip and tail of your woodcore.

8.Next step, add fiberglass. You can use either biaxial or triaxial glass. Either is good, but traditionally, triaxial glass offers more tortional stiffness. You’ll be doing what’s called a wet layup process, which is really messy and will take several tries before you get the exact amount of resin dialed. When ordering resin, make sure you ask for one that has a high pot life. No, you stoners, this isn’t a drug reference, it means the resin won’t harden in the container while you bone-heads figure out what you’re doing. Lay the fiberglass over the base materials (it should be slightly larger than your board, overhanging about one-half inch all the way around). Smooth resin over everything with a flat plastic scraper. Make sure you smooth the resin evenly over the entire board. Everything should be wet with resin, but there shouldn’t be any puddles.

9.Instead of a topsheet you’ll need something called peel-ply. This is a mesh sheet that adheres to the fiberglass and allows the resin to be sucked up by the cloth breather material while keeping the fiberglass in place.

10.Run the double-sided tape around the perimeter of the board materials to secure the vacuum press (see illustration number one).

11.Place the plastic tarp over your board. Put the breather cloth on top of that and the vacuum bagging film over the whole thing. This piece will be larger than the entire mold, to allow the sucking of the vacuum to work properly.

12.Run the press for approximately 24 hours. The colder the temperature in your area, the longer the board will have to press. Ask your resin supplier how long they suggest.

13.To finish your board, you’ll need the jigsaw again to cut off the excess fiberglass. Use the belt sander to smooth everything out.

14.Drilling out the inserts is the trickiest part of finishing. Since you don’t have a topsheet you’ll be able to see the insert holes clearly. Use a drill with a countersink bit. You’ll need to make sure you have enough threads in the inserts for three complete turns of your binding screws. If you drill too much out, a tap will rethread the insert.

15.Finally, take your board to a local shop for a base grind. Your base is covered with resin and gunk, and you probably won’t be able to afford the machine to properly do this process, so spend the twenty bucks and have it done by a professional. Get it waxed while you’re at it.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Keep in mind, this is a completely bargain-basement board-making process we’ve outlined here. You’re bound to run into a lot of problems, breakage being among them. Most of the board brands on the market overcame these problems long ago. So if you’re looking for a board that rides great any day of the year, you’re better off heading down to your local shop and asking for their recommendation. If you’re interested in learning, hands on, how and why a snowboard works, while making something you can call your own, then get to work!

 

1Waxing and Care of Skis and Snowboards; by Michael Brady and Leif Torgersen; Wilderness Press, Berkeley, CA; p.17.

All the materials you need, from woodcores to shop tools, should be available through one or more of the following companies. They will be happy to provide you with catalogs and price sheets upon request. We suggest you contact them all so you can sit down and estimate costs for yourself.

Snow-Tek U.S.A. Inc.

2361 South 200th St.

Seattle, WA 98188

Phone: (206) 824-9640

FAX: (206) 824-9641

Test Pilot

716 Highway 10, Suite 128

Minneapolis, MN 55434

Phone: 1-800-780-4911

Fax: (612) 785-9257

http://www.test-pilot.com

Custom Components

8 Fuller St., Suite 2

Waltham, MA 02154

Phone: (781) 894-8788

Fax: (781) 894-8777

e-mail: zhaom@aol.com

CDW-EDGE

5221 West 164th St.

Cleveland, OH 44142

Phone: (216) 267-5550

FAX: (216) 267-5533

e-mail: dbsteel53@aol.com

Northwest Edge Works

P.O. Box 362

Bend, OR 97709

Phone: (541) 330-9667

Fax: (541) 330-9669

e-mail: kevinc@empnet.com

Sun Valley Ski Tools

2025 W. Century Way

Boise, ID 83709

Phone: 1-800-758-8857

Fax: (208) 378-1799

Advance Composite Group

5350 South 129th East Avenue

Tulsa, OK 74134

Phone: (918) 252-3922

Fax: (918) 252-7371

e-mail: sales@acg-us.com

www.acg-us.com

Spirakut Products

P.O. Box 3430

Hailey, ID 83333

Phone: 1-800-621-1657

Fax: 1-800-353-1840

e-mail: spirakut@spirakut.com

www.spirakut.com

IMS Kunststoffe AG

Papiermuehlestrasse 155

CH 3063 Ittigen-Bern

Switzerland

Phone: 41-31-925-4250

Fax: 41-31-925-4251

e-mail: 106313.3037@compuserve.com

Attn: Irene Grob, for U.S. inquiries

their recommendation. If you’re interested in learning, hands on, how and why a snowboard works, while making something you can call your own, then get to work!

 

1Waxing and Care of Skis and Snowboards; by Michael Brady and Leif Torgersen; Wilderness Press, Berkeley, CA; p.17.

All the materials you need, from woodcores to shop tools, should be available through one or more of the following companies. They will be happy to provide you with catalogs and price sheets upon request. We suggest you contact them all so you can sit down and estimate costs for yourself.

Snow-Tek U.S.A. Inc.

2361 South 200th St.

Seattle, WA 98188

Phone: (206) 824-9640

FAX: (206) 824-9641

Test Pilot

716 Highway 10, Suite 128

Minneapolis, MN 55434

Phone: 1-800-780-4911

Fax: (612) 785-9257

http://www.test-pilot.com

Custom Components

8 Fuller St., Suite 2

Waltham, MA 02154

Phone: (781) 894-8788

Fax: (781) 894-8777

e-mail: zhaom@aol.com

CDW-EDGE

5221 West 164th St.

Cleveland, OH 44142

Phone: (216) 267-5550

FAX: (216) 267-5533

e-mail: dbsteel53@aol.com

Northwest Edge Works

P.O. Box 362

Bend, OR 97709

Phone: (541) 330-9667

Fax: (541) 330-9669

e-mail: kevinc@empnet.com

Sun Valley Ski Tools

2025 W. Century Way

Boise, ID 83709

Phone: 1-800-758-8857

Fax: (208) 378-1799

Advance Composite Group

5350 South 129th East Avenue

Tulsa, OK 74134

Phone: (918) 252-3922

Fax: (918) 252-7371

e-mail: sales@acg-us.com

www.acg-us.com

Spirakut Products

P.O. Box 3430

Hailey, ID 83333

Phone: 1-800-621-1657

Fax: 1-800-353-1840

e-mail: spirakut@spirakut.com

www.spirakut.com

IMS Kunststoffe AG

Papiermuehlestrasse 155

CH 3063 Ittigen-Bern

Switzerland

Phone: 41-31-925-4250

Fax: 41-31-925-4251

e-mail: 106313.3037@compuserve.com

Attn: Irene Grob, for U.S. inquiries