Sunday, December 2, 2007

Let the Magic Begin, Part III: Off to Paint and Glass

Once the shaping side is done the board is off to paint and glass. I like to leave the creative side of this up to the painters- after all they've done a million boards and they know what looks good. I just like to specifiy colors and for me it's greens and yellows. This is part of the fun of the custom board process- some shapers will even let you come in and throw your own paint on it if you're feeling like you need to express yourself. A tip: Less is more (Yeah that Molly Hatchet album cover might've seemed easy when you were tracing it in 8th grade- but it becomes a nightmare when you've only got one shot at it on your hot new board- simple and clean is the way to go!)

Glassing is another area where the board can be customized. You'll pay more for it, but you can ask for extra layers of glass if you think you're going to be beating your poor new stick to death. I like to pay a little more for what's called a gloss and polish. This is a final coat of resin over the epoxy and glass lamination that gets buffed out giving the board a highly polished look. I kind of dig it so I always go for it. Many contest surfers like to go for a lighter glass job and skip the gloss and polish, the board will be lighter but more then likely, less durable (most of these guys get them for free so they beat 'em to death).

In the end, the goal is to find a shaper you can talk to. I'm a fan of the new digital shaping programs; using them ensures that both shaper and surfer are in the same frame of mind. A lot of errors can be caught early when you have something tangible to look at rather then a bunch of ideas swirling around in the dusty air of a busy shaping bay.

Once you've found a shaper that you can work with, stay loyal to them. As you build your CAD file you can begin to work on variables one at a time until you've hit the mark- and you've dialed in your magic board. And that, my friend, is just the beginning!

Top two photos: Adding the good stuff that'll hopefully stop me from kooking out! Whatever it is, keep it coming.

Bottom Photo: Ready for a trick paint job and some bad ass glass. The hardest part of the whole process is the waiting!

All Photos: Cowboy

Thanks to Tim Stamps and the boys at ProCam- still waiting for the underground, double secret, good stuff!


Anonymous said...


Great post and really important.

As the lines of what a shaper has been and what the next generation of shaper will be, the lines of knowledge will interact between shaper and client like never before.

Establishing an open relationship and working together on wire frames is an amazing concept and I think the future of shaping. The internet has been breaking down knowledge barriers across industry after industry. In each, there are many who suffer and some who adapt. This is an excellent example of the high value shaper working with a client in a model that is unique and likely to become more of the norm.
Some questions on the intellectual property of the shape? who owns it after it has been shaped the first time. What happens if the next version, you want it thicker and fatter but want to do the board yourself?

It is like writing code, who owns the source code and who has the license to reproduce. Does Tim shape a board for John A and then for each variation of each original shape does JOhn A put a fee to Tim for the variations? Maybe I am just thinking ahead of myself but what you are describing is incredible but what are the boundaries?

Great job on the blog and hope we can surf together. Maybe you should come up north to get some cleaner water this week with the NW Swell. We will be out at tables.


John Ashley said...

Michaelf: Great questions!

I agree with you, the marriage between "high value shaper" (by the way, I need to sit down and talk to you about what you do- because you've always got insight that just nails the guts of an issue), milling machines and CAD software is the future. People want it.

The change from just being a high volume cutting tool to becoming the instrument for quantifiable surfboard development is going to awesome both for these shapers and for performance minded riders.

I definitely do not have an answer for you regarding the intellectual property question. It's a big one isn't it? And something these guys are going to have to consider seriously- how easy would it be to request the wireframe info- email it to China, get Ning Po to scrub it out and glass it up, now multiply times 100 a day- interesting question (and I think already being done!).

Dude- you've just got my wheels spinning for my next "Investigative Piece"!

Would love to get away from the 25 Million Gallons a Day coming out of the river and I may very well take you up on your offer to surf. Would also like to look at your boards.

Thanks for the questions MichaelF- keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

john my thought is that the person that paid for the cad work is the owner of the work.the gem took hours of design time.i paid the shaper for his time.did i ask for what iam going to do with this info.i know my profession.I am no surfboard shaper or the works at this time for new the go from alexander.captneg9