Monday, October 20, 2008

Kelly's Journey: Building Khama

I have no idea how I'd start building a stand up board. Too much measuring, too much symmetry for me. I have the attention span of a lump of Play-Doh and zero manual dexterity. I've got hands like a lunchbox, I mess things up. My board would come out looking like an over-sized ironing board. And I'm sure it'd be ugly.

Photo: Kelly's 12' block of foam- hard to believe a board will be cut out of that beast!

Here's a board building story with a happier ending. Kelly's board is, in fact, beautiful. But you'll have to read along for a few days to see the final product. If you're like me, though, you won't mind waiting to see what she's done. There's a good story here and some timeless lessons learned. My favorite: Sometimes the best thing to do is just to let go... Advice that I could use in a few places in my life (did someone say "Book Project").

Photo: An outline is born! Maybe there is a paddle board in there. A little background: What made you decide to build your own board? Are you a very "handy" person?

Kelly: I had been renting a board occasionally and really wanted to get into it but didn't have the money to invest. When I told my friend that I was interested in it he so graciously offered to walk me through the process and do it on my own to dramatically cut the cost. I don't really have experience working with my hands (other than a lot of sewing) but just love trying and learning new things. Gary has years and years of experience with woodworking, boats, boards, you name it- so I was lucky to have someone with so much experience guide me step by step and teach me the "whys" along the way.

Photo: Using hand tools to "get the feel of it". Where did you get the blank and equipment to start your project?

Kelly: Gary got the blank and we used all of the tools at his shop. Couldn't have done it without him.

Photo: A little hand sanding, a little more hand sanding, and a little more hand sanding... How did you decide what the outline and dimensions of your board?

Kelly: Gary asked me different questions about my preferences such as- "do you want to cruise on it more or surf it? What size board were you renting before and how did that feel? Do you want it to be more stable or more challenging?" Based on my answers and his experience, we drew the outline of the board (10 feet). When it came time to sand and shape the rails and use the planer on the bottom and deck- we did it more by sight. We probably could have put a little more rocker in it….

Photo: Chewing through the foam at a ridiculous rate- that planer looks hungry! What was the most difficult part of the project? Which part would you not care to repeat?

Kelly: The hardest part was using the planer!! And being careful with the sanding. He was having me do everything with "manual" tools so I could get a feel for it. I wanted to use the electric sander because it was faster and easier. Turns out- if you don't know what you are doing it is also faster and easier to mess up and sand too far down. Soooo, my hand sanding skills improved dramatically. There wasn't anything I wouldn't want to do again….I'd just want to do it better! Which step did you have the most fun with?

Kelly: All of them! But I think the most exciting was actually one of the first steps of cutting and sanding the blank and seeing it go from this huge square 12 foot block to the shape of a board.

Check back tomorrow for more of the Kelly's project- Khama takes shape!

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