“Handmade”, our film about DIY shaping, is done and dusted. The boards were ridden around the world and the film’s been released (which you can watch above, if you missed it), along with our interviews with the shapers about what drew them to building their own boards and the ways in which that process has caused their surfing to evolve (you’ll find those clips below). But one thing that we weren’t able to cover in those shaping bay interviews was how their new boards actually worked, because, you know, they were still unglassed hunks of foam at the time.
Well, this past week we got back in touch with our “Handmade” cohorts to see just how well their new craft fared, what they liked about the boards and what they would change. After all, these boards were built in a barn, with some of the shapers using borrowed templates and tools, often times after several beers (somehow we all kept our fingers). Read their assessments of their handmade craft below.
Andrew Doheny: 5'6" shortboard, tested in Mainland Mexico pointbreaks
"That board was pretty good. Not the best board, but it went alright. I think I hadn't shaped in a second before I made that thing, and I should have probably kept a bit more rocker. I cut the rocker off and the board went super fast, but when the waves were good it was pretty hard to stay in the pocket because the board wanted to just fly out onto the face. Sometimes I love boards like that, but on that Mexico trip it could have been better."
Tyler Warren: 8'0" performance egg, tested in Puerto Escondido and at Trestles
"It works well, but the one thing I would change if I could go back is that I'd move all the fins up an inch. I've never made an 8-foot thruster, so I didn't know exactly where to put the fins—I just kind of eyeballed it. I set the back fin about 3 ½” from the tail and I should have put it at 4 ½". It still turns, but I was thinking about sanding down the back fin a little to loosen it up in smaller surf, or rip the glass ons off and put boxes in and try that. It didn't slide out at all at Puerto, though, which was sick. I've only ridden the board three times so far—twice in Puerto and once back in California. There haven't really been the right waves for it here, since it was made for pumping point surf, but I'm stoked with the board. I think it's going to be sick in the right waves."
Ryan Burch: 5'6" asymmetrical fish, tested at Seaside
"It's definitely a chippy board. I think in the excitement of shaping in front of everyone, I planed a bit more than I thought I was planing. But it goes pretty good. I could feel the asymmetry a lot; it really hooked in on that side of the rail when I laid it over onto the heel side, which has the side cut in it. That was a cool feeling. I think the balance of a normal, straight outline on the toe side was a cool feeling, too. I haven't gotten enough waves on it, to be honest, because I've been at home and it's been absolutely flat here. It takes a lot of sessions for me to feel like I really know a board, and I feel like if you give any board time, you're gonna figure it out. The first session is usually me letting the board do whatever and riding it kind of conservatively, and then I get the hang of it and try to push it the next time I ride it. But on this board, I could feel pretty quickly that there was something there, for sure."
Derrick Disney: 5'5" twinzer, tested in Portugal and at Swami’s
"It went pretty well. It was maybe a little bit edgier than I was hoping for, but I did like it. Having that much concave with the twinzer setup probably isn't the best. It felt like if the bottom contour was more subtle, it would probably respond a little bit better. I'd give it a C+, if I had to rate it. It was fun, but definitely not magic. It's a lot different shaping in an environment like that, and it was a bit harder to tell what the board was missing. But I also think that the board ended up getting caught between two different concepts–not quite getting the best feelings of a fish, but also not getting the best feelings of a high-performance board. I actually made a better version of that board before, but on this one I tried to hard to make it more of a performance board. Still fun, just not magic. Either way I'm glad I made it. Every board is like a data point, and so now I know a little more about what does and doesn't work with the twinzer concept."
Zack Flores: 5'3" E-wing twin fin, tested at Seaside
"It’s a funny story with my board, because I actually lost the board and then eventually I got it back. I was surfing Swami's one night after we shot for the video, and it was super cold. I just jumped in my car with my wetsuit on and forgot my board on the side of the road and drove home. I posted something about it on social media trying to see if anyone had the board, and then two weeks later, I was at Pipes and somebody just walked up to me and said, 'Hey, I think I have your board.' The board works super good, though. I rode it a bunch when it was small, around the time the fires were happening up north, and then when I lost it, I made pretty much an identical board. Comparing them, the one I made in the barn is definitely not as well made, probably because I wasn't taking my time and paying attention as much as I would back home. The one I made back home came out really clean, and I did those flute channels again and got them a lot deeper and better on that board. But the original is crazy fast and very light, so it's great for airs and really small days. It pretty much did everything I wanted it to."