What's the world's most exciting surfer do to make surfing more exciting? Apart from higher airs, faster spins and a whole lot of rail, Dane Reynolds has been crafting the vessels beneath his feet. Not all of them, of course. Channel Islands shoulders most of that responsibility. But during down days at home he has hacked, tweaked and honed between 20 and 25 boards. With a nod to the past and the goal of shaping a proper thruster, Dane's taking his love for board design into his own hands. —Taylor Paul

DANE: I shaped my first board maybe five years ago and it turned out really bad. I didn't really get into it for a while after that, but I guess I got really psyched after I read the Michael Peterson book. Back then it seemed like you were only as good as your shaping skills. And everyone was riding new equipment so I got kind of inspired from that. It's pretty fun, but I'm really a novice.

My craftsmanship would make a real shaper cringe. I hack at them, you know. When I first started getting into it I was free styling a lot of the lines. I'd connect the dots just by eye, so they were pretty shitty boards, really. I still don't have many templates.

Last year I shaped a board that I brought to the Gold Coast that worked really well. I also rode one in the final at France last year. I usually ride them around home though. I'll make sure to try them before I bring them on a trip, if I do, to know how they work a little bit.

Most of them I start with a raw blank. Sometimes I'll get machine cuts from C.I. or ones that are defects that they just put away — they have a whole attic of those. Generally, they end up working well because they already have the rocker there and the bottom contour and stuff. For instance, if I'm going to get a defect machine cut or whatever, I'll get a 6'5" Shaun Tomson model so I have a lot of room to move.

I was really trying to make a good thruster for a while but it's been frustrating because there's so much shit that goes wrong. They are pretty delicate things, you know. I've been making 6'0"s and trying to narrow them up in the area right in front of your front foot. I've been riding boards that are short and fat a lot in the last couple of years and for cutbacks or for laying it on rail, with all that foam in front of your front foot, I feel like I'm fighting against it a lot of the time. So I've been trying to narrow it up through that area. Boards will break the water easier if they are narrower in front of your front foot. It's all a balancing act. You can't go too far in any direction because if you go too narrow out front, it feels like an ice skate. It gets really touchy.

I am a bit of a design junkie, but my craftsmanship is horrible so…I don't know. It's like when you look at a rad painting and you feel like you can do it but then when you actually go to use the tools it's a lot more difficult than you think. But that's a big part of the fun of surfing to me — trying new designs and trying to figure out what design feature makes the board do what.

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