Month Of The Shaper: Matt Biolos

Editor's Note: In conjunction with our annual Surfboards Issue (On newsstands Nov. 18), we will be posting one interview per day with a craftsman who contributed to the issue. Some are the biggest names in the bay; others are underground and want to keep it that way. But all of them share an equal passion for the crafts that move us forward. In these tough economic times, they all have a lot to say on where their craft is going. This time, it's …Lost Surfboards founder Matt Biolos.

Zone: San Clemente, CA
Years Shaping: 22
Boards Per Week: I shape almost every day.
Specialty: Helping people have more fun.

Is your business better or worse since the Clark Foam shutdown?

I would say better, only because we've been able to remain strong in the market and we are making better boards. Operationally and financially, we are doing more work making less money to build the same amount of boards. But from a customer's point of view, we are better.

Do you feel polyurethane foam/polyester resin will always be the dominant surfboard construction?

I really don't know. Always is a long time, so no…probably not. But as long as the bulk of active surfers remain independent and appreciate a custom-built board, then PU will remain strong because it's really the only way to make cost-effective boards domestically. Besides that, it's still far and away the dominant choice in the competitive arena.

Do you think there’s an increasing or decreasing appreciation for a custom surfboard?

I feel it's increasing dramatically. And believe it or not, it's because of the tough economy and the closure of Clark. Since the Clark closure, the average cost of a board has gone up nearly ${{{100}}}. This makes it harder for the shops to stock large supplies of boards. Add to that the slowed economy and you have less and less shops holding a good selection of boards, forcing the customers to write up custom orders. This has driven up the demand for customs more than any other thing in my time as a manufacturer.

Are quads decreasing or increasing in popularity?

Decreasing. I think with newer rockers we are doing, the Thruster is a more versatile board. What has been a lot of fun and gives customers a bang for their buck is the five-fin setup on various boards. We call em "quiver killers" – it's really fun to play with different fins in different waves. Quads are fun, but thrusters still rule.

What’s keeping you afloat? Custom clientele? Shop accounts? Surftech (or in your case Placebo)?

Good product, fair prices, customer service (we make some mistakes) and innovative designs. This creates the custom clientele and forces the shops to continue keeping our boards stocked.

What kind of music do you like to listen to when you shape?

In the old days, when we used to plane out all the boards, I would listen to heavy music (metallica, corrosion of conformity, early 80s punk) while laning, then soft music (paul simon, eric Clapton, beatles) when fine sanding. Now, all we really do is fine sand so I mix it up. I have everything Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stones and Beatles have ever done. Jack White is my favorite artist of the new century.

How much time do you spend on a single board now?

Well, I can spend weeks on measuring old boards, mapping them out, working on the CAD design, cutting samples, sanding, make notes, more CAD time, more cutting, etc. to get a model designed. Sometimes I will make five of them for myself and a few for teamriders to get a new fish right. Then, once I have something dialed for production, I can finish a machine shap in 40 minutes with ease.

Do you spend more time on the computer screen or in the shaping bay?

Normally about the same, but if it's contest season, I spend a lot more time in the shaping bay, powering out rush-boards.

How important is teamrider feedback to you?

On the high-performance competition boards, it's paramount. I don't surf like those guy, nor can I ride a 6'1" x 18.50" x 2.25" board. On the fish and hybrid-type stuff, I pretty much use myself and my local buddies out at Uppers as the teamriders.

What kind of board do you enjoy shaping most right now?

I mostly enjoy shaping boards for myself. Making team boards is stressful.

How often do you get to surf?

I surf a good 3-4 days a week when it's small, then I might do a week straight during a swell and lay off for a few days after a good run.

Are you actively pursuing “greener” avenues in your surfboard production?

Yes, but not feverishly. We are sending all our EPS waste back to our primary supplier and I was the first shaper involved in resurf ( to promote ways to use recycled pu boards and foam waste. We have made a hundred or so boards in the last two years with various "green" foams and resins (in fact, we have a stock of them in our surf shops), but unfortunately the bio-foams and "green" eco foams developed so far are not allowing us to build boards with a high enough strength-to-weight ratio to really get behind and they're a bit too heavy for most people's tastes.

DAY 1: William “Stretch” Riedel
DAY 2: Mark Price / Firewire Surfboards
DAY 3: Jeff Clark
DAY 4: Chris Gallagher
DAY 5: Matt Biolos
DAY 6: Geoff Rashe
DAY 7: Mark Wooster
DAY 8: Jeff Bushman
DAY 9: Rusty Preisendorfer
DAY 10: Rich Price
DAY 11: Shane Stoneman
DAY 12: Ricky Carroll
DAY 13: Xanadu
DAY 14: Chris Christenson
DAY 15: John Carper
DAY 16: Michael Walter
DAY 17: David Barr
DAY 18: Ben Aipa
DAY 19: Jeff “Doc” Lausch
DAY 20: Jesse Fernandez
DAY 21: Cole Simler