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: "Midwestern" California surfer/shaper, Shane Stoneman.
Name: Shane Stoneman
Zone: Midwestern California
Years Shaping: 10
Boards Per Week: 8
Specialty: High-performance shortboards and fish
Is your business better or worse since the Clark Foam shutdown?
My numbers are the same but my business is better. That post-Clark period just rattled out a lot of the kinks in my business. I built a new shop and dialed in our production.
Do you feel polyurethane foam/polyester resin will always be the dominant surfboard construction?
Yes, I hope so. I just feel that the traditional surfboard materials have the highest performance characteristics and, provided you keep a board in a board bag and fix dings as needed, they are incredibly durable. I personally just don't like the ride of the other materials available.
Do you think there’s an increasing or decreasing appreciation for a custom surfboard?
Increasing. I feel a lot of appreciation from my clientele. The customers I work with respect the finished product and the craftsmanship that goes into it. They aren't looking for a board that is mass produced. They want something tailored to them.
Are quads declining or increasing in popularity?
Still increasing in popularity as far as I can see in my shaping room.
What’s keeping you afloat? Custom clientele? Shop accounts? Surftech?
My work load is pretty balanced between custom clientele and my shop accounts.
If it hasn’t already, will your surfboard production ever have to go overseas?
Hell no! This is the most un-green thing any board builder can do. Boards built overseas abide by what environmental standards? And then the overseas shipping Cargo ships use tens of thousands of gallons of bunker fuel every day and then dump their dirty ballast water into our the waters off our ports.
What kind of music do you like to listen to when you shape?
All kinds Lately, I am going through a Tower of Power thing for its incredible accuracy and pure funk of it all. I can accomplish a lot of work when I rock these guys or similar artist in the genre. Other times, I need to slow down and cruise through a long board so Ill put on some Jim Hall/Bill Evans thing–or maybe Ill be somewhere in the middle with something like Honks 5 Summer Stories, Mother Hips, or Citizen Cope. I also have a stack of must-have 80s classics like Bowies Lets Dance (featuring srv) or Talking Heads Remain in Light. You know, the tasty stuff.
How much time do you spend on a single board now? Is it a race?
I shape a short board in an hour or so. But for longer boards it just takes as long as it takes. I don't need to be in a rush making someones board.
Do you spend more time on the computer screen or in the shaping bay?
Shaping bay. Some customers like the computer technology and I know how to use it but I got into this because I like to make surfboards so Id rather make them by hand. That said, it's up to the customer.
How important is teamrider feedback to you?
I get just as much out of the feedback I get from customers as form team riders. I prefer to try any radical design changes out on myself and know exactly what it feels like without the filter of team rider feedback. If I like a new idea I definitely make a team guy one to get some outside validation –but their feedback is secondary.
What kind of board do you enjoy shaping most right now?
The good wave board — a 6'6" round pin sexy thing.
How often do you get to surf?
I am averaging about five surf sessions a week. It's easy to paddle out when it's good but sometimes, if it's lousy surf I'll use the PT method of setting a goal to catch four decent waves. Usually, I end up having more fun that I thought and catch a lot more than four.
Are you actively pursuing “greener” avenues in your surfboard production?
No, I'm not a scientist but one thing that bothers me is the amount of foam waste that accumulates for even a small shaping business like mine so I have contacted the environmental engineering and industrial technology departments of the local college to work on ways to re-use this stuff or find ways to break it down safely. Other than that, I feel I can be greener than the big guys by keeping my production numbers small and making a quality product that performs well for a long time.
MONTH OF THE SHAPER:
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