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Making longboards – how it started…

February 2, 2023
Deck Templates

When I was 10, my parents gave me a skateboard for Christmas – black grip tape, white deck, black wheels and trucks with red rails and a tail protector.  I remember trying to learn tricks I saw on skate videos and in magazines.  I was never very good, but had fun skating around my Long Island neighborhood with my friends.  My real passion was in the ocean – surfing.

I didn’t get into longboard skateboarding until I was older.  Fast forward to my early 30s living in New York City, away from the ocean.  My wife bought me a longboard skateboard as a gift (to ease the pain of being away from the waves).  I’d ride it every once in a while, but never really loved the flow or shape of the board.  A few years later I was able to find some workshop space to get back into a hobby I love – woodworking.

On one occasion, I recall thinking about the old longboards we rode in the small waves as kids (9′ nose riders.).  Searching around for my next build project, I was inspired by the grain pattern on some beautiful hardwoods I had and armed with those old-school longboard memories, I decided I would to try and shape a longboard skateboard.

I quickly realized I didn’t know much about skateboard design.  But like most things in my life, that wouldn’t stop me. So, I approached it like a surfboard (a more familiar shape to me).  Focusing on the shape of the deck, the rail profile, the nose and tail details.  The wheels, bearings, trucks and wheel base, albeit critical in skateboard design, were more of an afterthought.

After finishing that first board (which looked awesome, but didn’t ride too well), I was hooked on the idea I could create and shape a deck I wanted to ride.

Step 1I started to create different shapes / dimensions, deck layouts and wheel bases.  I researched standard and reverse kingpin trucks, wheel sizes and shapes and bearing options.  I explored with different types of wood species and combinations to understand and test the flex, the rideability and the durability of each deck.  I researched and tested different grip options and application methods. I’d ask friends and even strangers to test my boards and give me feedback so I could continue to evolve in my designs.  I’d go for a long cruise and as I was skating, I’d create a list in my mind of adjustments I wanted to make.

Looking back, I kind of just fell down the rabbit hole and never looked back.  To this day, I have a running list of ideas I keep for new boards. I hope my passion for designing and making longboards never gets old…and I continue to get old and keep longboarding!

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