Austerity Board: (SUP) Part 1

In these austere, bleak-winter times, when the path to the water’s edge is ice-encrusted, and the local MP stands before the latest Closing Down Sale, the shelves picked clean,shouting, ‘You’ve never had it so good!’ – many surfers thumb longingly through surf-magazines, and trawl the pages of the inter-web, drooling over boards they can no longer afford.

And have you noticed lately, to match the falls in ozone stock, or the high street banks that melt into the sea, the price of boards? They’re up. Is there a squeeze on resin? Or has the price of sandpaper soared, to match? And all this when the neighbours are chopping up furniture for firewood, or opening tins of Kitty-Cat for the kids.

  So say, ‘No more gate-crashing the Christmas party, in the hope of a square meal! The solution is nigh – the Hollow Wood Austerity Board!’ You can have any board you want…you just have to make it.

You will need:

  • CSE level woodwork skills (If no CSE – a box of plasters and a first aider on hand with a fast car);
  • an electric jigsaw (Any kids – you need adult supervision);
  • tape Measure;
  • pencil and ruler;
  • square;
  • a level;
  • electric drill (kids again, beware … count the fingers);
  • waterproof wood glue;
  • three layer Plywood and light wood lengths;
  • 6 mm ply (underside/deck of board);
  • fibreglass and resin;
  • recycled US fin track and fin;
  • radiator valve, copper pipe(right angle sections x2);
  • patience and cups of tea – why rush, enjoy the experience?

The Plans:


The best way to plan your build is to identify a board, that money being no object, you would have gone out to buy anyway. Right! Got that board in mind – so here we go. Manufacturers will often give over their basic specifications: width at centre, nose and tail; overall length; volume etc. So raid the pile of mags by the toilet. I know what you’re thinking, we’re copying; but we’re not – it’s a basic of board design, you need a starting point that works.

I’m making a 7’4” SUP – I got the specs from a similar length SUP. Then I used my own 9’8” to measure/ guestimate thickness at varying points, and location of fin. The rocker line was gleaned from measuring up a 7’3” surfboard I had, taking the data and making a graph. That info could then be drawn out onto the ply for the rocker backbone to work off of.

The construction consists of a rocker section, into which the fin is set within a constructed box – I’m going for single fin ‘cos I feel whacky-wombat for 2013; and it’s easier for the first board. Horizontal sections at 25 cm apart are then attached; except for the last section which is 14 cm. That’s an arbitary figure – it’s all trial and error – there are no rules! For deck dome, I studied my 9’8”, cut one horizontal and applied it to the rest. The skeleton has holes drilled with bench drill press into it to spread air pressure and help prevent delamination of the final construction. The skeleton is notched at the edges to allow a rail stringer to keep it tight and to form the beginnings of the outline. The skeleton is then mounted onto a ply bottom with a fin hole cut into it. The rails are built up, nose and tail blocks are added and shaped. Then the deck is glued on, with an airscrew fitted and a leash loop. There are no nails – it’s all glue and resin.

The construction forms a ‘blank’ which we can then plane, hone and sand to shape. And finally everything is covered in fine fibreglass and resin to make waterproof.

Top Tip:

The rocker and horizontal sections are interlocked with slots cut into each; about 50/50 but where the rocker is thinner, cut into it less to allow for better strength. Offer a cross section of wood, against the wood you intend to cut into and draw around in pencil. Cut inside the pencil line, leaving the pencil mark visible for a tighter fit; shave down if necessary rather than cutting away too much. I cut from the top of rocker down, so the cross-sections are inserted down into the rocker.

The Rocker:

I gained my measurements by turning the sample board upside down on a flat floor and ensuring it is level: and by ‘level’ I mean the central section. I then ran a level string from nose to tail, supported at either end, so that it just touches the bottom of the rocker – that is ‘point zero’. Now you measure from the string to the bottom of the board, plotting the distance every 10cms along the board’s length – that will become your rocker line. See graph. I plan to put a little ‘V’ in the bottom towards the fin – but see the next article.

Now, does anybody want a Ferrari…and can’t quite afford one?


  • Dan

    Excellent . I admire your ingenuity. When is the planned launch ?
    That’s a pure wave design so I’d like to see how she performs.

    • Nick

      Probably about Feb or March – I’ll try to get the rails done over christmas. They’ll probably be x4-6 layers (2-3 each side) then planed down to the rail shape. The cold has slowed me as the glue needs to dry, and with the wood bent to shape, it was springing out. I’ve learnt my lesson and I’m using thinner more flexible batons.

      I wanna do a 6’0 afterwards – Been looking at all the boards on GONG SUP in france….

      All the best


  • J Trezise

    labour of love you must have a understanding missus happy new year to all

    • Nick

      Very – I got to surf a Livermead at xmas, Yeah! We had that storm….when the wind dropped it left beautiful, milky-sewagy waves. Super clean though! Well not clean, but you know what I mean.

  • Jeffrey L. Frusha

    So, haven’t found an update. How’d the board turn out and perform? Working up an idea for one that may be heavy enough to become a flat-top sailboat, instead, but, guess I’ll see what happens.