Sunday, March 28, 2010

Matt's Latest

To deviate from my usual garden-heavy blogs, I thought I’d tell you what Matt has been up to lately. Having recently entered into the world of unemployment, Matt has taken up an activity he has always wanted to get into: surfboard shaping! And has proven himself an adept wood worker in the process. He just went for it- bought the Spanish cedar boards, cut and glued them into a blank, cut out the shape with a jigsaw, and did the planning and sanding and oiling to shape a beautiful traditional wooden board! This kind of board is called an Alaia (pronounced “uh-lie-yuh”), it is a very early traditional Hawaiian style, much thinner than modern foam longboards (my nine-footer is three inches thick in the center, Matt’s Alaia is ¾ of an inch thick) and without a fin. This allows the surfer to do “helicopters” and other tricks, turning the board around on a wave without moving your feet. They ride very differently than modern boards and, frankly, are much nicer to look at!

Our efforts to test out the new board last weekend were kyboshed by an inaccurate surf report and terrible weather at the coast-- we drove from sunny, warm Portland and as soon as we crested the Coast Range, we drove into a wall of fog and wind that had blown out all the waves at Short Sands, our favored surf spot. So we drove up the coast a few miles and Matt tried out The Cove at Seaside with his longboard, but not being familiar with the site didn’t want to take out an unknown board.

Here is photo documentation of the whole construction process (done entirely in Matt’s apartment, resulting in cedar dust everywhere but well worth it).

(Click on images to enlarge)
Gluing the blank in his living room

Drawing the shape onto the blank

Cutting out the shape with the jigsaw

Matt sits on the field of victory (to test the board's flex) after several days' hard work with the hand plane.

Done sanding, now cleaning up the kitchen.

Matt went prematurely gray from all the sawdust...

Finished sanding, look at that shape!

End view to show how thin the Alaia is.

And finally oiling with linseed oil.

Finished product, really a beautiful work of art.

As he continues to shape more boards and considers forming a small surfboard shaping business, Matt’s dad is giving him a space in his garage where they will make a shaping room of plastic sheeting (standard procedure to keep sawdust and fumes under control). Matt is committed to keeping his shaping process and potential business as environmentally friendly as possible and is looking into sourcing local wood for his boards. All of the wood shavings from the process go into my compost bin.

No comments: