For most of us, there’s a lot of guesswork that goes into picking our surfboards. We’re drawn to certain curves, edges, channels, tail shapes that remind us of something that worked for us before, or spark our curiosity about what could work for us the next time we paddle out. But nothing cuts down the guesswork and helps us really understand the dynamics of what’s going on underfoot like making a board yourself. Sure, the first, second, maybe even 134th board you make might not be as pretty as something you could pull off the rack of a surf shop, but it surely teaches you a lot more, and connects you more deeply to your surfing.
Last fall, we rallied some of our favorite surfers who make and ride their own sticks, put them in an improvised shaping bay together (a barn in Northern California) and documented them tearing into foam. Between passes with the planer, we asked them for their take on self-shaping boards, what it teaches you and how it can come to define your relationship with surfing. It was enlightening, and also a hell of a lot of fun.
After six days, a dozen blanks, many beers and one destroyed Mickey Mouse piñata, the crew had a handful of beautiful new surfcraft to try, which they did, in waves all over the world. “Handmade” is a tribute to surfing’s DIYers, and a celebration of the connection between surfers and their surfcraft, from the shaping bay to the lineup.