Paddle boarding is a fun activity that you can try out with your family but make sure you don’t use foam paddleboards. They don’t last long, and manufacturers use harmful chemicals during the manufacturing stage. If you don’t want to use foam paddleboards anymore, here’s a step by step guide on how to make a wooden standup paddleboard that lasts for years.
Step 1 – Constructing the bottom panel.
One of the best reasons to build your own wooden standup paddleboard is you can make the top and bottom panels as large flat panels. You need to start by building the two flat book-matched panels. Once you finish, you have to bend the panels on a series of risers that match the contours and rockers of a finished paddleboard.
Those who have experience in building a canoe or wooden kayak by using 3/4-inch strips one at a time will find it easier to construct the bottom panel. For a wooden paddleboard, you have to use a single 30-inch wide piece to ensure that the bottom is wide enough for you to keep your balance.
Step 2 – Making the fishbone frame
The internal fishbone frame is crucial to hold the paddleboard together. This is the part that replaces the traditional foam material that you usually find in other paddleboards. The easiest way to make your fishbone frame is using paper plans. But if you want to make the paddleboard really durable, you should use a CNC paddleboard kit.
A CNC paddleboard kit saves you a lot of time and energy from fiddling around with paper plans. Moreover, you get an idea of how exactly the fishbone frame should look once you finish. It’s like putting Lego pieces together to build the fishbone frame.
Step 3 – Designing the rocker table.
A rocker table holds the bottom contours and boards rocker together. Traditional paddleboards come with a lot of subtle engineering under the board so that the rocker table can press firmly into the finished board. But this requires you to design the wooden board shapes on your computer. You can then cut the jigs and use them to get the correct shape.
The ideal way to design your rocker table is to use a combination of thin panels. These panels should get sandwiched between their matching forms so that you can build complex shapes without requiring any steam.
Step 4 – Developing the bead and cove rails
Get 3/8″ x ¼” bead and cove strips. You have to stack thee strips one by one on your standup paddleboard’s rails. Remember, these are narrow strips, and they have tons of benefits on boards that come with solid rails. Therefore, don’t make a mistake while attaching these strips. Start by attaching the narrow strips as they are easy to bend. You will probably only need to use steam on the first strip. If you don’t have a professional steam machine, you can use a cloths iron for approximately one minute.
The fishbone frame is crucial here as the board’s shape depends on it. Make sure the outer skin thickness doesn’t exceed ¼”. Otherwise, the board would weigh way too much than a high-quality foam board. It may lead to the board going below the water level and defeating the purpose of paddleboarding.
Step 5 – Internal blocking
Once you finish installing the bead and cove rails, it’s time to gently cut the tail and nose sections. This would provide a solid blocking so that you can maintain your balance on the water. In fact, the solid blocking also saves you from using a steam bend that fits tightly on the radius curvature. Moreover, it also adds to the beauty of the paddleboard. It won’t look like one of the low-quality foam boards that don’t last too long.
Blocking also supports the leash cup, vent, SUP handle, and fin box before installing the top panel. Although this is a wooden paddleboard, you can use recycled foam to make the internal blocking. Alternatively, you can also use solid wood blocks, but always check their size before using them on your paddleboard.
Step 6 – Fixing the top panel.
Your next job is to build a hollow wooden SUP by attaching the top panel. Professional builders use plenty of clamps, but amateur builders may not require so many clamps for this step. But always buy high-quality clamps that can hold your strong-back position. Remember, the top panel is where you will spend most of your time. If you don’t get enough clamps, you can use strings or webbing straps.
Wooden door wedges provide the most appropriate clamping. They allow the panel to curve at the deck as you press it against its strong back. Once you attach the top panel, you need to remove the excess material with a spokeshave and drawknife so that the rails get a final shape.
Step 7 – Sanding the board.
This is the penultimate step where you should use 220-grit sandpaper. You can also use a coarser grit of 80 to get a smoother finish. Keep rubbing the sandpaper on the board until it looks silky smooth. It will also flatten your board so that you don’t fall while getting your balance right.
Once you get a flat surface, you can move to finer grits, such as 220, 150, or 100 to get better results within a short time.
Step 8 – Glassing the board
Glassing may seem slightly complicated if you don’t have experience in working with epoxy and fiberglass. The idea here is to laminate the board. Start by doing a hot coat. This fills the cloth’s weave and then moves on to the shiny glass coat to make your board look new. You should polish the board with a cotton cloth once you finish to give it a shiny touch.
It’s not difficult to make a wooden standup paddleboard, provided you have all the necessary tools. If you do, start following the instructions above and make a brand-new wooden paddleboard.