Thursday, September 6, 2012

How thin is too thin?

With any design or construction issue you have constraints, they are the limits you can work within. They might be a rocker profile, the length of an achievable span, a weight bearing capacity or an aesthetic value. Within any wooden surfboard build there are a vast number of constraints both good and bad. Ultimately these constraints guide the outcome of the project. For instance if you are designing a board for a heavier person or a fast wave, making the board from Balsa or Cedar these constraints give us direction.

But what happens when you don't actually know the limits of material you are working with? Well sometimes you need to take a risk and find out. 

We all know that there is a serious time and effort investment involved with making wooden boards so like you I work hard not to take too many gambles or make mistakes. I really don't want to waste the time and effort I have already invested into my build.   
At some stage thought when you have built a few wooden surfboards you will start asking questions like can I make it lighter? and would the rails hold together if I reduced their width by 5mm? All the while you know full well that the only way to answer such burning questions is to build them into a board and find out along the way.

Well I pushed a little too far with the thickness of my internal spacers .... but I don't regret it for a second. 

I build my boards without a stringer using a moulded rail system with spacers in between to support the top and bottom surfaces. I attempted to see if the spacers width could be reduced to 4mm in an attempt to keep weight down a minimum. As you can see the answer to my test was no 4mm does not work very well in this situation please try again. 

What I learnt from this experiment was far more valuable than the time it took me to remove these spacers and insert new ones (you do get faster with practise). 

Test, experiment and explore because only then will you understand the constraints of the materials, your design, construction method and then have the certainty to forge ahead.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with what you have said. I think we are all in a very experimental phase with building wooden boards and it is only through pushing the limits and sharing our experiences that we all will learn from each other and move forward to build better boards. We all know a lot of time and effort goes into building a wooden board of any kind and so we tend to over build them so as not to have a failure. That is fine but yes you have to push the limits to know what they are.And what I have found is you can be pleasantly surprised. There are a lot of components in some wooden boards and varying any aspect of one of them can impact on other components and so the outcome.Be brave and forge ahead.