9'2 Chambered Balsa & Redwood Pig build

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erodstrom's picture
Joined: 07/21/2007

I've been on a pig kick the past six months or do, and had been wanting to make a balsa board. Bill Thrailkill reminded me that General Veneer still sold Balsa, and it's actually only about 30 min from me here in LA. 
 

So, with some recent free time I ran over there and ended up buying the remnants of a broken bundle of 10' 2x4 balsa sticks, as I hadn't cleared the expenditure to buy a full bundle. It gave me about 14" width of what would become my board. 
 

For the rest of the board I bought redwood 2x4's, and tried to pick them for light weight as best I could. My best pieces were nearly as light as my heaviest balsa. 
 

I sorted them by weight - I'd read that Phil Edwards always put the hesvy stuff on the outside so I did the same. 
 

I used a rocker template from my 1956 Velzy & Jacobs squaretail balsa pig - this worked well as the board was also clearly made to fit inside a 3.5" rocker dimension matching my lumber. 
 

For my outline, I used the template from my 9'0 Harold Iggy Weber pig - it's an early one with pronounced hips and narrow nose, and I really like how it's worked on other boards. I stretched it a bit, it came to 9'2 even after changing the template to a wide-ish squaretail from the original pin.

Rocker I cut out with a skil saw, then I spot glued and clamped it all together for a rough shape. My balsa kept trying to let go so I actually kept a clamp or two on most of the time, and just clamped from the bottom so shaping was not made difficult. 
 

I was surprised how nice the wood was to shape. The planer cut it very predictably, and the various handplanes I have from my grandfathers worked much of the time in place of a surform. 
 

After shaping, I popped the sticks apart, drew my chambers, overlapping stick to stick, with about 1/2" thickness, maybe a bit less, remaining. 
 

After cutting chambers, I glued up the two halves of the board, then filled with sprayfoam to hopefully avoid the need for a vent. Then glued and clamed together.

Glass was a standard triple six, Volan maybe in the future when my skills warrant it.

I did a little paint pull on the logo as a nod to Jeffery Meyer, who took me under his wing as an airbrusher apprentice for a couple summers in high school. 
 

Fin is African Mahogany in a reverse D shape from a template given to me by Bill T. 

I forgot to weigh the uncut pile of wood, but I'd guess 100lbs or so. 

Initial weight after rocker cut: 74.4 lbs

After rough shape before chambers: 42lbs

After chambering before foam: 26.4 lbs

Chambered plus foam: 28.4

Final glassed weight: 34.6lbs

 
Got the board in the water last weekend, and it rides like a balsa pig! Easy to walk with all that weight, but easy to turn and easy to trim. A fun board! My back foot toes felt like I'd been doing jumping jacks after a full session, but that's more me getting old than anything! Hah!

My wife got there at the end of the session but it was dying by then. She got a few photos of the board trimming. All in all, I'm happy with it!

Next board I'll be trying for all balsa to push the weight down a bit more. Josh Martin was kind enough to offer some tips and suggested 20-30lbs is the sweet spot. I think  with all balsa that should be doable. 

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erodstrom's picture
Joined: 07/21/2007

Here's the board in the water. It wasn't a day to light the world on fire but the board floats, turns, and goes down the line! 

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gbzausa's picture
Joined: 09/13/2009
Well done and thanks for the pics .
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unclegrumpy's picture
Joined: 09/16/2006

Bitchen. 

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No; It's not an ironing board.

McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004

Great job.  Well done.  I like the outline.  Good shaping and chambering.  Always nice to see pics of a board being put thru the paces.  Don't know where you were out at, but that's a Malibu board right there.  Lowel 

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That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.

erodstrom's picture
Joined: 07/21/2007

Thanks for the comments, all of you. Much appreciated. Pretty cool group to try and participate in. 

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Surfifty's picture
Joined: 03/19/2004

Very nice.

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gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

Easily among the nicest I've ever seen, if not the nicest.   

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johnmellor's picture
Joined: 03/17/2004

This gets my vote for for board of the year 2021 on multiple levels.

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unclegrumpy's picture
Joined: 09/16/2006

Seriously.

If Velzy was still around I'm sure he would approve.  

Superb work.

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No; It's not an ironing board.

phillipjohnw's picture
Joined: 04/28/2018

Dude that is an awesome build. Just curious, you don't have to answer if its too private, how much did you spend on the lumber for the build not counting the fin?

Also how did you make your logo with such vibrant colors? Do you have a quick write up or how to? Did you use rice paper?

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erodstrom's picture
Joined: 07/21/2007

Hi @phillipjohnw - Somewhere on here there is a thread about logo printing - the recommendation I followed was to buy japanese calligraphy paper online (I was lazy and ordered it on Amazon, just found the cheapest one). It is a different size than regular printer paper, so I print one sheet at a time. I trim the calligraphy paper to fit width wise, and fold the excess length around a sheet of printer paper and tape a few spots on the folded side to hold the calligraphy paper to the stronger printer paper. 

I print on a laser printer now, but used an inkjet in the past with decent results. I only print black, any colors I paint onto the back of the lam afterwards with waterbased paint. It's the closest looking to screen printed logos I think a DIY garage guy can do. 

As for wood cost - the redwood was just 10'x2x4's from Home Depot, I forget the price but it wasn't too bad, and the balsa was around $300. More than a regular blank but considering the result is a wood board, I went for it. I do wish I had a bigger yard, I'd definitely have some Paulownia trees going in! haha
 

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McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004

A tip for next time that has worked well for myself   Sticking the calligraphy or rice paper to the photo paper.  Use glue sticks.  The kind that a first grader uses.  We started out using tape and then rubber cement brushed along the edge of the paper with the little cap brush that comes in the Rubber Cement bottle.   I knew there had to be something better, quicker and less messy.  Then it dawned on me;  Glue Sticks.  We just run It around the perimeter of the photo paper and then lay the calligraphy paper down pressing it on from side to side smoothing wrinkles as I go.  Then scissor cut excess calligraphy paper along the edge of the photo paper.

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That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.

erodstrom's picture
Joined: 07/21/2007

I like the glue stick idea! Nice! 

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phillipjohnw's picture
Joined: 04/28/2018

That helps a ton. I think most of my wooden boards would be in the $300 range for material, if I didn't use a bunch of donated wood. I also think hollow boards are slightly cheaper than chambered boards. One day I plan to make a chambered board, but I plan to use junk pallet wood for a rough draft so to speak.

I do roughly the same logo process, but was unsure about the colors you used. Lucky for me there is a Daiso near by that sells super cheap calligraphy paper. Its like 60 sheets for $1.50 the only hassle as you said is getting it into a printer. I may try to use the nice color laser printer at work to print a couple sheets of colored logos. Thanks for the tip on painting the back, I would have never thought of that.

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stoneburner's picture
Joined: 12/30/2007

McDing wrote:

A tip for next time that has worked well for myself   Sticking the calligraphy or rice paper to the photo paper.  Use glue sticks.  The kind that a first grader uses. .

Another McD pearl I must try.  Thanks.

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Swaylocks Surfboard Design Forum: thoughts & theories ... practical & theoretical

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surfteach's picture
Joined: 12/03/2005

Really nice work and great pics documenting the build.  I'm just about at the end of my shaping life, got a half dozen shorts and a dozen longboards left to do from the inventory on hand.  I want to do a balsa before I hang up the planer.  The only balsa I ever rode was my dad's Velzy when I was 10 so it will be a new experience.  We are lucky here in So Cal to have SanO as a gathering place where we can see boards such as yours.  Thanks again, and please post any issues that you had with the build and how you solved them.  just my 2c.....

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McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004

I'm always looking for a better, faster, cleaner way to do things.  Exactly the reason I am such a loyal Swaylocks fan.  I poopah ideas from time to time.  Mostly because they are redundant overkill and the "old school" method is generally good enough.  But there are ideas on this site that pop up in the "Industry" all the time.  The "Exotic" build methods used by "Lost" being the most glaring example. 

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That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.

BigKahunaMan's picture
Joined: 07/12/2021

McDing wrote:

I poopah ideas from time to time.  Mostly because they are redundant overkill and the "old school" method is generally good enough.

It's more a case of aggressive diarrhea ironically aimed at "old school" methods or building but I suppose the king can do what he wishes...

all hail the ding!

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McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004

Log out as one, log in as another.

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That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.

erodstrom's picture
Joined: 07/21/2007

Thank you for the kind words, everyone. I am a bit at a loss for words for the compliments, so I'll just say thank you, it means a lot. Making, riding, then thinking about improvements for the next one is definitely addicting! 


Surfteach, thanks - I'll be meeting some friends from SD at Sano soon, it would be fun there I think.
 

As for troubles - I went with lightness over perfect grain w the redwood, which meant knots. Knots take some perseverance to foil and blend when they're on rails. It was doable but it definitely took extra focus. 

Less of an issue than I expected but still demanding attention - foiling and blending the rails where the balsa and redwood meet. Differing hardnesses, and differing visual cues from different grain patterns. Doable, but needing care. 

Also - the tacking of the boards for preshaping. The boundary between not enough and too much glue as to be excessive was a moving goalpost. Some sticks needed very little, others had a weaker grain structure and small dots of glue didn't hold. It took several days of adding spots of glue to have a relatively solid blank. 

Warping/Bowing in the layout: I'd planned to have the warp of all my sticks bow so that their noses and tails touch and the center bowed outward, allowing me to clamp in the middle and have the ends naturally press in together. I was able to achieve that for most of the sticks, but due to weight sorting and flaws in several sticks, I had one stick laid up with the bow the wrong way. I was able to wrestle it under control eventually, but in the future I think I'd put an even higher priority on having every boards curve fit that pattern. It added a lot of work. 
 

Other than that, the wood was quite pleasant to work with. My garage smelled wonderful. The difficulty of a wood board vs foam to me was more just the time and labor of creating the blank. To me though, this step was very enjoyable and didn't seem like a downside. My grandfather was a talented woodworker and I grew up helping out on his projects. Making this board using some of his tools and many things he'd taught me felt like he was back in the room with me, and it was priceless. I'm looking forward to the next one. Need to clear some boards out to justify making another and to fit the eventual pile of balsa! 
 

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unclegrumpy's picture
Joined: 09/16/2006

erodstrom wrote:

Other than that, the wood was quite pleasant to work with. My garage smelled wonderful. The difficulty of a wood board vs foam to me was more just the time and labor of creating the blank. To me though, this step was very enjoyable and didn't seem like a downside. My grandfather was a talented woodworker and I grew up helping out on his projects. Making this board using some of his tools and many things he'd taught me felt like he was back in the room with me, and it was priceless. I'm looking forward to the next one. Need to clear some boards out to justify making another and to fit the eventual pile of balsa! 

As a coincidental historical aside: Velzy's Grandfather was an accomplished woodworker, in fact he built Teddy Roosevelts casket. Many of the woodworking tools Velzy used early on had belonged to his grandad. 

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No; It's not an ironing board.

McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004

Wonder where those tools are now.  His son shapes a few boards on Maui.  Dave Gott does the glassing.  Wonder if he inherited them or if they are still with Dale's wife.  His son does a decent job of those old models like the "Malibu Express" etc.

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That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.

unclegrumpy's picture
Joined: 09/16/2006

Many of them are at SHACC and some still on display. FWIW after 13 years there, 5 as a volunteer and 8 as a paid staff member I quit at the end of July. They brought in a new 30 something director who just rubbed me the wrong way.  

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No; It's not an ironing board.

surfteach's picture
Joined: 12/03/2005

ER;  Thanks for all the detail about the issues you faced and the final result shows that you worked through them successfully.  Like you, both my grandfather's were woodworkers, one of them was an Art Deco pro and did all the finish work in the downtown L.A. post office which was built back in the '30's.  I have some of their tools and have given some to my son.  About 15 years ago I got a commission to do 4 longboards based on Harbour's Trestle Special with tripple stringers.  Two of them were to have T band stringers on the outside.  As I was finishing the final shaping I kept having issues with the stringers at the rail.  I went to Rich (RIP, teach) and explained what was the issue.  He loaned me one of his planes with his hand sharpened blade.  I couldn't believe how well it cut the stringers to the finished shape.  The blade was so sharp that you could get foam shavings thinner than a sheet of paper!  I've never been able to get my blades that sharp.  I will probably buy more wood than I need to at least limit some of the bowing.  Q:  What was your final rocker numbers?  Thanks again for replying, Just my 2c....

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erodstrom's picture
Joined: 07/21/2007

Surfteach, isn't it funny what gets passed down? I have only a small fraction of my grandather's tools - rightly so - I was one of about 16 grandkids and all of them treasured their time with him. His tools were spread among us. 

More valuable than the souvenirs was the time spent with him learning, and more valuable than that was getting to grow up in a space where these sorts of projects were a source of fun and bonding rather than unpleasant chores. To this day I'd rather hang out in someone's garage or workshop than their living room.  

Measurements - I ended up with a 3 1/4" tail kick and a 2 1/4 low nose rocker. I was worried about it being that low but had zero issues with it in the water. It's been an enjoyable board to surf. 
 

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Surfdude's picture
Joined: 01/03/2018

Sorry for chiming in late! Board looks great, nice job done! 

I did a chambered once with my first own build, finally it is a waste of wood. Since that, I've realized all my builds as Hollow Wooden Surfboards. Building a HWS is much easier than at first sight. And it need a lot less wood. I get my balsa premilled as 2mx20cm blanks, at various thicknesses from 2-10mm. For my last longboard the wood was about 160€. So material costs do play in a 200$ range in total, including epoxy, glue, glass and usually a finbox. And additionally a balsa HWS is much lighter. My latest 9'2 was slightly above 6kg (approx. 12-13lbs), I suppose your pig is close to 9 kg (18-20lbs)? I like lighter boards, but this is preference, a heavier board may have its positive aspects.

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llilibel03's picture
Joined: 04/21/2005

Sweet!

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