SHAPER'S HOTSEAT: Bill Barnfield

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GregTate's picture
Joined: 03/18/2004

Please welcome Bill Barnfield to the Swaylocks Shaper's Hotseat.

Remember the rules:  In this capacity, Bill is our guest.  We all ask the questions and only Bill gets to answer them.  Our ablitity to remain respectful and polite will have a lot to do with our ability to attract future guests.

OK, ask away

all the best

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fiberglasshi's picture
Joined: 09/24/2012

Hi Bill,

It's great to have you participating in this forum. In your opinion, what has been the greatest design advancement in surfboard building on the North Shore? Who were your board building influences? What still motivates you to build boards today? What is your greatest board building accomplishment? We have a million more but we'll stop at those four for now. Thanks!  

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

fiberglasshi wrote:

Hi Bill,

It's great to have you participating in this forum. In your opinion, what has been the greatest design advancement in surfboard building on the North Shore? 

Aloha fiberglasshi

If you don't mind I will answer multiple questions in individual posts.

Off the top of my head, there was only one "design advancement in surfboard building" that was fairly specific to the North Shore.  This would be the advancements in boards that could surf bigger waves, and by bigger I mean everything over 6'-8'.  Simply because bigger waves were so easy to comeby here.  Once we hit the short board revolution, the refinement of gunnier boards for bigger waves was rapid and significant.  Spilling from the North Shore, all around the world.  Additionally, in the early days it wasn't near as easy as it is today to get to and stay on the North Shore.  Those who did, tended to be the very best surfers and board builders from all around the world.  This pool of talent was like the early days of Silicon Valley or Hollywood where the friendly comradary and competion drove advancements in boards and surfing at an unbridled pace, unmatched by anywhere else in the world.

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

fiberglasshi wrote:

Hi Bill,

Who were your board building influences?

This isn't as easy to answer as some might think.  I never officially "studied" under or was "taught" by anyone.  

I was always a quick learner that had good hand and eye coordination.  I was curious about how things worked to the point that I dismantled most of my toys to figure them out.  Then bicycles, motorcycles and cars.  If there was anyone in the neighborhood that was working on something, I would hang around and watch or help.  I was facinated by science and the adventure of life and creativity and was luckly gifted with good artistic sense.

This gave me a huge respect for people who created stuff and the tools, talents and techniques they used to create things.  In my generation, it was common to work from an early age and this taught me proper diligence and the neccessity of being thorough in my craft.  All this stuff trained my mind to easily connect diverse activities with various techniques and tools to figure out how to make stuff and not to be intimidated by any task.  I became pretty good at teaching myself, embracing failure and moving quickly to what works!

I was around many industry people but wasn't taught specifically by any of them.  They all made contributions to the pool of knowledge that led me down the path to where I am today.  

When I worked at Hobie's the strong influences were, Micky Munoz (who got me the job there), Terry Martin, Jeff Logan, Ronald and Bobby Paterson.  They never knew it but they taught me how to be a Pro at one's craft and to do it under heavy load. I first met Bill Thailkill when I worked there.  Phil Edwards was mostly involved in the Catamarans then and the R&D facility was next door.  It was off limits to most but I got to hang around there when I had time.  

During my time in Santa Barbara I got to hang around the Wilderness shop got to know Greenough and was impressed with the very different things they were doing there.  This was an interesting contrast to the design philosphies of Yater and Bradbury of that same time.  I also met Bob Haakenson and through him the Mirandon Brothers down in La Jolla who were extremely creative!  These were very inspirational times!  I am probably missing others and for that I appologize.

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privateer's picture
Joined: 04/09/2005

Bill,

in your quest to make better boards what percent is the  fin/fins equation and why ?some of your favorites fins for single  3,4, fin boards,3 known favorite shapers and why? 3  unknown shapers and why? Raining all day,,,,  always enjoyed your boards Aloha.....

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

So Sorry.  I missed your question

privateer wrote:

Bill,

in your quest to make better boards what percent is the  fin/fins equation and why ?some of your favorites fins for single  3,4, fin boards,3 known favorite shapers and why? 3  unknown shapers and why? Raining all day,,,,  always enjoyed your boards Aloha.....

Aloha Privateer.  So sorry but I seemed to have missed your question and passed you right by.  Your question is great and I want to answer properly as you have brought up a subject that is going to require posting some photos etc.  Hang in there in a few days I will be caught up on my projects and will be able to devote the proper time to your question.

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

Billbarnfield wrote:

So Sorry.  I missed your question

privateer wrote:

Bill,

in your quest to make better boards what percent is the  fin/fins equation and why ?some of your favorites fins for single  3,4, fin boards,3 known favorite shapers and why? 3  unknown shapers and why? Raining all day,,,,  always enjoyed your boards Aloha.....

Aloha Privateer.  So sorry but I seemed to have missed your question and passed you right by.  Your question is great and I want to answer properly as you have brought up a subject that is going to require posting some photos etc.  Hang in there in a few days I will be caught up on my projects and will be able to devote the proper time to your question.

Aloha Privateer

I just spent the last couple of hours answering your quesion and the whole thing went POOF!!.  I will try again later, if I am still alive after I shoot myself.... ARRRRRGH!!!!

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

M

privateer wrote:

Bill,

in your quest to make better boards what percent is the  fin/fins equation and why ?some of your favorites fins for single  3,4, fin boards,3 known favorite shapers and why? 3  unknown shapers and why? Raining all day,,,,  always enjoyed your boards Aloha.....

In the beginning there were no fins on boards and none were needed because the waves ridden then were smaller rollers rather than cresting waves.  Additionally, they were ridden straight into the beach for long distances. As surfers desired to ride larger waves, the larger waves would not just roll on as gentle swells.  These larger waves were the cresting type swells that couldn't be ridden staight into the beach because cresting waves disperse all their energy upon breaking leaving only a weak, foamy, soup ride to the beach.  

On a cresting wave, one has to ride down along the swell line to get a long enough ride.  This meant negotiating irregular sections in the breaking swell line requiring the rider to vary his speed to match the wave and increase it at times to make it around falling sections.  As surfers needed more speed they also needed to ride steeper and steeper parts of the wave.  This greater need for speed and need to direct it, required more control of the board and FINS were a very simple solution to all of this.  As surfers grew to ride bigger and steeper waves the fins beccame more and more important to the task at hand, the best example being them growing from ZERO fins into MULTIPLE fins per board.

So in answer to your first question, fins are everthing.  Contemporary surfing would be hard pressed to exist without them.  Proof being that, in spite of all the attempts to achieve the mythical "finless surfboard" they never work on a par with normal surfboards.

My Favorite fins are well........ MY fins.  

Most notably my standard Tri Fin Template that I developed shortly after tri fins came out and I needed to adapt them to Hawaiian waves.  My template is now about 30+ years old and is regularly copied by some of the biggest names.  None of them have given me credit for it, especially those who know exactly where they got it from.  Here it is below.  Print it out to scale 4 1/8" Base x 4 5/8" Depth, and compare it to the fins you like and see how it measures up.  If you have access to enough fins, you will be amazed at how many are near exactly this template.  Keep in mind this image is of a glass on version.  If it were a fin system version, it would have a slightly wider base to better match the glass on fillet. See what you come up with and we will continue this discussion.

.

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

privateer wrote:

Bill,

3 known favorite shapers and why? 3  unknown shapers and why? 

I am not sure of your question or how to answer really.  I don't have any "favorite" shapers, known or unknown.  Maybe it is just the language you used.  I respect the talents and craftsmanship of several shapers.  Leaving anyone out, doesn't mean they aren't great shapers of course but naming a few favorites may create all kinds of complications.  I will think about your question and answer if I can figure out a way to do so and not bruise any relationships or feelings.  These things are delicate enough as it is let alone teasing the issue with a popularity contest!

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

fiberglasshi wrote:

Hi Bill,

What still motivates you to build boards today? Thanks!

As I get older that question pops up in my own mind all the time! Why do I keep doing this?

I am not sure what motivated me in the fist place..... maybe saving some money by doing it myself.  I never had a big dream or burning desire to be a famous surfboard maker or shaper.  It never seemed all that marvelous to me.  I liked being crafty and making things work better and since I was surfing it just made sense to play around with making surfboards and making them better. 

Maybe that is still the reason.  Or maybe it is just a lingering habit that I can't break.  I like the craft.  I like making things that work.  I like making customers happy.   Surfboards that are done well are beautiful pieces of Engineered Art.  They warm my heart when I see them, regardless of who makes them.  It is a seductive craft.

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

fiberglasshi wrote:

Hi Bill,

What is your greatest board building accomplishment? 

I don't know if there was a single "greatest" but here are 3 that come to mind.  

1. Introducing my Measurement Controlled Shaping System to others and watching their success with it.  It quantified the art of shaping allowing greater precision and the repeatability neccessary to advance pro surfing.

2. Developing the Rescue Sled for the City & County of Honolulu when nothing like it existed.  Nothing better then saving lives.  

3. Training hundreds of friends and employees over the years, providing increased incomes and better lifestyles for them and their families.

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melikefish's picture
Joined: 06/24/2013

Mr. Barnfield,

Thanks for volunteering your time. First off, I have been to your store a bunch, and find myself staring up at the ceiling looking at your collection of boards. Very inspiring. Your thread on rails, is one of the most recommended reads on this site.

If you could only surf two boards on the North Shore, what would they be? 

What characteristics would they have that would separate them from boards for town?

Also forget about everyone else, these are boards that you would want to surf, at breaks you would want to surf, not for anyone else:)

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

melikefish wrote:

Mr. Barnfield,

Thanks for volunteering your time. First off, I have been to your store a bunch, and find myself staring up at the ceiling looking at your collection of boards. Very inspiring. Your thread on rails, is one of the most recommended reads on this site.

If you could only surf two boards on the North Shore, what would they be? 

What characteristics would they have that would separate them from boards for town?

Also forget about everyone else, these are boards that you would want to surf, at breaks you would want to surf, not for anyone else:)

Aloha melikefish, thanks for the nice compliments.  It has been my pleasure.

2 boards can't properly span the size of surf the North Shore offers.  But for the sake of discussion 2 boards it is.  I like to think of the North Shore reefs and waves as 3 types.  

Inner Reefs, like Chuns, Rocky Point, Velzland, etc.

2nd Reefs, like Sunset, Pipeline, bigger Laniakea and Haleiwa, etc.

 Outer Reefs, Like Waimea Bay, Himilayas, Avalance, and the way Outer Reefs.  These reefs are not on my personal radar sceen these days.

Generally it takes 2 boards to cover each type, so a 6 board quiver.  But allass I can only have 2 boards so.....

For the inner reefs on good days, around a 7'0" fuller template, Tri Fin, thicker, fun board, wave catcher that will allow an old guy to compete with the crowds and still have fun.  

For the 2nd Reefs something around 8'6", Tri Fin, good paddler, security blanket.

For Town the 2 would be an 8'0" Mini Tanker and a 9'6" Tanker.

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stoneburner's picture
Joined: 12/30/2007

Mr. Barnfield,

You have contributed several classic topics to this forum.  Among them are rail bands, rocker measurement tangential to the midpoint, and fin placement...

I am interested in your approach to the design of rail profiles/shapes.

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

RAIL PROFILE http://bgboard.blogspot.com/2014/03/march-82014-afterr-seeing-recent.html

Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

stoneburner wrote:

Mr. Barnfield,

You have contributed several classic topics to this forum.  Among them are rail bands, rocker measurement tangential to the midpoint, and fin placement...

I am interested in your approach to the design of rail profiles/shapes.

That is a huge subject.  Not sure if I can condense it enough.  But here goes.  

There are 2 primary aspects to rail shape.  1. The actual overall shape.  2. The Volume contained within.  Shaping proper rails for the rider and wave is, as usual, a delicate balancing of the two.  Of the two, the Volume may be the more important or at least, for the rider to sense.  If you know the wave and customer well, it is fairly easy to create a volume that will feel right to the customer.  If you don't know them and the kind of boards they ride, it may be very difficult to determine the right Volume.  Best thing you can possibly do is to understand your customers needs.  Look at all his boards, measure them, log them.  Discuss in detail with him how each board ride and how he thinks it feels.  Get to know him and yourself well enough so that you know when he is speaking from real experience and when he is repeating things he has heard or thinks you want to here.  

The shape of the rail effects its grip on the water, the way it bites and how deep it penetrates.  Like most things in surfboad design, there are no absolute formulas and rails are among the most ambigious and hard to quantify with measurements.  It is alot about feel and knowing it when you feel it.   

You can create the same shape of the rail in various volumes to suit the customer and waves. Knowing what shape is the hard part.  It requires surfing thousands of different waves and ridng zillions of different boards in them.  Very few people ever really get this kind of experience and therefore just copy or guess. But since people judge (their) reality by their own standards, the guy guessing or copying never thinks he is, because he thinks (his reality) that everyone else is doing the same thing and it is normal and the way to do it.

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stoneburner's picture
Joined: 12/30/2007

Thanks.

I appreciate the input, past and present.

_____

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

RAIL PROFILE http://bgboard.blogspot.com/2014/03/march-82014-afterr-seeing-recent.html

TaylorO's picture
Joined: 03/18/2004

Hey Bill -

Have you seen the facebook thing about the book they are doing on early surfing at that place up north in Oregon here, that shall not be named?

They had a picture of you across the highway from the Crab Broiler, and you looked like you must've wrestled or something, yes/no?  Ha!

I still miss that "Eight foot Lightening Bolt gun" I got at Cleanlines...   One of my favorite boards of all time.

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TaylorO

Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

Duplicate Post

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

TaylorO wrote:

Hey Bill -

Have you seen the facebook thing about the book they are doing on early surfing at that place up north in Oregon here, that shall not be named?

They had a picture of you across the highway from the Crab Broiler, and you looked like you must've wrestled or something, yes/no?  Ha!

I still miss that "Eight foot Lightening Bolt gun" I got at Cleanlines...   One of my favorite boards of all time.

Aloha TaylorO

Yes I am aware of the book project and the FaceBook page.  I am in the process of providing them with pictures from my personal archive as we speak.

Are you referring to the photo of me with the broken yellow Tillamook Head Surfboard... No I was never a wrestler.  My father was a boxxer and a wrestler though!  That upper body strength was just from surfing and good genes.  I never worked out.

Happy to hear you liked your board, thanks for the compliment!

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

Aloha Greg.  

Thank you for setting me on the "Hot Seat".  This is a pretty cool thing that you have created.  Hopefully I will do it justice!  Please be aware that I often work late and get up late and adding that to the time difference with the West Coast and greater yet with the East Coast, my replies won't liely be during the mornings.  I am still buried on some specialty projects but will do my best to participate consistently...... Off we go!

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sharkcountry's picture
Joined: 03/25/2006

Hi Bill. I hope all is well. Maybe you could add some insight to a couple of things that's been in other threads.

What makes a board fast, bottom, rocker, rails, length, width? Be interesting to have some of your input.

By the way is Frank still working at the shop?

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

sharkcountry wrote:

Hi Bill. I hope all is well. Maybe you could add some insight to a couple of things that's been in other threads.

What makes a board fast, bottom, rocker, rails, length, width? Be interesting to have some of your input.

By the way is Frank still working at the shop?

Ha! Ha! SharkCountry..... How did you know I have been suppressing a deep desire to enter into those discussions and somehow had managed to beat myself into submission and ignore them!  And now you temp me to go down that path in this protected environment and risk it all....!  :-)

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lawless's picture
Joined: 05/21/2004

"I was always a quick learner that had good hand and eye coordination.  I was curious about how things worked..."

With that in mind, if you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice about shaping surfboards, what would it be?

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

lawless wrote:

"I was always a quick learner that had good hand and eye coordination.  I was curious about how things worked..."

With that in mind, if you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice about shaping surfboards, what would it be?

To move to Hollywood and become a Plastic Surgeon! :-)

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Zourite's picture
Joined: 09/07/2014

That's definitely an alternative way of shaping.

Not sure that Hollywood curves beat Hawaïan waves though...

Thank you for sharing your knowledge, with my 1 board experience I don't have any interesting question but reading your answers is already plenty to process.

Z.

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lcc's picture
lcc
Joined: 04/24/2008

"if you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice about shaping surfboards, what would it be?"

"To move to Hollywood and become a Plastic Surgeon! :-)"

LOL....nice one, Bill.  Seems the older shapers who have retained their sense of stoke and humour over the years have fared much better then those who haven't, and have to think those are two important reasons why.  

my shaping question - What's bottom/rocker would you install on that 7'0 fun board for fun size north shore, and same question on the 8'6.

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

lcc wrote:

"if you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice about shaping surfboards, what would it be?"

"To move to Hollywood and become a Plastic Surgeon! :-)"

LOL....nice one, Bill.  Seems the older shapers who have retained their sense of stoke and humour over the years have fared much better then those who haven't, and have to think those are two important reasons why.  

my shaping question - What's bottom/rocker would you install on that 7'0 fun board for fun size north shore, and same question on the 8'6.

7'0" would probably be around 6" nose, 2 3/4" Tail 8'6" would probably be around 6 3/4" Nose, Tail 3 1/4".  The reason I say probably is because I make handmade custom boards.  I don't make "Models" via machines that have set measurements, repeated endlessly.  I don't have any problem with this.  It just isn't what I do.  If I had a machine and needed to keep the monster fed, then I would likely have Models with catchy names that sound cool and make people feel like they are getting something more special and unique then they really are.  

That said, most every board I make is part of an ongoing evolution of where I am at, at the time.  Where the surf scene is at.  Where the customer is at, etc.  And of course, each rocker would vary depending on other components of the boards design.  For example, a wider tail might require or could handle more tail rocker.  And Concaves or Vee would also alter the rocker.  The variables are endless. Yet most what there to be simple formulas and standardized meaurements that will make a "Magic" board.  

I think there is a simple reason for this that goes along with your comments about "older" shapers. To use a popular example..... Imagine one is taking up target shooting as a sport or pastime.  If they were to talk to older expert shooters, they would find a high degree of calm confidence and asurity in their performance skills. This is because they know the variables and can adjust for them on the fly to hit their targets.

But a new shooter with no experience has to initially shoot blindly at the target to determine how well his rifle is sighted in. Lets say the round hits far off to the right.  He then has to either adjust the sights, if he even knows how, or adjust his aim to hit farther to the left to compensate for the bad sights.  When the next shot hits too far to the left he has over compensated.  So he adjusts back to the right again but over shoots to the right also. So he swings back again to the left and overshoots to the left again, each with less error with each shot.  As you can see, what he really begins to wish for is a perfectly sighted rifle from the start!  If he were in a combat situation where his life or the life of others depended on it, there wouldn't be time to be making these mistakes.  And we haven't even begun to adjust vertically or compensate for the wind that has begun to blow in the middle of all this adjusting.

This is exactly what happens in surfboard making.  Being a Shaper, like being a Sniper, has been romanticized by the media.  (I bet Sniper Rifle sales are off the charts lately.)   Everyone wants to be one.  But very few will ever have the time to properly sight in their rifle let alone the natural skills needed to use it accurately in the midst of all the variables.  If they don't, they will be shooting blind and simply guessing or copying others to hit the bullseye.  It takes hundreds if not thousands of shapes and waves ridden on them get sighted in and to know how to hit the bullseye.  It is an extremely illusive quest in which there are very few absolutes. 

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GregTate's picture
Joined: 03/18/2004

Bill, would you please comment about the role of concaves? I do them when requested but always very slight. I favor "flat is fast" mostly, knowing that a flat bottom takes a specific rail shape to give the needed drive/projection. 

Many thx

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Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. - Winston Churchill

Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

GregTate wrote:

Bill, would you please comment about the role of concaves? I do them when requested but always very slight. I favor "flat is fast" mostly, knowing that a flat bottom takes a specific rail shape to give the needed drive/projection. 

Many thx

Aloha Greg

Remember in Loehr's Hot Seat Posts he laid out the history of contemporary concave boards?  Well a small but very important extension of that history wound up here in my shop when Greg Weber came to the North Shore with a bunch of Hyper Rockered Austrailian Blanks to work through the emerging design with his team riders etc.  A couple of the blanks are still sitting here in the racks.

Concaves are very useful tools in a designer tool box.  Though of all the bottom types they are possibily the most unforgiving if executed poorly.  Generally the more energy shedding a design, the less sensitive.  The more energy absorbing, the more fussy and sensitive. 

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ghostshaper's picture
Joined: 03/20/2004

Hi Bill,

Deck concaves: Any thoughts on flat decks (which seem to be gaining popularity these days) vs. traditional and domed decks, regarding flex, responsiveness, release of water coming over the deck, etc.?

Thanks for spending time on here. We're lucky to have you guys answering questions. 

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

ghostshaper wrote:

Hi Bill,

Deck concaves: Any thoughts on flat decks (which seem to be gaining popularity these days) vs. traditional and domed decks, regarding flex, responsiveness, release of water coming over the deck, etc.?

Thanks for spending time on here. We're lucky to have you guys answering questions. 

Aloha Ghostshaper.  

Concave Decks have been around for decades and have never really caught on.  Hard to say why really.  But surfboards are very FASHIONABLE things.  Few like to admit it but that's a well demonstrated fact.  

FUNCTION is hugely important but depending on an areas waves and riders the actual neccessity of FUNCTION increases or decreases in direct proportion to the quality of the waves and the abilities of the riders surfing them.  FASHION, is not directly relative to the quality of the waves or riders.  It can exist without them or if necessary draw power from them.  

We would all hope that what is fashionable in surfboards is a direct result of what is clearly determined to be most FUNCTIONABLE in real use, but that is too often not the case.  Pure FUNCTION struggles to influence FASHION.   FASHION by its very nature is transient and its trends or fads come and go for all kinds of reasons that are not FUNCTION based.

FASHION is geatly influenecd by the SURF SCENE and the SURF SCENE is influenced by the varried and often odd mix of the players in each regional SURF SCENE.  And maybe more importantly, FASHION is the real reason the players are even in the scene.  

The SURF SCENE includes all the best surfers in the world but it also includes all the rest of the surfers in the scene, including the very worst.  Since there are very few great surfres compared to the masses of average mediocre surfers, it is easy to see that the neccessity of FUNCTION can safely be placed low on the "importance" scale for the vast majority of surfers.  But FASHION cannot be.  If one doens't make sure their engagement with their particular surfing tribe isn't FASHIONABLY appropriate, they won't be allowed to be one of the cool guys in the tribe.  And that will be much more unacceptable then having a board that is lacking some FUCTIONAL characteristics.

The same applies to SHAPERS and surfboard builders in general.  Therefore, what is made or considered desireable or cool, often has little to do with FUNCTION but has everthing to do with FASHION.

That said, do concave decks FUNCTION?  Simply put... yes.  Is their FUNCTION better then other kinds of decks?  Apparenlty not or not enough so to overcome the current influence of FASHION.  Therein lies the big problem.  I have seen well known surfers and shapers argue for hours about the benefits of certain tail designs.  While none of them even know how much rocker is in the board or even how to measure it, if they wanted to find it out.  

If they did, they would quickly realize the futility of their discussion because one of the boards has vastly different rocker then the other!  And any presumptions of performance based on the shape of the tail is easly overshadowed by the huge difference in rockers.  

So what's really going on here.  It is simply fellowship in the tribe and finding common ground and communication on a shared interest.  This is hugely important to human beings and relationaly speaking, profound.  But what they are really discussing is the FASHION of tail designs and all their supposed speculations regarding FUNCTION are really just a sort of "Voguing" to use a popular early 90's term.  Let be clear here, this is TOTALLY OK.  But lets also not mistake this for any kind of serious design experimentation or functionally creative revolution.

So....  back to your question..... "flex, responsiveness, release of water coming over the deck, etc." can we really do anything more then just speculate or argue about these factors unless we make some exact boards, one with a concave deck and one without?  Lets do this and then lets talk.  I haven't done this.  Maybe someone has but I doubt it.  It is always more fun to talk about it and pretend to know, then to actually do it and know for sure.

FASHION by it very nature has to be FASHIONABLE and anything that has been around too long begins to be seen as unFASHIONALBE and needing a change.  So, dome decks drift to flatter decks and flatter decks drift to concave decks all in the quest to be new, different and FASHIONALBE.  How much of this is driven by FUNCTION is near impossible to tell.  But once the media picks up on the trend and blows it up, we all better be ready to make concave decks, regardless whether or not we have a clue about them!  Think of the hundreds of pages of magazine articles and ads on past designs that never worked out and no longer exist.  Great fun reading, lots of money for the magazines, writers, photographers and printers. Lots of fellowship and bonding in the tribe.  In the end this is probably more important then design advancement anyway.

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grasshopper's picture
Joined: 03/18/2004

Bill - do you have any stories of  favorite boards - maybe one that you had a memorable journey with or maybe one that was very special that you made for someone else?

Thanks for sharing!

Richard

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https://instagram.com/grasshoppersurfboards/ 

Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

grasshopper wrote:

Bill - do you have any stories of  favorite boards - maybe one that you had a memorable journey with or maybe one that was very special that you made for someone else?

Thanks for sharing!

Richard

Aloha grasshopper.  I wish I could tell you that there was some favorite boards that really stand out but I waited a few days hoping one or more would come to mind......  Sadly, I am drawing a blank.  While I have never made the 10s of thousands of boards that many production shapers have, I have still made thousands of boards and after awhile, they all sort of blend together over time.  Plus, my style is more one of refinement in progressive steps, rather then huge revolutionary leaps so each board is a small successful step and while important, is less memorable then a major leap in design.

I do have many memories, and certain boards are part of them.  Like Tom Carroll's lime green and white single fin, I think it was around 7' and narrow.  He tore it up on that board!  Bobby Owen's Waimea gun that was narrower and thinner then everyone was doing at the time that allowed him to surf Waimea like he did Sunset.  Shaun Tomson's, all black 7' single fin that was so elegant and beautiful all polished and in his hands all the more so.  My personal board that Ricky Irons got on the cover of Surfing Magazine while riding at Rocky Point.  And of course Margo Oberg who surfed her boards as good a most men and all my female team riders who had quivers full of refined boards in amazing colors.  The list is long and I am sure I am leaving out all kinds of people that deserve better.  Among my personal rides are unique reminders of days and waves that will never be erased.  People, Places and Moments in time frozen in colors, shapes and smells, they all carry stories far too long and many to tell.  

The adventure isn't over yet and while I have slowed it down a bit to keep my sanity.  Each board I make is still a memorable slice of artistry that moves and challenges me in unexpected ways.  It is a weird seduction.

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melikefish's picture
Joined: 06/24/2013

Mr Barnfield,

Thanks! I always like to know what experienced shapers like to ride, since you guys could make any board, so your choice in board has a lot of weight.  

And once again, thank you much for your time.

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

Aloha Swaylockers.  Sorry I haven't been fully active or indepth on this thread.  I am working on a few speciality projects that have immovable deadlines that I have to meet.  Things should loosen up in a couple of days.  I will post some pictures of one of the projects that you guys might like to see.

This is a remake of Shaun Tomson's 7'7" Gun from 1987.  It will be auctioned off for the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara in a few days.

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

Glassing Shaun's board today

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melikefish's picture
Joined: 06/24/2013

I don't want to double dip, but  please tell us more about the board:)

For this board what sort of interplay do you have between bottom, rails, and volume distribution, that helps guys get into such a quick steep wave?

What was going through your head when you originally designed it? and if you could go back in time and make the same board for Shaun Tomson, what  would you change ?

Sorry for asking more questions, but always wanted to  ask you questions about the other pipeline gun you have hanging in your shop.

Thanks,

Jason

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

melikefish wrote:

I don't want to double dip, but  please tell us more about the board:)

For this board what sort of interplay do you have between bottom, rails, and volume distribution, that helps guys get into such a quick steep wave?

What was going through your head when you originally designed it? and if you could go back in time and make the same board for Shaun Tomson, what  would you change ?

Sorry for asking more questions, but always wanted to  ask you questions about the other pipeline gun you have hanging in your shop.

Thanks,

Jason

Double dipping is ok!  

The Shaun Tomson board is 7'7" x 19" and is pretty typical for 1987.  Around 3" thick. 

Fuller rails then todays boards.  Fairly hard down rails.  Very hard in tail.  Small Squash tail

Medium Vee fading out slowly as it gets to nose and behind fins.  Concave Vee Panels in back 1/3rd  

Rocker 6 1/8" nose.  2 3/8" tail.

This was Pre the contemporary Hyper Rockerd Concave bottoms that began to emerge in The early 90s.

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

Let me add to Greg Tate's introductory comments.  It is OK with me if you guys want to comment on my comments or ask more questions.  Just try to avoid everyone throwing in their 2 cents when it comes to answering the questions.  I don't mind a bit of discussion.

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thrailkill's picture
Joined: 05/07/2004

Billbarnfield wrote:
  I don't mind a bit of discussion.
 

Aloha Bill,

I'm glad to see you back on the pages of Swaylock's.        I hope you are doing well after your health scare, of a few years ago.      Those kind of thing are a real wake up call, eh?   

Aloha Nui,

Bill

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Bill Thrailkill SHAPER SINCE 1958
Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

thrailkill wrote:

Billbarnfield wrote:
  I don't mind a bit of discussion.
 

Aloha Bill,

I'm glad to see you back on the pages of Swaylock's.        I hope you are doing well after your health scare, of a few years ago.      Those kind of thing are a real wake up call, eh?   

Aloha Nui,

Bill

Thank You Bill.  All is good here.  Hoping the same for you.

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mattwho's picture
Joined: 05/12/2014

Billbarnfield wrote:

Let me add to Greg Tate's introductory comments.  It is OK with me if you guys want to comment on my comments or ask more questions.  Just try to avoid everyone throwing in their 2 cents when it comes to answering the questions.  I don't mind a bit of discussion.

here's one

Aloha Bill!

Thank you for taking the time to carefully answer each of our queries.

I can relate to the marksman statement of “boring”, once you are dialed in.

Always kept it fun by messin’ with the rounds.

And in a lot of ways this is relative in shaping (to me).

I would like to humbly ask your take on rail shapes.

In particular at the business end in high energy waves.

Bill, I will understand if you don’t care to comment, as this is a touchy subject.

I’ve been going softer in more energy.

Don’t feel that I’m wasting my time, just running out of it.

Thanks in advance for any explanation and results shared. 

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I would rather be someone's shot of whiskey, than everyone's cup of tea.

www.mattysurfboards.com

Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

Sanding & Glossing Shaun's board today.  I will be back!  In the mean time check this out.

surfersvillage.com - Shaun Tomson's 1983 Zig Zag Gun gets exact replica - Surfing News, Surfing Contest, All the surf in one website

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jrandy's picture
Joined: 09/04/2012

Hi Bill-

Thanks again for being in the hot seat. Looking forward to the discussion of fins based on Privateer's questions.

-J

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http://pushheretosavealife.com/ Be safe, have fun. -J

Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

jrandy wrote:

Hi Bill-

Thanks again for being in the hot seat. Looking forward to the discussion of fins based on Privateer's questions.

-J

Me too!

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mattwho's picture
Joined: 05/12/2014

POST #39

Thanks anyway!

Shapahodad bomb.

2 BAD

So long, and thanks for all the fish...

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I would rather be someone's shot of whiskey, than everyone's cup of tea.

www.mattysurfboards.com

McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004
  1. Bill--  in a recent issue of Surfing, Rusty cited you as his biggest influence.  Care to elaborate on your history with Rusty?  Did you work together.  In what ways do you think you may have been an influence on his shaping??  Are you coming over for the Del Mar show honoring Rusty in May??  Lowel
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That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.

Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

McDing wrote:

  1. Bill--  in a recent issue of Surfing, Rusty cited you as his biggest influence.  Care to elaborate on your history with Rusty?  Did you work together.  In what ways do you think you may have been an influence on his shaping??  Are you coming over for the Del Mar show honoring Rusty in May??  Lowel

Aloha McDing

This would probably be much better answered by Rusty himself and maybe I will bug him to do so.  Hopefully when he reads this our versions won't very much.

I think it was around 1978 or 79 that I first met Rusty in San Diego.  I had many team riders from the area and they were bugging me to come over and do some shaping and hang out.  Among them were Debbie Beacham, Chris O'roarke, Sandy Ordille, Timmy Senneff, Doddie Hackamack, and others that I am probably forgetting. Debbie arranged with Rusty, who I had never met, for me to be able to use his shaping room.  Debbie put the whole thing together and let me stay at her and Lewis's house in La Jolla.  Thank you Debbie!

Rusty was actively shaping then for Canyon I think so he graciously gave me a lot of time in his workspace.  I had rented a sporty red Mustang and headed out to meet him at his shaping room to see how suitable it was and how this was all going to work out.  Rusty's room was actually one of many storage lockers in a large complex out in eastern San Diego.  I think it was about 25 feet long and about 12 foot wide or more.  Rusty is a huge guy compared to me, at only 5'6", so his room was all set up for his size which I think is over 6'.  

His shaping racks were sooooo tall.....!  And the space was so huge.  My rooms are usually 8' wide by 15' long.  Very compact, tightly organized effecient and super clean.  

WARNING!!! S ome of this is going to sound like I am putting Rusty down, but that isn't it at all.  There is a punch line to this story and if I don't tell you the bad stuff, the good stuff at the end of the story won't have much meaning. 

So I meet up with Rusty and checked out his workspace......  

And Oh My...!!! it is a mess!  Stuff strewn everywhere and covered in foam dust to the point that the walls which were painted black, and only on the lower half, didn't even look dark.  Rusty had a lot of stuff in there.  The first 10 feet or so was kind of a storage area that was littered with all kinds of objects.  Old chairs, airconditioners, blanks strewn around, I think a small compressor and a ton of stuff that I don't remember exaclty but it was all clogging up this storage/entrance area in one way or another.

The shaping space was more sad, it was full of old sandpaper.  I mean tons of old sandpaper!  (hopefully Rusty is laughing now) There was what seemed like every old sheet of sandpaper that Rusty had ever used in his life.  Plus there were also all kinds of smaller pieces cut into various odd shapes.  All this stuff was laying on top of the shelves over each of the side lights, along with foam dust and all kinds of other miscelanious hand tools.  Plus there was stuff in all the corners and along the floor, including templates etc.  My mental imprint of the space was like...... Oh My, how do you get anything done in here and get it done precisely!  The space was depressing and not conducive to precision work and it was reflective of a broken artist.  One who had lost there fire and who's creative compass couldnt find its focus.

The Shaping Racks were tall and had huge truck axle hubs or something for the bases and were not adjustable. They easily snagged the planers power cord.  They were way to tall for me, so I think we laid down some 8" hollow tile blocks and covered them with plywood so that I coud walk around the racks as though I was as tall as Rusty!  I did some minor organizing and clean up so that I could get to work and Rusty tollarated my OCD and leaning on him to throw away some of the stuff and get better organized.  He said that he always saved his old sandpaper and it was a habit from days not that long past were one couldn't afford to waste it or something like that.  The odd shaped smaller pieces were for shaping swallow tails and such.  I could see this was going to be a challenge and while I wasn't there to teach anyone to shape or how to set up a good workspace, I didn't mind doing so in payback for the loan of the space.  Still I have found that to be risky, as most people don't like to be told that they need to improve, and I often piss people off cause I can be too outspoken and direct.  I don't tollerate BS very well, as I am geared to produce and hit high standards in all that I do and simply don't have time for things or people that impede that.

But surprisingly, in this case, Rusty was a very receptive sponge and didn't seem to balk at my requests or intentions to help.  Over the next few days of hanging out together and shaping I encouraged him in all kinds of motivational ways and he was a great listener.  We covered all kinds of techniques, design functions, workspace conditions and general attitudes and actions that lead to success.  It was all good.  

Like many in the industry Rusty had hit a level point were his best efforts weren't delivering him the kind or rewards his hard work and devotion deserved.  I have seen this a zillion time in the surf industry and elsewhere.  It is more set up to break ones heart then provide real success, and often does.  We talked tons about the surf scene and how it worked and how to beat it and keep it from defeating you.  And rather empowering you to excell beyond your contemporaries and even your own expectations.  Of course, at this early point not much was going to be coming of it other then a lot of conversations.

We traded off shaping days so we both could get stuff done and then one day he told me he had a big order to get done and needed the room for a few days in a row.  That was no problem for me as I was just cruising and having fun hanging out with Debbie and company!

A few day's later Rusty called me up ALL EXCITED and ANIMATED!  He said "you gotta get out here right now, I have to show you something!"  He was really emotional, but wouldn't tell me why, he just kept saying "get out here now"!  So I drove out and met him there at the roll up door to his storage locker/shaping room.  As he got ready to roll up the door, he said "step back".  I thought maybe he had caught a mountain lion or Puma in there or something!!!!  So he grabs the handle of the door and rolls it up quickly to expose the cluttered storage area and sea of crap that was all strewn around..... EXCEPT... that was not what I was seeing!   The whole space was immaculately clean!  The entrance/storage space now had wall racks on both sides where all the blanks were carefully arranged and the whole floor was covered with dark blue indoor outdoor carpet.  The walls were all painted a beautiful dark blue color and all the scraps of sandpaper and sheets were gone.  Nothing was in the room that didn't have a space set up for it and there was nothing there that wasn't necessary.   It was simply beautiful..!!!  I stood there with my mouth wide open.

In one blazing blue instant...... I knew Rusty had been listening and that he "GOT IT".  He was like a new man!  Of course the workspace improvements were a reflection of a deep personal change inside.  I had shown him my MCS (Measurement Controlled Shaping) system and taught him that using it and tracking the measurements and the riders feedback, including his own, (he surfs well) would be able to in 18 months or so provide a deep enough data base that would begin to talk back to him and instruct him in exactly what to do to get any kind of performance he needed from any board.

Rusty was a very capable craftsman and dilligent worker with good artistic sense.  But he was discouraged as he didnt have a system or even know such a thing existed, that would allow him to know exactly what he was making and exactly why he was making it that way.  

I can't understate this.  It is increadibly powerfull.  When you know what to do, have the hand and eye skills to achieve it precisely, shaping gets super exciting! The alternative is just guessing and copying.  That is boring and hugely depressing to know that you really don't know what you need to and have to just guess.  And it is deeply humiliating that you have to copy others to make things that will only marginally work.  And even more so, that you don't know why it works or doesn't work, and others seemingly do. (but propably don't but play a good game of pretending they do)

Rusty embraced all this and he took off like a rocket!  That next season he came and worked for me as my ghost shaper in Hawaii making Twin Fins.  He did fine but his boards which were supposed to be copies of mine didn't look exactly the same.  My Japanese agent and dealers noticed right away.  I DIDN'T sign the boards as though mine as I am not a fan of that kind of deception.  And neither did Rusty sign them.  This was that 18 month training period I mentioned where the hand and eye begins to get comfortable replicating things precisely because you are now shaping to precise numbers with every board, and you must hit them to achieve success.  Therefore, your hands and eyes must be trained to rise to the challenge.  Any extraneous techniques, tools, pieces of sandpaper or useless habits have to be done away with so that the mind and body can focus clearly on a very a narrow goal for each board, without any distractions.  

Shortly after this, when I knew Rusty was solidly on track to achieve success, I sent Shaun Tomson to him to begin getting boards.  I told Shaun that Rusty knew the system and would have him dialed in within a few boards and to give him a chance.

And the rest is......as they says,  HISTORY...!

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McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004

That's some great background right there Bill.   I do appreciate knowing the history and background.  I rode his Thrusters in the '80's under the Canyon label.  They were sent North to Central Coast Surf Shop in SLO.  Mostly 6"8, 6'3and a 6'10" gun that I took to Oahu one March.  So you think you might make it over to Del Mar in may??  Lowel

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

Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

McDing wrote:

That's some great background right there Bill.   I do appreciate knowing the history and background.  I rode his Thrusters in the '80's under the Canyon label.  They were sent North to Central Coast Surf Shop in SLO.  Mostly 6"8, 6'3and a 6'10" gun that I took to Oahu one March.  So you think you might make it over to Del Mar in may??  Lowel

Aloha Lowel

I have never been invited to one of those things.  I am a big fan of the energy they seem to have.  It is really great to get the focus back on surfboads instead of what brand of Trucker Hat is cool enough to wear!  I am not sure what my schedule will be like in May.  There is something big on the horizon around that time that will require my presence...... 

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Billbarnfield's picture
Joined: 07/09/2005

3:00 AM.

Shaun's board is glossed on deck side and curing.

2 other boards are Hotcoated and curing.

I am heading home for some sleep!

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