I got a chunk of wood...

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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

So today I purchased this overwhelming chunk of wood from Bill Thrailkill, and in spite of the fact its heavy enough to sink the Bismark, I'm actually pretty stoked about it. This has been on my bucket list: carving a surfboard from a solid chunk of wood! 

So I'm considering my options. Maybe a historical reproduction. Or a classic shape with historic roots. Trying to come up with something appropriate to the blank. I'm leaning toward a functional board with a classic look, maybe 9 foot by 22". But my work schedule is kinda crazy right now, so I probably have plenty of time to mull it over.

The second pic is how I imagine my blank started out :-)  Because the first pic begs the question, Who grabs a chainsaw and roughs out a couple surfboard slabs, then stores them in the barn?? 

What is the back story?  I mean, it had to be a surfer who was also a shaper who was also a lumberjack or sawmill worker, someone who would look at a slab of western red cedar like, that would make a good surfboard.  So that puts it back in the 1930s? 40s? 50s?

I don't know, but I'm curious as heck.  There just can't be too many people throwing 10 foot slabs of surfboard blank in the back of their truck after working in the lumberyard all day.  Or did some old time surfer have a big tree fall over in his backyard, and just jumped on the opportunity? Dying to know, but apparently, its just a mystery, end of story.

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bb30's picture
Joined: 05/08/2011
My vote is functional board to be used. Please show the milling procedure if you are going that route. Is 22" wide all you can squeeze out of it? Looks like a super fun build and all your skills will be in use.
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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

I'm clearly in over my head on this one, but determined to take my time and hopefully get it right.

22" wide is a design choice. At first I thought I could go wider, but there is a big pocket of rot along one rail.

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GregTate's picture
Joined: 03/18/2004
Whatever you do Huck I’m sure it will be epic. Can’t wait to see the process. Thanks for sharing.
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Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. - Winston Churchill

Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

I've kinda been obsessing over this blank since before I ever even saw it. Just hearing about its existence got me tingling.

Old growth means wood grown naturally in the forest, you can see in the pic below the difference between old growth and modern tree farm wood. 

Clear (meaning NO KNOTS - not even one tiny one!) vertical grain (this is the good stuff, better looking, more stable, easier to work wit) western red cedar, barn dried for 20 years plus (maybe 60 years, 70, 80??) - it's like something I could only dream about.

I don't think you could get a piece like this today, anywhere, other than a "barn find", as they say.

I want to do something that honors the grand old woodies of yesteryear.

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jeffrey's picture
Joined: 03/18/2004
Huck, if you want a functional template that also has a clear nod to our history, consider a take on a Hobie Makaha Gun. Great lines, timeless, very functional in my opinion. Just one option among many, and I'm sure you'll find the right one for you. Couldn't agree more about a minimalist approach. The wood is sufficient in terms of visual interest! Enjoy.
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keithmelville's picture
Joined: 03/18/2004
Tools. You need an adze and a drawknife. Keep it authentic here. No stringers.
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DEADSHAPER's picture
Joined: 03/23/2007
Sending Huck energy & inspiration for taking this bucket list item on! This project separates the men from the boys IMHO. I hope you have a fork lift to move it..... can't wait to see the blow by blow and of course the finished product....... Neither of these work for sh-t on today's new foam, but will absolutely sing on the big ol' hunk 'o wood! I suggest you pick up of copy of the song that goes "16 tons whattya get...... another day older & deeper in debt......... I owe my soul to the company store". However, if this approach catches fire for you, and orders start pouring in, I suggest the "Farm Boss" for production shaping these, it's light & powerful and feels easy on the hands, kinda like a Skil, but not quite. ......live long and prosper.
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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009
Ok bruce, and keith, I'm gonna try & track down one of these bad boys...
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DEADSHAPER's picture
Joined: 03/23/2007
I've got a drawknife somewhere..... but, take a look at the Fram Boss.... I just know this is goona go big for you!
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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009
Quote:
Hobie Makaha Gun
Wow that brought up some cool images!
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jeffrey's picture
Joined: 03/18/2004
There are a few beauties in that lot! Totally different construction, but that was the board I had in the back of my mind when I made this years ago...
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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009
Fantastic! Hmmm, I still have the template and rocker from this one I did a few years ago...
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jeffrey's picture
Joined: 03/18/2004
I remember that board, great work sir!
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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009
Thanx! To be honest, I would love to make a trip down to the Surfing Heritage Museum to look at some old wood boards.
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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

It's 9' 8" long, 23 3/4" wide, 4" thick (thicker at ends), and weighs about 120 lbs. The rough cut was crude, and there are some issues to work around. Pics

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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

I have to agree with Bill Thrailkill's observation that the end roughed out as the tail is going to be better as the nose in terms of rocker, and dodging some of the issues with the wood.

So looks like the square end will be my nose, determining my rocker will be my first order of business.

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GregTate's picture
Joined: 03/18/2004
My goodness, Huck. Reminds me of the story of Michelangelo and the hunk of marble that no one thought could be saved. And having sweated and starved and endured the ridicule of almost everyone, he produced the David. No pressure. all the best
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Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. - Winston Churchill

Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

Haha, thnx greg! Should I call it The David? The Big Z? The Cody Maverick?

Looking at this thing, as crude as it is, you gotta respect the mystery guy who carved this out of a tree trunk.  Man-handling a hundred-plus pounds and coming up with a viable surfboard blank probably working by sight with nothing more than a chainsaw.  

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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

This pocket of rotted / punky wood is without a doubt the most limiting aspect of the blank. Its like a giant pothole on the road to my success. It's gonna be a challenge to deal with, for sure. The wood has a spongy, pithy quality that makes is completely unsuitable, so I have to cut it out in shaping, or cut it out and splice a better piece in.

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rooster's picture
Joined: 03/18/2004
Hey Huck. Incredible project. I know you are a talented and creative wood worker and it's gonna be bitchen! I trip to the museum is a must in my opinion. Also, discuss with Bill T. if you are going to do a gun. His are as good and clean as any. I think your pieces of wood are rare and sacred. Plus, it smells so good when you cut into it! Mike
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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

Hi Mike, thnx, although you may be overstating the case for my woodworking ability. It's not going to be a gun per se, but some of the old wood boards that inspire me were called guns in their day, different from a modern big wave gun. Like the Hobie Makaha gun Jeffrey suggested.

Both Bill Thrailkill and Uncle Grumpy have assured me they will grease the wheels for a peek at the SHACC Surfing Heritage museum's wood boards, so I'm hoping to make a trip down before the shaping begins in earnest.

I have a LOT of work to do, cleaning the huge, crude slab of lumber up and prepping it. I'd like to get it resembling an actual blank before too long, cuz just moving it around is gonna give me a hernia! So right now I'm gonna focus on that, and deal with the real shaping once I have a definite design.

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WideAWAKE's picture
Joined: 02/20/2013
All I can think of is "Big Z" haha. Can wait to see what you come up with.
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"We ain't on our way to Wembley,we ain't gonna win the league. No matter how much they let us down - Westham's still our team"...

sk8ment's picture
Joined: 08/22/2013
WOW, they are magnificent. I've seen your router jigs before and they produced some works of art, (transparent fish mal) but I hope you have your big boys toys license for these things. You might need a chainsaw jig...
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@reclaim_surf formerly Skatement

(Adam) Sunshine Coast Queensland Australia

Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009
I bought just the one on the left, the one on the right to be shaped by another.
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spuddups's picture
Joined: 04/14/2011
This is surfboard shaping at it's most primal level. It's something I'd love to do one day. Keep the updates coming man. I'd say there's quite a few punters on this site who'll be following with great interest!
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Stew_L's picture
Joined: 04/10/2016
I hope you're going to have the video camera rolling throughout the build. :D
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tkelly's picture
Joined: 05/10/2004
That's a tough project. The first thing that came to mind was one of those old profile jigs with the router on a dual track to set the rocker and give you a starting surface. Seems like a lot of work, but a chunk of wood like that don't come around that often. Cheering you on for success!
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Ride on,

Tom

Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009
Yes Tom, good point, that was my thinking too. A lot of factors influencing the final shape are dictated by the wood itself. And it helps to have a plan B, and C, if the lumber doesn't want to cooperate with plan A.
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newschoolblue's picture
Joined: 06/30/2004
Wow. I mean, like, wow. I just now checked this thread out. Huck, knowing you, it'll be awesome. Looking forward to the progression on this one. I'm just bummed that wideawake beat me to the Big Z comparison, cause that's the first thing I thought of when I saw the initial post. Just remember: long strokes. Looooooooong stroookes . . .
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gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008
I'd never have the nerve to attempt a HWS board, but if I did I would definitely use your method for that. Your Lightning Bolt board and the driftwood-look board are both by far my favorite HWS boards. But this project takes it to a whole 'nother level.
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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

Thnx for the support and encouragement - I've been browsing the internet and studying the old wood boards. Really looking forward to seeing some historical woodies in person!

Kinda rolling the possibilities around in my head: add a nose and tail block to make a 10 footer; add some wide stringers to minimize the rail rot, splice in a patch at the rail rot; chamber it for lightness, etc, etc.

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wrcsixeight's picture
Joined: 07/18/2012
As stable as WRcedar is, that slab of wood could still warp or twist once you begin removing material. A few VG stringers could inhibit that possible propensity.
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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009
I just ordered some shaping tools...
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Stew_L's picture
Joined: 04/10/2016
I have one of those angle grinder wheels (the solid arbortech version) and only used it a couple of times. Make sure you're wearing gloves - the chips hurt! :D I had forgotten I had it - I do need to find a project to use it on again.
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WideAWAKE's picture
Joined: 02/20/2013
Huck - look into one of these https://kutzall.com/collections/sanding-discs They work really good for removing a lot of material real fast or slow if you ease up and feather it.
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"We ain't on our way to Wembley,we ain't gonna win the league. No matter how much they let us down - Westham's still our team"...

Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

Ok thnx 4 all the suggestions! Studying US Blanks catalog, and working by hand and eye, I created a full size masonite rocker template I really like, 4 1/2" nose 3" tail, on a 9' 3" board. Which is not too different from the rocker shaped into my blank, if I reverse it.

I painted my rocker template white, and tacked it up in front of my wood blank, then just stood back and eyeballed it as straight on as I could, to see how much trimming to start with. I used a paint brush and white paint so I can see what to cut off to clean it up.

You can see from the first two pics that my rocker is a good fit to the rough cut of the wood, which was my intended goal. Which I might add, in spite of the fact I reversed the blank, is a testament to the effect that the guy who rough cut this beast must've been a pretty savvy shaper (who WAS this guy??), or else one or both of us was just very lucky!

This is my rough shape to clean things up, so there is still room for adjusting the rocker as I do the actual shaping, after a trip to the museum. I tacked my rocker template to the wall flip side out and mapped out my approximate foil using a paintbrush and white primer. Just visualizing in 2D but actual size.  I'm planning on the finished board being a little over 3" at the thickest point.

And while this thing is HEAVY cuz it's so big, I really hope that once I shape away the excess, its gonna be light enough that I won't have to chamber it.

Also been drawing more sketches and thinking about the template.

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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

Started cleaning up with a sawzall, went about as far as my 12" blade would take me. That blade is kinda floppy, it wasn't meant to be used like this, it works but is difficult to control at the ends.  And of course, with a reciprocating saw, the end keeps bump bump bumping as I cut with the whole blade buried.

This week I will try the chainsaw with a 16" bar, which is much more rigid, and doesn't bump. But can bind. 

At this point I am just taking off the lumps and bumps, but now I have a base rocker line. The chunks I cut off feel very light, curious what this thing will weigh once I get it rough shaped, because at some point I have to decide chambered or solid.

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mattwho's picture
Joined: 05/12/2014
Wow! Shit now you have really done it!!! LOL
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I would rather be someone's shot of whiskey, than everyone's cup of tea.

www.mattysurfboards.com

Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009
.
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thrailkill's picture
Joined: 05/07/2004
Save your cut-off hunks, to make tailblocks for later surfboards.
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Bill Thrailkill SHAPER SINCE 1958
Stew_L's picture
Joined: 04/10/2016
I was thinking offcuts for making the fin....
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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

I will have better offcuts later, I am saving these but the grain is running the short direction.

The problem is that I can only cut a few inches before I have to make a crosscut to remove the excess, because otherwise I can't see what the tip is doing, and the big risk is the tip of my chainsaw bar digging in too deep. I am proceeding very cautiously.

But there will be different cuts later on that will yield some sizeable chunks. Foremost on my mind is having enough to patch in the rotted area, should I need and choose to go that route, as opposed to adding a fat stringer.

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sk8ment's picture
Joined: 08/22/2013
Is it weird, how excited I'm getting over someone else's build. I feel like a cheering spectator.
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@reclaim_surf formerly Skatement

(Adam) Sunshine Coast Queensland Australia

Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009
Chainsaw cleanup - skimmed the bottom, not an easy task, but a useful tool in this scenario.
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WideAWAKE's picture
Joined: 02/20/2013
Looking really good!
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"We ain't on our way to Wembley,we ain't gonna win the league. No matter how much they let us down - Westham's still our team"...

Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

I'll take all the moral support I can get! The chain saw work was nerve wracking, because it's an aggressive tool that's a bit on the unwieldy side, and its much more suited to cutting through branches and tree trunks than skimming on its side. You can tear up a lot of wood just trying to manhandle it through the cuts, hoping that some false move isn't going to bite into your shape. Kinda like having a tiger by the tail, you know something's gonna get tore up before its all over.

But I got through it ok, by working real conservatively, giving myself as much margin as I could. Then I cleaned up a bit with planer and belt sander. I need to clean it up to the next level, gotta lose probably another 1/4 inch anyway, to get through the punky bottom wood along that one rail.

BTW, here's a guy who knows how to use a chainsaw!

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newschoolblue's picture
Joined: 06/30/2004
Wow, I'm amazed at how clean that bottom looks given the tools you're working with. Impressive work.
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wrcsixeight's picture
Joined: 07/18/2012
Excellent progress! I'd likely still be staring at the hunk of wood scratching my chin trying to think out the most complicated way I could possibly make something from it.
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Bud's picture
Bud
Joined: 02/09/2005
wow looking good Huck! All that sawdust don't be lightin up a stogie in there
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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

OK no stogies in the shaping room!

Nothing much to report, just cleaning it up a bit lately...

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