Wednesday, November 25, 2009

how to fix the hollow wooden board...

Welcome to a girl's shaping shed. Here's a little story about how things go in here...

First of all, don't tell Lars. I forgot to put the plug in the 6' 4" hollow wooden Quad Fish that Lars had traded me for some of my own paintings in February of 2009.

I met Lars because I had the good fortune of scoring a hand built, custom, hollow balsa board in Ecuador the previous year. The Ecuadorian balsa board quickly became my favorite board. It was the only board I surfed for a whole year, until it started to de-lam, and then I looked around for help and advice and found Lars from 42 surfboards. He was kind enough to diagnose my board and give me the prognosis: no repair possible. The original balsa construction was paper thin, and there was no way to repair it.

"Hang it on your wall," he told me, knowing that it would be heartbreaking for me to see this thing taken out of the game. I told him that I would eventually shape a cousin to the balsa, and he told me that if I liked the board in balsa, I would like it in any material. (The template for the karmic voyager was taken from the balsa pintail). I told him I would be bummed out not to have a wooden board in my quiver any longer...

Over the next few months Lars and I developed a dialogue pertaining to the awesomeness of wooden boards. Indeed, there is nothing like the weight and feel of wood in the water. I told him how much I love to surf wooden boards. One day he emailed me to let me know that he had a board for me and that I could trade him for some of my paintings.

When he delivered the board he said: "If this board fills with water it is done. No matter what you do, always make sure the plug is in tight." (Hollow boards have vent plugs so that they can let off some of the internal pressure with heat and with elevation changes without compromising the wooden construction)
Ok. Sounds easy, I thought. But first day out, I take the board to local surf spot, paddle out, surf for an hour, and come in with board full of water. Sure enough, I hadn't tightened the plug down like he had so carefully instructed me to do.
I almost had a nervous breakdown. Here I was with a brand new piece of art/craft/surf magic and I had ruined it!!! I cried, screamed, yelled and panicked... then called Emily.
Emily is the only girl I know that has shaped a wooden board and I knew that she would have advice for me. I left a message on her machine and waited with sweaty palms for her to return my call.
"Don't worry... you can fix it. Get a speed bore drill 3/4" and a dowel the same size. Get a hair dryer, some funnels, duct tape, a heater, some hose couplings...."
I ended up with a Dr. Suess style board drying device, blowing warm air through the hollow chambers of the board. 3 continuous days of drying (the hair dryer finally burned out) and I figured it was all good. I then cut the dowel down, filled the hole with wood, then placed an epoxy patch over the hole I had drilled (the 3/4" speed bore drill hole)... voila! Board fixed. No warps, no cracks, and a full summer of surfing. Yeah! The board is a dream, fun to surf and a real eye-catcher on the beach... You can fix the wooden board... just do it fast before the wood absorbs too much water and pray to the gods of surfing that you will get another chance.

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