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Skimboarding: How to Make a Wood Skimboard in 8 Steps

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Peter shares his knowledge on various hobbies and life experiences including sports, travel, photography, web marketing and more.

Beach skimboarding in Okinawa, Japan

Beach skimboarding in Okinawa, Japan

The Beginning of Wood Skimboards

Nearly 10 years ago, my brother introduced me to skimboarding. At the time, we lived on a tropical island with great beaches, so it was natural for us to discover the exciting beach activity of skimboarding.

We did have one dilemma: neither of us had the funds at the time to buy an expensive foam skimboard.

So we learned how to make a wood skimboard!

My brother and I got very good at making wood skimboards, and for a time, we even sold them to other people. I enjoyed designing the skimboard; my brother liked painting them. We both enjoyed using them.

I am sharing this information on skimboard building because it is one of my favorite hobbies, and I hope everyone can enjoy skimboarding and building skimboards for themselves. I also hope you will be able to make your own wood skimboard, so at the end I included 8 steps to make a wood skimboard. Happy Skimming!

In the Article

  • What Is Skimboarding?
  • Different Types of Skimboarding: Flatland and Beach
  • How to make a Wood Skimboard: Eight Steps
  • Resources
Ramping off a wave is more for the advanced skimboarder.

Ramping off a wave is more for the advanced skimboarder.

What Is Skimboarding?

For those of you out there who do not know what skimboarding is, or are unsure of its distictions, here is some basic information about skimbarding.

Skimboarding is done with a slightly curved board that has a completely flat bottom. A skimboard is similar to a surfboard, except it is shorter and has no fins.

How to Skimboard:

To skimboard, a person will hold onto the board while standing on land and then run, drop the board on shallow water, and jump onto it and ride standing on it until it slows and stops.

Most riders want the water to be an inch or less deep, as this makes it easier to ride further However, some skimboarders, with larger foam skimboards actually ride straight out into the waves in water more than a foot deep.

Skimboarders usually go to beaches, where the water breaks on a soft sandy beach, or long shallow puddles to skimboard. (more information below about beach and flatland skimbarding)

Skimboarding is a more recent phenomenon. I will not go into the history of it, but only to say it has only recently become popular.

Flatland Skimbording and Beach Skimboarding

Flatland skimboarding is usually done on level ground with a long shallow puddle to skimboard on. Slow-moving shallow rivers or even puddle-covered fields are common locations.

Beach skimboarding, on the other hand is, as its name implies, done on the beach. A beach skimboarder will try to skimboard on the part of the beach where the waves are breaking and leaving a shallow layer of water over the sand. Beach skimboarding is a little bit trickier because you have to time your skims with the waves. Some beach skimboards will skim parallel to the beach, while others go straight at the waves, choosing to either ramp off them or turn and come back into shore riding them.

I personally have tried both flatland and beach skimboarding. They each have differences and which ever one you choose to do probably depends a lot on whether you have a beach or puddle available to skim on.

I enjoy beach skimboarding because it is more difficult and more unpredictable. You do not know what the waves will do and you can sometimes catch some really crazy ones.

However, flatland skimbarding allows you to work on your technical skills such as tricks and spins. I do not think I will go into that here but i will say that i enjoy working on new skimboard tricks while flatland skimboarding.

flatland skimboarding - going off a jump

flatland skimboarding - going off a jump

beach skimboarding - riding a wave

beach skimboarding - riding a wave

Example of typical skimboards

Example of typical skimboards

Building vs. Buying a Skimboard

I have made my own skimboards and even made some that I sold to others. I would say that you could probably make your own skimboard for much less than what it costs to buy a good one, but it does take a fair amount of time and energy.

For just a wood skimboard, the cost to build will probably be between $5 and $25 depending on what wood you use, what paint you get, and if you use something fancy to seal it.

There are lots of great skimboards out there that you can buy, so weigh your options.

For me, I simply did not have the money to buy a good skimboard at the time, and I felt adventurous enough to make my own. So here are the basic steps to make your very own wood skimboard.

Simple Skimboard Design

Simple Skimboard Design

What You Will Need to Make A Skimboard:

List of items needed for making a wood skimboard:

  • Sheet of wood or plywood at least 3' by 5'
  • Sand paper: both fine and medium grain
  • Electric sander: Not necessary, but makes the job quicker
  • Jigsaw or band saw: Something that can cut a curve
  • Heavy bricks or other weights for giving the board "rocker"
  • Paint and paint brushes, or spray paint

How to Make a Wood Skimboard: Eight Steps

  1. Find a piece of wood about 1/4 inch thick to 1/3 inch that is at least 5 feet by 3 feet or so. Plywood often works great. You have to find a good balance between your board being too heavy and too weak, so test different thicknesses out to find what works for you. A thinner, lighter board is better for smaller riders and for tricks. A thicker, heavier board is better for durability, bigger riders, and maintaining speed better. Choose what you think will be right for you.
  2. Draw the shape of the skimboard on your plywood. Look online at various designs and choose a simple one you can cut out. Be creative if you want, I have been creative with my designs and sometimes I have come up with some great boards. You basically want some sort of water-drop shape: a point for the front that widens at the middle and then tapers off again.
  3. Cut out your skimboard design. You can use a band saw, or anything that will cut it cleanly and straight. Make sure you are careful! Seek assistance if you are unfamiliar with the tools needed for this step.
  4. Sand down the board. At this step you want to round the edges of the top of the board, and leave the edges of the bottom of the board as they are. Give the whole board a good sanding.
  5. Give your board some rocker. What this means is bend your board so it curves up at the nose, or tip of the board; curving up towards you if you were standing on it. The upward curve or rocker allows the board to ride over the water, not under. What you do not want is for it to curve downward which will cause it to dive into the water every time you try to skimboard.

    To give it this curve or rocker, you soak the board in water for several days, then take it out and put a small piece of wood or something under the nose and then stack a fair amount of weight on top of the board. You want the board to sag in the middle and for the nose to curve up.

    To clarify this step, place a 2" block of wood or brick under the nose of the board while it is lying flat on cement or something hard. Then place about 100 pounds of weight on the middle of the board, so it bends the nose up an inch or two. Leave it like this for several days, until the board is dry and it keeps this bent shape.
  6. When the board is all dry, sand it again. This is your final sanding, so make it smooth!
  7. Paint your board. Use oil-based paint or enamel paint to cover your board. You want to seal the wood and provide a protective layer. I use many layers of enamel spray-paint.

    There are other options besides painting your board: you can also lacquer your board, or put a finish or stain on it. What you want is just something that will keep it watertight and protect it. I have also used resin and fiberglass on some of my boards and this works really well, but it is a bit more costly and difficult. Choose an option, whether paint or some other wood sealer, that will be watertight and durable.
  8. Test it out! go and try out your board! if your first board is not all that great, that's OK! My first board was not the best. Just take what you've learned and make a better one. I found that the more boards I made, the better I made them. so do not worry if your first is less than perfect.

Finally, good luck and I hope you get to enjoy skimboarding as much as I do!

Additional Resources

If you are looking for more information, you can post a comment and i can get back to you, or you can simply look it up online! There is tons of information on a bunch of great sites so just google it and i am sure you will find an answer.

But leave a comment if you want anyway!

Comments and Questions!

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on January 25, 2013:

Rawskittle - sounds interesting. Yeah the board needs to be very flat except for about a 2 inch rocker at the front 1/4th of the board. Making skimboards is a tricky thing, and my first skimmer certainly didn't turn out all that great either! But I hope you keep at it!

Rawskittle on January 25, 2013:

Skimboard #001 is a failure

It appears the actual wood the board is made out of isn't completely straight and just ploughs when it hits the water. Perhaps the point where the rocker starts could have been slightly further back too.

But that's not a problem! Guess ill start making another one right now!

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on January 16, 2013:

Rawskittle - glad I could help and I hope you have fun making the board! I always had a good time.

Rawskittle on January 16, 2013:

Thank you so much. I will give it a go trying to make my own. Great page!

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on January 16, 2013:

Rawskittle - ah, too bad about the board. I like to try different types of plywood because you get very different boards out of it. If you go with a thicker plywood with less natural wood grain the board will be heavy, fast and very durable (but not that great for beach skimming). If you go with a lighter, thinner plywood with more visible wood grain the board will be better for beach skimboarding, but it might not be as durable. What you probably want is something in between, not too think or heavy, but with a nice wood grain that will be easy to give rocker to.

Rawskittle on January 15, 2013:

Thank you, it seems my board is damaged beyond repair, but I am very keen on trying to make my own one. Is there a kind of plywood that you prefer?

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on January 15, 2013:

Rawskittle - yes that will happen sometimes. Skimboards get a pounding on the beach, especially if you hit any rocks etc. The best way to look after a skimboard is to check it over after every skimboarding adventure to see if there are any deep scratches. Try to patch these with resin or some other waterproofing material. I have even used enamel spray paint which works well too.

Rawskittle on January 15, 2013:

This looks good. I had a board that recently broke. Some of the layers started splitting apart because they must have had water in them. Is there any special way to look after a skim board?

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on December 12, 2012:

Caper - That's a great tip! Thanks for the info!

Caper on December 12, 2012:

Hey a note, something i like to do. when you curve the board, i put a halp inch piece of wood under the tail end too. this is so when you are going in any direction , or you spin, the tail will not get caught in the sand or rocks.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on November 26, 2012:

Rain Defence - There is certainly a learning curve to skimboarding and i flew through the air many times when the water disappeared. But I have enjoyed it a lot and many people will actually skimboard out to a wave, catch it, and ride it back in as it breaks on the beach. Anyway, your body boarding story sounds exciting, and thanks for dropping by!

Rain Defence from UK on November 25, 2012:

Great pics on here. Skimboarding sounds a lot safer than body boarding or surfing. I remember getting washed out on a strong current when I was bodyboarding once, I crapped myself as I thought I was going to drown, but obviously I ended up getting back in eventually.

Do you not end up flying through the air if you misjudge how deep the water is and catch your board in the sand?

Judy Specht from California on August 15, 2012:

Got side tracked but will go on Friday:)

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 15, 2012:

irelesstraveler - It's always a good day when you're on your way to the beach! Thanks for reading!

Judy Specht from California on August 15, 2012:

Love the video. Love the beach pictures. Leaving for the beach:)

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 14, 2012:

Angela - Skimboarding does take a bit of practice, but can be lots of fun. I am glad you found it interesting! Thanks for dropping by!

Angela Kane from Las Vegas, Nevada on August 14, 2012:

I have never done skimboarding, but it looks very interesting. The video was great.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on July 20, 2012:

Robert - Glad you found this useful! I have enjoyed both skimboarding, and making skimboards. Plus, it is much cheaper to make a skimboard rather than buy one. Thanks for your comment!

Robert Erich from California on July 20, 2012:

This is a fantastic article! I am definitely sharing this one on Facebook. I will be making my own skimboard shortly. Great article!

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on July 02, 2012:

kburns421 - haha, skimboarding takes a bit of practice to get the hang of. When I first started out, I had quite a few spectacular falls. Thanks for the comment!

kburns421 on July 02, 2012:

I didn't know you could actually ride up on waves like that on a skimboard. I did try skimboarding once though. It didn't end well haha. Cool stuff!

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on July 01, 2012:

howlermunkey - that's awesome! Sounds like such a good time! I used enamel paint or fiberglass and resin on my boards usually but I have heard lacquer works well. Thanks for dropping by!

Jeff Boettner from Tampa, FL on July 01, 2012:

I grew up in Delray Beach FL, some days, mostly during the winter we had good swells, so I would surf. During the summer months the waves were small, if any, so I would skimboard, ... on a home-made wooden skimboard I bought off a friend. It was lacquered with all kinds of stickers under the finish. I wish I still had it lol. Used that board for years, lasted forever.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on June 16, 2012:

Oh, it is lots of fun! Thanks for dropping by!

Jacqui on May 23, 2012:

Looks like fun!

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on April 27, 2012:

Thanks everyone for dropping in! If you got more questions, I'll try to be around more to answer them!

hannah h on January 02, 2012:

im a pro of this

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on October 28, 2011:

I thought skimboards only stayed next to the sand. What an education. Thank you!

stefano on June 27, 2011:

hey man ive followed every step.. but i don't know how to seal my board. can I use only resin or do i have to use resin and fiberglass.

Skim4life on October 03, 2010:

Hey great vid!! I'm an intermediate skimmer and I can do almost all the basic tricks. And I was wondering how I can get sponsered

Wayne on September 08, 2010:

Hey there..

I dig the site.. im going to be making my own board over the next few weeks.. i weigh 80Kg - 176 Lbs and am roughly 5'9.. what length should my board be?

Eriksmoz on August 31, 2010:

Do you really need to soak it for several days because a different site said only a couple hours

Pete on July 19, 2010:

Disturbed: plywood with less layers is better because its easier to give it rocker, but it also means a weaker board.

Awesome guy: under 100$ for a beginner board is reasonable. but with skimboards, what you pay is often what you get. but i would start with a wood board under 100$ if i were you.

God Bless

awesome guy on July 19, 2010:

hey yeah i have never tried skimming but i would like 2 get into it. i would be a beginner if i started so wat is a good price 4 a skimboard for a beginner. jst reply if u get a chance

disturbed on June 23, 2010:

this really helps, thank you. but what kind of plywood to use?

David Walli from Northern Minnesota on April 13, 2010:

I sent this one to benjimester on hub pages as he is into this. very interesting hub.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on September 17, 2009:

Man that's awesome that you live so close to the beach. when i am home i am only a few minutes away but there is no skimming while im at college. yeah, that would be sweet if you put up some of your designs for skim boards, or even for your architecture.

Jesse-James on September 17, 2009:

Same college is like a killer espically since I go to school for Architecture it pertty much sucks all the good ideas out of me. But I still have a whole sketch book of designs. I'll put it up maybe you'll see something you like. I'm lucky though I live in a city where the beach is 30 minutes away from my house and so is my college. So I am probably going to just go tommorow.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on September 17, 2009:

yeah man, i love making boards too, its just something fun to do. I have learned from trial and error as well and come up with some fun designs and ways of making the boards. I haven't done much recently though because i have been busy with college.

Jesse-James on September 17, 2009:

That's pretty sweet man, I learned to coat my boards and stuff like that and get better grip to them and finding the perfect balance. I learned by mistakes and error. After a while I just had fire wood. But now I can probably crank two or three out in about a day and a half. I am now like excited to go out and go skimboarding but it's nighttime haha. I never did it for cash, as much as I wanted to I just loved the idea of having my own board that you couldn't get anywhere, that's great though I only know of one other guy who can make his own boards and he's like an old school hawaiian who great up in the 1960s surfboard boom.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on September 17, 2009:

Yeah it does take a long time to make them, I actually had a little business going for a while but it was to time consuming, but i got good at making boards! now i just make them for myself. If i am dedicated it takes a week. although i have half finished boards that are almost a year old!

Jesse-James on September 17, 2009:

No problems man, I like your method for making them was more time consuming but it's a thing of passion and pride. But it took me like a week and half.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on September 17, 2009:

Jesse-James - Thanks for stopping by and its always fun to find another avid skim boarder!

Jesse-James on September 17, 2009:

Also man check out my new HUB about Skimboarding in the streets. I have a lot of great pictures up.

Jesse-James on September 17, 2009:

Big ups man, I love to skim board and I've made my own boards before so I have a lot of respect for what you've done.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 31, 2009:

Ben - Glad you stopped by, and that's great you are into flatland skimming. As for your questions, I would say for flatland, all you really need is a plywood board. Of course, you have to water proof it. There are lots of inexpensive plywood boards out there. i would suggest you try buying one first, and get the feel for things, and then think about making your own. As for size, you can try testing different sizes, look online for examples, but you will want to go with a small to medium size. surf wax always adds more grip, but i don't use it very often.

hope that helps you out! let me know if you have anymore questions

ben on August 26, 2009:

heey. im in to flatland skimming . so do i need surfer wax . is plywood the only kind of wood that can be used . how big should my board be. im 13 and im 109 pounds and my height is 5, 3 ft

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on July 21, 2009:

ABR, no body, Yeah it is lots of fun and it is something i really enjoy. Thanks for the comments!

Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on July 21, 2009:

I burn in the sun, and I have no balance. But I have to admit it does look fun.

Aaron Rushing from USA- Florida on July 21, 2009:

Looks like fun! I will have to give it a shot

God Bless