Wood is orthotropic - the strength is predominantly along one axis. Parallel to the grain, tensile is very high and compression strength is good. Perfect for a core material in surfboard construction. Particularly surfboards designed for big surf. Wood provides for superior control, a smooth ride and durability. The "cadillac" of surfboard materials.
Far West Forest products provided me with some very special surfboard wood... Sequoiadendron giganteum (giant sequoia) greatest of the redwoods, the earth’s largest tree and largest living thing by volume.
This wood came from private property in the Sierra Nevada. Three Sequoia giants had fallen in a windstorm. These trees were estimated to have been between 2,000 and 3,400 years old when they finally succumbed to the forces of nature. Far West secured the rights to harvest the wood from these trees.
California Redwood is rooted in early surfboard construction. Redwood logs washed down rivers out into the Pacific Ocean. Occasionally a log would find its way to the shores of Hawaii. The islanders prized this wood for its relatively light weight, resistance to decay, workability and beauty. Far West Forest Products just so happens to be a dealer for Wood-Mizer sawmills. They made short work of a "log" slicing a portion of it into manageable size pieces for me.
I cut the lengths of wood putting proper rocker (surfboard curve) into them.
The wood is assembled in order and numbered. Index lines are drawn for maintaining proper placement. The priceless nature of this wood calls for the utmost in careful planning. One misplaced piece, and a wrong cut would be costly.
Not all surfboards work well when built from wood in the traditional fashion. "Gun" type surfboards used in large powerful surf, however, are perfect candidates for redwood construction. The weight and lack of flex provide for smooth and desirable control when attempting to successfully ride big waves. Several boards I own inspired the template used in this board I built for Far West. All built by my father Terry Martin.
It was fitting that this particular board be branded as a Hobie. My father shaped Hobie surfboards for 50 years; I shape for Hobie and the boards inspiring this one are of Hobie design. I'd like to add that much of this design was influenced by Gerry Lopez and his Lightning Bolt Model. Many of his boards were shaped by my father and built at Hobie's Capistrano Beach factory during the 70's. I own and have surfed a redwood lighting bolt style single fin my father made. It has incredible wave catching ability and is exceptionally smooth riding.
Each piece of wood is partially hollowed out to reduce excessive weight. These "chambers" are staggered from one piece to the next for structural integrity. Premium wood glue is rolled out onto each side in preparation for clamping.
The board is then assembled, clamped, allowed to cure, and outlined for cutting.
Far West Forest Products specializes in supplying California native woods. They asked if I could incorporate some especially beautiful native White Oak into this board. I milled three pieces to serve as "stringers" and built a fin for this board out of the oak.
Hand shaping a surfboard is where it's at for me. Vintage tools utilized in a craft passed from father to son.
The shaped board was delivered to The Waterman’s Guild for glassing where Greg Martz and his crew did a beautiful job. Many steps go into the process of glassing a wood board. Great care is taken at each step resulting in a durable, mirror-like and waterproof finish. Fine extras like a traditional "glassed on" fin and glass leash loop are a wonderful form and function.
Hobie Alter founded his brand with the wood surfboard.
Story courtesy of Josh Martin - Martin Shapes
The finished product is incredibly satisfying to me. It’s so much more than just a surfing board. It’s about the majestic tree it came from. The family craft I get to live. The extended family of craftsmen I work with. The blessing of talent from the Creator of all things. There’s pure joy in this board. And it’s ready to ride, lasting for generations to come.
So thankful... -Joshua Martin