Restoring 'Babs'

Stuart Bywater holds a restored 1950's wooden surfboard, of dark ply timber and 'Babs' hand painted on the nose.

Many years ago we had the pleasure of restoring a fantastic retro wooden surfboard ‘Okanui’ - the Australian version of the iconic Malibu Surfboard. 

Legendary Australian board maker, Bill Wallace was a major force behind the production of many original Toothpick surfboards. Bill and his mates were known to surf 20ft waves off Bronte Beach, on 16ft toothpicks weighing around 30kg.  After witnessing the balsa wood surfboards from the American surfboards, Bill constructed the Okanui board, hollowed in the middle and chambered with marine ply as balsa was not available in Australia. These surfboards were first made just after the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. 

Restoration is a core part of our woodworking business, so it was great to be able to combine our love of surfboards and timber restoration in this project. The extensive restoration and repair process included; repair and reglue centre structure, repair to centre rails, modifications to the crossbeam, nose and tail sections to secure the main frame.  Plywood panels were then fixed with screws and glue, and a draining plug added. An extensive sand and repolish completed the overhaul of ‘Babs’. 

The only distinguishing feature on this particular board was the name ‘Babs’ inscribed on the front - the name is most likely to have been a tribute to the maker or perhaps the surfboard. An amazing board with many stories no doubt. 

Restoring old surfboards is restoring a small part of surf history and keeping the legacy of craftsmanship alive and thriving. 

 Our expertise in restoration extends from fine furniture to watercraft, we are currently restoring a beautiful old timber kayak

For any of your restoration needs, please reach out to us if you are within the South East Queensland area.