Rockin' Surfboards

Two men set up the rocker system for a wooden surfboard frame. They are kneeled on a concrete floor with the frame supported by timber blocks and they are using yellow tape and a spirit level

The rocker is the curvature shape that runs from the nose to the tail when viewed from its side profile. This curve plays a crucial role in how the board performs and its stability and manoeuvrability. It will determine how much of the surfboard is in contact with the water and the less contact; the less drag. Depending on the board, some rockers are much more noticeable, but all surfboards have a degree of rocker. A completely flat board would cause too much nose-diving. Typically beginner boards will have a weak or shallow rocker while more advanced boards have a strong rocker for steeper, bigger waves.  

When crafting your own wooden surfboard, setting up the rocker support system is crucial. Our kits include CNC cut plywood frames specific to your chosen board and the rails are cut with the rocker in mind. Using Paulownia for the rails, it is a flexible yet incredibly strong timber. 

After the frame is completed, we set up the rocker system with support structures of different heights to mimic the rocker of the board. 

Set it up on a flat surface, we normally work on the concrete floor of the workshop where we use a combination of timber blocks, packers/spacers and tape. Anything can be used, like bricks, towels, and wedges. We like to use timber blocks so we can tape them to the ground to avoid them moving about.

A spirit level is required to check along the board from rail to rail to ensure perfect balance and equal height on either side. Keep tweaking and adding/reducing until it is in perfect, even support. It’s useful to add a sandbag in the middle while you work your way around the board and it doesn’t move too easily if knocked. 

This support system is where the board will rest during the vacuum bagging process, to ensure no twists form or the board doesn’t flatten out while the glue is drying. 

The rocker system needs to be set up using the shaped frame, so ensure this is done before you glue the skins to the frame!  Once it is set up, the frame can be carefully removed, ensuring nothing is moved on the structure. The frame then gets sandwiched between the bottom and deck skins, glued and taped up, and then placed inside the vacuum bag ready for the vacuum process. The board gets placed back onto the rocker system with sandbags on top to stablise, where it will stay during the process of vacuuming. 

It’s a vital process and one that contributes greatly to the overall finish of the board.  Come see for yourself at one of our surfboard-making workshops in Brisbane - or tackle the project yourself in the comfort of your own time with our kits. 

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