This section is still growing, so check back for more soon – alternatively ask me a question, and I’ll pop it up here.
Q: What does handshaped surfboards “really” mean?
A: The process here at Howitzer is 100% handshaped – meaning that all manufacturing happens by hand – and not CNC machining. The process starts on the computer where the board is designed and fine tuned, then templates gets made up of the shape 1:1. The profile gets drawn on the blank. The blank then gets attacked – with a handsaw, electric hand planer, surform, sandpaper and a small hobby planer – every tool plays an exact part in shaping the blank down to the desired board shape and design.
Once the blank is ready to be glassed, it gets painted and the decals are designed and printed to fit the specific board.
The glasser takes the painted blank – along with the decals and placement instructions and works his magic laying up the fibreglass or epoxy on the blank to make it hard as nails, but light. Howitzer works with a damn fine glasser – industry legend, the guy has been glassing for 30 years and his quality is top notch.
The glasser installs the fin plugs, leash plug and does the final finishing on the board.
The process is artisan of nature, and so I refer to my boards as artisan handshaped boards. It is to mainstream factory boards what craft beer is to Heineken.
Q: Why do you need my age, weight, fitness level, sex etc- this seems unnecessary?
A: Howitzer boards are specifically shaped to the surfer’s specs and ability – similar to a tailored suit to fit your body, the board need to accommodate your weight and skill level and to enhance and improve your surfing.
- Blank: The block – either PU or PS from which a surfboard is created
- Deck: The upper surface of the board
- Ding: A dent or hole in the surface of the board resulting from accidental damage
- Fin or Skegs: Fin-shaped inserts on the underside of the back of the board that enable the board to be steered. Also provides drive to the board when used correctly
- Leash: A cord that is attached to the back of the board, the other end of which wraps around the surfer’s ankle – this is to keep the board from getting washed away from the surfer
- Nose: The forward tip of the board
- Quiver: A surfer’s collection of boards for different kinds of waves
- Rails: The side edges of the surfboard that connects the deck to the bottom
- Rocker: How concave the surface of the board is from nose to tail
- Tail: The back end of the board
- Wax: Specially formulated surf wax that is applied to upper surface of the board to increase the traction so the surfer’s feet do not slip off of the board
- Bottom: The underside of the board – the opposite side of the deck
- Tailpad / traction pad: a foam pad that provides grip on under the rear foot on the board – many styles are available with different attributes
- Foil: The foam distribution within the board – this directly relates to paddling, board feel and bouyancy
- Stringer: The wooden central insert in the blank. This gives strength to the blank but also helps with flex and glassing strength
- Bottom Contours: a Surfboards bottom influences how the board feels in the water, how it rides on or in the water and how it handles
- Glassing: The fibreglass that gets laid over the foam blank to create strength and to seal the board
- Resin: Resin is the glue that holds everything together – it is used to impregnate the fibreglass cloth and bonds to the foam
- Epoxy: a different type of resin and cloth layup used primarily with PS blanks – lighter and harder than normal Resin and fibreglass – but also quite a bit more expensive
- FCS Type: This refers to how the fins mount in the board – FCS type has two stubs that go into slots (plugs) in the board and then gets tightened with grub screws
- Glass on fins: fins that gets fibreglassed in place when the board is made – these are permanent
- Fin box: to fit fins with a long single mounting plate