Clear back in 2006, when longboards were beginning to be super popular around here, we decided to make some for ourselves. We ended up making nine longboards that year, and one sh-longboard (short longboard -shown in picture above - scroll to bottom for instructions on how to make a sh-longboard). Through the years, we have helped a few others make their own as well.
Here's how to do it, without a press or fancy equipment.
Here's a list of what you need:
Baltic Birch Ply wood, 5 ply
Tite Bond II Wood glue
Sander, sand paper
Trucks and Wheels
Clear Polyurethane Varnish
Grip tape or silica sand
*Optional - stainer, paint, painters tape
Step 1: Get a pattern
We went around to a few skate shops and found the size and pattern that we liked. We brought along some paper and a pencil to trace the design. We asked the store attendant first, by the way. We're polite like that. You could also find designs online that you can print out as well. The paper we used was just some of the painters paper you can buy in a roll at Home Depot or Lowe's. It's long and just wide enough. We also marked the place they had placed the screws to attach the trucks. It's helpful later when you decide where to put your trucks.
Some boards have grooves above the wheels that are cut out on the bottom, to avoid wheel bite, so be aware of that when you are picking your pattern and making your board. You may want to draw the grooves onto your pattern for later reference. Other boards are just made with narrow ends, like the one shown above - then wheel bite isn't even an issue.
Step 2: Buy some wood
You want to use some plywood, more specifically, ask for Baltic Birch, 5 ply. We called around to a few stores and lumber yards to make sure they had what we were looking for, and to price it out. We bought one board and cut it in half so we had two pieces that were wide enough for the longboard. Be sure to watch out for wood plugs. We were a little picky when picking out the exact board. We looked for boards that had great wood grain patterns, and no plugs. Sometimes its hard to find one without a plug though. Here's a picture with an example of a plug.
We wanted to have a clear grip on top of our longboard, and nice finish on the bottom, so a plug kind of ruins the look of the board. If you plan on using grip tape or paint to cover the board, and don't care about the aesthetics of the wood as much as we do, then just discard this whole shpill. They aren't a big deal if you plan on covering them up.
Step 3: Trace, glue, press, and screw
Take your pattern and trace it onto one of the boards. Use a paint brush to spread a lot of glue on the other board and place your traced board on top. Place both boards on bricks or something that will allow the middle of the wood to be suspended. (We used some chairs, with paper or plastic underneath, since the glue will drip). Then place more bricks or weights onto the boards, about 1/4 of the way from the top of your tracing. This will give the board some bend. Add weight until you are satisfied with the curve of the board. If you have some clamps, clamp them to the sides to hold the boards together. Then use a drill to drill in some screws around the edge of your pattern. Don't get too close to the line. Once the screws are in place, you can remove the clamps. The screws will hold the bend of the board. We also left the weights until the glue was completely dry. Here's how our set up looked.
Step 4: Cut it out
We let it dry overnight.
(You could probably cut it out the next day, but we waited a couple days to let it cure). Remove the weights and take out the screws. Use a jigsaw to cut along your traced line.
Step 5: Sand it
An electric sander is going to be a necessity here.
The more you sand it, the better it will look.
On the boards that needed grooves around the wheels, we marked the area with a half circle and sanded in the grooves. We also tried to round out the edges of the board or taper them.
Step 6: Stain, Design and Varnish
Now you can stain or paint your board. We looked online for a few ideas. We stained most of them, and used a polyurethane varnish to create a clear, smooth layer to finish it off. Some of the boards we used paint and painters tape to create a line or two that ran down the middle. You can also do the same thing with the stain - use the tape to mask off the area you don't want stained. Another way to add design is to draw your own with permanent markers. (You may even print off designs to trace onto your board). Then seal the marker with a spray varnish. And some people may just want to paint it a solid color, varnish it, and throw on some fun stickers on the bottom.
Step 7: Grip the Top
There are two different ways to grip your board. The most obvious way is to buy grip tape. You can either trace out your board on the back of the tape, or draw a design to cut out. Then peel off the backing and stick it to your board.
The other way to add grip is to apply a thick layer of polyurethane and sprinkle silica sand over the top evenly. Once it has dried, use a spray varnish over the top to secure the sand even more. (Try to do this outside, and wear a dust mask. Silica sand is especially not good for you to breath in. Wearing disposable gloves is also a good idea).
Tip: try to grip entire surface - places where there isn't any grip makes the surface really slippery, especially if there is ever any moisture that gets on your shoes or board. If you want to do a fun design with grip tape, try griping the rest of your board with silica sand.
Step 8: Add Trucks and Wheels
There are a lot of different types of trucks and wheels. Check online for prices and styles. We used the bubble gum wheels on most of our boards. We also added a thin riser pad between the trucks and board.
Here are a few more ideas I found online for the variety of shapes, sizes, and designs of different boards. The hardest part is deciding what you want your board to look like.
Longboarding can be dangerous, so take it easy and be safe. Wear a helmet, and avoid steep terrain. Watch out for speed wabble - tighten your trucks if you experience it. It can throw you off your board if you don't have it tight enough. Learn how to slide stop before you go down any hills. You can buy sliding gloves online, or make your own gloves - click here for a tutorial. (He uses velcro to attach the plastic to his gloves - we just melted them right to the gloves).
Making a Sh-LongBoard:
It's simple enough - it's basically just moving the placement of the wheels on a regular skateboard. We went and bought a skateboard deck, just a cheap, plain one. Then we made a pattern for the ends (tail and nose) and cut it out. We placed the trucks on the tail and nose, to lengthen the wheelbase, drilled the holes, and put everything together. We added grip tape (which also hid the original place for the trucks) and viola!