After years of lamenting that my son might never be persuaded to willingly lift his eyes from the ever present screens something wonderful happened! Simon and his friends decided to make their own longboards! I loved this idea for so many reasons: resourcefulness, independence, creativity, outside time and fun! I couldn’t have been happier about it, and after watching them complete the process, I decided I would learn to make one for Elliot! I enjoyed making the first one so much I then decided to make another one for myself!
While I won’t say building your own longboard is an easy project, it was very accessible and definitely a lot of fun! Our entire family got in on it!
Step One: Gather your supplies
To make your longboard you’ll need the following supplies:
- Pencil, measuring tape or ruler, and wrench
- Two pieces of birch plywood – we used one thick and one thin piece
- Wood glue
- Grip tape
- Exacto knife
- Trucks, bearings and wheels
Depending on your design you might need some additional supplies.
- clamps – to hold your wood together
- Paper – for creating templates
- Painters tape
If you don’t have a local skateboard shop, or you have a tight budget consider ordering your parts online. Get started with steps 1 – 7 while you’re waiting for your trucks, wheels and grip tape to arrive!
Step Two: Laminate the wood
We purchased the wood at Home Depot and used their free cutting service to have the plywood cut in half. We got enough wood to create two 41″ x 10″ decks. Using an old paint brush we spread the wood glue evenly across the entire bottom layer. You’ll want to work fairly quickly as the glue sets up fast. Set your other piece of plywood on top, clamp them together, apply some weight and let it set overnight.
Step Three: Design your deck
Simon and friends created a template by tracing the deck of a skateboard they already owned. While my first board followed in their footsteps, the second time around I decided I wanted to create an original deck template. I spent some time researching the different styles of longboard riding and decided freestyle seemed appropriate, as speed isn’t high on my list. I drew my idea on a sheet of paper first and when I was satisfied traced it onto the laminated wood.
Step Four: Cut out the deck
Now that you’ve got your deck design onto the wood its time to cut it out. This is the one part I didn’t do. I don’t have a lot of experience with power tools and decided to let Tim handle this step. If you don’t have a home saw, or an experienced adult available to cut out your deck consider taking it to your local hardware store. Simon and friends discovered they could have their decks cut out for around $1 per cut. See what I mean, how resourceful!
Step 5: Sand the edges
Now that your deck is free, you’ll want to sand down any rough spots along the edges and give it a once or twice over along the flat surfaces.
Step 6: Seal the wood
Seal the deck to protect the wood and give it a nice warm glow. We used a water based polyurethane in semi-gloss. Because I planned to add designs to the decks, I started with only one coat of polyurethane.
Step 7: Add your design
My first board is for Elliot and because it’s almost as big as he is, we thought it might be fun if we could hang it on the wall in his new room (until he gets a little older), so we chose a Union Jack design for the top of the board and put his name on the bottom. The other board is for myself and I’ve chosen to decorate it with the Batman symbol!
I created templates for each design and then painted them with chalk paint, leftover from the DIY Union Jack table, and acrylic paint. The process involved tracing the templates, applying multiple coats of paint and the sealing everything with additional coats of water based polyurethane in semi-gloss.
Step 8: Apply the grip tape
Both Simon’s board and the Batman board have black grip tape, while Elliot’s board has clear. Grip tape is a giant sticker and comes in every color and varying degrees of roughness, so the sky is the limit. Lay your grip tape rough side down and trace your board’s shape onto the backing. Simon chose not to cover the entire surface of his deck so his trucks were already mounted when he applied his grip tape. I chose to cover the entire surface of both my boards, so applied the tape first. Keep in mind that cutting grip tape is like cutting through sandpaper, so don’t use your best scissors for this part of the project!
Step 9: Apply the trucks and wheels
Can you believe it? Your board is almost ready to ride! If you’ve chosen to order your parts online you’ll be installing them yourself, so place the trucks onto each end of the board and use a pencil to mark where you’ll be drilling the holes. Be careful drilling! Thankfully Tim was on hand to give me some lessons, making sure I went slowly, and held the drill steady and straight.
Now that you’ve drilled the screw holes, put your trucks on the board using a screwdriver. Tighten each screw a little bit at a time until you’re finished.
*If you don’t own a drill or aren’t sure what to do most skate shops will be happy to assemble your board if you purchase the parts from them. Putting the wheels on requires a bit of muscle, but with a bit of help from Tim, I was all set!
Step 10: Get ready to ride!
Okay! Its time to grab your helmet and give it a spin!
Please do keep in mind that we aren’t experts on skateboard building and that our boards are very low budget. The boys were using their own funds to pay for their supplies and purchased them on Amazon.com. The quality and cost of your board will depend on your personal budget.
As of my writing this post, Simon was still working on his design, so I’ve included a photo of it and will update as soon as his painting is complete. Here’s Elliot showing off the bottom his board, though he needs a little help holding it up. He’s borrowing my helmet.
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