Oct 182017
 

Running wooden surfboard courses where people come into my workshop and build their own stunning surfboards has been hands down the most rewarding part of making wooden surfboards. I’m constantly stunned at the surfboards people make, and I’m fascinated at how everyone – no matter whether they are a novice or experienced woodworker – has an inherent sense of craft and need to make with their hands. After five years of running courses, I still get goosebumps! Below is an updated picture gallery of some of the people who have joined me. Not everyone is there as on some occasions I forget to take pictures or lost them, but THANK-YOU ONE AND ALL!!!

Course Pictures and Boards

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Sep 122017
 

Surfing wooden surfboards is one of the most satisfying parts of making and/or owning one. There’s nothing like feeling the wood under your feet or looking at the beautiful grain while you are waiting for a wave. Here are a few pictures that I’ve collected over the years. A huge thanks to all the photographers and surfers.

Wooden boards on waves

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Jul 232017
 

eco-friendly wooden surfboard, wooden surfboard, hollow wooden surfboardComing up at the end of August and into September is the only chance available in 2017 to build your own beautiful wooden surfboard over a weekend. This is for everyone who has always wanted to do their own wooden surfboard but cannot take time off work.

The workshop will take place every Saturday from 26 August for six Saturdays, making the last Saturday of the workshop the 23 September. During the six days, participants will start out with a pile of planks, choose their shape and eco-friendly wooden surfboard, wooden surfboard, hollow wooden surfboardhow they want the wood on their surfboard to look, and begin building it from scratch. They’ll shape the finished wooden structure and take it through to the finely finished wooden surfboard.

In the process, they’ll learn about the history and modern-day rejuvenation of wooden surfboards, about surfboard design elements such as shape, rocker and rails, the

eco-friendly wooden fish surfboard, wooden surfboard, hollow wooden surfboardenvironmental benefits of wooden surfboards, and about working with wood.

Fish, egg, single fin, mini-malibu and longboard shapes are available to choose from.

This workshop will take place in my Scarborough workshop. Places are very limited and I only have two, possibly three, places so if you are keen please send me an email on burnett.patrick@gmail.com or give me a call on 073 232 3043.

For more information on the workshops that I have offered since 2013 please visit the following page. There’s also a gallery of some of the boards that have been built by workshop participants: Click here to have a look!

BOOKINGS ARE ALSO OPEN FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR!

 

May 272017
 

wooden surfboard life lessonsTen years ago I made my first wooden surfboard. It was the start of a journey that has changed – and is still changing – my life, and it’s motivated me to write this post about wooden surfboard life lessons. What’s fascinated me along the way, as I’ve learnt and thought about what I do, is the process of craft, and what life lessons it teaches. It’s a concept that draws into itself a great deal, and I’ve come to believe that it can tell us much about who we are and the society we live in.  Here are eight points I’ve noticed in myself and those that have built boards with me in the wooden surfboard workshops I run:

IT’S ALL CONNECTED:  As we strive towards lessening our impact on the planet, and as surfers to ride craft that connect us to the natural energy of the oceans, I find myself marvelling at the connections between the boards I make and the oceans I love. In the grain of a piece of wood I see the origins of a swell starting in the deep ocean and fanning out towards us. Taking wood to water almost feels like I’m closing a circle – the storms bring us waves to surf, but they also bring water for the trees and help to form the growing patterns and grains that we marvel at. See the connections!

wooden surfboard life lessonsFEEL THE RHYTHYM: More philosophically is the connection between a sense of craft and the ocean. It’s  almost as if the natural process of working with your hands making a timber surfboard is perfectly matched to the rhythms of swell passing underneath you as you sit on your board. It makes me feel at peace when I can find that same rhythm in the workshop as I can find in the sea. Both activities force me to slow down. The lessons are a sense of timing, a deeper patience and making the right movements at the right time.

TRANSFORMATIVE CREATIVITY: It’s amazing how people work with their hands, and the inherent creativity that we all seem to have. I see it time and again in the workshops I run. For many people it is a creativity that they rarely, if ever, get to express. Mostly the opportunity to express this is a passing satisfaction. Sometimes it can lead to the beginning of a hobby or the search for an outlet that meets this need. And sometimes it’s a cathartic experience and unlocks very powerful emotions about who they are and what they want to do. It’s that powerful. If you feel the need to create, on whatever level, get out there and do it. It could change your life.

wooden surfboard life lessonsSKIN IN THE GAME: I find it moving how much of someone goes into what they’re making. It’s almost as if the surfboard they make is infused with a little bit of their soul. That object is just an object, yes, but on another level it has meaning – it represents a place in their lives, something they haven’t done before and they care deeply about it. The board becomes a part of, or an extension, of themselves. They care about it and they care about the outcome. They have skin in the game. When it comes to bigger picture issues, like environmental protection, how can ‘skin in the game’ be used as a concept to involve people beyond the abstract? I’m suggesting that we need to find ways for people to get invested in causes, to care on a deeper level about the world around them.

SOUL SPACE: Many ancient civilisations saw the concept of ‘soul’ extending to all inanimate objects. Yet it often leaves me cold when I’m in an institutional environment like a bank. I look around me at everything that has been made with machines, clinically clean. I’m struck by what soulless places have been created. It’s hard to find that love and passion went into these environments, into the objects we’re surrounded with. Everything has been reduced to numbers. What would happen if, like some ancient cultures, objects were seen with passion and love. How might our spaces change? How might our outlook on the natural world change? What would that mean for us?

wooden surfboard life lessonsIT’S OURS TO CLAIM: Maybe there’s been a slow, insipid creeping of things that are done for us in our daily lives and work which means that we don’t have to think, or that we think differently. Sitting in front of a computer, we’re told by a computer programme when we do something that we can’t or aren’t supposed to do, getting into our cars we’re told to put our seatbelts on, we’re told when to go and when to stop. Making something for yourself claims back a bit of the space in one sense. In another sense, it establishes a relationship between your mind and your hands which is lost in modern society.

IT’S ALL IN THE HANDS: Anne Frank wrote that the final forming of a persons character lies in their own hands. I’d like to interpret that in a different way and say that through working with our hands, character is formed. I say that because I think there’s an undervalued kind of “practical intellectualism” that goes into making something with your hands. Confronted with a problem, you’re forced to establish a connection between your mind and your hands. You think about the approach to the problem and then you enact the solution that you hope will work. It’s great learning and it forces you to face character traits and biases that influence your approach. When your solution doesn’t work or the outcome is not as good as expected, you have to face up to the reasons for that, whether it be impatience, distractedness or carelessness. And if you want to get better, you have to change.

THE MOMENT IS NOW: When you’re making something with your hands, on nearly every level, you have to be in the moment making decisions for yourself – and if you get it wrong it’s hard and you have to learn. That teaches humility. It teaches you to slow down and to work in the moment, and that brings a kind of peace that we are seldom able to access in our busy daily lives. It’s very similar to catching a wave, that rare moment when time stands still.

 

 

 

 

Apr 262017
 

Triton_Masters_of_Wood_Comp_AprilAnyone that has been in my workshop will have seen and quite likely worked with some of the amazing Triton Tools that I have in my possession. Which is why you should seriously consider entering a competition that the brand is currently running and stand a chance to win some epic power tools.

By creating a simple plan or instructions and submitting it to one of the competition categories – Kid’s Project, Beginner Project, Intermediate Project, Advanced Project or Masters of Wood Project – you could win a Full TWX7 WorkCentre package with every module available (Clamping table , Router table plus TRA router, Contractor Saw and Project Saw). For the overall Masters Of Wood winner they get every Triton tool we sell in their country including the WorkCentre.

The competition is open to anyone in North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa. Read the full competition brief here.

Mar 142017
 

 

Patrick Burnett of Burnett Wood Surfboards with a course student in his workshop in Cape Town, November 2016.

Patrick Burnett of Burnett Wood Surfboards with a course student in his workshop in Cape Town, November 2016. Photo: Eric Nathan

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From 17-22 April 2017 I’ll be in Durban for a workshop that will share the stoke that comes with building and surfing your own wooden surfboard.

Those participating in the Durban wooden surfboard workshop walk away from the course with their own handcrafted and very beautiful hollow wooden surfboard.

Anyone interested can sign up for the scheduled six-day workshop option where you start out with a pile of planks and finish up with a one-of-a-kind wooden surfboard. If you don’t have the time for six days, don’t worry – then there is a three-day option that still gets you a wooden surfboard.

The workshop takes builders through all the theoretical and practical aspects of building a wooden surfboard. We look at the different types of timber, the environmental aspects and the design dynamics underpinning wood surfboards. This is combined with the practical process of crafting a surfboard from a pile of planks into a one-of-a-kind work of art that can be surfed.

For more information, please visit the following page where you’ll find details of available boards, costs, and a gallery of previous workshop boards. Contact Patrick on 073 232 3043 or burnett.patrick@gmail.com for bookings.

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Two mini-malibus made on a workshop with Burnett Wood Surfboards.

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An 8′ mini-malibu made on a workshop with Burnett Wood Surfboards.

Nov 012016
 
wooden surfboards

Matthew Kramer styles the light fantastic on his wooden surfboard. Photo: Lee-Anne Curtis-Cox

Matthew Kramer was a participant of the first wooden surfboards course that I ran in 2013. Earlier this year I caught up with him for a surf – he subsequently wrote a very articulate account of what his wooden surfboard had meant to him over the years. It was published on Wavescape and I’m re-publishing it below. Thanks to Lee-Anne Curtis-Cox from Capture the Moment for the stunning pictures.

“When I paddled out at Llandudno for one of the first sessions on my freshly built wood surfboard I threw the board down onto the water in the shallows, slid onto it and started paddling, half expecting it to sink. It didn’t. In fact, it paddled nicely, the extra weight of the board making it glide swiftly and smoothly through the water.

I spotted Robby McDonald from Vudu Surf in the lineup and as I paddled over he turned to me and with his usual effortless wit called out, “What’s that you’re riding boetie, the old front door?” We had a good chuckle and pretty soon after that our attention was pulled back to the ocean and the task of catching some waves.

Since that day the “old front door” has had a remarkable impact on my world. I am constantly amazed and inspired by what this wood board can handle and what it can do. I’ve ridden this one board in a variety of conditions from mushy one foot Muizenberg to pumping Llands barrels and I have yet to find the limits of where it can work and bring me joy.

wooden surfboards

“What I have learned from this wood board, apart from a better bottom turn, is that although there are limits to what we can do in this life there are options and sometimes the smallest decision can have a powerful effect.” Photo: Lee-Anne Curtis-Cox

I built the board on a course with Patrick from Burnett Wood Surfboards and the experience of building my own board and then riding it is a huge component of the profound effect I have felt. I cannot recommend building your own surf craft highly enough and I feel it is something every surfer should do at least once.

Riding this board makes me feel I have earned my place in the sea. I feel initiated. I know the cost and the impact of getting to ride the wave. I know what’s inside this thing, just how much effort, love and attention to detail is engrained in its make up, and I’m going to take a great deal of care to ensure that it stays with me as long as possible. I also know that am going to make another one.

Like most surfers, I’ve ridden commercially produced surfboards most of my life and I’ve loved it. Surfing is a gift no matter how it comes to you. I think if everybody surfed there’d be a lot less road rage and nasty business out there. Who would want to be dropping bombs or delivering hurt when there’s a crisp offshore wind and the waves are perfect and you just know there’s a few with your name on them? Well I know what I would choose. I’ve ridden foam and fibreglass boards most of my life.

In fact in recent years I’ve been going through them at a rate. I ride them until they are finished, they reach a point where they will snap repeatedly and at that point it becomes cheaper to buy a new board and not have to keep paying for repairs. But every time I send another board to landfill I feel regret, not for the loss of a board but because I know that I am contributing to the mountain of toxic crap that is bleeding into the earth, poisoning and degrading our biosphere.

As wave riders we are ocean lovers by default. I have a love for the ocean that goes way deeper than just appreciating what it offers me as a surfer. That is something that most water men and women will understand.

The ocean offers us a very tangible and visible example of an ecosystem as a singular entity. The ocean lives, breathes, shifts and changes constantly just like any other organism. It’s easy to see it as a living being and I want to treat it as I would any other living creature, with the respect that it deserves. For me that means being mindful of my relationship with the ocean – what impact it is having and how I can work to better that relationship.

I understand that my actions alone will change very little in this world and any way, I’m over wanting to change it. I’m reminded of a classic line from Detective Velcoro, “My strong suspicion is that we get the world we deserve.”

I believe that Mother Nature will balance the scales one way or another with or without our help. For my part the question is, “what am I going to do to make it all OK for myself today?” And today the answer to that question is to engage in what I love with honor, respect and dignity. I’m putting that toxic shit behind me. I’ll use it where I have to, where I have no choice, but I’ll always be looking for an alternative.

And for now that’s good enough for me, knowing that the blind and unconscious use of disposable, poisonous crap for the sake of convenience is in the past.

I’m not a professional surfer. As far as my value system is concerned I now see that it is more important for me to ride a board that is made from materials that are biodegradable and non toxic than it is to shave five hundred grams from the final weight of my board. In the choice of saving five hundred Rands today versus five hundred years of leaching toxic chemicals into land and sea there is no choice. Besides, I’ve seen more improvement in my surfing while riding my wood board than any performance board I’ve ever had.

What I have learned from this wood board, apart from a better bottom turn, is that although there are limits to what we can do in this life there are options and sometimes the smallest decision can have a powerful effect. I am connected to the the ocean. I am a part of something greater than myself, and I now see that we can only truly care for something when we are a part of it.

It took building and riding a wooden surfboard for me to understand that.”

Oct 092016
 

wooden surfboard courseLast week I was in my workshop in Cape Point, near the southern most point of Africa. By the weekend I was in another hemisphere, in Farnborough, somewhere south-east of London. The mission was to shape a hollow wooden surfboard at the Triton Tools stand at the ScrewFix Live exhibition being held Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Farnborough Exhibition Centre.

The event was packed solid for three days. Meeting and talking to so many people about wooden surfboards and my wooden surfboard course offering was really exciting. It was great to meet so many UK surfers who were interested in the boards. Surfers are obviously interested in wooden surfboards and how they are made, but what I also find fascinating is how non-surfers relate to them and are intrigued by the way they are made, the time that it takes and the craft that goes into them.

I’ve found that they are a great wooden surfboard courseconversation starter for anyone that works with wood on any level, and I’ve certainly learnt a lot from people who make other things and are willing to share their experiences.

Great news for anyone in the UK is that Triton Tools are running a competition where people can sign up to be in line to win a trip to South Africa to attend a course with me where they will build their own eco-friendly hollow wooden surfboard. It’s an amazing prize so if you’re a surfer in the UK, or even just interested in surfing and how to make your own wooden surfboard, keep an eye on the Triton Tools website and this website. The competition is currently being promoted at their UK shows but will also be posted on their website in the coming weeks.

 

 

 

Sep 122016
 

In 2015, I was very fortunate to have an incredibly talented group of photographers and editors make a short video about what I do at Burnett Wood Surfboards. The film contains some beautiful images of the land and ocean around where my workshop is in Cape Town, and it’s a story about the journey from making wooden boards in the workshop to intimately engaging with the cold Atlantic here on the southern tip of the great continent of Africa. Check out the video below:


 

 

Jun 132016
 
DurbanCourseMay2016

Three of the four guys on the Durban course with the boards that they built.

At 4am on a Saturday morning two weeks ago, my car jam-packed with everything needed to run a wooden surfboard course for four guys, I set out from Cape Town to make the 1,700km drive to Durban.

Plan A had been to take a slow drive up the East Coast over several days, stopping along the way to surf. Vic Bay. Seals. J-Bay. Plan A didn’t even get off the table due to work commitments, family and the like. Plan B kicked in: pack the hell up and brave the deep Karoo road to Durban via Bloemfontein. It’s not often that I venture away from the sea. Only in emergencies.

I was thrilled to be travelling to Durban, however, to share the stoke of wooden surfboard building. When I first started offering courses, there were a few guys from Durban who got in touch asking me to hold a course in South Africa’s surf capital. Why not? Surfing is so much about the crazy things; taking a chance on a surf trip, daring a late drop, not knowing what is going to happen and how things are going to work out. And this trip had the feel of a crazy surf trip, even through I was in the middle of the Karoo.

Durban was lush. Rolling green hills, thick green forests and sparkling ocean. For winter, it’s like a warm bath during the day, with a shot from the cold water tap in the morning and evening. Shorts and a t-shirt.

Meeting Sean, Pat, Jason and Sam on the Monday morning I knew we were going to have a great week. Everyone, including myself was wide-eyed keen as we began building the four boards for the week, a longboard and three fish. I love watching guys put their boards together and see their appreciation for the shape they’re making grow, and their sense of ownership over what they’re doing unfold. It’s a real privilege.

I hadn’t planned to surf, but the crew took pity on me and Sean took me down to the beach for a baggie session just before I began the long drive home. What a treat. Warm water, golden beaches, hills covered in greenery, clear water. The stoke from that surf got me all the way to land-locked Bethlehem on the drive home, 500km from Durban in the Free State. That only left 1200km to drive the next day.