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.

Jan 192016
 
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Early morning line-up at Seal Point in Cape St. Francis.

Laid back South African surf town Cape St.Francis, home of the Endless Summer, will be hosting a hollow wooden surfboard course run by Burnett Wood Surfboards between 28 March and 2 April 2016.

With its decades-long reputation as a surf destination, Cape St. Francis is the perfect place to be immersed in crafting an eco-friendly wooden surfboard. World class waves, including the legendary J-Bay, break in the vicinity, and there’s the option of sampling the local waves outside of course hours.

For Northern Hemisphere surfers, this is a great opportunity to have an experienced-based surfing holiday and take home a beautiful wooden surfboard. With favourable exchange rates, it also represents incredible bang for your dollar, pound or euro. (See below for more info relevant to international visitors).

You could build a board like this!

Burnett Wood Surfboards has been offering courses for nearly four years and has the widest available range of wooden surfboard models to choose from. The ultimate DIY project for any surfer, making a functional wooden surfboard will take you on a journey in surf history, it will provide an insight into the art of shaping and environmentally friendly surfboard construction, and it will give you the joy of working with a beautiful natural material. Check out a gallery of previous course participants here.

Those signing up can choose from shapes ranging from fish, eggs, single fins, mini-malibus and longboards. Participants can sign up for the full six-day course where they start right at the beginning with a pile of planks, or can sign up for a three-day course where part of their board is done for them.

More information on how to sign up, including costs and types of boards to choose from, is available on the courses page of this website.

 

VENUE AND ACCOMMODATION

RaggieThe venue for the course is Raggies International Backpackers in the centre of Cape St. Francis. Raggies can offer accommodation for those coming from out of town, and can host individuals or families, making it an ideal venue for locals and those travelling from overseas. Airport transfers are available and Raggies also provides access to a range of exciting activities around Cape St. Francis.

Please ask us about accommodation if you are interested.

VISITORS FROM OUTSIDE SOUTH AFRICA

It takes 10 days to two weeks to glass your surfboard once you have finished the woodwork. If you plan on travelling after the course, we’ll make sure it’s ready for you to take back on the journey with you. If you’re going back straight after the course, we will ship the board to your home address. There will be an additional charge for the shipping.

Prices on our courses page are only for the wood surfboard course. You are responsible for other expenses such as your airfare and accommodation. Raggies International Backpackers can assist with accommodation. Airport transfers from the closest airport, Port Elizabeth, can be arranged.

Cape St. Francis is close to a number of other tourist attractions, including the world famous Garden Route, Addo Elephant Park and a number of other game reserves.

BACKGROUND TO ENDLESS SUMMER

Just about every surfer has at some stage in their surfing lives seen the iconic clip of the ‘discovery’ of Cape St. Francis in Bruce Brown’s famous surf movie Endless Summer. No matter that the right point has been eclipsed in fame by its nearby neighbour J-Bay, in surf consciousness Cape St. Francis represents the dream of discovering a perfect wave. Check out the clip below.

Cape St. Francis, 1963 from ENCYCLOPEDIA of SURFING videos on Vimeo.