Nearly two years ago, Peter and Jennifer arrived at my front door to look at a hollow wooden fish they were interested in buying. We had a good chat about wood boards, life and the like. A few days later Jennifer phoned and said Peter would like to come around with his crew and film the wood boards I was making. That’s how Peter, Jennifer, Adam and Jules came to spend two days in a garage in Fish Hoek, which at the time was where I made my hollow wood surfboards.
I’ve often thought about those days of filming because of the moment in time they captured. Shortly afterwards I moved to a workshop in Kommetjie, the business grew, things got crazy and the garage became an unused storage place that nobody ever entered. In the last few weeks I’ve moved my workshop from Kommetjie to Scarborough, but I’m fixing up my garage work space so that I can spend some days working at home, picking up the kids, cooking meals and doing all those kind of homely things that one doesn’t do when spending all your time in a workshop obsessed with making wood surfboards. So it’s sort of as if I’ve done something of a circle. The film the crew made can be watched below. It was shown at the 2014 Wavescapes Surf Film Festival held in Cape Town. So much thanks to everyone who was involved and hope to hook up again soon.
I’m now building wood surf craft and running courses in building your own wood surf craft from a workshop on Good Hope Gardens Nursery, just outside Scarborough and opposite Cape Point Nature Reserve. It is a stunning location to build boards from, surrounded by mountains and indigenous vegetation, and close to the ocean.
This obviously means that I’ve moved from my previous workshop on Imhoff Farm in Kommetjie. The move was necessitated by my lease expiring and the premises being needed for a new development. To those of you who have built a board with me or visited the workshop, it’s a funny twist that it was the goats that made me move – they’ve grown in numbers and my workshop is needed for a new milking parlour.
Nothing is changing – I’m still building boards and offering courses on building your own hollow wood surfboard, SUP or handplane. It is a transition though and I’d like to mark this by saying a huge thanks, from the bottom of my heart, to all those who have shared the space with me. I have been privileged and honoured to meet and spend time with amazing people during my nearly two years at Imhoff Farm. It has been inspirational and taught me a tremendous amount about my craft. I will never forget my time there.
Please feel free to visit the new workshop; it’s always great to have guests.
2015 has gotten off to a rocking start with a run of exceptional summer swells lighting up the Cape Peninsula surf spots. After a hectic end to the year in the wood surfboard building workshop, I took it slow for the first week of January, but have stepped up a gear in the last few days. The year is starting with some Saturday course building – Ant and Gero got started on Saturday and will be building their boards on Saturday’s up to the end of February. And tomorrow, Ian and Amanta will be building their boards on a six-day course.
2015 is an exciting year for Burnett Wood Surfboards. Apart from our usual hollow wood surfboards and custom wood surfboard builds, I will, for the first time be offering Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) course options. More details to follow. I will also be introducing a range of other course offerings. In the meantime, below are some pictures from the workshop taken at the end of last year and beginning of this year.
What an awesome week of hollow wood surfboard building.
Our August course ran from 11-17 August and four boards were built: two 9′.7″ longboards and two 6′.4″ eggs. The guys participating built amazing boards and each one is a functional work of art in its own right. It was such a stoke to work with everyone and see the boards coming together. What really struck me about this course was the way everyone helped each other. It was a great vibe and I’d like to thank Craig, Norman, Peter and Matthew for making the week a successful one.
Here are some pictures from the week. If you want to join up and build your own board, have a look at our courses page or drop me an email on email@example.com
Up until now, if you wanted to build one of our hollow wood surfboards you needed to sign up for a week-long course. For many people who would like the experience of building their own board, it’s hard to take a full week.
The six-day course is still available. But we have also added a three-day hollow wood surfboard building course where all it takes is a Friday, Saturday and Sunday for you to experience building your own wood surfboard.
We’ll still retain the core of our week-long course offering and you’ll experience the satisfaction of working with wood in crafting your own beautiful, functional wave craft.
But instead of starting at the beginning, part of your board will already be built for you when you begin, enabling you to come in and work on the most crucial and rewarding parts.
The first three-day course will run 19-21 September 2014. To book your spot, contact Patrick through firstname.lastname@example.org or 073 232 3043 to sign up or for more information.
What you get:
– Your own beautiful, surfable wood surfboard, handmade by yourself
– Access to all tools and provision of materials needed to make your surfboard
– Information on wood surfboards, history, design dynamics, environmental credentials
– Tuition and assistance
– Glassing and finishing of the board
– Fin boxes or handmade wood fins
– Tea/Coffee throughout the day
– Lunch on the days that you build
– Experience of working with wood and craft in a stunning rural environment
– The chance to meet other like-minded folk also building their own boards.
Contact Patrick through email@example.com or 073 232 3043 to sign up or for more information.
Below are pictures of some wood surfboards and related products currently being built at Burnett Wood Surfboards. The first set of pictures is a beautiful twin keel fish that Graeme is building on a course. The wood is stunning. Check out our courses page if you’re interested in building your own board.
We just finished this beautiful custom order pictured below. It’s a 7′.6″ mini-mal made out of Western Red Cedar.
And this 6′.0″ twin keel fish custom order is designed for the ins and outs of a ledgy reef take-off that then peels off into a playful wall. Nearly done on the finishing glassing touches.
We’ve also been making some beautiful bodysurfing handplanes. Stand by – we’ll soon be running a one-day course where you can come and shape your own. We will also be offering kits, where we post everything you need to make your own.
And lastly, something completely different…a mirror. It is made out of Cherry and Poplar with mother-of-pearl inserts. Yes, it is for sale.
Out in a packed line-up recently and the only surfer on a wooden surfboard, I jokingly quipped that everyone else was destroying the planet. “Aren’t we all,” came a cynical reply. The answer to that comment is, yes we are.
News circulated last year about a green surfboard verification programme. The initiative comes from Southern California outfit Sustainable Surf, a non-profit start-up NGO. A report on the initiative notes that petroleum, polyurethane, polyester resin, polystyrene foam, PVC and many other substances are still being widely used to produce surf gear and equipment. Tell us something we don’t already know.
Paul, who built his own 6′.0″ hollow wood fish out of Western Red Cedar, told me a story the last time he was at the farm that relates to board building and working with your hands. The daughter of a friend of his had started doing craftwork and had described the process of working with her hands as taking her to a place where she was neither happy nor sad, just there.
If that sounds zen-like, it is. I’ve often completely lost myself in the making of a board and I know guys that have built their own boards with me have felt something similar.
Building hollow wood surfboards is so much about a process. It can take a week of full-time labour. So, the question arises, why engage in something that takes such a long time? What is it about working with wood and building surfboards?
The first Burnett Wood Surfboards course ran in May 2013 (click here if you want to know more about our build your own board course offering). Attending that course was Patrick Young, who built a beautiful hollow wood 6′.4″ egg. Last week he was back, this time to build a twin keel fish. I watched with great excitement as the board came together. It’s really satisfying to see someone engaging with their board, getting to know it, and seeing it taking shape before their eyes. Even though it’s nearly a year later, Patrick had clearly put the lessons learned during the first board to good use, because the fish he has made is a stunner. Pictures, all taken by Patrick Young during the build, are in the gallery below.