In January, a clip about Burnett Wood Surfboards aired on Dagbreek, the Afrikaans language breakfast show on DSTV. There are some great shots of our workshop on Imhoff Farm in Kommetjie, an interview about the green credentials of wood surfboards, another interview with one of our course participants and some Go-Pro footage at the end. Many, many thanks to Martin Giselsson and Patrick Young for participating. The board in the Go-Pro footage was made by Patrick Young on the very first hollow wood surfboard workshop held by Burnett Wood Surfboards. Enjoy!
First view of a new 9′.6″ hollow wooden longboard. Still very rough and a lot of cleaning up to do, but the shape is looking great. Love making these guys – they’re such beauties.
On Wednesday I took collection of a wood order that will give me enough to make three boards. Now this isn’t just any wood. There’s a context to this wood and it’s been quite an emotional ride ordering it and then picking it up and driving home with it.
Wood is not cheap you see, and there’s a point when a hobby just becomes too expensive. And times are tough. So to stomp up a few thousand rand to buy wood to build surfboards can either be seen as foolish expenditure or an investment in a passion.
I wasn’t quite sure which it was myself.
But when I laid out the wood on my kitchen floor – the kitchen floor is where I lay out wood because its got a nice flat lino surface and the parquet flooring in the rest of the house is off-limits for surfboard manufacture by order of management – I knew I wouldn’t regret buying that wood. Even if it has cleaned out my bank account and I don’t know what’s going to come next.
It’s funny how times of uncertainty can bring on the greatest moments of certainty.
When I saw that wood laid out on my kitchen floor – the clear, yellow grain of Obeche contrasting with the fine, dark red grain of Californian Redwood – I could see the 7.8 mini-Malibu I’m going to craft out of that wood as clearly as if I had already done it. And it’s a beautiful board. You won’t be able to find one like it anywhere in South Africa, perhaps anywhere in the world.
All the materials are just about together to begin production of a 7.8 mini-Malibu and a 5.9 fish.
The 7.8 is going to be first on the construction table and it is going to be a beautiful, beautiful board, built with alternating strips of Obeche and Californian Red Wood. It really is going to be a one-of-a-kind, collector’s item board. I’m expecting it to be finished in early December, just in time for some fun summer surf at Muizenberg. Any takers? If you want a beautiful and unique surfboard that rides well make me a cash offer and the board could be yours.
The second board, which I’m also hoping to finish in early December, is the 5.9 fish. It will also be built with alternating strips of Obeche and Californian Red Wood and based on the successful fish design I’ve already built and tested. This is also going to be a really beautiful surfboard – just take a look at some of the pictures of the fish I built out of Oregon pine. Same deal with the 7.8 – if you want a unique and beautiful surfboard make me a cash offer.
Wood is such a beautiful medium to work with. So far I’ve experimented with Saligna gum, Meranti, Obeche and Jelutong, but this 5.9 fish made out of Oregon pine is in my opinion by far the most beautiful. Part of the reason why its been so satisfying to make this board is that it is 100% recycled wood – all the Oregon on this board came from old pieces of floorboard and in parts you can still see the holes were the nails were. I think its awesome to take something old and turn it into something beautiful – and the bonus is that the board really surfs well.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the best type of wood to use in making surfboards. It seems to me the two main factors that you want to consider is weight, although the technique you use for building the boards can allow you to experiment with different varieties; flexibility in that this has performance implications and you don’t want to be working with wood that is too brittle in nature; and the natural beauty and contrasts obtained by mixing different woods.