Growing up opposite Kalk Bay Reef, I learnt to surf the infamous False Bay slab in my teen years as a kneeboarder. Later, in my early twenties I started stand up surfing and had to learn to negotiate the steep drop anew, this time on my backhand. I chewed quite a bit of reef on that particular learning curve. Twenty years later, I’ve been surfing the reef again over the last year, and especially in the lead up to winter. This time it’s with a variety of self-shaped bodysurfing hand planes. It’s been a great experience back dooring the peak with only a small piece of wood to surf on. I also acquired a GoPro a few months ago, so the video below is my first stab at using it. Enjoy – and if you’re interested in shaping your own hand plane, have a look at the hand plane page on my site and sign up for the next course, or order a custom plane.
Between 7-12 April we built two 12′.6″ stand-up-paddle-boards in the Burnett Wood Surfboards workshop in Scarborough. It was a huge thrill to see these majestic boards come together in the space of six days. Check out the video below.
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.
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.
Last year’s inaugural Wavescape Fish Fry was a great event and it’s back this year in what promises to be a huge success. I’m stoked to have a stand again this year, and I’ll have some brand new wood surfboards to showcase.
Presented by sustainable seas experts WWF-SASSI, the community event promises to “open a window into underground surf culture to enable shapers, artists, environmentalists and surfers to share ideas, and barter or buy surfboards from each other”. So says the publicity material from the organisers.
With a focus on environmental and social issues, a big focus of the evening is to raise awareness around sustainable seafood consumption, and to raise funds for the Waves for Change development programme.
The programme includes bush cook guru and celebrity chef Justin Bonello, who will host a special fish braai challenge featuring six Cape Town Ultimate Braaimaster teams from Seasons 2 and 3 of the popular TV cooking series (Smoke, Sweat and Tears, Coal Play, Santa Annas, Weskus Braaiers, Tikka Boys and Team Tenancity). Executive chef Bertus Basson will head a judging panel featuring food bloggers and foodies, and top South African cookbooks will be raffled.
During the early afternoon, the Save Our Seas Foundation’s Shark Education Centre will be there with some fun edutainment activities for the kids. There will also be craft beer and food stalls, and surf artists and craftsmen will demonstrate their work. Pace yourself, because later on in the evening, 5FM DJ Cath Grenfell, specially down from Joburg, is going to rock the house with some epic dance music.
Fish Fry takes off at 3pm on Saturday 29th November with a surfboard market, so bring your spare boards to swap or sell. Pay R100 per board at the door. We reserve the right to put your boards in the bargain box. Good quality or crafted boards get on the main rack for sale, along with unique surfboard specials by top Cape Town shapers.
Entrance is R30 at the door and free for under 16s. Board sellers get entrance included in their board fee.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 073 232 3043 to sign up or for more information.
1. 5′.8″ classic-styled hollow wood twin-fin fish
This is a just-finished 5′.8″ classic-styled hollow wood twin-fin fish in Western Red Cedar and Obeche with real abalone inlays and custom-made glass-on fins. It’s a celebration of a surfboard shape that has endured for nearly 50 years. Handcrafted and taking inspiration from the fish shapes of the early 1970s, the special feature of this board are the abalone inserts along the bottom that separate the two different types of wood, the one light and the other dark in colour. The abalone lines have a mother-of-pearl luminosity to them that is accentuated by the rich colours of the wood. This is a one-of-a-kind board, a piece of functional art. This board was made as a piece of wall art, but it is ready to be surfed. Despite being shorter than today’s typical shortboards, the fish paddles beautifully and catches waves easily. It gives a loose, fast, floaty ride that feels completely different to a modern surfboard. And despite it’s stability, it’s got X-factor, loads of it.
PRICE: R8,500, excluding shipping. Contact email@example.com for more information
2. 9′.7″ single fin hollow wood longboard (sorry this one has been SOLD, but contact me if you would like one made)
This is a 9′.7″ single fin hollow wood longboard made out of Western Red Cedar with Obeche accent strips. Handcrafted, this board draws inspiration from classic longboards from a bygone era, with a rolled bottom, pinched rails and hips through to a square tail.
The special features of this board are the use of premium Western Red Cedar, a tree native to the Pacific North West in North America with a long history of use in boat building by indigenous people in that part of the world. The wood for this board was hand-selected to show off the finest grain the species has to offer – it is a rich, dark brown colour, alternating from a fine, straight grain to a swirling grain from tail to nose. The board also has an interesting tail block lay-up, alternating triangles of light and dark wood to create a stylish finish.
This board will make a stunning feature on any wall, but it is also very surfable. Spend enough time learning its moods and you’ll be rewarded with some lengthy nose rides.
PRICE: R9,500, excluding shipping. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
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.
Course board build
The end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 was busy, busy. I was fortunate to have some amazing custom board orders. These are pictures of hollow wood surfboards made by Burnett Wood Surfboards towards the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014. Thanks to the wonderful customers I had who put in their orders and waited patiently for delivery.
Latest Boards 2013/2014
Hollow wood surfboards made by Burnett Wood Surfboards around the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014.