Building a Grain Surfboard

Martha got a Grain Surfboard kit and built it herself over the winter. An avid surfer, Martha knew how to wax and ride, but building a board was a whole new experience. The Grain surfers began as boat builders and refined their building skills to better suit the board shaping and glassing that surfers love to embrace. The feeling of riding a board that you have built is akin to the boat building Zen that accompanies the joy of using it – only with the board, your hands and planes and sandpaper are actually shaping your ride. And the ride is very sensitive to the shape you give it.

So the build is a tactile, ethereal experience for the builder, whether you have built a board or boat before – or not.  The mission – or thought – behind Grain’s evolution to making wooden surfboard kits, is easy to embrace as it’s rooted in the “stoke” you get from using sustainable materials like raw wood to shape a ride that won’t likely snap in half as a foam and glass board might. It could very possibly outlive the rider, thereby becoming an heirloom to cherish on the waves and to hang on the wall between uses. It is an art – just like a boat.

From Grain: What started as a desire to build and ride our own boards turned into a bigger idea: Classic surfboards that were completely new to an entire generation of surfers, an environmentally conscious generation with an appreciation for sustainability. Inspired by the boats we’ve built and worked on, our first design featured caulked seams and bronze fasteners, but with quite a bit of trial and error, we refined a new technique based on time-tested boatbuilding construction techniques, and named ourselves for the natural grace of the grain patterns that jump from every freshly glassed board.

The TotalBoat Workshop crowd was very into following along as Martha progressed with her board. What started as a packaged set of almost flimsy wooden bones, were quickly covered in glass and epoxy and shaped into a shape Martha would ride, wax and covet for the rest of her life. We can’t wait to dig into another board in the shop this winter.

*You can head out to Grain’s NY board building workshop HQ and learn and shape and ride with the masters. Check out their website at for more info.

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