Design Focus: Oakfoils
As a kid we used to have shaping parties where we’d strip down an old Jacob or Bing and shape it into a shorter board. There were so many longboards that I would love to have today, but at the time, everyone just wanted shorter boards. Shortboard blanks weren’t readily available.
A PASSION PROJECT
In my mid-teens I was shaping boards for most all my friends, but I knew that if I relied on shaping for my sole income, it would strip away some of my passion. I made an intentional decision to shape as a hobby, but there’s always been overlap between shaping and my profession. Professionally, I’ve always worked with machining, mechanics, design, and an element of hand-craftsmanship. I’ve spent a lot of my career doing dental maxillofacial restorations, working with oral surgeons and dentists to fabricate implants using high-noble alloys to reconstruct facial features, like a jaw or chin. Through it all, I’ve always relied on shaping as a creative outlet and mental vacation. Shaping has been really hard on my body, but I love it more than any other project I’ve worked on.
I never received a formal education for my work in the dental industry. I never apprenticed under any shapers. I just had a drive to learn and to improve upon little facets of what currently existed. For example, when shaping machines became available, I saw insufficiencies with the slice scanning and the interpolated data points so I developed better software. It took a long time and I had to learn to code and incorporate post-processes with existing software. I had to engineer my own version of the design software and build my own machine to be able to more accurately and precisely cut the designs.
Every board starts as an analogue hand-shape, when post processed I save it as a digital file. I’ll hand-shape the board, then do a “3D scan” of the board digitally with tens of thousands of data points and measurements to the fourth decimal point. I’ll then use that data as a reference for that particular customer to build their next board, making minute adjustments based on their feedback. I keep very detailed records for every customer and track data points with performance characteristics. All of those statistics are applied to every board that I build.
Shaping is unique because you’re assisting someone in their journey of self expression. The shaper is simply an interface, the stylus, for helping them pursue their journey. Each board presents unique challenges, but it’s really gratifying to work to refine your own practice so that you can fulfill a client’s requirements. I like that journey. I like the struggle. The challenge is what makes it rewarding. Every single board I make is custom, because that’s the only way I can address someone’s specific needs. It doesn’t matter how good the board looks, if the board doesn’t function for the surfer, then you’ve failed as the shaper.