Do you ever wonder how longboards are made? Is it possible to make a longboard by yourself?
In the past, longboards were usually homemade. Either made by some wood artists or teenagers who love longboarding. Fun-loving teenagers made some early longboards by attaching long wood decks with old trucks of roller skaters. There have been a lot of movements with time, and longboards are given a specific shape and geometry.
Today the most common longboards are made by attaching various layers of ply with each other. Also, longboards have become considerably expensive. However, if you have a little knowledge about woodwork, you can build your own skateboard within a small budget.
How Longboards Are Made?
This guide will help you understand the materials required and the basic process involved in making a longboard.
Which materials are used in the deck?
The deck is the main component of a longboard. Usually, a single solid piece of wood was used as a longboard’s deck. These decks were considerably heavy and lacked performance in various ways. Today the decks of skateboards consist of various layers of plywood. It makes them not only strong but also highly responsive and lightweight. Usually, maple, birch, and bamboo are used as ply layers in the deck. They are used separately and also in hybrid.
Bamboo is the most commonly used material in skateboard decks. It is because it’s a less dense lightweight material. It makes the board lightweight, and it adds flex and stability to the board. Its flexibility allows the board to absorb weight, giving more control of the rides. Plus, it allows the rider to make sharper cuts and turns with high stability and control. However, bamboo longboards are usually used for cruising and carving in freestyle mode.
Maple is a relatively stronger and heavier material for longboard decks. This material is usually preferred for downhill-style longboarding. Because of its heavyweight, it is usually used in alternative layers with less dense materials like bamboo to make a hybrid deck. These decks are lightweight and strong and are ideal for more complex riding styles like technical street setup.
If you don’t like composite or hybrid longboards, you can use birch as a deck material. This is not too light like bamboo and not too heavy as male. It’s a high-strength plywood material that also has a lot of flex. The good news is that this material is widely available and usually comes cheaper than maple and bamboo. This is also a good option for freestyle, downhill riding, and cruising.
Other types of composite decks contain alternating layers of fiberglass and wood. Fiberglass adds tons of flex and springiness to the deck, making it highly sturdy and versatile. The wood layers press against fiberglass and help the deck withstand a lot of pressure. But these materials cannot be made at home or simple DIY setups.
Trucks and Wheels
Trucks of the longboards are available in T-shaped metal pieces. Generally, these trucks are available in two sizes, 180mm and 150 mm. The complete set of longboard trucks consists of a kingpin, bushing, hanger, and axle. Wheels diameter usually ranges between 60-80 mm.
The main factor that you should consider is the hardness of the wheels. It is measured in a durometer. The wheels having a durometer between 50a to 75a are soft. They provide more grip, are easy to predict, and are great for rough surfaces. However, hard wheels with a durometer above 75a offer exceptional speed and are a great choice for smooth surfaces.
How to Make a Longboard?
Collect the Materials
You will require the following materials.
- Plywood or hardwood materials, like bamboo, maple, and birch
- Strong adhesive or wood glue for layering ply
- A jigsaw or bandsaw
- Fiberglass resin and hardener
- Screws and wood staples
- Sandpaper (fine and rough-grained)
Plywood and Glue
Take 6-8 ⅛ inch plywood layers of bamboo, maple, or birch. You can also use 3-4 ¼-inch layers of ply. The standard size of a rectangular piece of wood is 40×10 inches. However, if you love more length, you can buy 10×40-60-inch pieces. You should take a high-strength glue or adhesive. The durability and strength of the longboard highly depend on the quality of glue.
Layering The Plywood
Press the two layers of wood against each other with pressure and adhesive. Wait until the glue is perfectly dried. If the glue is not dried perfectly, these layers will slide over each other, leading to many imperfections in shape. Once the glue is dry, you can glue the third layer on. Finally, use clap piles to add more strength and durability. You can also put some weights on the layered plywood if you don’t have clam piles.
Draw The Pattern
Draw a rough sketch of your longboard on paper. As a beginner, try to keep it as simple as possible. Then take a wide sheet of paper and draw a straight line slightly longer than the length you want your longboard to be. This line will be the centerline of the decks. Draw the curvy outlines of the longboard, taking a straight line as a center.
The more you keep it simple, the better results you will get. You can also copy many designs from the internets for your new longboard. Now use the pattern to trace the same design on the first layer of your hardwood or plywood. You can fold the paper halfway to draw the first and 2nd half. It would help you get the most symmetrical shape of a longboard.
Cutting the Design
In this step, you can use various tools depending upon the availability and ease of use. You can use a jigsaw or a bandsaw to cut the glued stack of plywood into the deck’s design. Make sure that you cut exactly on the pattern and do not leave any rough edges.
Once you are done with the cutting of the deck, apply the fiberglass layer at the bottom of the deck. Use the resin according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Wait until the resin is dried—sand off the rough and excessive parts of fiberglass matting. Use roughly-grained sandpaper until you get a fine smooth finish.
Now you are done with your deck.
You can keep your board simple, but it will be more fun if you paint it in beautiful colors. You can also use vinyl decals to customize your skateboard. Many vinyl sticker patterns are available online; you can download any one of them and transfer them on vinyl paper. The photo transfer technique is another fun way of making your new longboard cool and beautiful.
If your truck’s parts are disassembled, you need to assemble them first. Push the bearings inside the wheel until they perfectly sit against each other. Now attach the wheel bearing assembly with the truck using nuts provided with the trucks. Make sure you are not overly tight or loose the nuts. Drill the holes in the bottom of the deck using trucks as the template. This is probably the most sensitive part of the whole process.
Even if there is a minor flaw in this process, the truck and wheels won’t align, making the longboard a useless structure. The final step is pretty simple and self-explanatory. Attach the trucks using nuts and bolts that come with the trucks. To keep your skateboard stable, make sure you tighten the bolts and nut properly. Otherwise, they may come off as you take a ride.
What parts do I need to build a longboard?
You will need a deck, trucks, bushings, hanger, kingpin, axle, screws, and wheels to build a longboard.
Can I make my own longboard?
Yes, you can. Building your own longboard is a lot of fun, plus it saves you money. But for this, you must have a good practice of woodwork, a creative mind, and a basic set of DIY tools.
How much does it cost to make your own longboard?
The cost of building your longboard is between $150-250. It all depends upon the quality of materials you will be using. For example, if you go for an expensive adhesive, high-strength wood like maple or birch, it may cost you around $270.
Can you make a longboard out of solid wood?
Yes, you can, but it is not recommended. Longboards made from a single solid piece of wood are not strong and also lack functionality. The best way is to use multiple piles of thin wood clamped together. It will make longboards lightweight, flexible, durable, and more versatile.
What wood is used for longboards?
Plywood, maple, oak-wood, birch, and bamboo are some common woods used in longboards.
Building a longboard is not as tough as you think. But it is not a piece of cake. If you have good wood chopping skills and a complete set of DIY tools, you can do this job within a limited budget.