The DIY-Series: DIY Snowboard
Updated: Mar 7, 2019
Here it finally is - how to build your own snowboard at home! This is a long one but a good one none-the-less, so enjoy and get inspired to do some DIY this weekend.
There is a reason a snowboard costs what it does. There is a lot of labour involved but it’s worth it once you have the finished product in your hands. It’ll definitely vary depending on where you live, but I’m going to estimate a budget of £250 will cover the basics and then any fancy add-ons will increase your costs. Before you start you’ll want a jigsaw and an electric sander (and to know how to use them).
The Press If you have seen our DIY-press blog post you’ll know that you won't need a press as legit as ours to make your own board at home.
To make your first press all you’ll need is some MDF, wood glue and bar clamps. You’re going to have to work out the maths yourself but you’ll need enough planks of MDF to cover the width of your board (+ 5-10 cm) and a length long enough to ≈20cm excess of your board. We ended up buying a large sheet of MDF and getting the guys at Gamma (Dutch DIY store) to cut them into planks for us for a small fee. (you can see more details of this in our DIY-Snowboard Press blog post).
Next, using an old snowboard with your favourite camber, trace its side profile along one of your MDF planks to define the camber of your DIY-board (or free hand it if you’re feeling confident). Then cut the plank close to this line and sand the last few mm to get the exact shape you want - this is the start to your top and bottom moulds. Trace the template onto the remaining planks and get your rough cuts done. If you are handy and have the tools, to save yourself hours of sanding later on use a router with a flush trim bit to get an exact copy of your first template plank.
Now gather all your top planks and glue them together using wood glue, clamp it tightly until the glue dries. Do the same for your bottom planks. Finally you have to sand them smooth because any bumps will transfer onto your board. This will probably take you a couple of days to a week depending on how much time you have available. You should also buy some insulation foam (this will help smooth out any bumps you missed in the sanding process).
NOTE: MDF dust is very bad for your lungs, so work in a well-ventilated space and buy a baller respirator!
Materials You’re going want these ordered before you start making the press so they arrive around the time your press is ready. We got all of our stuff from Junk Supply (Swedish bad ass online DIY store), which have great options including a DIY Snowboard package. As it comes from Sweden there is a hefty shipping fee (€40 per package). So if you can get some of the materials closer to home you might save a few bucks there. The bare minimum you’ll need for your snowboard is:
PTex (Ultra High Molecular Weight polyethylene) base (either a solid base or clear if you want to put a fabric, printed or painted graphic underneath)
Fibre glass (biaxial or triaxial depending on how stiff you want your board to be)
Wood core (vertically laminated hardwood)
Metal edges (make sure the step is the same height as the PTex thickness you order)
Two part epoxy resin (Entropy resins is definitely the brand to go for as they sell SuperSap® and you’ll want the slow pot life, cure at room temp version - check out their website to do your research AND they sell a starter kit if you’re only planning on making the one board I think it’s worth it)
Inserts (for your bindings)
Top sheet - you can use clear ptex with a fabric or printed design underneath or your own artwork painted on top or a wood veneer sealed with an epoxy or lacquer on top (I personally think the effect of wood veneer is sick) but it’s all up to you in the end.
Clear packing tape or wide carpet tape (keeps resin off your base during the press)
Magnetic tape (let's you find where the inserts are to drill through the top sheet)
Other things to consider buying:
Side walls (not necessary but will add durability and give a cleaner look to the board)
A ventilation mask for cutting your MDF (especially if working in a garage)
Nitrile / latex gloves for handling resin
Assembly Start by watching this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rucnWG8mWv4) video. Signal really made our lives easier with this project and we 100% give these guys a lot of credit to this post. So before mixing your resin you have to prep your materials:
Cut out your base, you can trace the shape again using an old snowboard or design your own on CAD (check out free snoCAD-X for easy board design) and print a template. It takes a while but we still use a printed template, an exacto-knife and a whole lot of Netflix. The guys at Signal use their jigsaw but do whatever suits you. Remember which side of the plastic is the bottom (this side is rougher since it’s been prepped for bonding).
Cut your metal edges to size and bend them into the snowboard base shape to ease the glueing process. This can be done on the side of your work bench with some brute force (wear thick gloves).
Glue your edges to your base by clamping them in place and dotting super glue every fifth tooth - make sure you glue them to the correct side! You should only see a metal strip on the base of your board and the teeth get sandwiched in the layup.
Using clear tape, cover the bottom of your base (this will help prevent resin sticking to the base of your board). Use a sharp knife to score a small slit between the edges and the base to stop resin finding it’s way under the tape and onto the PTEX. This step will save you from hours of sanding to remove resin from your base.
Then drill holes for your inserts in your wood core.
Plane your wood core to the correct thickness! Again play around here because this is your design.
Put the inserts in with a little hot glue. Add some magnetic tape to the bottom of the inserts (this will help you find them later).
Cut your fibre glass layers to shape.
Lightly sand and flame your side walls to help with bonding and then glue them to your core.
Now it’s time to get serious as you are under a bit of time pressure for the layup, so have everything set out ready and do some ‘dry’ practice runs so it can go a bit smoother:
Mix your resin according to the instructions on the container, and bare in mind the pot life - you’ll want to mix up about 600ml total.
Lay your insulating foam (or if using a pneumatic press, aluminium) out and put your prepped base on top.
Line your workbench and press with baking paper because it acts as a release agent for the resin.
Apply your first layer of resin (we spread ours using a cheap window squeegee).
Wet the fibreglass with resin and lay on top of the base.
Place your wood core on top.
Apply another layer of resin.
And the next layer of wetted fibre glass on top.
Any design layer could be added now if using a clear top sheet.
Finally place on your top sheet.
Now finish your sandwich with a second piece of insulating foam/aluminium heat blanket.
Put your layup in to the press and clamp down using any clamps you can find (or get creative, you need a lot of pressure, maybe park your car on it?).
Allow the resin to cure for however long the package calls for.
Release your press and pull out your snowboard.
Cut out the snowboard with a jigsaw fitted with a HSS metal cutting blade.
Sand down the walls and add a slight angle for that professional look.
Using iron fillings, find where your inserts are and drill through the top sheet.
Ride your new board!
Okay, I think typing that out was a lot more difficult than the task itself! Just have patience and give your self time to figure it all out and make a plan of action. Then you just have to enjoy having a board you made yourself!
If you are a bit unsure of what I mean please feel free to leave a comment and I'll try to get back to you swiftly.
William & Alice