Surfers tend to rhapsodize about how they are one with the ocean when they’re in the water. But, between the surfer and the wave he’s catching, there’s the crucial piece of equipment – the surfboard.
So, to “be one with the ocean” the surfer has to have this unique item. In a way, he needs to be one with the board and then they are one with the ocean.
Making a quality surfboard is a time-consuming process that requires a lot of patience and hard work. Nowadays surfboards are made out of foam blank or fiberglass covered with layers of fiberglass cloth, and as a result, you get a light and durable surfboard.
But, they’ve only been around for a mere 70 years. Before that, surfboards were carved from a piece of wood, and people used the wood that was available to them. Dating back to ancient Hawaii, this way of making surfboards is still popular even today.
Who would have thought that the forests of southern Maine would be home to a surfboard company? But, that’s exactly where Grain Surfboard calls home. They’ve been making wooden surfboards since 2005 in York, Maine.
Their awesome workshop is filled with surfboard parts, wood planes, wood stocks, spoke shaves, drills, and saws. The whole place smells of glue and fresh-cut wood. It’s a fantastic combination of a surfboard manufacturer and your neighbor’s DIY workshop.
The company was founded by Mike Lavecchia and Brad Anderson, in Mikes basement. Their idea was to take people back to the roots of surfing, by making wooden boards using modern technologies. “We call that ‘re-evolution,” said the co-owner Brad Anderson.
From the beginning, the two owners wanted to focus on the handmade process of making a surfboard. While foam surfboards are easier to shape and can be reproduced in large quantities, Mike and Brad have always put the craft above practicality.
Using symmetrical grain and features, glassed-on fins, wood stringers, and the companies logo burned into the deck, the finished product is a true masterpiece. “We love working with our hands. We love wood, and we love this process,” said Mike.
Grain Surfboard has a long tradition of using locally sourced products. In the beginning, they used western red cedar, because it was easy to find at the local hardware shop. After a while, they started using Maine white cedar, which was rot-resistant and lightweight. The best part was that it could be sourced locally from a local family-owned business, called Portage Mills. They also partnered with a tools company based in Warren, Maine, the Lie-Nielsen tools company.
If you want to feel the DIY spirit of the process, you can take a surfboard making class in their workshop. Although they make custom boards, they prefer you taking a class and building your very own surfboard. After few hours in their workshop, you will feel the passion that these guys have for making wooden surfboards.
The guys at Grain Surfboard pay incredible attention to details, and the enthusiasm that they work with is amazing. They love sharing their passion for making surfboards as well. After attending one of their classes, you will see why. “There’s so much more satisfaction and appreciation for the thing if you did it yourself,” – says Mike.
The video below is a short documentary dedicated to the work of Mike and Dave and their company. Make sure you watch it and see how they get the inspiration for building surfboards, how they work, and a tour inside their workshop.
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