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Standup Paddle Board Fins

Standup Paddleboard Fins

 

I’ve been paddling my set of  Black Project standup paddleboard fins on my 12′ 6″ and 14′ flatwater hollow wood paddleboards for a couple of months now and have a pretty solid feel for the performance value this set of fins contributes to my paddling.  These are highly refined fins that address all the components necessary to provide uncompromising performance for those wanting to get the most out of their paddling whether racing or touring.  The super refined foil on these fins is based on the extensive experience of Black Project founder, Chris Freeman and his team riders who has been involved with windsurfing and paddleboarding for many years and have developed Black Project fins based on the need for speed and performance.  In my opinion, these fins leave nothing “on the table” when it comes to maximal performance.  The primary reason I have been attracted to Black Project fins has been to really get the most out of my hollow wood standup paddleboards and also, since I’m usually one of the more senior paddlers on the course I need all the help I can muster!  What I have found over the course of dozens of sessions is that the ease with which I can maintain my target strokes per side has improved and my strokes per mile have gone down by a few percentage points on average.   I find these fins to just feel smoother through the water with less visible tail turbulence than any fin I have previously used.  For crosswind/side chop conditions the R8 Series in the 28 size has provided a combination of speed, stability and control that is really easy to feel and provides major confidence in rough conditions.   All in all, these are great fins for touring or racing if you are looking for a seriously uncompromising fin. 

 

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Flatwater and downwind fins for sups

 

Text of Article for http://www.supboardermag.com/2014/02/11/clearwood-make-you-own-wooden-paddleboard/

Wood paddleboards and surfboards have a long history and they have been common in Hawaii for many centuries. The modern version of “woodies” however, is something altogether different than what ancient Hawaiians were riding. With the advent of waterproof glues and plywood which became available in the 1930’s, Tom Blake who lived in Southern California began constructing the “modern” “kookbox” type of paddleboard. These were common for several decades and used by the surf lifeguards on the beaches of Southern California.

Currently, highly refined versions of the “kookbox” can be built from scratch, plans or kits and come in many forms from surf style and flat water sup’s to straight prone paddle surfboards and builders around the world have taken up the challenge of building one or several of these craft for their personal quivers. There are forums online dedicated to this type of board construction with builders from many different countries contributing to an ongoing dialogue about all of the nuances of the building process. Some woods that can be sourced for hollow board construction will yield a finished board as light as or lighter than boards of equivalent size made of foam and fiberglass, with the added benefit that hollow wood boards can and do outlast many “boards” made of foam and plastic.

KitDetails-PuzzleJointCloseup-lg

I will be honest here; building your own hollow wooden SUP is NOT a quick and easy way to get on the water. You may ask why, then, would anyone want to build a hollow wood board? The answer to that question can be stated in this way: the rewards are measured in the beauty, longevity and personal satisfaction that will come with building a wood SUP with your own hands. World-wide, there is great interest in alternative building methods for “home-made” surfboards and paddleboards. What that means to a prospective hollow wood board builder is there are many different styles of hollow wooden SUPs to choose from based on your interest in the various aspects of the sport. Additionally, hollow wood boards can be built with mostly sustainable products such as salvaged or plantation grown woods and there are now epoxy resins available which are made from non-petroleum based raw materials.

The process of building a board of this type is more about a personal journey and creative expression than it is about popping out a board that looks like everything else on the water.

 

paddleboard and paddle on beach

In the end, most builders don’t take on projects of this sort because it is easy. Building a hollow wood SUP can be learned by most people who truly want to learn the process but it is not a project for everyone. Certainly, previous woodworking experience helps. What I say to prospective hollow wood board builders is that if a board is “in you”, you will find a way to get it built. Most suppliers of kit components provide ongoing support during the building process, and as previously mentioned there are some great online resources for asking questions and gleaning insights into how the workflow should go. In the end, patience and commitment are the two main ingredients needed for you to finish a board and get it into the water.

A question many prospective hollow wood board builders ask is, “how long will it take?” There isn’t one answer to this question. It depends on the tools you have available, your eagerness to work on a woodworking project and the level of finished product you want to achieve. What can be said about building a hollow wood SUP is that it very well could be one of the most difficult but rewarding things you do in your life!

 

Randy Bogardus, Artist, Shaper and Woodworker

 

Make your own wooden paddleboard

Make your own wooden paddleboard

Are you looking for a winter project? Have you got some spare time and space in your garage? If so, have you considered making your own wooden paddleboard? It might not be the quickest way to get out on the water but it’s sure to be the most rewarding. Are you up for the challenge?!

Randy Bogardus from Clearwood Paddleboards explains more about wooden paddleboards and what’s involved in making your own.

Wood paddleboards and surfboards have a long history and they have been common in Hawaii for many centuries. The modern version of “woodies” however, is something altogether different than what ancient Hawaiians were riding. With the advent of waterproof glues and plywood which became available in the 1930’s, Tom Blake who lived in Southern California began constructing the “modern” “kookbox” type of paddleboard. These were common for several decades and used by the surf lifeguards on the beaches of Southern California.

Currently, highly refined versions of the “kookbox” can be built from scratch, plans or kits and come in many forms from surf style and flat water sup’s to straight prone paddle surfboards and builders around the world have taken up the challenge of building one or several of these craft for their personal quivers. There are forums online dedicated to this type of board construction with builders from many different countries contributing to an ongoing dialogue about all of the nuances of the building process. Some woods that can be sourced for hollow board construction will yield a finished board as light as or lighter than boards of equivalent size made of foam and fiberglass, with the added benefit that hollow wood boards can and do outlast many “boards” made of foam and plastic.

SUP fishbone framing during building process SUP frame during building process SUP frame during building process
SUP fishbone framing during building process SUP frame during building process

I will be honest here; building your own hollow wooden SUP is NOT a quick and easy way to get on the water. You may ask why, then, would anyone want to build a hollow wood board? The answer to that question can be stated in this way: the rewards are measured in the beauty, longevity and personal satisfaction that will come with building a wood SUP with your own hands. World-wide, there is great interest in alternative building methods for “home-made” surfboards and paddleboards. What that means to a prospective hollow wood board builder is there are many different styles of hollow wooden SUPs to choose from based on your interest in the various aspects of the sport. Additionally, hollow wood boards can be built with mostly sustainable products such as salvaged or plantation grown woods and there are now epoxy resins available which are made from non-petroleum based raw materials.

The process of building a board of this type is more about a personal journey and creative expression than it is about popping out a board that looks like everything else on the water.

In the end, most builders don’t take on projects of this sort because it is easy. Building a hollow wood SUP can be learned by most people who truly want to learn the process but it is not a project for everyone. Certainly, previous woodworking experience helps. What I say to prospective hollow wood board builders is that if a board is “in you”, you will find a way to get it built. Most suppliers of kit components provide ongoing support during the building process, and as previously mentioned there are some great online resources for asking questions and gleaning insights into how the workflow should go. In the end, patience and commitment are the two main ingredients needed for you to finish a board and get it into the water.

A question many prospective hollow wood board builders ask is, “how long will it take?” There isn’t one answer to this question. It depends on the tools you have available, your eagerness to work on a woodworking project and the level of finished product you want to achieve. What can be said about building a hollow wood SUP is that it very well could be one of the most difficult but rewarding things you do in your life!

So, if you’re interested in finding out more about building your own SUP, check out the Clearwood Paddleboards website and Facebook page. Or email Randy at randybogardus@gmail.com

Clearwood Paddleboard kits can be shipped worldwide.

Randy Bogardus with one of his handmade SUPs Clearwood Paddleboard on the water
a Clearwood Paddleboard being used on a lake

Closing up a Hollow Board-Tasks to Consider

Closing Up a Hollow Board-Tasks to Consider

Completing the assembly manual has taken me longer than I had planned and I am hearing from some “CLEARWOOD” board builders that are nearly ready to strip the bottom and close up the shell of the board.  So let’s go through the basics of what we need to consider before stripping the bottom and closing up the shell. 

We’ll start with the blocking that supports and reinforces the fin(s), vent and leash plug.  All three of these components should be installed on both touring/race boards and surf style boards.  All hollow boards should have all three of these blocking components installed prior to closing up the shell of your board.

 Some builders may ask why they would need a leash on a board intended for touring.  This is a fair question, but think of what would happen if you became separated from your board in really windy conditions.  Boards move quickly in the wind….likely quicker than you can swim so even though you may not use a leash every time you paddle, there will be times when using a leash is essential for your safety. 

The fin is obviously a critical part of a paddle board.  It is essential to keeping you on course and tracking straight.  The lateral loads from pressure on the fin can be quite concentrated and therefor the fin(s) needs to be securely anchored to the structure of the board.  I recommend blocking both sides of the stringer (for the center fin) from three inches forward of the tail end of the board continuously to a point 2″ forward of the forward end of the finbox..  I use 1” thick material for this blocking and make the block the full depth of the stringer.  This will lock the finbox/fin assembly solidly into the framework and skin of the board giving you plenty of material from which to route a pocket for the fin box.  For surf style boards, the position and length of the fin boxes you choose will determine the position of the blocking so you will need to plan your fin layout and finbox choices prior to “close up”.

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You will notice that in the photo above that the bottom went on first and that the deck went on last.  This board was built prior to developing the “rocker tab” system.  I’m showing you this photo to illustrate the blocking layout.  This board is a surf style and was set up as a quad + one.  You can also see the vent block which was installed the full depth of the board but in this case the vent block was notched to allow for pressure relief.  This is a good example of the multiple ways there are to address any particular situation with the construction of a hollow board.  In reality my system evolves.  The main idea to keep in mind are the basic principals regarding structure, venting and sealing prior to close up.

The leash plug is another component that can be subjected to quite high loading. Blocking that is securely glued to a cross (transverse) frame and skin of the board is one of the keys to avoiding leash cup failure.  The plugs that I make and most plastic plugs made commercially are in the range of  1” – 1 ¼” in diameter.  I recommend using a block that is a minimum of 2” x 2” and is the full depth of the board at the point of placement.  The placement position can vary but in general, leash cups are installed near the tail of the board on one side or the other of the stringer.  Since this block and all the other blocks necessary on the interior of your board are installed after you flip the board and before you strip the bottom, you must mark the center of the leash cup and vent blocks PRIOR to installing the bottom strips.  The simplest way I have found to mark the center of the leash plug block and the vent screw block is to drill though the block from the bottom side all the way through to the deck of the board.  I use a 1/16” diameter bit for this hole. This hole/ “mark” on the face then becomes the pilot hole when you get to the point of drilling the pocket holes for the leash cup and vent screw body and it can’t be sanded off. 

The vent screw block set up is slightly different since the vent needs to be open on the bottom (inside of the board) in order to work as a pressure relief vent.  This vent is typically slightly less deep than the body of the vent screw is long.  There are also different lengths of vent screw body’s so you will need to measure yours to determine the depth of the block.  If the block ends up being deeper than the vent body is long, it isn’t a big problem since you will be drilling through the block from the deck side.  Just remember to not make the vent screw block the full depth of the board or it won’t be able act as a vent.

At the time you “flip” your board you will have the deck and some of the rail in place.  Before you begin the process of completing the rail strips and installing the bottom strips you will want to seal the interior that is now in place.  From this point in the process of installing strips, the pieces should be pre-sealed since there won’t be any way to seal the inside after all the strips are in place.  There are several choices of material you can use to seal the interior, from thinned epoxy to marine varnish to exterior grade acrylic polyurethane.  I apply a thinned epoxy solution to all of the interior surfaces including the framework.  The reason I use thinned epoxy is because it is compatible with the epoxy I use to glue the strips in place.  The consideration in this regard is that the gluing surfaces on the framework need to maintain “glue-ability”.  Epoxy sticks to epoxy which has penetrated the fibers of the wood but would not adhere well to marine varnish, for example.  If you are using a Titebond or polyurethane product you would not want to apply a sealer to the glue surfaces on the framework since the bonding strength would then be compromised.

My system for sealing the pieces from this point to completion is to seal the strips prior to ripping them to width.  By so doing, you will then have strips with fresh wood uncontaminated by sealer.  If you are sealing your strips with thinned epoxy and installing strips with epoxy the surface contamination of the strips is not a problem but it is important to consider your sealers and glues as a “package” that needs to be coordinated for proper adhesion.

Another item for consideration throughout the close up process is how to keep the interior of your board clean and “rattle free”.  This isn’t an issue until the point where you can no longer get the “snout” of your shop vacume hose into the board.  There is no easy solution here other than vigilance.  My first board was full of wood chips that I get reminded of every time I pick the board up….rattle, rattle, rattle!  You just have to be really careful to keep the interior clean as you approach the point on “no return” with the vac hose.

That’s about it for this session.  If anyone has further questions or needs clarification email me or call me and we’ll sort it out.

 

Happy Building!

 

Randy

Standup Paddleboard Fin Selection

 

Selecting Standup Paddleboard Fins

 

I have been thinking about fin set ups for my flat water boards lately…..maybe that’s because I left the last decent fin I had sitting on the tailgate of my truck when I drove away at the end of a session recently.  The result is that I lost the fin and have been using a recycled longboard fin for some time now, thinking that I would get a new selection of fins to try out when I had a new board to put them on.  Well, with the exception of the lousy cold weather we have been having, I’m almost ready to glass a new 12-6 and figure the derelict beater fins I have been using need a bit of an upgrade for the new board. 

A race I competed in this past summer also got me thinking about getting set up with a quiver of fins.  I had the unfortunate experience of losing a race because I did not have a weed fin.  I don’t get the chance to win many races in that I’m usually the oldest or nearly oldest racer on the water, so losing a race because of being too cheap to have a weed fin really did not feel too good….and especially since on two occasions in that particular race I bailed off the board in a darn cold Puget Sound to clear the weeds…. and STILL had to settle for second!

So finally, last evening I got hold of Chris Freeman of Black Project Fins and ordered three new fins to try out.  The fins I ordered will cover everything from downwind, to glassy flat water to sloppy chop…..and also a weed fin to help prevent a repeat performance of demonstrating how to dive off the back of a SUP mid race to clear a wad of weeds off of the fin!  If you want to check out Chris Freeman’s fins go to: http://www.blackprojectfins.com/products/sup-fins/race/

 The fins are on the way from Hawaii right now and I should have them by the time this blog post is up and live and I’ll be offering up feedback on the performance of the new fins soon.  What I already know about Black Project Fins is that they have been getting some great reviews from some really experienced paddlers I know so I don’t think I’ll be disappointed!

 

What should the choice be for an all around fin if you don’t want to invest in a quiver?  I think the main question that a paddler must ask is about the conditions you will typically be paddling in.  One of the reasons I decided to invest in a quiver is that I paddle in a lot of different conditions and types of water from beautiful clear Eastern Oregon high mountain lakes to marine estuaries full of stealthy sea grass just waiting for a fin to come along and hang up on!  If you paddle estuaries that are prone to being clogged with sea grass then a weed fin may be the best choice.  If you paddle in wind and chop , you might want a slightly bigger fin than if you mostly paddle morning glass conditions.  If you paddle different types of water and conditions and spend some amount of time in grassy water, then a weed fin may be the best choice.  You, the paddler need to assess the type of water you paddle and decide how you want to set yourself up when it comes to fin selection.