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Building 101

Building 101

Getting Your Project Started

There are many choices that must be made in order to get your hollow wood board project started. Choosing which wood to use can be a challenging part of the process and one that should be considered early. The bottom line here is that there are a really wide range of woods in the marketplace and some are better than others for the purpose of building hollow boards. We all have budgets for our projects and building a hollow board will be no exception. My personal take on building hollow boards is that the investment in time you will make warrants using the very best possible materials.

stack of woods to build paddleboards and paddlesWithout a doubt the best material available for building the “skin” of your board is paulownia wood. Paulownia wood is a wood many are not familiar with but its light weight and weight/strength properties make it the perfect choice for building light and strong boards. The downside to this material is that it can be hard to find and expensive when you do. We can help with sourcing paulownia wood if you choose to use this material.

The next best material for building the “skin” of your hollow wood board would be western red cedar.  Western red cedar is relatively light and knot free and is usually available from typical commercial lumber yards. 

Tools You Will Need

The right tools are an essential part of making your experience of building a hollow wood board a good one. There are ways to “work around” some tools, but it is essential to have a basic set of tools available for your hollow board building project. So here is my list of tools I think you will need:

tools needed to build your own paddleboard
  • Table saw
  • Hand saw
  • Jig saw
  • Block plane
  • Utility knife
  • Electric drill
  • Wood chizels
  • Sharpening stone
  • 12″ bench planer (handy optional)
  • Assortment of spring clamps

Of course, there are many tools that could be purchased that would come in very handy for a hollow wood board project but the list described above represents the basics. In terms of the 12″ bench planer, some builders will be able to use the services of a local commercial wood shop to plane down the “skin” material to the desired thickness once it has been ripped down on the table saw but I find having a planer a handy optional part of the tool assortment necessary for building a hollow wood board. Lumber can be milled with a table saw only but care must be taken to minimize blade kerf roughness. The down side to this technique is the texture of the blade kerf which needs to be sanded out by hand after the strips are glued into place. Regardless of how you approach milling your materials the key to the best possible economy is to plan your cut carefully. Regardless of the technique used to mill your strips, your board will need to be sanded smooth when all the strips are in place. .

Glues to Use

There are many glues out in the marketplace that claim some amount of water resistance. We have found that the two best glues to use are Gorilla Glue or equal or, if you can afford it, epoxy. Personally, I prefer epoxy but I have also used Gorilla Glue and have no hesitation in recommending it. 

Gorilla Glue creates a rigid bond, fills gaps and cures quickly. But a note of caution for using Gorilla Glue: follow the directions! Gorilla Glue requires a certain amount of moisture for it to reach full cure strength. Again, if you use Gorilla Glue, follow the directions for introducing moisture into the gluing process.

glue drying with clamps holding paddleboard frame togetherMy personal choice for gluing parts together is epoxy.  This is my choice for a number of reasons: a strong, permanent and waterproof bond without the mess that comes with Gorilla Glue. This is just a person bias of mine and has nothing to do with the outcome based on the strength of the bond. Gorilla Glue is perfectly adequate for hollow wood board projects. I have learned how to use thickened epoxies safely and efficiently and find that the benefits outweigh the disadvantage of cost. If you want to discuss this further, get in touch with me and we can go over the finer points of using epoxy adhesives for your project.