cart
Paulownia plantation

Building a Lightweight Board

Building a Lightweight Board

Building a lightweight hollow wood board of any style can be a challenge but, in the end, not that hard if you choose the “right” materials. The very best wood for building hollow wood boards is a species of wood called paulownia tomentosa. Pauownia t. has the perfect blend of weight and structure. Availability of this species in North America is limited but it is available on a limited basis (I import and resell paulownia t. on my website at http://clearwoodpaddleboards.com/product/paulownia-lumber/). I always have it available for those hollow wood board builders that value a lightweight board. Paulownia tomentosa is approximately 2/3’s of the weight of many other commonly used species for strip planking hollow wood boards.

paddleboard construction tool closeup

Tool Requirements for Strip Planking

Tool Requirements for Strip Planking

Tool requirements for strip planking a paddleboard are simple; a basic set of hand tools and a few basic power tools are all that is required. The enhancement of our woodshops with a more diverse set of tools is something most woodworkers strive for, but strip planking is simple and the tools that you need to perform most of the strip plank build tasks are as well. What’s the most important tool in the wood shop for strip planking you ask? I’d say the sharpening stone! Block planes and chisels are used extensively in strip planking and sharp tools are a must. Hand tools such as a Japanese pull saw, a low angle block plane and a basic assortment of decent bench chisels will go far in getting your strip planked board built. The ability to keep your plane iron and chisels sharp is the key to success with chisels and planes, and there are many simple and inexpensive ways to accomplish this task. Dull tools don’t perform well, aren’t fun to use and can be dangerous.

building a strip planked paddleboard

Board Construction

Hollow Wood Paddleboard Construction Techniques

Hollow wood paddleboard construction techniques are common to many different hull shapes. The build method for all the boards I design is strip planking. Strip planking, for those not familiar with the process, is the application of strips of wood to a framework that is in the shape of the board (or boats, among other shapes). Many rowing shells were built before the advent of epoxy, fiberglass and carbon fiber technology in this fashion and were “state of the art” until modern plastic technology became the norm. The basics of strip planking in the case of paddleboards is slightly different than kayaks or canoes in that the entire framework stays inside of the board. The structure of a strip planked paddleboard is semi-monocoque, or in other words, a “torsion box” type of structure. A “skin” that remains attached to a subassembly, such as a light framework, is incredibly strong…think aircraft wing.

Wood Leash Plugs & Vent Body sets

Free vent/leash plug set offer!!

Free vent/leash plug set offer!!

Free vent/leash plug set with the purchase of any SUP frame kit!!

Wood Leash Plugs & Vent Body sets

Vent/leash plug set

All hollow wood SUP’s and surfboards need to have a vent and a leash connection point. When we first started building hollow boards we tried a few different options for these components. We damaged one board after a GoreTex vent crusted over with salt build up and failed to release pressure quickly enough to prevent board damage. The damaged board experience convinced us that a mechanical vent, which would only fail if we forgot it, was the sure solution to venting a hollow board. Here’s a link to a blog post I wrote about the importance of venting hollow SUP and surfboards. Now, when you buy any SUP frame kit you will receive FREE a vent/ leash set with a value of $55.

Paulownia plantation

Paulownia Wood Lumber

Paulownia Wood for Strip Planking

Paulownia Plantation

Paulownia plantation

Paulownia wood for strip planking is a topic important for building strong and light boards. We have discussed paulownia wood for strip planking hollow wood SUP’s and surfboards in the past and now I want to make a few more points about how perfect this wood is for strip planking.  I should first make it clear that I sell paulownia lumber on my website, so I obviously have a stake in promoting the use of paulownia wood for strip planking. But the reason I sell paulownia is because I believe that paulownia is by far the best wood available for strip planking hollow wood SUP’s, surfboards and kayaks.