Author Archive

“Surfboard Grade” paulownia planks

Surfboard Grade Paulownia Planks

What is “surfboard grade” paulownia?

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Surfboard grade paulownia is the currently available grade of clear, dry paulownia wood available from China. This is the grade I use for all of the Clearwood Paddleboards built projects that you see here on the Clearwood Paddleboards website. The planks are typically made up of two strips of paulownia glued into one plank, and all of the strips that I mill for customers come from this stock. In a perfect world we would have material that is not created from glue ups, but even with the glue ups this is super nice material that will yield a great finished product.

Randy Bogardus riding his own handmade ocean surfboard SUP

Standup Paddleboard Building Tutorials

Standup Paddleboard Building Tutorials

We don’t want summer to end too soon but we do want to plan for the inevitable change of the seasons. The fall season here in the Northern Hemisphere is when many woodworking enthusiasts are planning winter projects, and building a hollow wood SUP (standup paddleboard) or surfboard is a great way to spend some of those long, dark nights and wet, cold weekends…and you’ll end up with a beautiful new board to use when you are finished! When we launched Clearwood Paddleboards in the fall of 2013 we had built quite a few strip planked hollow wood boards and we shared our knowledge of the process with our customers and others interested in hollow wood paddleboards. Much of the process remains the same for us but some things have also changed.  We’ve a learned some new tricks and ways of creating these watercraft and want to share that knowledge. The best format we’ve found for standup paddleboard building tutorials is a series of video, times lapse sequences and still images with text overlays that highlight the entire process, start to finish. We’re going to make this information available through our website and our YouTube channel, and are nearly ready to publish our first few episodes in the series. 

Clearwood P14 Prone Paddleboard in progress

Hollow Wood Prone Paddleboard Kit

Hollow Wood Prone Paddleboard Kit

Coming Soon!

We decided to go back to the roots of paddleboarding for this design. With the ongoing growth of all paddle sports, it isn’t surprising that prone paddle boarding has seen a resurgence. Many people involved with paddle sports paddle more than one type of craft, and even though prone paddling doesn’t involve a paddle. it’s still paddling. Prone paddleboards were the first “paddleboards” to be raced in the modern era going back to the first Mainland to Catalina race that Tom Blake won on his chambered wooden board in 1932. A lot has changed since 1932 but one of the things that has not is the pure fun of paddling. Paddling a light weight hollow wood board combines the best of both worlds; beautiful wood watercraft and modern building techniques. Prone paddling is another great way to get on the water. Prone paddlers that also surf traditional surfboards get the added benefit of paddle fitness when are hitting the waves.

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. 

Part of My Story

“The Beach House” part of the Story

“The Beach House”

The “The Beach House” was always a magical place for me and my brothers and nephews. On the windy dunes north of Lincoln City, Oregon, well before there were many houses, and near what is now Roads End State Park, we ran wild (outdoors where the grownups wanted us!) through the dunes on family “beach house” outings. The line we couldn’t cross when it was just the kids playing, however, was the trail down to the beach where we were told there were “sneaker waves”. I never quite figured out what those sneaker waves were all about until I got serious about spending time in and on the ocean. I just heard the stories that my Grandmother used to tell to scare us kids into not going onto the beach without an adult. As a surfer and sailor with decades of time spent around the marine environment, a lot of conditions regarding Mother Ocean have become much clearer. Sneaker waves can be seriously deadly if you aren’t playing by the rules Mother Ocean lays down. I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to understand those “rules” and how to work with the ocean and the other aquatic environs.

I’ll never forget the “old school” coastal tugboats that used to ply the Pacific Northwest Coast. I didn’t make it onto a tugboat, or any other boat for that matter until quite a few years later, but there was always something about those images of the far off ships and tugboats that seemed adventurous, wild and engaging.

The obsession with small boats, and now wooden paddle and surfboards, started in our family garage where my Dad and brothers and I built a small wooden sailboat. We learned a lot and got a fun toy out of the “deal”, which we enjoyed for years. Later, after being discharged from the US Army, the building of a boat I could travel on and that would lead to an adventurous lifestyle was a high priority. I built the boat, a very bare bones but strong boat, and had some great adventures for a few years.

unnamedMy own 32’ blue water sailboat solved some of the wanderlust in me. I learned the ways of the sea building and sailing that boat and along with crewing on sailboats in the South Pacific and running my own commercial fishing boat for a couple of seasons I learned much about the sea and life on the waterfront.

Even with my heavy attraction to the sea and live aboard/traveler lifestyle, life ultimately presents many possible directions to pursue. Building anything of quality has always held attraction for me. Whether it was the complicated silkscreen prints I made as a college student or the estate level residential construction that was my long term career, I have always gravitated to quality built watercraft.

Building and paddling hollow wooden paddleboards and surfboards has taken center stage at this point in my life. The boards are interesting to build, look beautiful and perform great. I look forward to engaging with this process every day. But the most satisfying part of the experience is mentoring other builders. I meet so many interesting and accomplished individuals and get to share my hard won experience and knowledge about watercraft and the art of building them on a daily basis.