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foil board ready for glassing at Clearwood Paddleboards in Southern Oregon

“Takeaway’s” for 2018-Foils!

“Takeaway’s” for 2018-Foils!

A major “takeaway” so far from 2018 is that much is changing quickly in both touring/racing shapes, and in the surf scene, with the influx of foils, where both prone paddle and standup paddle surfers are now flying foils. An upside to learning to foil surf is that some otherwise un-rideable surf is now available to be ridden and is desirable in many ways. Slightly onshore or side shore winds are much less of a negative once the foil is flying. Although we haven’t “officially” launched our new foil specific board line up, it’s easy to see the direction foil boards are moving in terms of size….smaller is the key word here….the smaller the better. Of course, you still need to be able to paddle the board and foil, into a wave, so there is a practical limit to how small of a board any of us might be able to paddle.

Paulownia plantation

Paulownia Wood

Paulownia Wood

We continue to promote the use of paulownia wood for building strip planked SUP’s and other hulls being built using strip planked construction. I sometimes feel a bit guilty about voicing the merits of paulownia wood for strip planking in that Clearwood sells paulownia to many of our customers. But the fact is that paulownia wood is simply the very best material available if you want to build a light and strong hull. The weight to strength ratio is exceptional as well as its “workability” in the woodshop environment. We have found paulownia wood to be an easy to work wood that both cuts and sands cleanly. If you would like more information on paulownia tomentosa you can find it here: http://www.wood-database.com/paulownia/

Paulownia plantation

Paulownia tomentosa plantation

If you would like a free sample of paulownia wood, please contact us and we’ll get one right out to you.

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

Semi-monocoqueHollow 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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.