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Paulownia plantation

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 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.

Paulownia plantation

The process of fiberglassing your hollow wood board can be daunting for the first-time board builder, but the right preparation for the glassing operation will greatly reduce the stress involved in “glassing” your board. There are numerous online tutorials that detail how to accomplish this task so we won’t go into the specifics of the process here but, if you stay organized and have all the right tools and materials ready to go, you will be surprised at how easy this part of the process can be.

Glassing a wood board is accomplished much the same way as “glassing” a foam board. The main difference between “glassing” a wood board vs glassing a foam board is that wood is a denser substrate and doesn’t need a two-layer glass job in order to resist pressure dents.

Building lightweight is about paying attention to all the “small” details which is why we start out by keeping our frame material thin using either 4 mm Okoume marine ply or 6 mm paulownia marine ply. The strip material is always paulownia with minimal salvaged redwood detailing. Internal blocking can be paulownia wood, balsa wood or even EPS foam (lightest). The details “count” in terms of final weight!

Build Light and Paddle Hard,
Randy, Clearwood Paddleboards