Rocker Tabs for Building HWS

Using Rocker Tabs for Building in the Rocker Profile



paddleboard fishbone framing kit




If you have ever built a hollow wood standup paddleboard (SUP) or hollow wood surfboard you have probably built it using some variation of a rocker table.  When I started building hollow wood boards I did as well.  I built my first boards that way because that’s the way everyone else was building.  But there is a simpler way of building these hollow wood boards without building this single purpose adjustable table.  The CLEARWOOD team has developed a rocker tab system that allows the frame to be assembled on a flat work surface instead of the adjustable rocker table.  The rocker tabs are designed into the bottom to the frames and are referenced off of a flat baseline which is part of the layout created when designing the board.  The tabs are cut off and sanded flush when the board is flipped over during the building process.

If you are a builder that does your own design work you can easily design these tabs into your framework during the design process.  The addition of the rocker tabs will consume a bit more plywood but not substantially more and the simplified setup for establishing a true rocker profile makes it well worth the additional effort. I cut my frame kits out with a cnc router but I am also starting to see builders that hand cut their parts starting to experiment with the rocker tab solution to creating a consistent rocker profile.



Text of Article for

Wood paddleboards and surfboards have a long history and they have been common in Hawaii for many centuries. The modern version of “woodies” however, is something altogether different than what ancient Hawaiians were riding. With the advent of waterproof glues and plywood which became available in the 1930’s, Tom Blake who lived in Southern California began constructing the “modern” “kookbox” type of paddleboard. These were common for several decades and used by the surf lifeguards on the beaches of Southern California.

Currently, highly refined versions of the “kookbox” can be built from scratch, plans or kits and come in many forms from surf style and flat water sup’s to straight prone paddle surfboards and builders around the world have taken up the challenge of building one or several of these craft for their personal quivers. There are forums online dedicated to this type of board construction with builders from many different countries contributing to an ongoing dialogue about all of the nuances of the building process. Some woods that can be sourced for hollow board construction will yield a finished board as light as or lighter than boards of equivalent size made of foam and fiberglass, with the added benefit that hollow wood boards can and do outlast many “boards” made of foam and plastic.


I will be honest here; building your own hollow wooden SUP is NOT a quick and easy way to get on the water. You may ask why, then, would anyone want to build a hollow wood board? The answer to that question can be stated in this way: the rewards are measured in the beauty, longevity and personal satisfaction that will come with building a wood SUP with your own hands. World-wide, there is great interest in alternative building methods for “home-made” surfboards and paddleboards. What that means to a prospective hollow wood board builder is there are many different styles of hollow wooden SUPs to choose from based on your interest in the various aspects of the sport. Additionally, hollow wood boards can be built with mostly sustainable products such as salvaged or plantation grown woods and there are now epoxy resins available which are made from non-petroleum based raw materials.

The process of building a board of this type is more about a personal journey and creative expression than it is about popping out a board that looks like everything else on the water.


paddleboard and paddle on beach

In the end, most builders don’t take on projects of this sort because it is easy. Building a hollow wood SUP can be learned by most people who truly want to learn the process but it is not a project for everyone. Certainly, previous woodworking experience helps. What I say to prospective hollow wood board builders is that if a board is “in you”, you will find a way to get it built. Most suppliers of kit components provide ongoing support during the building process, and as previously mentioned there are some great online resources for asking questions and gleaning insights into how the workflow should go. In the end, patience and commitment are the two main ingredients needed for you to finish a board and get it into the water.

A question many prospective hollow wood board builders ask is, “how long will it take?” There isn’t one answer to this question. It depends on the tools you have available, your eagerness to work on a woodworking project and the level of finished product you want to achieve. What can be said about building a hollow wood SUP is that it very well could be one of the most difficult but rewarding things you do in your life!


Randy Bogardus, Artist, Shaper and Woodworker