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Interactive board building tutorials

Clearwood - hollow wood surfboards and paddleboards

Building 101


Kit Building 101

Getting your project started

There are many choices that must be made in order to get your hollow wood board project started. Choosing which wood to use can be a challenging part of the process and one that should be considered early. There are a wide range of woods in the marketplace and some are better than others for the purpose of building hollow boards. We build with paulownia wood and have found that this is the wood that builds the lightest weight, strongest hollow wood board structures possible.

Paulownia wood planks



The tools needed to build a hollow wood SUP of surfboard are basic. If you are working from our full scale patterns the shapes can be cut out with a jig saw. The simplest method/tool for milling your own strips would be a table saw and a good thin kerf blade. The option of purchasing milled strips ready to install is another option if you don’t want to mill your own. A table saw is also necessary for varying the width of the strips which is how the strips are made to conform to the radius sections of the frames. Strips are best installed on the framework without surfacing due to the aggressive level of sanding needed after all strips are installed.

  • Table saw
  • Hand saw
  • Jig saw
  • Block plane
  • Utility knife
  • Electric drill
  • Wood chisels
  • Sharpening gear
  • Assortment of clamps
  • Shop vacuum

If you are working from our full size patterns you will need to choose the plywood for the frames. We use a high quality 4mm marine ply that is void free (Joubert 4mm BS 1088 marine ply). Other plywood can be used but it’s helpful to avoid plywood with voids in the layup. Another consideration for the plywood used for the framework is to limit the thickness to 1/4″ or less with 4mm being ideal. The structure of hollow boards is not based solely on the framework, therefore it’s important to limit the thickness/weight of the framing. 


There are many adhesives available that claim some amount of water resistance. Titebond 3 (D4 in Europe), urethane glues such as “Gorilla Glue”, and thickened epoxy are all good choices. I use both Titebond 3 and thickened epoxy; Titebond 3 where good clamping pressure is achievable and thickened epoxy where clamping pressure is hard to achieve.

Gorilla Glue creates a rigid bond, fills gaps and cures quickly. Gorilla Glue requires a certain amount of moisture  to reach full cure strength. Again, if you use Gorilla Glue, follow the directions for introducing moisture into the gluing process.



There are many ways to learn to safely use the tools and execute the processes necessary to build your hollow board. But the bottom line is this: Tools and the dust they create are dangerous. If you are a novice woodworker, educate yourself about tool safety and proper shop practices. Power tools are very unforgiving and trouble can happen quickly if you are not prepared and diligent in your approach to how you use these tools. Regarding the health consequences of breathing wood dust, take this issue seriously. Use good respirators with fresh, clean filters when cutting or sanding wood. This is also true for applying and sanding epoxy and other finish products. Uncured epoxy is toxic. Most of the ultra violet inhibiting finishes that go over the epoxy for the final finish are also toxic. Use the tools and materials at your own risk. Educate yourself and work smart and safe!