A surfboard shaper is someone who builds and designs surfboards by hand. Originally made from wood, most modern surfboards are made from pre-formed polyurethane blanks or styrofoam and then fine shaped by the shaper using an array of tools ranging from surforms, rasps, sanding machines and power planers. When the form is sculpted in the foam core, the shaper may complete the build by layering fiberglass sheets over the deck and bottom and laminating these with a thermosetting resin such as polyester.
Most shapers nowadays design surfboards using various computer programs which are then supplied to a computer cutting facility which will mill the raw foam blank within 90% of the finished shape leaving the shaper to fine tune the blank to its final state before glassing. This method allows the shaper to have a very exacting and reproducible design which can be easily fine-tuned and adjusted. Wooden surfboards are making a comeback as an eco friendly alternative, requiring ultra-light boatbuilding skills.
Many professional shapers actually outsource the highly specialized lamination to specialized "glassers", one who laminates fiberglass to a foam core of a surfboard using thermosetting resins like polyester or epoxy. Fins and assorted plugs are usually installed after this process and the final product is fine sanded and often glossed with buffing compound and special glossing resin. When shaping, the shaper often takes into account the specifications of the client surfer, and molds his medium to best accommodate the user's personal surfing style and wave of choice.
- Hobie Alter
- Simon Anderson
- Robert August
- Skip Engblom
- Gerry Lopez
- Mickey Munoz
- Donald Takayama
- Dale Velzy
- John Whitmore
- A shapers directory, work, stories
- Swaylocks.com a surfboard design forum where shapers show their work and discuss designs and techniques
- (French) Shaperoom.net design forum
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