Fingerboard (skateboard)

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Underside of a fingerboard

A fingerboard is a working replica (about 1:8 scaled) of a skateboard that a person "rides" by replicating skateboarding maneuvers with their fingers. The device itself is a scaled-down skateboard with graphics, trucks and moving wheels.[1] A fingerboard is typically 100 millimeters (3.9 in) long with width ranging from 26 to 55 mm (1.0 to 2.2 in). Professional skateboarder Lance Mountain is widely credited for the first fingerboard, and his skit in Powell-Peralta's "Future Primitive" video brought fingerboarding to the skateboarders of the world in the mid-1980s. Around the same time, Mountain wrote an article on how to make fingerboards in TransWorld SKATEboarding magazine.[1]

Although fingerboarding was a novelty within the skateboarding industry for years, as skateboarding reached widespread popularity in the late 1990s, Canadian toy company Spin Master realised the potential for the fingerboards, specifically for products bearing the logos and branding of real skateboarding brands, and introduced the Tech Deck brand. Fingerboards caught on during this period and the brand has since grown into a widely recognized icon in the toy business. Toy fingerboards like Tech Decks are now available as inexpensive novelty toys as well as high-end collectibles, complete with accessories one would find in use with standard-size skateboards.[2][3][4] Fingerboards are also used by skateboarders as 3-D model visual aids to understand potential tricks and maneuvers;[5] many users make videos to document their efforts.


Fingerboards first existed as homemade finger toys in the late 1960s and later became a novelty attached to keychains in skate shops (but were also mentioned as a model for a skateboard).[3] In the 1985 Powell-Peralta skateboarding video "Future Primitive," Lance Mountain rode a homemade fingerboard in a double-bin sink. It is widely accepted that this is where the idea for the ramp found in The Search for Animal Chin came from. Some consider this the earliest fingerboard footage available for public viewing. That homemade fingerboard was built from wood, tubes, and toy train axles.[1]

Somerville International's Fingerboard brand, established in 1987, was the first to mass-produce fingerboards with licensed-actual skateboard graphics with the introduction of the Pro-Precision board. [1] Since their introduction, the brand has undergone numerous changes in naming convention, product designs, and partnerships. Most notably their partnership with McDonald's to produce fingerboards for Happy Meal toys in the early 2000s. They produced a number of "finger sport" toys and also created the skateboarding action figure "Finger Boy" and "Finger Girl". They are also credited to the first mass-produced wooden fingerboard, utilizing parts from their 2nd generation fingerboards.

Fingerboarding is popular in Europe, Singapore, Asia and the United States, and there is growing popularity in Eastern Europe.[3][6] Besides skate shops and the internet, Fingaspeak, a fingerboard store opened in Steyr, Austria although rumored to be the world's first fingerboard store, it joins a very small list of fingerboard stores that are available.[3] Although the sport of fingerboarding originated in the United States over 25 years ago it has really caught on fire in the European scene. The United States is following and it is estimated that although the popularity seems to be in favor of the Europeans, the American Fingerboard scene has equal sales. This may be due to the flooding of the market and the availability of resources in the United States. Fingerboarding has evolved from a hobby to a lifestyle for some people. Fingerboarders have regular "contests, fairs, workshops and other events". Example of these events are: FastFingers, and FlatFace Rendezvous.[1][3] Fingerboard-product sales were estimated at $120-million for 1999.[1]

Fingerboarding is a good match for videography as the action can be controlled and framing the activity offers opportunities for creativity.[7][failed verification] With the rise of the online video business from early 2006,[8] fueled, in part, because the feature that allows e-mailing clips to friends,[9] several thousand finger board and handboard videos can now be found on popular video-sharing sites such as YouTube. Thus even if the weather does not permit a skateboarder to practice outside they could try a potential trick with their scaled-down fingerboard and related items and share the video with whomever they wished.


A fingerboard approaching a ramp

Fingerboards are used by a range of people from those utilising them as toys to skateboarding and related sports professionals envisioning not only their own skating maneuvers but for others as well and can include the use for planning out competition courses as skateboarding develops into an international sport. Similar to train enthusiasts building railway models, fingerboard hobbyists often construct and purchase reduced scale model figures that would be considered natural features to an urban skateboarder such as handrails, benches, and stairs they would be likely to encounter while skating. In addition users might build and buy items seen in a skatepark including half-pipes,[10] quarter pipes, trick boxes, vert ramps,[11] pyramids, banked ramps, full pipes, and any number of other trick-oriented objects.[12] These objects can be used simply for enjoyment and also to assist the visualisation of skateboarding tricks or the "flow" from one trick to the next (colloquially referred to as "lines").


Similar to a skateboard, a fingerboard consists of several components:

  • Deck: Fingerboard decks are made out of plastic or wood. The shapes vary from popsicle decks, cruiser decks and old school decks. Modern and/or higher quality decks have a defined nose and tail just like a real skateboard. Over the years decks got wider, for example old "Berlin Wood" decks were 29mm wide, while today decks range from 32mm-34mm
  • Trucks: Trucks are mostly mass-produced from metal for the toy industry. In recent years, however, there have also been manufacturers who produce special trucks specifically for the sport and thereby set significantly higher standards for quality in lower quantities.
  • Wheels: Wheels are made of plastic, metal or resin, widely spread is polyurethane (the same material used in skateboard wheels) as it gives a firm grip. Higher quality wheels are also equipped with bearings. They are either cast, 3D printed or machined on a lathe (or their industrial equivalent).
  • Tape: For better adhesion, a griptape is glued to the deck, which consists of either rubber, neoprene or fine-grain skateboard grip.
  • Screws: Are the screws that attach the trucks to the deck.
    A table with benches, replicated as a fingerboard obstacle.
  • Nuts: The nuts ensure that the wheels stay on the trucks. Widely spread are locknuts, that do not loosen as easily.
  • Bushings: Like real skateboard trucks, fingerboard trucks have two bushings that usually smooths out riding the board. Cheap plastic boards sometimes only have hard plastic bushings, which can break easily and make it harder to do certain tricks on the fingerboard.

Ramps and obstacles make up a big part in fingerboarding. In the early times of fingerboarding they were selfmade from wood, metal, concrete, etc. . Nowadays lots of brands and companies manufacture obstacles in small to big stocks. Just like decks, cheaper obstacles mostly consist of plastic, whereas higher quality ramps are made from molded concrete, wood and metal. Most obstacles aim to replicate a real-life obstacle.

Bags and boxes are used to store "Set-up's" and parts of a fingerboard.

Fingersnowboarding, Handboards and Fingersurfboards[edit]

A chicken on a mini-skateboard, similar to a handboard.

Similar to fingerboarding, fingersnowboarding is snowboarding on a small-scale snowboard controlled with one's fingers. In December 1999 the first-ever World Snowboard Fingerboard Championships was held with a cash prize of C$1,000.00.[13] Sponsored by companies such as Gravity Fingerboards, Transworld Snowboarding and Snowboard Life magazines and others the competition featured twenty competitors utilizing a custom "fingerboard snowboard park."[13] Tom Sims, a world champion of snowboarding,[14] ended his run by landing his fingersnowboard into a flaming shotglass of Sambuca; he was treated for minor burns and donated his winning prize to Surfrider Foundation's Snowrider Project and to Board AID.[13]

Handboards, similar to fingerboards, are a scaled-down version of a skateboard roughly half to a third of the size of a standard skateboard (29 centimeters or 11 in) and utilizes a person's hands rather than just their fingers to control the board and perform tricks and maneuvers. Handboards, because of their larger size, more closely match details of a standard skateboard. For instance a skateboard truck, the wheel structure, would more likely to match part for part an actual skateboard truck rather than be a cast one-piece construction or otherwise simplified. If a user preferred a particular type of wood or decorative style that could also more easily resemble a full-scale skateboard.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Waters, Mark (2000-03-03). "The Fingerboard Controversy: Are toy-skateboard makers promoting skateboarding or just profiting?". Transworld Business. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
  2. ^ Hocking, Justin; Jeff Knutson; Jared Jacang Maher; Jocko Weyland (2004). " Life and Limb: Skateboarders Write from the Deep End. Soft Skull Press. ISBN 978-1-932360-28-8. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
  3. ^ a b c d e "About Fingerboarding". Blackriver Ramps. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-12-27. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
  4. ^ "Fingerboard Tuning". 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
  5. ^ Mullen, Rodney; Sean Mortimer (2004). skateboard&pg=PA49 The Mutt: How to Skateboard and Not Kill Yourself Check |url= value (help). HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-055618-1. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
  6. ^ "Fingerboard Events Forum". 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
  7. ^ Vienne, Véronique (2003). Fresh Dialogue 3: New Voices in Graphic Design. Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 978-1-56898-417-9. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
  8. ^ Perez, Juan Carlos (September 13, 2007). "US online video popularity keeps climbing". MacWorld. Retrieved 2007-09-15.
  9. ^ Zawadski, Alison (September 13, 2007). "A Work in Progress". Le Provocateur. Retrieved 2007-09-15.
  10. ^ Halford, Wayne; Eric SodKar Fai; Steven Moran (2000-08-03). "Roll-up halfpipe for miniature toy skateboard". Mattel, Inc. Retrieved 2007-12-25. Patent number: 6350174; Filing date: Aug 3, 2000; Issue date: Feb 26, 2002.
  11. ^ Labelson, Ross; Timothy J. Klima (19 July 1999). "Amusement ramp and method for constructing same". Pillsbury Winthrop LLP. Retrieved 2007-12-25. Patent number: 6623367, Filing date: Jul 17, 1999; Issue date: Sep 23, 2003.
  12. ^ Hull, Everett (10 December 2004). "Reciprocating plaything and method for playing". Thomas L. Adams. Retrieved 2007-12-25. Patent number: 7261613; Filing date: Dec 10, 2004; Issue date: Aug 28, 2007
  13. ^ a b c Stouffer, John (17 December 1999). "Snowtopia 99: Tom Sims Wins World Fingersnowboard Championships". Transworld Business. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
  14. ^ "Snowboarders Finally in Olympics, But Are Conforming Grudgingly", Salt Lake Tribune, February 8, 1998.

Further reading[edit]

  • Finger Skate Board Tricks and Tips Prepack by Susan Buntrock (2000); Scholastic, Incorporated - ISBN 0-439-21714-8.
  • Life and Limb: Skateboarders Write from the Deep End by Justin Hocking, Jeff Knutson, Jared Jacang Maher (2004); Soft Skull Press - ISBN 1-932360-28-X. (See Whaling chapter by Justin Hocking).