A fingerboard is a scaled-down replica of a skateboard that a person "rides" with their fingers, rather than their feet. A fingerboard is typically 100 millimeters (3.9 in) long with width ranging from 26 to 55 mm (1.0 to 2.2 in), with graphics, trucks and plastic or ball-bearing wheels, like a skateboard. A fingerboard can be used to do traditional skateboarding tricks, such as an ollie and kickflip.
Fingerboards first existed as homemade finger toys in the late 1960s and later became a novelty attached to keychains in skate shops.
Professional skateboarder Lance Mountain is widely credited with creating the first fingerboard. In the 1985 Powell-Peralta skateboarding video titled "Future Primitive," Mountain brought fingerboarding to the skateboarders of the world. Around the same time, Mountain wrote an article on how to make fingerboards in TransWorld SKATEboarding magazine. In the video, 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.
The first company to notice the potential of the fingerboard was Somerville International's Fingerboard brand, established in 1987. They were the first to mass-produce fingerboards that weren't intended to be used with a figurine or accessories. They were also the first to include licensed graphics from actual skateboard graphics with the introduction of the Pro-Precision board.
Although fingerboarding was a novelty within the skateboarding industry for years, as skateboarding reached widespread popularity in the late 1990s, X-Concepts realized 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 Tech Deck has since grown into a widely recognized fingerboard brand. Toy fingerboards 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. Fingerboards are also used by skateboarders as 3-D model visual aids to understand potential tricks and maneuvers.
Fingerboarding is popular in Europe, Singapore, Asia and the United States. Although fingerboarding originated in the United States, it has gained much popularity in Eastern Europe. Fingaspeak, in Steyr, Austria, is rumored to be the world's first fingerboard store, and is part of a small list of fingerboard stores worldwide. Fingerboarding has evolved from a hobby to a lifestyle for some people. Fingerboarders have regular contests, fairs, workshops and other events. Examples include FastFingers and FlatFace Rendezvous. Fingerboard-product sales were estimated at $120 million for 1999.
Fingerboards are used by a range of people, from those utilizing them as toys, to skateboarders and related sports professionals envisioning not only their own skating maneuvers but for others as well. 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, quarter pipes, trick boxes, vert ramps, pyramids, banked ramps, full pipes, and any number of other trick-oriented objects. These objects can be used simply for enjoyment and also to assist the visualization of skateboarding tricks or the "flow" from one trick to the next (colloquially referred to as "lines").
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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 CNC, urethane , or resin, widely spread is polyurethane. Higher-quality wheels are also equipped with bearings and made of urethane. They are either cast, 3D printed, or machined on a lathe (or their industrial equivalent).
- Bearings: The bearings used in fingerboard wheels are also the same as skateboard wheel bearings. They are made of high-quality steel to make the wheels spin smoothly, the same as skateboards.
- Tape: For better adhesion, a grip tape is glued to the deck, which consists of either rubber, neoprene, fine-grain (similar to sandpaper), or foam skateboard grip.
- Screws: Are the screws that attach the trucks to the deck.
- Nuts: The nuts ensure that the wheels stay on the trucks. Widely spread are locknuts, that do not loosen as easily.
- Bushings: 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.
Fingersnowboarding, handboards and fingersurfboards
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 Can$1,000.00. 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." Tom Sims, a world champion of snowboarding, 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.
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. Professional skateboarder Erik Ellington was the one to invent the hand board: "When we were kids, my friend Esao and I used to make little skateboards out of cardboard. They were actually way more intricate than that, but it would take a long time to explain... we used cardboard, clothes lines, pens for the trucks, bearings for the wheels. We got really good at them, surpassing anything we could actually do on a real skateboard. When I moved to California, I approached the company that was making fingerboards at the time and I showed them a video we'd made, kind of like a sponsor me tape. They liked it, and eventually went into production with it, giving us an inventor's royalty and a contract." Handboards, because of their larger size, more closely match the details of a standard skateboard. For instance, a skateboard truck, the wheel structure, would more likely 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.
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- ^ Buying guide for fingerboard with a detailed guide of its every part including wheels and bearings. "Best Fingerboard;". Retrieved January 21, 2022.
- ^ a b c Stouffer, John (17 December 1999). "Snowtopia 99: Tom Sims Wins World Fingersnowboard Championships". Transworld Business. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
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- 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).