October 9th, 2013 | By | 1,261 Comments

Shapers Shed | Alaia Surfboards Jon Wegener Takes Us in His SD Shaping Bay for a Wood Board Building Lesson

Why Ride Alaias:
-  Alaias are such low-friction boards, you can ride with effortless speed.  In other words, they fly.
-  Riding finless gives you a slide, and a feeling that you can’t get riding traditional boards.
-  Your wave selection improves, because you really need to pick the right ones.  Paddling for the wrong waves means burning valuable energy.
-  It’s challenging, and rewarding.  When you get a good one, it’s a great one.

(photos c/o Shawn Parkin)
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Step 1: Find the right wood for you and your price range. Alaia building and it’s facets are subjective, so there is no perfect formula. But a good size blank to start with is 6-7 feet long, up to 18″ wide, and about an inch thick.
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Step 2: Draw your outline. Pencil, pen, marker…anything works. Now’s the time to also decide your tail shape. Alaias are made with tails ranging from square, to round, to extreme swallow, and everything in between. It’s mostly about aesthetics, but give some thought to functionality as well.

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Step 3: Use a saw to cut the outline, choose the saw you are most comfortable with. A jig saw is common for this step, though you can use a hand saw as well.

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4. Now grab a plane. A block (hand) plane will do, and is preferred by some, if you dont have an electric plane. This is the main shaping tool for making an alaia.

alia4-2 You use it to remove unwanted wood, and give the board some intricacies in it’s otherwise flat shape.

alia4-3Similar to foam surfboards, it’s good to have thinner rails, while leaving the board slightly thicker in the middle for added buoyancy and paddle power.

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Step 5: Dial in the bottom. While there is not much thickness to work with, it is smart to turn the nose up a tad from the bottom side, to help avoid nose-diving while surfing. Now is also the time to add in any desired concave. Theories on this differ, as with surfboards. But it’s common to see a singe or double concave in the back third or half of the board.

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Step 6: Once you have the shape pretty much where you want it, then it’s time for sanding. As with any sanding job, you can go by hand or with a power sander. You’re looking to smooth out any lines made by the planing. Start around 80 grit, and finish at 320 for a nice smooth feel.

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Step 7:  The last step is to seal it.  There are different sealing methods (oils, varnish, resin, etc), depending on the wood, so ask your wood supplier what is best.

DO’s and DON’Ts
DO: Wear a dust mask when sanding
DON’T: Work too quickly, especially with the plane.  If you take out too much wood, you can’t put it back.
DO: Put in your time learning to ride it, and be prepared to be a beginner again.
DON’T: Give up until you are able to ride your alaia, you won’t regret it.
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Shaper Jon Wegener Practicing what he preaches. If you’re in San Diego, Give him and call to see if he’s offering classes 310-938-9440.
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Kahi Pacarro on a smoker

 

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