This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but always suffered from classic surfer procrastination. A great idea for making surfboard fins was first introduced to me, by Elvis, and if you haven’t read the interview with him make sure you check it out here.
When we spoke about board making, I remembered from his Instagram that he had been making recycled fins from old broken skateboard decks. This got the wheels in my head turning, and started thinking how hard this would be to do myself. The timing of losing a very nice glide fin I bought in Australia, seemed serendipitous.
First step is to get the raw materials. Go to your local skatepark and check nearby dumpsters. If you don’t find any broken decks, try a few skateshops and see if they can help. Once you’ve got enough to shape a couple of fins, head to your workshop.
Then you want to cut the wood to the template of your fin. You can use any fin and just trace the outline if you’re lacking confidence in templating. From here, your foiling begins. Now, most people start from base to tip with their foiling, but do whatever suits you best.
Start by creating bands the same as rail bands on surfboards using 1/8 increments on the trailing edge and 1/4 increments on the leading edge. The aim here to foil almost a triangle pattern. Once you’ve finished the foiling, take some sandpaper to round of the edges. Then use a jitterbug to get everything smooth. Failing this you could use a palm sander dremmel or just a regular angle grinder.
Then you should be ready to laminate your fins and tack them onto the board. You’ll find that making perfect symmetrical fins is pretty darn hard, and first couple of times probably won’t go to plan. But, the more you try the better your fins will turn out.
Making your own wooden fins from recycled materials such as old skateboard decks helps is not only extremely rewarding but also helps transform discarded junk into useful things again.