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DIY surfboard shaping — cool but not too cool

Solana Beach, La Jolla, Morena Boulevard

13-year-old Zach Flores with master shaper Jim Phillips in Phillips' Encinitas shaping room.
13-year-old Zach Flores with master shaper Jim Phillips in Phillips' Encinitas shaping room.

In the early 1960s, surf shops, which had been little more than beach shacks where balsawood blanks were sculpted into surfboards, were replaced by storefronts where surfboards were sold along with T-shirts and trunks.

By the mid ‘60s biggest name in San Diego surfboards was Gordon & Smith, followed by Hansen. Then, in the late ‘60s the shortboard revolution took hold and classic ten-foot surfboards were cut down in neighborhood garages and reshaped into small, mostly crude “pocket rockets.” Some of these garage cutters would become the new shapers. But most quit after building a few hundred surfboards or were gobbled up by big surf companies. By the mid-'70s, established shapers like Carl Ekstrom, Bill Caster, Donald Takayama, Skip Frye, Mike Diffenderfer, and Rusty Preisendorfer had achieved guru status.

Within another decade the shaper was being replaced by the shaping machine. Much of surfboard production was moved offshore. Boards were often built by non-surfers, hundreds of miles from the ocean. While the masters continued the delicate work, few in the younger generation sought to acquire the wisdom of the masters.

That began to change about five years ago when surfboard shaping became as cool as vinyl records — cool, but not cool enough to form a mass movement. This blip on the radar gave birth to rented shaping rooms along with a few shaping schools and instruction books and videos on shaping.

Place

Bird's Surf Shed

1091 W. Morena Boulevard, San Diego

Place

Mitch's Surf Shop

363 North Highway 101, Solana Beach

There are several places in San Diego renting shaping rooms and tools. One of these is Bird’s Surf Shed on Morena Boulevard. You can also gain tips from master shaper, Robin Prodanovich who shapes at Bird’s Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-noon. Should you decided to go it alone, surfboard materials are available through Mitch’s Surf Shop in La Jolla and Solana Beach.

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13-year-old Zach Flores with master shaper Jim Phillips in Phillips' Encinitas shaping room.
13-year-old Zach Flores with master shaper Jim Phillips in Phillips' Encinitas shaping room.

In the early 1960s, surf shops, which had been little more than beach shacks where balsawood blanks were sculpted into surfboards, were replaced by storefronts where surfboards were sold along with T-shirts and trunks.

By the mid ‘60s biggest name in San Diego surfboards was Gordon & Smith, followed by Hansen. Then, in the late ‘60s the shortboard revolution took hold and classic ten-foot surfboards were cut down in neighborhood garages and reshaped into small, mostly crude “pocket rockets.” Some of these garage cutters would become the new shapers. But most quit after building a few hundred surfboards or were gobbled up by big surf companies. By the mid-'70s, established shapers like Carl Ekstrom, Bill Caster, Donald Takayama, Skip Frye, Mike Diffenderfer, and Rusty Preisendorfer had achieved guru status.

Within another decade the shaper was being replaced by the shaping machine. Much of surfboard production was moved offshore. Boards were often built by non-surfers, hundreds of miles from the ocean. While the masters continued the delicate work, few in the younger generation sought to acquire the wisdom of the masters.

That began to change about five years ago when surfboard shaping became as cool as vinyl records — cool, but not cool enough to form a mass movement. This blip on the radar gave birth to rented shaping rooms along with a few shaping schools and instruction books and videos on shaping.

Place

Bird's Surf Shed

1091 W. Morena Boulevard, San Diego

Place

Mitch's Surf Shop

363 North Highway 101, Solana Beach

There are several places in San Diego renting shaping rooms and tools. One of these is Bird’s Surf Shed on Morena Boulevard. You can also gain tips from master shaper, Robin Prodanovich who shapes at Bird’s Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-noon. Should you decided to go it alone, surfboard materials are available through Mitch’s Surf Shop in La Jolla and Solana Beach.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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