1. Question: What do the kits contain? Do they have everything I need?
Answer: The regular kits consist of the ribs and spar pieces that make up the frame. They also include a full instruction manual that covers every step of the
build in detail. You will need wood for the outside planking as well as glue, fiberglass and shop supplies like sandpaper. You can buy or build a fin to be
glassed on or mounted in a fin box. If you want a complete kit we have full kits that have everything you need including the wood planking and glassing
materials. Check the Surfboard Kits page for details.
2. Question: What is the best kind of wood to use?
Answer: Recycled lumber is the eco-friendly cost effective choice. Reclaimed lumber such as redwood and cedar are an excellent wood choice as they are
often already light and dry. If you are going for a light board you will want to use soft woods like redwood, cedar, pine, paulownia, or balsa. If you don't care
about weight, go for exotic hardwoods. We have used mahogany, ebony, oak and others. The hardwoods are beautiful and strong but heavy.
2. Question: What's in an export kit?
Answer: An Export Kit that contains the same parts as the regular kit but the spar has been cut into approximately 24" pieces. These pieces are glued
together using the backing blocks that come with the kit. For most kits that means 3 or 4 glue joints. We have spoken to many users and they say the extra
work is no problem and there is no loss of strength. We can ship an export kit anywhere in the world using US Postal Service First Class mail.
3. Question: Does the export kit cost more?
Answer: An export kit costs about $20.00 more than a domestic kit on average. This is because of all the extra handling, packaging, and paperwork
required. You should be aware that there may be additional taxes or duties once the kit arrives. These fees vary by country and are your responsibility.
We have no control over these fees.
2. Question: How do I pay for a kit?
Answer: We can accept any credit card over the phone or through PayPal. Using a card with PayPal is free for you - we pay all the fees. You don't need
an account, just sign up by answering a few questions and you can use your credit card. Also, you can pay from anywhere in the world and PayPal does the
4. Question: Do I have to glass the board or can I just varnish it?
Answer: If you are only going to hang the board on a wall simply varnishing it is adequate. You should always glass a board that is going to be used. Not
only to seal the water out but to give the board the strength it needs.
3. Question: Is paying on-line secure?
Answer: PayPal in one of the most secure payment methods on line. All transactions are encrypted and they offer fraud protection on most transactions.
We have never had a problem with a PayPal transaction.
6. Question: What kind of fiberglass do I use?
Answer: Our glassing kits contain enough glass cloth and epoxy resin to apply 2 layers of 4 oz cloth to the deck and one to the bottom. This is industry
1. Question: What's a vent for, is my board going to explode without one?
Answer: Explode? No. But if you leave in the hot sun it can puff up and weaken the inside glue joints. It can also delaminate
3. Question: Where do I buy wood for the planking?
Answer: Lumber suppliers and home improvement stores are the obvious answer. Most builders love the challenge of finding the perfect wood for their board
and they will search through pallets of wood to find the perfect pieces. We have found beautiful heart redwood being sold for planter edging in the garden
department of Home Depot. Lumber suppliers like Austin Hardwoods will even cut a custom kit for you. The assembly manual lists a lot of good sources and
even tells how you can get free wood.
2. Question: Is the assembly a printed copy?
Answer: No, its a PDF file that you can display on any computer. It gets emailed to you when your order is processed so you can start planning before
your kit even arrives. You need Adobe Acrobat Reader software that is available for free download at www.adobe.com but chances are its already on your
3. Question: Isn't a printed copy better than an electronic one?
Answer: Not really. You can print out the manual if you want but most builders only print a few reference pages and view the rest on screen. This saves
a lot of money - and trees. Plus, you can zoom in on any of the high resolution images for better detail than you would get from a printed copy.
5. Question: I've never glassed a board, is it hard?
Answer: The assembly manual outlines the process but if you are not sure watch some surfboard glassing videos on www.youtube.com. This will help you see
glassed and many tell us its not as expensive they thought it would be.
9. Question: What kind of resin do you use?
Answer: We think epoxy has an edge over polyester on wood surfboards. Some builders have reported that Polyester resin will delaminate from certain
kinds of wood. We have had good results with both polyester and epoxy but epoxy is lighter, easier to use, easier to clean up, and has virtually no smell.
We tell the best epoxy and where to get it in the assembly manual.
4. Question: How do I choose the board that's right for me?
Answer: You choose a wood surfboard the same way you would choose a foam board. If you want to cruise and maybe get some nose riding in, you
want one of our long boards. If you like to go wild and really shred, one of the fish will do the job. If you want something in between the long and short
boards the Mini Mal is perfect. Then there are the Stand Up Paddle boards that will let you cruise standing up in style. Bottom line is that if a certain kind
of foam board works for you its wood counterpart will work the same.
7. Question: How much woodworking ability do I need and what tools?
Answer: This is not the easiest project you will ever try, but its probably not as hard as you think. If you follow the detailed instruction manual you will be
fine. As for tools, a table or band saw is a must. Also a belt sander and block plane are necessary. As for a power thickness planer, if you have one that's
great. Lots of builders have made deals with cabinet shops or local school wood shops to plane the wood for them.
8. Question: Can the kits be modified?
Answer: You bet! That's why we call the Chameleon the Chameleon. If you build it according to plan its an egg. It can be modified many ways to make it
faster and more maneuverable. The kits can also be narrowed somewhat if desired. The instruction manual has a complete section on how to modify a
1. Question: Can I get a discount if I order a few kits at the same time?
Answer: We regularly give discounts to school shop classes that order several kits. We also offer significant discounts to dealers that stock several kits.
Each situation is evaluated on its own merits so call for details.
3. Question: If I already have Jack Young's book can I use it to build a kit?
Answer: No, the two books are really different. Jack's book "Building a Hollow Wooden Surfboard" helps the scratch builder design and build a
surfboard. To simplify the process the deck is flat.allowing the deck and bottom to be put on in a single sheet. By contrast, the book that comes with the
kits describes building techniques conceived by Brad Tucker especially for these kits. The kits have domed decks which allows narrower rail thickness.
Brad also has come up with some very innovative ways to build that eliminate the need for dozens of expensive clamps and fixtures. Besides, you get the
book free with the kit.
- Price Questions
- Shipping Questions
- General Questions
1. Question: How much does it cost for shipping?
Answer: The prices on the web site include shipping to the U.S. Lower 48 states. If you are anywhere outside the US we have a special product called an
Export Kit that we can send anywhere in the world using US Postal Service First Class mail. The Versatraction kits will have $9.99 added at checkout for
shipping. Certain other products like leashes and board bags add a nominal charge.
10. Question: Where do I place the fin(s)?
Answer: That's a tough question. There are so many variables that determine proper fin placement its impossible to cover them all. Things like where you
surf, how you surf, your experience level, the type of board, etc. Your best bet is to copy the placement of the fins on a board that you like. If that's not
possible, there are hundreds of on-line discussions about where a fin should go. You will see that there are many opinions. Check the diagram at the
bottom of this page for typical thruster fin setup.
11. Question: How long does it take to build one of these?
Answer: My first one took about 60 hours. I can do one now in less than 20 hours. The frame is the most important part and the one in our kit goes
together in less than an hour because of the precision fitting parts. From there on your main delay is waiting for glue to dry so you can move on to the next
step. Figure a couple months worst case from unpacking to glassing and that's only working an hour or two every day.
Question: How thick is the deck and bottom planking?
Answer: The stronger the wood the thinner you can make it. For pine, redwood, paulownia or similar woods 1/4" to 5/16 is a good starting point. Balsa
should be more like 3/8". We don't recommend full balsa decks but full balsa bottoms are light and strong.
12. Question: Why isn't there more information on doing hollow strip rails?
Answer: Because there are just too many ways to skin this cat. We don't want to limit your thinking by showing just one. We have included a bunch of
pictures of how different people have approached this and we know there are many more ways. Honestly, if you look at the pictures and still aren't sure how
to proceed we suggest you cut off the ribs at the cut line and install the solid laid up ribs.
Here are the questions we get asked the most.
Surfboard Kits and Building Supplies
5. What kind of rails are best?
Answer: The "Best" rails are whichever one you want to make. Here is a summary of the types of rails used:
Bead and Cove Strips: Following the curve of a rounded rib requires wood strips to be cut using a Bead and Cove cutter head and a router table or equivalent.
Beveled Strips: Making beveled strips is a little easier but still hard if you are not experienced. You simply bevel the strips on your tablesaw/bandsaw. At the
Stepped Rails: Stepped rails are still hollow and much easier to make. They still produces a hollow rail that looks great.
Laid Up Solid Rails: By far the easiest and strongest but slightly heavier than hollow rails.
The different rail building methods are shown in the instruction manual, however, only the Laid up solid rails are discussed in detail.